The Hidden Uprising of the Sacred Mother

When we cut through the noise, when we read between the headlines, we know the world is experiencing a radical transformation. There is a spirit that will not be shackled. The thing is, you have to consciously tap into it (or it will smack you in the face), because resilience is cultivated. It doesn’t just happen smoothly. It’s a practice.

I feel it when I walk down the street. It’s in the way people make eye contact & give a nod of the head. Maybe a word is said in passing, or a fist is held over the heart.

Being not depressed in the face of oppression is a courageous act of resistance.

It makes me especially happy when people collect together spontaneously. It makes me even happier because I see it happening more & more, from working in the garden to families hanging on their stoops to the swinging door of our house. People are joining together as if by a magnetism, a desire to lend support and be supported.

That’s why it was a great surprise to come home to a house full of people for the dark moon.

Throughout the day, I painted by myself, & rode my bike over the bridge in the evening. When I reached Philly, the bells of the St. Augustine Church banged & echoed a solemn, yet joyous tone. It felt lonely, like a precursor to a night of solitude, but how wonderful it was to arrive home to a house full of people.

We made dinner. We talked about plants, about the spirit of the earth, about protecting the land.

We started a metheglin to celebrate the new moon cycle. A metheglin is a mead infused with herbs. We added slippery elm, rose buds, and peppercorn. It’s already starting to bubble. The yeast is just chomping away at the honey. It’s so alive.

We started a couple tinctures too. Mugwort for one, which smells so potently vulgar, & echinacea root for the other. I let the plant material dry for a few days, then crushed it up with a wooden mortar & pestle. I love being so intimately involved with these medicines. It gives me a unitive feeling, a direct connection to the surrounding environment.

The more often I go to the garden, the more people I interact with. From neighbors to strangers to storeowners, people want to grow their own food too.

I think the deeper you go, the more relationships start forming, the more alchemy you start discovering. There’s metaphorical fire occurring just about everywhere. There are minute processes of change occurring every step of the way. Sometimes, just sometimes, you get clued in to the means of catalyzing these wondrously mysterious transmutations.

I keep finding ganoderma on oak trees. It’s really spawning a belief in the intricacy & grounded reality of magick.

I’m slowly learning the scientific names of plants & fungi too. I don’t know why, but I was uninterested in learning them at first, & now I find them wholly intriguing.

Red clover, for instance. The scientific name is Trifolium pratense, which translates roughly to- three leafed flower of the meadow. It’s so accurately descriptive & so accurately pretty. Getting to know the scientific names for plants is just another means of acutely getting to know their spirit. As plants grow roots in the mind, they take on a stronger life of their own.

This is a peculiarity of language that I find fascinating. There’s a hidden expandedness, an invisible unfurling; words contain worlds like seeds contain the blueprint for life.

There are nights I go to sleep and all I see are fields of foxtail & chicory & morning glory lightly dancing & swaying in the darkness of my closed eyes. And because I’ve been eating from the land, there are nights I can’t help but dance around with my own sway of wild presentness.

Life is better when it is nutrient dense. As is the body, so is the mind.

When I was in college, I took a class called Existentialism. The professor told us we were making a mistake by taking the class because we would lose a lot of friends. A lot of us laughed at the notion of it, thinking it was a novel prompt. But on the first day of class he wrote the word “journal” on the blackboard and asked us to shout out definitions. Someone recorded what we came up with, I think it totaled to 116 some odd number of meanings. The next class he talked about the word “they” and questioned, Who are “they”? Every time you use that word, ask yourself, “Who are they?” Really, truly, who is this group, this omnipotent, organized “they” we keep referencing? And class after class he just broke down language in such a way, it made me feel like I was having to rebuild my tongue one bud at a time. Communication became somewhat difficult, but also fresh & new. For a few years afterwards, I stopped using a dictionary to find the meaning of words and went straight to the origins. Was it Greek or Latin or Arabic? Did it come from German or Middle English? How was the word used back then? How did it evolve from its roots?

At the same time, I was doing research for a professor writing a book on the divine feminine. One little piece of information at a time slowly brought into view a hidden history. It gave me the sense that the practice of magic has never actually disappeared (despite years & years & years of persecution). It’s remained stirring in the shadows, deeply studied by the flickering light of a candle. And why wouldn’t it? We’re talking about the occult, after all.

