• The Toxic Issue

    April Horoscopes

    The Toxic 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.

    Bernie thing


    April 2016

    [SCENE 1: The first week of April]

    Curtain opens on a shadowy figure in an overcoat stumbling through an industrial part of the city, a little bit before dawn. Their movements are uncertain and dreamlike. They seem to be searching for something, stopping frequently to change direction.

    As they approach a trash can fire with flames reaching almost as high as the rooftops, they see an energetic person stomping on a wooden pallet nearby. They lift their head and let their coat fall open, to reveal that they are THE SUN. Radiance streams from them. URANUS gives them a friendly nod and continues smashing up bits of wood as the sky grows rosy with dawn.

    THE SUN: I thought I’d never get back here. 

    URANUS: I knew you’d find it. 

    THE SUN (vaguely): I’ve been having strange dreams. I feel like I’m only just waking up. Terrible things were happening.

    URANUS: That sounds about right. Here, drink this (offering THE SUN a thermos).

    THE SUN (drinks deeply and shakes themselves): That’s not just coffee, is it? What’s in that, cayenne? Vinegar?

    URANUS: A few things. Memories of the future. Seeds of unripened explosions. The courage you’ll need for what we’re about to do. 

    THE SUN (nodding): Thank you. (pause) I thought I might have been a moth. I was hiding from the rain, and terrible things were happening. I knew I was in disguise, but as a moth all I could do was feel thunderous vibrations rumbling through me, making me faint and dizzy. I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do.  

    URANUS: (handing THE SUN the thermos again): Drink a little more. Are you feeling more like yourself yet?

    THE SUN: Yes. I’m starting to remember that I’m made out of fire … and that I’m not afraid of thunderstorms. 

    URANUS: Good. You’re right about the terrible things, though. The worst of it is the paralysis – the turning inwards and giving up because it seems nothing will ever change. It’s already changing, though. I’m about to make that very apparent – to show that empires can and will crumble. Care to join me? 

    THE SUN: Are we going to do something risky, reckless even? 

    URANUS: Yes, of course. 

    THE SUN: Will it help me feel free and alive? Will it help me remember who I am?

    URANUS: What do you think?

    THE SUN reaches a hand into the trash can fire and lets the flames lick up the arm of their overcoat, until they are fully ablaze. The day grows bright. They link arms with URANUS and walk towards the tallest buildings on the horizon.

    [SCENE 2: The second week in April]

    Interior of a mansion, recently the residence of a governor. Chandeliers and colonial oil paintings hang above rooms thick with people, none of whom seem accustomed to this environment. Some are in prison jumpsuits, some in hooded sweatshirts, some in makeshift costumes and many in ordinary clothes. There is an air of exhausted revelry, like the morning after Mardi Gras. In one corner the wounded are receiving treatment, while in another people are sorting through boxes of food. An androgynous youth is leading this effort. 

    MERCURY: 10…15…17, okay 17 loaves of gluten-free bread. These go to the allergen-free section. Not the vegan section, except this one. Do we need a vegan-and-allergen-free section? Am I overthinking this? (looking out at the assembled clumps of people) Is anyone here vegan and allergic to gluten? Can I just see a show of hands? (a few hands go up) Good, okay. Where’s the gathering committee? Are they back yet?

    As they ask this, JUPITER enters with a small crowd of people. Each is carrying a cardboard box full of groceries and supplements, and JUPITER clears space on the table for these new supplies. In the back of the crowd isPLUTO , who carries only a rifle.

    JUPITER: There is more, but we couldn’t carry it all. We can go back later, if we need to – the streets are empty. This should be enough for all of us, and the ones who are still coming. 

    MERCURY: What do you mean, the streets are empty – the cops? The fascists?

    PLUTO: Gone, or disarmed. 

    JUPITER: It’s true. The city is ours. 

    [SCENE 3: The last week of April]

    A rooftop at night. Couples and groups spoon on blankets, watching THE MOON sing. She is a tall, dark-skinned drag performer in a glittering dress. She holds her own flashlight as a spotlight, and periodically shines it across the audience, exposing people in mid-embrace. VENUS disengages from a pile of lovers and stands apart with URANUS , who is looking down at the city

    VENUS: Come on, join us. You can relax now, at least for tonight. We’ve won. 

    URANUS: I know it sounds strange, coming from me, but I don’t believe in winning. There’s no such thing as Utopia. We’re more free tonight than we were yesterday, but that doesn’t mean the struggle is over. 

    VENUS: Tell me where you see the struggle now. 

