so, my mom died.
Well, well, well. Where have I been?
I have a good excuse. My mom died.
I didn’t predict my mother would die, but I had some heavy hints that my mommy issues were about to blow up. I knew it, even though we hadn't spoken in 3 years.
“Something is going to happen with my mom.” I told my husband.
“I don’t know what, but if I'm to believe this Jupiter in Scorpio stuff I'm reading, this would be the thing to stir up shadow-drama."
"So, if something does happen?"
And f'real, I said, "Then I will devote my life to astrology.”
Fatefully, Rachel Capurso--the sylphic astrologer at Aeolian Heart Astrology--invited me to join her course, DISCOVERY. I can’t even think about the moment I got her email, it still makes me ugly-cry. I printed off 3 copies of it to scotch-tape into my diary & my book of shadows, & onto my refrigerator. I splurged on a brand new journal to keep for the course, splattered with galaxies. I requested every book on beginner's astrology from the Tulsa public library system.
I was so fucking jazzed.
DISCOVERY started up the Monday after I took my mom off life support.
So, right now in DISCOVERY, we're learning about the maybe-comet Chiron. Through your natal Chiron, you can learn about your original medicine: the stuff your soul needs to play through its pain. Chiron shows you how to fast-track mega-self-healing. Your natal Chiron shows you the wound, then teaches you how to live with the pain.
BUT, you’ll never completely heal the wound. Your Chiron pain fuses to your DNA.
Your Chiron wound has been divinely prescribed.
Your pain is the Truth you are here to illuminate.
That’s not a bad thing. Like Chiron--the mythological centaur whom the comet is named for--our pain initiates us into our mastery. Chiron was the great teacher of many epic ancient heroes, like Jason & Hercules. Chiron was injured by a poisoned arrow (one of Hercules’), but was immortal. The poison was excruciating, so Chiron finally beseeched Zeus to trade places with poor Prometheus, chained to a rock for eternity while a vulture pecks out his liver on the daily.
OBVIOUSLY, obviously--Zeus was so moved that Chiron wouldn’t ask for his own freedom from pain, but offer to substitute for someone else, particularly someone punished for their altruism.
(Prometheus was the prototypical Robin Hood. So, maybe it would be, like, Noam Chomsky substituting for Snowden, if Snowden were apprehended. Mebbe. In super-simplified terms.
How synchronistic I would trip over this glyph at a time when I am forced to stare into the dark sparkle of my past. It’s like having my ass smacked by the universe: my deepest, most ineffable, most secret hurting talked about in the clinical third-person.
If an astrologer had reported all this to me directly, one-on-one, instead of me finding it through a learning module, I probably would have ran out of the room.
Oh, all that drama, that pain that has germinated your phobic insecurities?
Ya, anybody with that Chiron placement has got that goin’ on.
For me, Chiron shows up in the Eighth House: the house of sex, secrets, & shared resources. Pluto, God of Death, rules the Eighth House. The Eighth House corresponds with Scorpio, the aspect of the zodiac wheel that turns through deep visceral-emotional psychic feeling. This is the danger-zone, but also, the sexy zone. Realm of the taboo, death, obsession, & melancholy.
What doesn’t kill you will be under your control.
What doesn’t drive you mad will bring you to Awakening.
Because my Chiron is in Gemini, my healing path lies in nurturing Gemmy abilities, like perception, communication, & self-integration. Remember, Gemini is symbolized by the twins—the conscious & shadow selves—who desire nothing more than to swirl together into One Self. At the heart of the process of self-integration is self-love: learning to adore our dark sparkle, the aspects of ourselves we are loathe to lay claim to.
Gemini abilities, like perception & communication, are certainly stymied by Eighth House conditions, which promote secrecy & (what I would describe as) smothering darkness. Gemini wants a breezy chat over white wine spritzers, but the Eighth House is like a biker bar on the Mexican border—the kind of joint you know has vampires or drugged up tweens in the basement.
The healing protocol for a star witch with this placement is learning to do Gemini in the zone of life corresponding to the Eighth House.