Not only are there hidden histories arising from the crumbling ashes of our modern scrabble board of rapid communication, there are latent energies in the body just waiting to be jostled from their slumber.

There’s this really beautiful word that comes from Latin & it means “to bind back to the source.” Of course, there are a number of different translations, & it’s been corrupted over the centuries, so I won’t even mention it because it’s like saying the word God; it evokes so many varied feelings & potential arguments & misunderstandings. Regardless, I think binding back is important. & There are so many ways to reconnect.

Like gathering & digging in the earth.

Like making a tea from roots.

Like cooking & sharing a meal together.

Like conspiring… If you reach down far enough, it’s another way to describe simply breathing together.

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How Uncouth: Reverence for the Dirt, the Goddess, a Wild Garden Salad

The rain came in waves. Like oceans of orgasm. Five or six of them. Wet and sweaty and drenched. I lost count.

I stood under a tiny structure. Usually a place of refuge from the sun, but in this case, a safe haven to keep dry from the rain. Or so I thought. Intermittently, the sun popped out amidst thick grey clouds, but those rays only served as a false flag the storm had passed. Every time I saw a bit of blue sky, I walked into the garden & continued weeding. I stayed out for the lighter rains, but for the torrential falls, I took cover. Either way, I wound up soaked.

Throughout the course of the storm, the winds were both chilled and hot, which caused shivers to raise up and roll across my skin. A thunder clap reached so far into me, it cracked my skeleton, and my nerves jumped out of my body. It caught me by such surprise, I laughed at my timidness in comparison to the omnipotence of nature. There were moments I questioned why the hell I would be outside amidst such a storm, but that quickly passed because it all made me feel quite alive & connected.

And then, when the storm finally did pass, I dug right into the dirt. The soil was so soft, the weeds came up with such ease.

Calling them weeds, though, does such a disservice to what is actually growing amidst the vegetables and covering the rest of the lot.

Mugwort reigns in these parts. That creeper of a plant with her silver undersides & risqué name. Artemisia vulgaris. That enchantress of dreams. I pull up mugwort for days. I pull up so many plants for days, there are moments I wonder why the hell I would pull up plant after plant after plant knowing they just keep coming back, but that quickly fades when I see pretty red clover and pluck the flowers to add to the collection in my pocket. I like taking them apart, separating the tiny flowers from the flower head and adding them to salads. The tiny tubular flowers nearly disappear amidst the larger green leaves, but regardless, they are packed with nutrients.

Off to one side of the garden, along a fence, grows a patch of melons. Before we planted the melons, morning glories grew there. They still do, and it’s apparent they don’t care for uninvited guests. So I’m pulling up what feels like hundreds & thousands of morning glory seedlings. Despite this, I like them. As the name indicates, you have to catch their flowers early. They grow mostly along the edges where they are free to roam and climb, like a witchy coven of vines and flowers just radically doing what they do.

There’s so much natural spontaneity.

I met one neighbor at the garden who is half Puerto Rican & half Hawaiian. I saw him before the start of the rainstorm. He said he likes to get wet. I laughed, I do too. We chatted briefly, but then it really started dumping buckets. He went home, and I took cover under the tiny structure.

After the rainstorm, he came back around, so we chatted some more. He rattled off so many stories about his kids, his wife, his life in the military, his upbringing, his grandparents, where he’s been, the police, the neighborhood, everything. He’s lived a full life.

He offered a blunt to share, but I don’t smoke all that much, so I said no. He said no I’m offering it as a gesture of peace like a peace pipe. He smiled. I smiled. I couldn’t say no to a peace pipe.

We walked over to a mulberry tree where he likes to sit, smoke, and reflect. I took one puff and passed it back to him, but he said it’s mild weed it’s not that heady shit that makes you sit there STONED it’s homegrown by a friend there’s no paranoia it just makes your eyes click makes you aware. So I took a few more puffs and we passed it back and forth a few times and I got a nice mellow stone.

I invited him into the garden, because wild edibles kept catching my eye so I darted back and forth showing him the flowers of this and the leaves of that & it sparked that urge to keep playing in the dirt.

