• The Swamp Issue

    Horoscopes as Aromascopes: June 2017

    The Swamp Issue
    Horoscopes 3

    Everything you need to know about the Earth opening up and swallowing your planets or the other way around.


    Corina Dross is an artist, astrologer, and rabble-rouser best known for her illustrated card deck, Portable Fortitude. Based out of Philadelphia for the last ten years, she’s currently splitting her time between the East Coast and the Northwest.


    Image by Ed Fairburn


    June 2017

    There are undiscovered worlds, and they are with us here and now. This isn’t the time to put all your faith in that one old, bad story of what is and isn’t possible. Dig around a little more. Pull apart the strands. Kick at that crumbling concrete. Pry off that boarded window. Risk discovery. Take risks to discover what else there is to know.

    As the Sun and Mercury move into Gemini this month, curiosity is our collective antidote to despair. How many ways can this thorny situation resolve? What would be the funniest outcome? What else is happening that we haven’t noticed yet? How else can we interpret these messages? Where have we skipped steps in our hurry to be right, to have a workable plan?

    Gemini energy is known for being quick, but it can also slow us down as it meanders and circles between worlds. If you see someone in the throes of a creative or intellectual inspiration, they’re usually standing slack-jawed and staring in the middle distance. We have to make space for insights. We have to invite our full range of perception in. Luckily, this month also brings us Jupiter moving forward after almost four months of retrograde motion. Jupiter is our faith in life, our sense of humor and delight, and everything that helps us grow and expand. For most of 2017, we’ve been slowed and blocked as we try to access hope and enthusiasm. We’ve been reassessing our blind optimism, our bad gambles, our blithe expectations that all will be well without us working hard to make it so. As Jupiter turns direct, we’re reaping the rewards of these efforts. This may come as a burst of energy for new projects. It may be easier to loosen the grip of fear.

    Fear constricts us; Jupiter is our innate desire to expand. Jupiter expands us through awe, laughter, and intuition. Jupiter is our ticket out of the dim and torturous country whose towns are named in variations on nihilism and despair. (“Turn left at Nihilism Fields, and when you reach Despair Junction you’ll know you’ve gone too far. Don’t worry, you’ll dead end at Despair Park and that’s just as shitty a place to be.”) Jupiter is the golden eagle swooping down to pick us up to remind us that geography isn’t destiny. We aren’t just earthbound, we’re creatures of many elements. This month offers an invitation to soar above the dead ends and obstructed roads, the desolate pits of accumulated sadness, and to see what else is happening in your world. This isn’t a turning away from what is hard, it’s a reorientation to your own capacity. Welcome it as such.

    In the airy and joyous spirit of the times, I offer these horoscopes as aromascopes: a collection of narrative scents, crafted like miniature bouquets to help you hold on to the profound feelings ephemeral experiences inspire. As always, the astro-literate are advised to read their rising signs first, followed by Sun and Moon, and everyone is welcome to choose the ones that resonate best with you this month. For in-depth readings and other astro-insight, find me at flaxandgold.com.

    “Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That's how the light gets in.”

    Leonard Cohen “Anthem”


    No two fires smell identical. Each smells like a different transformation. The smell of burning plastic alarms us, a bundle of burning herbs transports us. This month, the smell of a wood fire is your sigil – specifically split logs of dry cedar with papery skin that burn quickly but leave behind a smoky residue on your clothes and your friends’ clothes, marking you as kin, blurring your separate smells into one. This lingering campfire smell is living history; it’s the memory of having shared in a particular transformation that is both common and miraculous.


    The scent of the earth when it receives rain is called petrichor, and it is one of the most intoxicating fragrances. Though perfumers have tried to capture it in various ways, including the mitti attar distilled from Indian clay on the eve of monsoon season, the compounds that create the fresh, mineral smell arise from each separate environment to create a distinct sense of place. Petrichor in a humid pine forest smells sappy, petrichor in the desert rustles the oils of creosote out of dried earth. Your emblematic scent this month is a catalyst for pleasure, capable of collaborating with whatever place you find yourself in.


    Birthday candles have a different aroma than ordinary candles. Their wax drips differently, and picks up the sweetness of frosting and crumbs, of berries and chocolate and crimped paper plates. They smell most haunting right after they’ve been blown out, reminding us that memories are a stronger force than our fragile grasp on the present moment. Nevertheless, birthday candles remind us that we get to repeat our celebrations; that every year is a victory; that some of us were never meant to survive, but we have. This month, light a birthday candle and blow it out. Remember what gets to be born and reborn in you, despite all odds.