My particular pain from this placement--natal Chiron in Gemini in the Eighth House--is described in the official book of Chiron (titled Chiron):
HOW TO FIND YOUR NATAL CHIRON
Chiron has a wonky, slow orbit, taking about 50 years to return to your natal position. Wonky, because it sort of zig zags around the signs, as opposed to all the other planets, which move counter clockwise through the zodiac. Chiron spends irregular amounts of time in each sign: the longest in Aries, the shortest in Libra.
To find Chiron, pull up your natal chart. You can score one for free from astro.com: hover your cursor over Free Horoscopes. From the dropdown menu, select...
When you have your natal Chiron, hit Google. Without an astrologer, you won't find a ton of information about your natal Chiron in the sign PLUS Chiron in the house, but you will find enough articles about both, which is plenty to start thinking about your own journey.
And remember--Jupiter goes direct (in ♏️) on July 10th! So, between now & then, you still have some mellow retrograde energy to work with while probing the boundaries / quality of your Chiron wound. Mercury also goes retrograde on July 28th, which is kind of a perfect occasion for reflection / introspection, so take the opportunity to slow down, lean back, & think deep about what you learn about your soul-pain.
Then, when you're ready, do the shadow work. I list my favorite resources, references, & therapies in this post, which can get you started.
For me, because the Chiron learning process was happening alongside major grieving, it's been slow. I try pushing forward, but the weight of the process bears down, so I can move at only a crawl.
And a busy crawl, at that. All this astro-infused healing eats up a ton of #NetflixandChill time. (Which is good. Watch more stars than Netflix, okay?)
And the deeper I go, the more I discover the roots of my personal pain going further back than just my mother. It's wounding that has recycled through generations, tweaked a little by the slow gyrations of the outer planets. (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, etc., which move hella slow, impacting us as on a peer-level.)
But I've been getting these hits of sparkle. True medicine. I'm feeling more courage for making myself understood--a major insecurity for natal Chirons in Gemini--which is the reason this post can even happen.
Remember, on the other side of courage is confidence. Speaking from personal, recent experience: if you're feeling a less than courageous about confronting any major wound--let alone one so cosmically ordained--learning about the process can kindle your heart-fire!
Hereon, this post is about my experience with my mom's passing--one of the most gorgeous life experiences of my life.
If you want to talk full-circle moments, this year--the year of jolly Jupiter's jaunt through chthonic Scorpio--has been exquisite.
Like, a long sighhh in savasana.
For more about Chiron, stayed tuned for my next post, which will be all about the brass tacks of Chironic healing.
And I’ve seen this road a thousand times // A thousand times
For most of my life, my mom was a functional alcoholic. She was “normal.” She showed up to work & went to the dentist. She drove a convertible & took Hawaiian vacations. She hosted movie nights for her friends & was BFFs with her mother-in-law.
That was not the woman who brought me up. When my dad died, I was 5, & everything bottomed out. First her husband; a couple months later, her mother. Later that year, our house burned down.
(My stepfather turned out to be the arsonist, but that didn’t come to light for a decade. Secrets & lies; hella Eighth House drama.)
When I think about that noise, it doesn’t feel like my pain--I feel like I was piggy-backing on this horrible thing that happened to my mom, which drove a very cool (avant-garde French cinema cool), sweet-hearted gal into the Underworld, where she transmogrified into Baba Yaga.
The descent was her journey. Mine was the ascension.
Fast forward to 6 months ago, when my mom was living out of a Ford Ranger, which had black crows & telephone poles brush-painted along one side.
Because after the house burned, we moved from the CA central coast to the Pacific Northwest, into the goddamn forest.
My mom was obsessed with my dad. She watched a video tape of my dad’s funeral on a loop every night, sipping vodka without a chaser & chain-smoking, until going unconscious, curled up on the piss stained carpet
I still get emo when I hear Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You.” That was the soundtrack.
I fucking hated that video. I destroyed three copies--smuggling it out of the house, into the woods, ripping out the ribbon, then leaving it for the earth to swallow.