To both our delight, he speaks three languages: Puerto Rican, Spanish, and English, so we traded words. I gave him some plant identification & names, and he gave me some Puerto Rican. I was feeling stony baloney and goofy and my memory bounds along like an elephant; but it was worthwhile to readjust my tongue and vocal chords and practice what he was throwing my way. He kept calling me a green man and was trying to figure out how to explain it all to his wife. Like, this white nigga in the garden, you won’t believe what he’s growing, you will love this shit. I tried to give him some herbs to take home to his wife, but he said he wanted to bring her so she could see and learn.

It really struck me how amazed he was at the plants. Like we were on a foreign planet. He imparted to me as well, a renewed sense of amazement. Like wow, look at that corn. The way it sprouts tassels. The way they blow in the wind and shake off pollen and fertilize the silk that grows from a lower portion of the stalk. Maiz. It’s bisexual & voila, the male tassel and female silk birth ears of corn.

It’s so complicated, yet so simple.

I tend to relate gardening to zen, especially when it comes to weeding. Weeding a garden is both active and challenging. There is a focus required to make sure you pull gently enough so you don’t snap the stem and firmly enough so the roots come up. There’s also a letting go involved because I know I’m not going to get all of them. It teaches me to be content with the silence of equilibrium.

Like certain thoughts that come up in the mind, weeds can make you mad as hell. There are so many of them. And they just keep coming. So it’s good practice to weed, simultaneously, the madness from your mind.

I often leave a number of weeds, because often, they aren’t weeds. Purslane and lambs quarter are good examples of this. They pop up on their own accord, and they taste great in salads.

It’s wild.

There are so many plants who just grow because that’s what they do. They don’t need your attention or care, yet they can add flavor and nutrients to your life. They also impart that wonderful spirit of growing wherever the fuck.

Like the dandelion who will sprout from the cracks of the sidewalk AND detox your liver.

Here, there’s something to be said about soil quality or lack there of, & potency & poison. We don’t want to just willynilly eat any old thing that looks green. Educate yourself. Talk with people who are willing to share knowledge.

Also, if you’ve taken prescription drugs your whole life, just trying to shift to a more natural diet might be a bit of a struggle, especially if those prescriptions are psych meds. If we look at the body like a culture, how hard is it for people of an ineffective, racist culture, how hard is it to let a dead horse die and subsequently grow into the future? It’s difficult. The body is similar; it’s not going to change over night. I imagine there are people who specialize in those kinds of transitions, because, needless to say, the body is an intricate webwork of biochemistry & a wily, ineffable spirit that is impossible to box up.

There’s also something to be said about fear, lack of trust, and lack of confidence. How many people would rather buy a neat little package they find in a store vs harvesting something growing wildly in their own backyard? I understand there is hesitance that has been built in; too many of us grew up being taught that soil is dirt and dirt is dirty and dirty is nasty, disgusting, and just plain bad. Well, in one way, shape, or form, it’s true: the sacred mother is bad as hell. She is more powerful than we give her credit for.

It doesn’t surprise me people are scared.

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There’s a lot going on in the world today. Like any other day. People are angry about the ongoings of the justice system, as they should be. But I’m not going to write about that. I may weave it in, but there’s only so much anger I have welling up in me these days.

My thoughts have been focused on a new chapbook called City Impressions. I want to write like the French Impressionists painted: quick, almost unfinished sketches of daily life. I don’t want to overwork the reader. I want to elicit the simple beauty that comes with urban living. There are days we forget about it. There are days it’s difficult to see. Like today, as I reentered my body from dreamland, I saw my thoughts all tangled up in electrical wires.

It made me think about oppression of spirit.

I sat in my garden meditating on space, especially unfound, open space. I’ve always had this crazy idea that we humans can manifest pockets of earth. I don’t know where such a wild thought came from, or why it continues to stick around, but every time I sit on the ground for a long enough period of time, I am reassured that this is a truth. On the flip side, it has occurred to me that perhaps we’re not all capable of such feats of creation, so I don’t take the thought too seriously.

As I contemplated the sacredness of earth, a mockingbird perched on a nearby branch and made a small racket, a consistent clicking chirp. He looked at me as if trying to communicate a little bird secret. I tend to hear what nature is telling me, but today it just sounded like a click.

Perhaps when I fall asleep tonight, the mockingbird language will unfold in my dreams. So often that’s where I find the translations to what I can’t understand during the day.