    Consider the stem of a tomato. Compared to the fruit, it’s a totally different beast. A ripe tomato smells mellow and fluid, while the stems smell sharp and peppery, almost as prickly as they feel. Another world entirely opens up when we pay close attention to what we usually ignore and discard – which includes the connections between what we use and what helped it arise, the scaffolding for what we want – all the secret joints and spines and conduits that let one state of being become another. It takes a long time to notice subtle forms of beauty, especially when they’re not immediately useful. Falling in love is one way in. Love helps us attune to details, to what delights us without us knowing why. Let love focus your attention this month, and let all the neglected beauty of life flood you.


    Pine needles in winter smell sharp and sticky, stirring memories of primordial forests and fairytales – even when you pick them up on a dirty street corner near the diesel fumes of the whirring generator neatly chopping excess height off bundled Christmas trees. In summer, pine needles give off a different scent, but you have to go to the pine forests to find it. Pine needles in summer turn golden, reflecting the sun. Their oils bake into the ground. They smell like heat itself. The stories they tell are more subtle, quieter. You have to put your head to the ground to hear them. This month, take advantage of the quiet to listen to a story you’ve never heard before.


    In your youth, your mother may have taken you on long walks through a certain neighborhood that always smelled of chocolate, with no business in sight that could account for that aroma. Long metal girders held up train tracks that bisected the tall buildings, each grey stone and glass, with windows that showcased exquisite pens or cappuccino machines. The intoxicating smell of chocolate made the dark buildings darker, the sophisticated window displays more sophisticated, and to your child’s mind promised a world of decadent pleasure that you feared you’d always be aware of and never be able to find. This month, you are close to the source. Don’t give up the hunt.


    Can you describe the smell of your lover’s neck? If you’re away from them now, it may be hard to reconstruct their particular smell. Most of us can’t call up a smell like we can a melody or a word – especially a fragrance as complex as the skin of someone we love. This may be the sharpest sting in separation, now that we can see and hear each other at any distance, albeit a little more tinny and pixelated than in the flesh. This month, reconstruct what you can’t perfectly remember. Mash together cloves and honey and your own sweat. Simmer bay leaves and fresh grass with brandy and unbleached cotton. Fill the world with something that can replace the beauty you can’t remember.


    Coffee beans smell like grass when they’re raw. Roasting draws out all the complex and bright and smoky aromas that tell us the history of each plant, where it grew in Kenya or Guatemala or the Philippines, what fruits and flowers shared its home, what color the sky was above it, how much it rained and whether the rain was welcome. The roasting process is intricate and long, including a resting period afterward for the beans to finish stabilizing. This is how their stories become fixed, become legible. This month, consider what intricate processes might help you share your full story. Do you want to be legible? Do you want to be known? What are the risks of staying hidden?


    Lavender’s clean, slightly medicinal scent is indicated for anxiety, insomnia, and any kind of nervous restlessness. The plant itself is useful for burns and soothing irritation. Lavender is an aroma that asks you to surrender. It cools heat. It can overpower. A little goes a long way. This month, decide how far you want to go to heal from recent events, and gather as many flowers as you’ll need to fully surrender to the journey.


    Your scent this month is saltwater in the wind. Subtle but tenacious, and good at untangling bad dreams and dissolving tarry knots of grief, saltwater brushes all your senses clean. You don’t have to see the ocean to know that wherever you are in this moment, the ocean is calling to the salinity in your body. Salt can be harsh medicine, but when it’s dissolved into a faint metallic smell on the wind, you can breathe it deeply. Let it wash away the barnacles, the sluggish thoughts, the disappointment. Let it rub you back to life, bringing the blood up into your face and filling your lungs like sails.


    A famous writer keeps a sprig of eucalyptus in her shower, where the hot water releases the oils on the tough leaves and refreshes them daily. Unlike many cut plants, the leaves won’t rot from water and heat. There is a tenacity to eucalyptus – like a good revolutionary, it’s anti-everything (bacteria, viruses, microbes, capitalism, white supremacy, and the like) and it has tremendous stamina! Choose the nouns you need to oppose and resist this month, and call on the delicate but powerful scent of eucalyptus – a poison to all but the most adorable of marsupials – to fight on your side.


    Some people hate the smell of coconut La Croix, finding it too close to suntan lotion. Others love it for the same reason. Which camp are you in? Is it exciting to imagine consuming something artificial and oily-sweet, slick with memories of sweaty hot summers? Or do you prefer the smell of snow – crystalline, blue, with a zing of ice at the core? This month, your sensual preferences come to the fore. Do you prefer the cloying heat or the piercing cold? Is alternating between them an option? What helps your heart beat faster? What memories do you want to reactivate through sensual activities?

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