    URANUS (turning back to the party): Our social relations are a trap. Gender and race are tools of control. Even amongst friends, especially between lovers, we see this cycle of violence repeat. There is no final horizon we can cross and say, that’s it, we’re free now, now we can just relax and enjoy our lives.  

    VENUS (sliding an arm around URANUS’ waist): But what compels us toward struggle except love? Why have we fought so fiercely except for each other? If there’s no end to struggle, there’s also no end to our capacity for transforming through love. I think that’s worth celebrating. 

    THE MOON (finishing her song): It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me … and I’m feelin’ good.


    References to the legendary phoenix, who self-immolates and then rises from its ashes, may not be amiss for you this month. Starfish that lose an arm and can regenerate the missing limb are another apt metaphor. Superheroes transformed by accident into someone outside of society, yet doomed to save it, may also be applicable. In each of these instances, the cataclysm that prompts this miraculous transformation is never fun. Luckily for you, that happened last month. This is the month you begin to take a new form, and test out your new powers. It will be alarming at times, but you’ve already been through the worst. 


    To name it is to give it life, some say. Others avoid saying the name of someone they fear (Voldemort, Yahweh), or of naming something they wish to remain powerful (a strong passion, an unformed creative idea). Knowing someone’s true name confers power over them not just in fantasy novels but also in the real world of activists and informants. Names are serious business. There are many arguments against naming, but the best argument in favor of it – the one that just might sway you this month from your stalwart attachment to formlessness, is that we are unable to truly perceive something we have not named. In cultures where there is no word for the color blue, the ability to perceive that color as a distinct hue is greatly diminished. What do you want to be able to see more clearly? Where are you failing to see the subtleties and nuances? First, notice what you haven’t yet been able to name. In time, a true name will come to you. 


    The burning bush appeared to Moses in the Old Testament as a plant ablaze with flames, but not consumed by them. Scholars have speculated the plant may have been Dictamnus albus, a flowering shrub that releases a fragrant, lemony oil that is so flammable it can readily catch fire in the hot winds of summer (letting the volatile oil burn its flowers, but leaving the plant intact). Others blame the vision on an entheogenic plant named Haoma, which was possibly the Persian medicinal plant Peganum harmala. Entheogenic substances are so-called because they "generate the divine within," and include all plants that are used in religious rites to alter the consciousness. They key to the story of the burning bush is that the divine power of the fire did not destroy the plant that hosted it. Whatever unaccountable conflagrations appear to you this month, offer your thoughts and words as the air that moves through and with the fire, but not your body as the fuel that it consumes. 


    Amongst the medicinal actions that certain plants possess, two are worth paying special attention to this month. The first are astringents, which have the property of constricting tissue and extracting toxins. Including witch hazel, willow, and green tea, these are a tightening, toning influence that dries up any excess muck that’s clogging our systems. The second are demulcents, whose name comes from the Latin for “to caress.” These herbs coat and soothe the parts of our bodies that have gotten too irritated and dry – these include slimy preparations of marshmallow root or slippery elm. Of course, the best medicines combine astringent and demulcent properties, like comfrey and plantain do, combining both fierce and gentle actions. I think you know where in your life you need to start applying this kind of combined force; your efforts to be alternately fierce or gentle will never be as fully effective.   


    Don’t make the mistake this month of taking for granted the uni-directional, linear nature of time. It seems like a solid premise; you’ve never yet noticed yourself growing younger instead of older, or being early for an appointment that you’d overslept by several hours. Yet, our orientation from the past toward the future is inherently faulty. This month, do what you can to shift your perspective and see how the future creates the past: how what we imagine and aim ourselves towards shapes the ripples in our wake. One recommended practice: Write love letters backwards. Begin at the end of the romance – the end you want it to have – and write to your beloved from a place of shared history, of being shaped by one another. Write your gratitude for this future shape, that they have made possible. Grow old, and then grow young again with this person. Work your way back to the first pangs of excitement you felt on meeting them. Let your future create your histories. 


    You know you love a challenge. Even when you can’t stop complaining about it, your life is enriched by whatever problem you’re trying to solve. In the months that Jupiter’s been in your sign, you’ve been borrowing a godlike power – and while it’s exciting having lightning zapping from your fingertips when you point at anything meaningfully, this power may have fooled you into believing two false premises: 1) electrifying is the universal solution, and 2) it is your responsibility to find a solution. Figure out what’s your business and what isn’t, and step firmly and politely away from everything that’s not. For all the problems you’ve lovingly claimed as your own, invite others into the fun of solving them – promise them you won’t zap them if they think about things a little differently than you do. 