I emptied kitchen scraps into the compost and it smelled not very pleasant. It had a slight whiff of rotting food. The interesting part is- once it takes time to decompose, the kitchen scraps will become a fragrant mixture of rain, sun, & earth.

When I cook a meal and sprinkle in spices & herbs (especially the ones I grow in my garden), I feel like I’m preparing a spell.

An hour or two before sunset I went for a walk and found a large empty lot turned into an urban garden. A number of raised beds and flowers and fresh soil dumped in one corner gave the place a feeling of livelihood. There were no gates blocking people out, so I walked through. It reminded me of my earlier meditations: unfound space & manifestations of earth.

I picked a rose and kept it in my hand, sniffing it sporadically as I walked around. Down the street, there’s a warehouse with ART AND INDUSTRY stenciled above the garage doors.

A few months back, I collected herbs & flowers and dried them over the course of a full moon. I kept them in a clay pot and lit them on fire in my garden. It charred & smoked and filled the air with wisps of plant spirits.

Reggaeton bouncing & bumping in passing cars, city blocks momentarily transform into dance halls and clubs. A simple pleasure fleeting.

It’s funny to see men doing roadwork on streets with yellow signs indicating children at play. Beneath the sign sit the workers’ empty lunch boxes. Meanwhile, they maneuver big yellow trucks pushing rocks and asphalt. A few guys stand off to the side. They admire the job and give words of direction. The world feels like a giant sandbox at times.

There’s a wheat paste of a woman with a simple statement written beneath her portrait, “You can keep your thoughts on MY BODY to yourself.”

Three old men sit on a ledge waiting for a bus. They look picture perfect, the morning light just right & angelic. I ask to snap a pic. One guy immediately says no. Another follows in suit shaking his head. The third gives me a boyish smile and a little shrug as if to say, “I don’t mind a photo, I’d actually enjoy one.”

The thunderstorms that roll in remind me of shadows from another world. The warm rain smells like Saturday mornings waking up late, drinking coffee, and reading old novels.

Some mornings we make breakfast. Some evenings we walk to dinner. I know she’s happy when she sings in the shower.

There’s a wall nearby with graffiti that reads loud & clear STOP THE VIOLENCE.

On the weekends, the neighbors around the corner sit outside and play dominoes.

I woke up the other morning to birds chirping & I saw for a moment the intermingling and connecting of hexagons

I don’t know how, but my mind’s eye translated the birds’ song

like a quantum beehive, or perhaps better described as a blueprint for lysergic acid diethylamide.

Whatever it was exactly, instead of those black notes dancing around, it resembled a molecular structure drawn on a living canvas; the hexagons breaking apart and reorganizing with every chirp, chirp, chirp until the sun came up and I was fully awoke.

Then off to work & I fall right into a city daze

a digital hustle
a modern day alchemical struggle
turning pixels into cash

sound systems reverberate row homes
arguments bounce off brick walls

little kids holding hands, cute as can be, going to & from school throughout the day

everyone moves like molasses

the skyline like a heartbeat
a lullaby of barbed wire & cracked concrete

feathers ruffle in heat
naked bodies ruffle in sheets

fire hydrants spurt water

ice cream trucks jangle a monotonous song of sweets

the smell of charcoal whiffs from backyards like stray cats appearing from alleyways

I eat mulberries off trees. They stain my palms purple like ink. Purple like the shit on picnic tables because the birds eat the mulberries too. It gives me a sense of communion: we share the wealth of trees.

Jazz nights at the local bar where I twist my hand into cursive. Beer foams, tobacco smokes. Tattoos cover the walls of souls.

Whenever I see fresh graffiti, it makes me stop and contemplate the banditry of artists. Like cave paintings or hieroglyphs, the symbols sneak inside the eyes and unlock creative places in the subconscious.

I go to the community garden an hour or so before sunset. There’s peacefulness during that time of day. You can feel the breeze. The birds flock in slow motion.

A portrait is painted on the sign there. Cesar Andreu Iglesias. I looked him up. He was a journalist and labor activist in Puerto Rico.

The tink of hammer against nail echoes off the surrounding walls. & I feel the spirit of Senor Iglesias smiling down as small acts of labor resound the air.

When I enter the garden, I water the pot on the head of the Mesoamerican statue near the entrance. It feels like worship, like I’m honoring those who came before. Comfrey is growing there.

I’ve been planting seeds.