Communing with Queer Ancestors
How do you commune with our queer ancestors?
"These dead are hungry. Fuck, dance, run, kiss, steal, eat decadently, sing, destroy, create. The energy of life, ecstatic life, draws them close, nourishes.
Let your kissing, dancing, fucking, creating, destroying move you into trance.
Give them space and adorn it lavishly. Speak to them there, where they are comfortable and at home.
The dead, and especially the queer dead, are unorganized, chaotic. Don't expect organization. Instead find nodes, affines, contact among them. They'll coordinate amongst themselves.
Learn their names, all their names, the secret ones too. All the better to call them by.
Research obsessively, research frantically, research ecstatically.
Study their codes, commit yourself to the argot, the signs, open yourself up to veiled messages.
Pay attention to subtle omens—on the radio, in thrift stores, bookstores, passing conversations—they work through synchronicity.
There is no such thing as a coincidence.
Pay especial attention to outcasts, ranters, mad-ones, drunks.
Experiment with divinatory modes: practice bibliomancy, pay attention to birds, scry in wine, quiet your mind.
Alter your state of consciousness with drugs, with fasting, with dance, with chant.
Hold vigils, visit memorials, pour libations, light candles..."
These are just some of the many suggestions and directions in First Protocols of Queer Goetia, a small zine I found at The Scarlet Sage in San Francisco. It has no attributed author; rather, it reads as if it has been authored by our honored queer dead. You can order your own copy of First Protocols of Queer Goetia from Contagion Press.
I hope today and every day you find ways to honor the ancestors who came before us, who lived in ways that made it possible for us to live our lives in freedom and struggle.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve had several students and friends ask me about my practices for cultivating well-being and healing.
One of my favorite rituals right now is making and drinking my morning coffee. As I make my pour-over, it’s like making a potion or casting a spell, bringing together water and earth, the heat of fire, and the rich aromas carried on the air. Lately I’ve been drinking Café du Monde coffee with chicory because it’s what my grandmother drank and it reminds me of my roots growing up in Louisiana. I’ve also been adding ground cardamom and ground cinnamon, which is more of a Middle Eastern and North African tradition, a region that gave birth to so much of the life and culture on our planet—including traditions like astrology that are integral to my worldview.
As I stir, I express gratitude for the people who do the work to bring water into my home, who farm and carry and roast and grind my coffee, for the artist who crafted my mug, and for my senses that give me access to this experience. My mug becomes a cauldron for the elements I hold as sacred, for memory, for gratitude and lineage.
When I take a sip, I experience it as a joyful reunion with my Self: the water of the coffee joining with the water of my body, the earth of the coffee and spices joining with the minerals of my body, the heat from the coffee joining with the keep generated by my own cells, and the aromas wafting off the surface of the coffee carried on my breath. It is a moment at the start of my day to recognize that I am not separate; I am not alone. I belong to a vast system of life in constant connection with itself, and those connections are sacred. Starting each day with gratitude, connection, and belonging—all with a cup of coffee—are such simple and important steps toward living into my own healing and well-being.
What are your practices for well-being and healing?
If you are looking for support in connecting to your own purpose, your own practice of healing, or making sense of your life and direction, I have consultations available on April 27 and May 25. You can visit my Bookings page to schedule a session.
I have been a witch almost as long as I’ve been a dancer. Art and magic, choreography and ritual, came into my life at the same time—the same years that I came to acknowledge and accept myself as a queer person.
As I have moved through and between these practices for nearly 20 years, I have come to recognize their deep inextricability in my life. Dion Fortune famously described magic as “the art of changing consciousness at will”—a definition popularized by Starhawk.
What we know as dancers—and yogis and body workers and healers, not to mention athletes, neurologists, biologists, philosophers, and so on—is that consciousness is embodied. To change consciousness at will is a physical practice; making magic is always doing so with and as a body, or as iele paloumpis teaches, witchcraft is a corporeal practice.
We also know that our bodies are part of—not separate from—the Earth. Every part of ourselves is constituted of this place, thus to recognize the Earth as sacred is also to recognize the body as sacred. Or, as Joy Harjo writes:
“Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.”
Over the last several years, I have been teaching classes and workshops on the ways in which we embody the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These are not symbols and they are not separate from us. These elements compose us, connect us to worlds within and beyond us. Doing this work in my dance practice has informed my magic-making and how I facilitate rituals. It has affected how I understand the elements in astrology and tarot. Invoking the elements, working with their energy and qualities, is to invoke and work with that which is inseparable from our humanity—yet remains irreducible to the human.
On March 1, I premiered a performance-ritual entitled “Elemental Rites at the End of the World” at the Wexner Center for the Arts. This piece is one way in which this body magic is fusing my art and my witchcraft. It is an effort to grapple with the sacred, with the more-than-human, in the context of devastating troubles. How do we call on the deep and abiding resources of our sacred connections to this planet while we as a species also hurdle ourselves through relentless violence and the threat of our own extinction?