I don’t know where she kept getting new ones. That's the real dark magic, here: who was giving her more tapes??
When I heard her snoring, I’d creep into the living room to power down the TV & the lights, then lock the doors. Sometimes the oven was on or water would be boiling in a saucepan, so the air was wet. In the middle of the night, our house smelt like like rust, piss, & BO.
Afterwards I’d scuttle back into my room, like a traitor, though I couldn’t say which side of the betrayal I was on. I just felt… ashamed. For not cohering, I guess.
I’d get back into bed & pray to my dad.
If you’re a ghost, please help Mom. All this wastes electricity & isn’t good for the earth.
When my step-dad started hitting me, I started praying for myself.
Pleeeease, use your spirit-powers to make him go away, or make Mom wake up, or send a message to one of the aunts [I have hella aunts], so they can lead a rescue mission.
If you still love me in Heaven, you would help. You wouldn’t leave me in this.
Would you? Idk. I barely knew you.
Why would you leave me here?
So, that’s what 4th grade was like.
Leaning over you here // Cold and catatonic // I catch a brief reflection // Of what you could and might have been
My mom was on life support for a week. She was on a machine called the ECMO, which pumps blood for your heart. No one has lived for longer than a month on the ECMO. Unless you have a heart transplant lined up when the ECMO is disconnected, you’re going to die. The ECMO has no end game, except prolonging heart failure.
And you are alert enough to know it, see it, feel it. You are chatting with the staff right up until they wheel you into the OR, where it’s a coin toss whether or not you ever regain consciousness once the tube is yanked out. Once the anesthesiologist puts you out, you are... probably going to stay out.
Because it’s the same broken heart.
My mom went to Urgent Care one morning, because a foot ache she’d been complaining about became so severe, she couldn’t stand.
Meaning, she couldn’t drive. Especially not a clutch.
Meaning, she ran out of stash & went into the DTs.
For someone who had spent the last 25 years drinking herself to sleep, this was bad fucking news.
At the Urgent Care, a savvy nurse was like, “Girl, this foot pain is a blood clot, & you’re in trubbs.” In a matter of hours, Mom was transferred to San Francisco, where a tube was jammed into her groin, into her artery, into her heart.
Late at night, after the aunts & uncles drove back to their hotels, I stayed in the ICU, listening to “Awake” by Tycho on repeat, eyes closed, visualizing my mom’s heart blooming like a fleshy pink rose, strong enough to hurtle clean, fresh blood to her feeble organs.
Back to praying to dead fathers.
I wanted that second chance way more than my mom. I needed it. I stunk like desperation & regret. I fawned over the nurses, who mostly avoided eye contact. You’re trying too hard, I could feel them thinking.
I did not want my mom to die feeling ugly & unworthy. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed about shutting my my mom out of my life--that wasn’t why I felt such a cause to make this… process... feel easy.
Because I am capable of Love-capital-L, not tinged by resentment, woe, or grief.
Because, shadow work.
Because, not spending 24/7 in a stinky hospital in an icy-cold city by the sea would be just more of me playing out the drama of our shared past.
What I know about me: I don’t want to be middle-aged & still going to talk-therapy about my mommy issues.
I don’t want to still be moaning about my childhood trauma during the years my own child is making his memories.
And I don’t want to keep believing--because it’s such a cozy, worn-in belief, like the Easter Bunny--that my wound is totally my own, that I am a victim.
You’re only a victim if you die.
Here’s what Chiron has taught me:
Wounding is predicated by wounding.
While I was pregnant, I was consumed with a fire to heal, heal, heal. Prenatal yoga in the AM & Intervention in the PM. Intervention was free therapy. I forgave my aunts for never confronting Mom about her drinking. I realized enabling is just another form of codependency.
I also realized (& learned to accept) that most people are confrontation-phobic, so they never learn how confronting can actually be super fucking cleansing. Cathartic. Healthier than “keeping the peace,” or whatever you call it.
Confrontation builds a doorway in the middle of an airless room. You might not walk right into what you want, but the room will definitely change. New conditions to work with.