    You know that recurring dream that you’re in a speeding car and you aren’t the one at the wheel? Sometimes there’s an actual driver who’s acting like a maniac, but usually it’s just you in an empty car, desperately trying to steer and brake from the passenger’s seat or even the back seat, frantically aware that you’re headed towards traffic or a cliff. Perhaps, like David Bowie, you find yourself always crashing in the same car. Perhaps you have already adopted the nightmares of future generations, and find yourself trapped in a self-aware car capable of driving itself, that has decided suicide is its best option. Whatever the scenario, it is marked by your panicked sense of powerlessness and impending doom. This month, you’ll be surprised to discover that there is a way to change this dream – and it’s not through brute force but through persuasion. You may not be able to reason with the car, but you can appeal to its better nature. The more relaxed you can be as the scenery spins by, the better your chances of slowing the merry-go-round before you wake up with your heart pounding. Bonus points if you begin to lucid dream and transform the car into a hot air balloon. 


    It’s as though you had to leave your home suddenly and come to a new town, where you were given dinner and a room to sleep in with a bed somebody had died in. They didn’t tell you that part, but every night you could feel that ghost sleeping beside you – sometimes restless and thrashing their legs, sometimes just peacefully breathing. But you didn’t have the resources to change things – to move, or buy a new bed. You could sleep on the floor, but then the ghost might step on you in the night as it paced and flung the curtains open to look for the moon. After many nights like this, you began to feel as though it was you that died in that bed. Every night, you headed to your own death, one you couldn’t name to those around you, and woke up knowing you would die again today. This began to feel ordinary. This month, you will first remember that you are not a ghost, doomed to haunt this small room in an unfamiliar house. You will also find a way to turn this ghost (that is not you) loose into the world. The full moon on the 22nd may be instrumental in doing this. Finally, you will remember what resources you have to move (if you want to), or at least create a better place to rest.  


    Scientists have recently discovered that it is, indeed, possible for something caught within the event horizon of a black hole to escape – if by “something” you include quasar winds, which are some sort of energy that splits from the matter absorbed by the black hole and is then hurled at 20 percent of light speed back into space. As black holes are fairly common in the universe, lurking in the center of every galaxy and enforcing the “let’s not clutter all this lovely emptiness up with too many stars or planets” principle of cosmic design, this is important information. It’s important for you, too, as this month you may feel yourself caught by something massive and powerful (though common enough) that compels you to leave something weighty behind and let the rest of you go hurling off in a new direction. Make sure you stay light enough not to get dragged down.


    This month you get to show off what you’ve been learning in the School of Creative Destruction. You’ve been enrolled in this program for half a dozen years now, and it’s where you’ve been learning that you can’t just keep steadily building a life, with measured and conservative movements – but that burning bridges, chaotic reversals, and shifts in your own sense of self are integral to the process of becoming as strong and capable as you are becoming. Dazzle us this month with what you’ve learned. Ideas for your recital may include: Ways to Destroy a Prison Wall; Unbinding, Erasing, and Rewriting Holy Books; Destroying Your Reputation to Free Your Inner Fool. 


    It’s time to stop hating your body – way past time, really. It’s okay if you’re a little late to the game, as you’re probably surrounded by folks who hate their own bodies and feel that being in a body is some kind of competition that only a few people can win. They may have even critiqued your body, in a misguided attempt at encouragement, a kind of coaching to help you win the race. Luckily for you, you get to walk away from that whole situation this month and remember that your body is a vessel for all kinds of strange and marvelous experiences. What kinds of alchemical experiments do you want to attempt with the solids and fluids of your body? If you can menstruate, can you release not only an unfertilized egg but also the toxic seeds of patriarchal violence? Can you remind your kidneys that not only urea, sodium, and various chemicals need to get flushed out of your system, but also the capitalist conditioning that makes you believe your worth is dependent on your productivity? Sweat out some codependency. Spit out internalized racism. There are so many fun experiments to try.


    Acatalepsy may be the story you’re sticking to (the doctrine that everything is unknowable and incomprehensible, as proposed by the ancient Skeptics, who believed we could know nothing with any certainty), and it’s clearly a better position than some kind of Cartesian dualism, but events of this month may require you to entertain the Stoic idea of katalepsis: that is, that some perceptions (called kataleptic phantasia) may refer to real things, and that these things can be known by their special marks. In this way, you can tell the difference between your dog and an impostor dog or a dream of a dog or a trick of the light. In the same vein, you might have a kataleptic phantasmic perceptions, which would refer to true knowing of something that arise from within your own mind. What are the special marks, the trail of breadcrumbs, the signal flags you use in your own mind to help you determine what is true and what is false? 

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