“What you throw out comes back to you, star” - Lauryn Hill
New moon in Cancer special edition. This is written as Black and brown bodies have been been robbed of their movement, their agency and their voices across the world, but I’m particularly naming the fire in West London, Charleena Lyles, and Nabra Hassanen as a series of reminders to continue to name my truths and experiences in the hopes that they might help someone.
I’ve already said that Gemini Season has illuminated a lot of patterns of mine and cycles that I witness either in myself or in others. There’s something to be said about lessons that don’t go away until we’ve fully learned the lesson. I’d like to argue that there’s something to be said about what happens when we name cycles. When we name patterns, both healthy and toxic, and give them power by speaking them into existence.
In the past year, as I’ve continued to deepen my spiritual practice, I’ve been careful. Careful not to pick up ancient cultures and ideologies and merely consume them without care. Without respect. To merely read about detachment from the ego and the higher self and then literally turn and detach myself from reality. From community. From myself. Navigating this is my one of my spiritually-inclined emotional labors. Because nobody is perfect out here. Even gurus and teachers have teachers and gurus. To consume knowledges, ideologies, practices and religions without the sense of self can often mean that you simultaneously consume and drain the very life forces you are trying to cultivate within yourself. All in the name of filling some void, or trauma, that is easier to distract yourself from by spending time and energy in consuming people, energies, practices, etc.
What does it mean if we detach ourselves from responsibility? What does this mean in movements when we dispose of one person for being problematic, or even violent, but then we rinse lather and repeat the same pattern with someone else and yield different results? In speaking of cycles of violence and abuse, what happens when accountability seemingly becomes voided for the sake of the larger movement or practice? Can a Buddhist argue that they’re so detached from their ego that they don’t need to be called in to a toxic behavior? Can a woke person be really woke while being hetero patriarchal? Can someone claim to coming from a place of love and not realize their love language is harmful? Can someone digest all of these (and many other) paradoxes and still operate the same way because it’s safer for them to do so then to do the self-excavation necessary to break the cycle?
As the lines are blurring being the spiritual and the movement work, New Age language around ego, love, and community can be used to cause just as much harm as they can cause good. I've been a part of healing villages and seen someone that triggered me to the point where I had to say something to the other healers in the space. In hindsight, a fellow healer told me that that action of naming my pain caused by that person coupled with me standing my ground in community forever changed how she viewed me. That was an action of someone who knew that there was a greater purpose and design in all of this. A young High Priestess. The methods you have to be healthy and heal yourself can suddenly be transformed and you may no longer feel safe in that space. Or you can cause harm to someone in the name of “self-care” by not speaking them, even when we have valid reasons for cutting chords. Cycles of throwing people and practices away as if they were trash.
I’m naming this as someone who has been thrown away and as someone who has thrown someone away. As someone who is learning that through life being a process, and as someone who cultivates communities, that I have to be willing to do the work with myself to be able to do the work to be in community with others. Let me tell you that shit is messy. There’s days where it makes me just want to embody the sign of Cancer and be in a shell. On these same days, I’m called to pray for someone or ask my ancestors to help another. Or to just be there for someone and play into my hero complex/caring nature. Or to cleanse with fire and release these aforementioned questions and thoughts to the powers that be.
Knowing what my cycles are and how I’ve been complicit in disposing of people because I didn’t deem them worthy of the emotional and temporal investment is one of my karmic works. But my work is to also support people who are on the other side. Who have been tossed away too. To name that this patterns exist and that we can actually still be in community with one another when a shared definition of community has been reached. The lines and boundaries that allow us to feel grounded and safe are different for everyone. I’ve seen people in community move in silence, not knowing that someone else was growing through the same thing, just for the sake of not starting drama or not wanting to be a bother. But I’ve seen community agreements reached several times over in spaces were folks didn’t know anyone from anything prior.
Is there a limit to the methods of accountability when it comes to keeping our heads, hearts and souls in check? Is there even a method, because whether it’s a call in or a call out, once the gap in understanding has been named - it’s real. Once the disappointment has been named - it’s real. Once the bell has been rung - it’s real. Witnessing these questions happen in real time in the movement scene here in New York has me wondering if the same questions have been asked in the spiritual community and if there’s a possibility for a larger dialogue. Probably somewhere in that void.
It is possible to be a teacher that causes confusion. It is possible to be a leader and lose people. It is possible to be a healer and cause pain. For example, meditation isn’t the cure to larger systems of state violence. Meditation is a practice that can help ease your mind and strengthen you in many ways though. It requires naming that it’s not always going to be rainbows and kittens and that meditation can “clear your mind” but sometimes isn't enough. That idle words and shallow prayers can only go so far, but deep reflection and swift action can change everything. But that possibility requires accountability.
"The models we currently have in place aren’t great when it comes to holding the multiple truths and tensions that exist in our values and praxis as a movement. Too often, we favour cliquing up, using binaries, and disposability to deal with conflicts between people in different kinds of relationships over approaching each situation in a more nuanced way; one that is abolitionist in nature." - Janaya Khan, Abolition Culture: Moving Beyond Disposability in the Movement
"We can say out loud to our friends and communities how much we benefit from the ongoing support of our partners. We can tell our partners how much we value the ongoing support of our friends. We can publically acknowledge that none of our work is created in a vacuum and thank those who have contributed to it by offering their emotional labour." - Clementine Morrigan, 3 Thoughts On Emotional Labour