As it turns out, cathartic shadow work is a major theme when Jupiter transits Scorpio, & I was intuitively preparing for it way back while Jupiter was still transiting Virgo. I was applying shadow work to my momma-drama hella days before it would matter. It was basically a shadow work primer: learning the medicines & rituals that I would end up relying on.
I will not recycle old karma onto a new little dreamer. I will learn to metabolize sorrow. I will crush sorrow open, then swirl its dark sparkle with my seething rage into a green smoothie, which I will suck down without wincing.
My mom was a dark queen of renunciation, melancholia, & dark nights of the soul. My mom abused me, because she was abused. She did not know about Love without grief or sorrow.
Okay, to be honest—I started doing the shadow work to spite my mother: to prove that her life was not the only outcome for a miserable childhood. My bad childhood was her bad childhood, just like her childhood was her mother’s bad childhood.
It’s all one shadowy memory preserving itself.
So, to be clear, my sorrow isn’t just mine--it was my mother’s, it was her mother’s mother’s, & so on. My mom only knew how to navigate one kind of relationship: one where betrayal & conspiracy are the bedrock of intimacy.
There is no bond like secret pain.
Researching what Chiron in Gemini specifically has illuminated for me: as long as it’s secret, you’re under its power.
As long it feels incommunicable--like a private virus--you're its prisoner.
Eventually, you have to take off the bandage & let the wound breathe. For someone, that might mean confession. Or it might mean laying it all out.
If I didn't tell her (if I didn't tell her) // I could leave today (I could leave today)
My mom was born 12/8/1953. Her Life-Path Numerology: 2. According to Boulter’s system in Angels & Archetypes, my mom’s Patron Goddess would’ve been Isis.
She lives in the Realm of the Underworld. My mom was definitely an Isis, but she was another Goddess as well: Baba Yaga, the hag, the Renouncer. The archetype for self-composting & resurrection.
This is who I am & how I want to be--get out of my way or leave me the fuck alone.
My mom drank to numb the secrets pressing on her tongue. She worried at family pain like it was a cavity in a her tooth. That pain amassed gravitas from all her concentration, until it transmogrified into a psychic tumor, sucking energy from other organs of her life.
My Life-Path Numerology: 5. The Life-Path for creative awakening, ideological resourcefulness, & ascension from the Underworld. I know in my fucking heart that I am invulnerable to regression: I will never have to return to Hell. My piece has already been spent. I was meant to front-load the experience, so that I may speak Truth about what Hell really is.
So, I’m glad for it. All of it.
If our pain is an initiation, then I do feel loving gratitude for my tenure in the Underworld.
I feel gratified for every tear, drop of blood, & unanswered prayer.
Because I was initiated, & she who initiated me was a grand master of Underworld drama. I saw her soul's perfection with the moon & clouds & sunset refracted in tower windows outside the hospital window.
She was not a monster. She never was.
In woo-woo terms, she was just doing her own thing.
Life is rife with paradoxes. My mom was monstrous to us, her kids, but she was also the most selfless person I’ve ever known. My mom was everyone's first disciple. When not hiding in the bathroom, chain-smoking & scribbling in spiral-bound notebooks, my mom waited on you hand & foot. She’d set up your new WiFi router, drive you to the airport, dogsit, stay all afternoon researching Eviction Law at the library.
She didn’t graduate high school, but she had a MENSA IQ. She could figure anything out, even if she had to stay up all night & meditate through a whole pack of cigarettes to crack it. My uncle was a NASA rocket scientist & they could rhap for hours about quantum mechanics.
She saw things you couldn’t. She sirened you into her fairy world. My mom’s pain & beautiful mind made her an outsider to ordinary human stuff, but she was perfect company for a dark night of the soul.
I think that’s why she made her life into a dark night.
My mom also saw ghosts. She knew impossible-to-know details about strangers she’d just met, like their sun sign or whether or not their mother was alive, dead, or dying. She was damaged, mean, & psychic AF, but also poignant & nice.
I still daydream about what I would do with her gifts. How could I be useful?
