the new moon in cancer for writers
This one took a minute. A head’s up that it’s about Roe, and Cancer energy, and how we show up for each other.
Also, just a reminder that my signature course Astrology for Writers: How to Make Your Writing Work for You is currently available for immediate download for the next two weeks only.
We are human because we connect, because we love. It was important to remember that this weekend, so I had a Zoom this weekend with one of my oldest and best sister-friends. We talked about how exhausted Anita Hill must be. Christine Blasey Ford. There is no joy in being a badb, a Cassandra. They told us. Indelible in the hippocampus. It would have been more comfortable to remain silent.
Roe is gone, but then, as many of us know, that has been the plan for a long, long time. It still hasn’t hit me in the body. I don’t know if it will; it’s been hitting me in the body since November 8, 2016. It felt gone then. It felt gone once Gorsuch and then Kavanaugh and then Coney Barrett — a true believer if ever there was one — were confirmed to the Court.
It has felt gone for years, even before that fateful election, as I watched Republican legislatures in my home states chip away hunks of it that everyone else ignored, because who cares what happens in flyover country? In Iowa, the state Supreme Court had just ruled on June 17 that the state constitution does not protect a fundamental right to an abortion (overturning its own 2018 precedent). But the state has long had a partial abortion ban. Abortions had been outlawed after 20 weeks, with enforced pre-procedure ultrasounds and a contentious 24-hour waiting period.
In Wisconsin, even before this awful week (where abortion access was officially shut down at 9:00a on Friday, July 24), the reality for those who needed abortions was a hell. Those seeking abortions also have been required to participate in counseling (which necessitates a second trip to a facility) and the 24-hour waiting period before undergoing the procedure since 1996. I wasn’t even nine years old then. People talk about the lack of rights their daughters will grow up with, as if the children of the South, of the Midwest, of the Mountain West — especially the Black children, the immigrant and first generation children, the impoverished children of all races and backgrounds in rural towns where the closest clinic may be more than 500 miles away — have grown up with easy access. Roe has been effectively gutted and DOA in much of the country for years.
The reason existing networks that well off coastal white women, mostly, are being exhorted to shut up, listen, and pay attention to are in place is precisely because abortion has never stopped being attacked. Because, for so much of the country, it has never been a guarantee, never stopped being limited to whatever scraps states could eek out. It is a blessing to live in a safe haven state, to be having the kind of experience where it feels surprising that this is happening. I can’t believe this is happening, I’ve seen so many saying, when this feels like the most believable thing in the world, the most logical outcome of the last few years of our country’s impending collapse. For so many, this is the tragic end of a long and expected road, for which the 2016 election was the final nail in the coffin.
But it is also not the end. We are, as ever, all we’ve got.
Right now, I’m reading How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong. A fitting book in light of yesterday’s New Moon in Cancer, which is, generally, a time to renew the Cancerian concerns of home and nourishment. To rethink what security means to us, and how we secure the future for ourselves and each other. To feel, even when we feel hopeless, but also to think smart and strategically about what our networks of care look like — especially when institutions, no matter their purported ideology, fail us.
In the introduction, Birdsong reflects on a special retreat she went on with other radical Black women — “we lingered, we listened, we inquired, we wondered / our rhythm was not driving and relentless, but continually transforming and spacious” — and the difficulty of re-entry into the real world. But unlike so many narratives that continually yearn for those mini-utopias, Birdsong is committed to finding ways to replicate aspects of that space in the here and now. “I’m not interested in having to step out of my daily life to have it or in creating a separate place in isolation from the rest of the world — that leaves too many people behind. We have to make it where we live.”
Right now, a lot of us are figuring out how to make it where we live. Not just in the immediate afterbirth of a post-Roe world, but in general: rent is high, money is tight, and, courtesy of inflation, shit is expensive. The American privileging of self-reliance and individualism at the cost of interdependent community networks — a narrative that only benefits those close to whiteness and masculinity, the people who have all the invisible help in the world — is poison to our bodies and our society at large. How do we care for each other when we can barely care for ourselves?
Cancer energy isn’t just nourishing; it is protective. Defensive. Rapids that you can get sucked down into. The Mississippi River’s current — dangerous and even deadly to get sucked into. Effective for transport, for processing and initiating change, but be mindful of trying to swim across on your own.
We were not meant to ford a river alone. We were not meant to do life alone. We are social creatures, meant for community. Interdependence is a healthy, even essential way of living.
These last few years, I have been decolonizing my own still-present ideas of what “family” or relationships may look like. This Cancer season, I am investing time in my friend-family, in my platonic and romantic relationship, and building community in ways that lift my people up.
In a difficult week, sometimes one full of anger, this has been the best part. The one that returns me to my own heart.
The ways we show up for each other, when institutions are crumbling, remind us that we are better together. That we are not alone. That we were never alone. That it is not on us, individually, to do all the work. That such a mindset is, itself, poison, the result of soaking in late stage capitalism that wants to isolate us, wants us to feel that we cannot talk to or rely on our neighbor.
Because if we realize we are connected to each other, and that we belong to each other rather than to an empty institution, we are a threat.
It would be more comfortable to remain silent — but as Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford knew, silence has a cost.
Writing Prompts for the New Moon in Cancer
What is your body telling you right now? What do you feel? What messages are you receiving?
What is bringing you joy?
What is family, home, nourishment, care to you? Where do these ideas come from? Are there gaps between your idea of the thing and the lived practice of it? If so, what do you want them to be?
P.S. My first book, Heretic, which comes out this October, has a lot to do with the grip evangelical fundamentalism has on this country. Publisher’s Weekly said the criticism was “excoriating,” and I will take that kindness to my grave. It’s a memoir-in-essays, so there’s a lot of personal narrative, but I go into purity culture, the connection between Christian martyrdom and school shootings, Originalist readings of the Constitution as it pertains to how evangelicals read their Bible, and more. If that is of interest to you, pre-orders are appreciated (and make a huge difference).
P.P.S. If you are able, here are donation links to the Iowa Abortion Access Fund and the Women’s Medical Fund in Wisconsin (which has been in the business of helping people get abortions since before Roe).