You can view a video of this performance-ritual here: https://vimeo.com/325694048
Choreography, performance, and original text by Michael J. Morris
Videography by Abby Koskinas
Today is the Vernal Equinox, Ostara, the first day of spring. It is a time for celebrating new life, the crocuses sprouting up through the muddy earth of late winter, the return of birdsong, the buds of new leaves and flowers just beginning to sprout at the tips of branches. It is the midway point between the solstices, when the hours of daylight and nighttime are equal, the balanced place as we journey into longer days and the abundance of light. As the Sun moves into Aries—the sign of its exaltation—there’s a burst of energy, the spark of an ignition, the rush of sprinting into something new. Aries is a cardinal fire sign, and in many schemas, it is considered the first sign of the zodiac. It craves freedom and self-sufficiency, charging ahead into new situations and projects, blazing its own path, without necessarily concerning itself with the follow-through or outcome. With springtime beginning to blossom all around us, it certainly feels like the time for new beginnings, new experiences, new ventures, new loves, and new perspectives. But remember that Mercury is still retrograde until March 28, asking for patience, careful review, reflection, and in some cases delay. The equinox is a time of balance, and part of what we’re balancing right now is looking forward and looking back, processing what we’ve said and done as we dream that which is yet to come. With Mars—the ruler of Aries—in Taurus, our drive for erupting into the new may feel tempered by the grounding energy of slowing down, paying attention to body and earth, and finding our footing on solid ground.
Today is also the Full Moon in Libra, the sign of the scales, ruled by Venus. The Moon is gathering up the light of the Sun as it carries us into this new season, and sending it back to us in all its glory. The day and night might be equal, but the light will be constant. This lunar cycle is coming to its climax, reminding us that although some things are just beginning, other cycles are coming to their fullness or completion. We live within and between all of these processes, all of these cycles, and this full moon invites us to consider how we might use all this initiatory energy of the start of spring to also bring process that have already been unfolding into the light. Libra is a cardinal air sign that holds many perspectives and points of view in harmony. It is associated with beauty and grace and justice, and it understands that the more perspectives we can see and the more stories we can hear, the more beautiful our world might become. Justice will never emerge from a single point of view; the full flowering of justice requires us to reach out and listen to others who are not like us, and to find how multiple experiences and truths co-exist.
Blessings on this first day of spring and this full moon.
This is a big week in astrology:
On Tuesday, March 5, Mercury stations retrograde at the final degree of Pisces.
Then on Wednesday, March 6, Uranus ingresses into Taurus, where it will spend the next 7 years.
That same day, we have a new moon in Pisces in an almost perfect conjunction to Neptune in Pisces.
Mercury retrogrades happen multiple times a year. People talk about them a lot with anxiety or trepidation, or blame these periods for everything that’s going wrong. But Mercury moving retrograde is not a cause for panic; it’s a time for review, reflection, revisiting and revising the things we say, the messages we send, the stories we tell ourselves and one another. It’s a time for taking care, for remembering what Brené Brown has written: “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” This feels even more true and necessary as Mercury retraces its pathway through Pisces, the mutable water sign that turns us toward receptivity, empathy, and compassion. Pisces feels so deeply and is willing to allow what we feel to transform us, to set us in a new direction. With Neptune co-present with Mercury in Pisces, clarity might feel especially elusive, and boundaries may seem to dissolve when faced with the immensity of the world’s feelings or the process of reviewing our own narratives. Our task through this Mercury retrograde will be to remember—as Brené Brown has also written—“Compassionate people are boundaried people … If we’re going to practice acceptance and compassion, we need boundaries and accountability.” Mercury will station direct on March 28, so over the next few weeks, how can you take this opportunity to slow down, reflect on your own boundaries—what is and is not okay—and communicate those boundaries with clarity in order to practice deep, transformative compassion with those around you?
Uranus is the planet of disruption, upheaval, revolution, and radical invention. It spends 7-8 years in each sign of the zodiac. As it moves into Taurus on Wednesday—where it spent a few months in the middle of 2018, and where it will remain until 2026—seismic transformation will begin to rumble through whatever part of our charts Taurus occupies. Taurus is a fixed earth sign. It is steady and grounded, rooted in resources for sustainability and pleasure. Taurus knows that the sensuous awareness of body is one of our greatest teachers. It is reliable, sometimes even to the point of stubborn resistance to change. Uranus demands revolution. Some of our most steady and reliable support systems may be asked to change at both personal and collective scales. What would be a revolutionary approach to the wisdom of your own body? How might you invite disruption and invention into the ways that you resource your life and the lives around you? As Uranus moves through the Taurus part of your life, transformation will no longer feel optional. As we look around our world, it is obvious that revolutionary transformation is needed. How will you work with this need for change, rather than trying to resist or struggle against it?
All of this gets channeled into the start of this new lunar cycle, as the Moon and Sun meet up with Neptune in Pisces. The new moon of each lunar cycle is like the seed of the month ahead, a cycle that will climax and reach full visibility at the full moon. The full moon will be on Wednesday, March 20, with the Moon at the first degree of Libra and the Sun at the first degree of Aries—also known at the Vernal Equinox. This new moon in Pisces conjunct Neptune may feel nebulous, mysterious, and diffuse—especially with Mercury retrograde in the same sign. At this point in the cycle, it may not be clear where we are headed. This is a time for allowing yourself to drift in dream states, listen to the subtle vibrations of inspiration, the ebbs and flows that draw your attention in different directions. There is not a lot of focus at this new moon, but we know that this cycle is moving toward the balance of the equinox, the changing of the seasons at the Sun ingresses into the cardinal fire sign Aries and the Moon catches its light in cardinal air sign Libra. Alongside the much longer cycle of transformation initiated by Uranus in Taurus, over the next several weeks, we might be asked: what needs to change in order to move toward clarity and balance? What are we dreaming and imagining in watery Pisces this week that will launch us into a new season with the assertiveness of fire and air in the weeks ahead?
If you would like to talk through the astrology of your own chart and the wisdom the sky holds for you in the days ahead, I have consultations available in March, April, and May. Please visit the bookings page to schedule a consultation, and the offerings page to learn more about my approach.
Michael J. Morris is a witch, an astrologer, a tarot reader, an artist, a writer, and a teacher.