Which begs other questions, like, What would I have to overcome in order to use those gifts?
Mom’s surgeon came to speak with us. His tender bravado from our earlier meeting, in the ICU, poof, gone. The ECMO was out of the picture, but Mom was now on a breathing tube & unconscious.
This was the end. She went into the OR fully alert, but would not regain consciousness.
Her last words, as they wheeled her beyond the doors, were, "I'm scared." Her anestheiosoligist came looking for me afterwards, crying--with snot bubbles, racoon-eyes, & everything, to tell me, "She wasn't scared! I did everything I could! But I'm sorry, I'm very sorry..." Then she ran away from me.
We made arrangements for extracting the breathing tube. Her heart could barely pump; it more like squeegeed blood. Without the breathing tube, eventually, blood would begin pooling inside her. Organs would shut down one-by-one, suffocating from lack of oxygen. That’s how she would die.
My husband (at home with our toddler) texted me, Get eucalyptus oil & bring a diffuser into her room. I found a little lotus-shaped diffuser in the hospital gift shop, but they didn’t have eucalyptus. I bought an oil blend of lavender, chamomile, & orange. I chose it because of the name, Beaux Réves.
Sweet dreams were my last words to her.
Seize upon that moment long ago // One breath away and there you will be
My mom died in San Francisco on February 27th, 2018. She died in a numb-y, dreamy medical fog with 13 members of her family crammed around her in the ICU. It took a few hours. It sounded like ragged snoring.
After the ECMO tube was removed, she was returned to a new room in the ICU with a third story view of the city. After she was posted up, they pulled out the breathing tube. Her body bucked, then settled in the middle of the bed. She tilted her face towards the window & the light.
When she died, at 5:09 PM, the moon was waxing in Leo, rising between 2 towers. The window faced north & it was overcast in that direction, a smokey blue wall of clouds behind the skyline & moon. If you looked left & pressed your cheek against the window, you could see a pale yellow sunset & a slice of the steel-gray ocean.
I think it was the first time I’d ever seen my mom want to be in the light. I held her hand until I felt it melting, my fingerprints indenting the skin. I whisper-sang the chorus to “Blue Moon,” the slow version, because it was my dad’s favorite. I whispered the chorus over & over (the only part I know) until certain she was mostly out of her body.
I sprinkled more oil over the little lotus shaped diffuser on her pillow.
Then she flew to the moon.
This is just a story. I don’t have any tips or takeaways to give you, except for my personal urging to go find out your natal Chiron, so you can start unraveling the epic cosmic saga of your own secret pain.
In fact, right now, I’m drafting this post while my 2-year-old naps. The sun is glowing through the patio door, & I’m hoping I’ll feel lighter once it’s posted. I’m listening to the soundtrack I made about my mom’s death. Because I’m an aesthete, & that’s what we do.
In the first weeks, I felt like I was on a forced detox. All my old habits & thoughts & feelings didn’t fit the scene anymore. I couldn’t muster the same jouissance for my fav little vices, like middle of the night Neflix binges or a secret joint smoked out on the patio.
When I go out on the patio, most nights, I see the moon. But the moon is different. I feel the moon watching me.
Night blooming flowers. Sparrows. Menthol cigarettes. Old world merchant ships. Moonlight. The Pacific Ocean. The library, omg, the library. Halloween time. Watching the same movie on a loop, all day, for at least a week. Radio static & the freeway humming beneath our tires. Chapstick & wedgies. Re-telling family stories, from the good ol’ days, when Dad & Nana were alive, until she was crying-laughing, & everyone around her was either pissing their pants or clutching a rib.
Obviously, I wish I could share my life with her. But I can’t even picture her in it. It would be like Anjelica Houston’s character from The Witches showing up on Gilmore Girls.
In my world, darkness is not closed off. Darkness is allowed to scamper across the room. We let it on the couch on special occasions.
Our darkness is our healing.
Here's what I know for sure: the blackest, darkest night of your soul is the halfway point to the light.
You saw me standing, alone
Without a gleam in my heart
Without a love of my own
(Without a love of my own)