I was diagnosed with endometriosis this year. After years of physical and emotional pain I now understand that my hormones have been to blame for this. My body inherited the disease from my maternal grandmother. I have thought a lot about what factors contribute, biologically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I believe there isn't one angle from which to fully understand this thing.
I have thought about intergenerational trauma and intergenderational trauma, if you will. The latter is a term I have coined to speak of the trauma that connects women and femmes via a femme collective unconscious; a web of meaning and socio-cultural language that binds all feminine experience. If my body carries the trauma of my ancestors, I have a great deal of repressed emotion, self-denial and sacrifice, resentment and disdain for the gendered barriers (including people, institutions and ideologies) that stifled my mother, grandmother and so on.
Lilith in Cancer indicates the darkness within me that calls to be healed is having to do with the maternal feminine, emotional regulation, and my relationship with nurture and care of myself and others. I recently explored this astrological placement in depth, stunned by its spiritual relevance to my current circumstance. This was not the first time I had received this guidance from the universe.
I found myself healing from a codependent queer relationship last year. I undertook a process of deep introspection and serious self work. One of the takeaways from this process was an understanding that I was denying myself by conflating my reality, values and identity with those of my partner. Learning how to nurture myself and break out of patterns of self-denial has been transformative.
As a queer femme and a feminist, one of my greatest spiritual challenges has been around my gender and sexuality. I have embraced the feminine principle with pride, passion and deep care for women and femmes. But femininity and feminism have had a tense relationship historically, and I have lived this tension in my body.
I embrace my queer femme identity, which has allowed me to find power in my femininity and sexuality in a way that does not compete with my feminism. But in many areas of my life I held tight to my control issues, aiming to fulfill the trope of strong, independent woman. Looking back, I understand that the vulnerability required to let go of control, to allow others to initiate conversation or emotional connection actually calms my nervous system, enriches my relationships and makes me a stronger person.
Endometriosis is a disease of the womb. The symbolism is not lost on me as a tarot reader. When I was desperately seeking answers to help me heal, I came across the work of Jenny Birdsey. Birdsey's client portfolio is extensive, and I was intrigued when I found a document entitled "Profile of an Endometriosis Woman". I devoured it like an antidote, and it read like a horoscope.
"Metaphysically Endometriosis is often referred to as “the running away disease”, perhaps running away from themselves and their femininity, although they can present as immaculately feminine in makeup and dress. They are also noted to run away from taking on responsibility (nurturing) of themselves. They do this by keeping busy and living a high pressured lifestyle and will often be over responsible for their families, friends and job. Often this femininity presents as a liability, a vulnerability, and it challenges them to new belief systems. It’s easy for these women to be ‘out there’ and responsible for others(carers, nurturers, approval seekers, workaholics) so that they can avoid (unknowingly) being responsible for themselves. "
On control and perfectionism:
"Interestingly, often ‘endometriosis women’ choose careers that demand perfectionism, competition, excellence, long hours, heavy workload, huge responsibility. You often see them in the upper echelons of large corporations which tends to suit their personality traits. They operate from a position of control and order. This control orientation, sense of order and perfectionism is reflected in their personal life as well. Women with Endometriosis go to great lengths to have things done ‘their way’, expecting others to conform to their set of rules (like putting things away in their proper place). Do as I say not as I do was my motto as I have observed with other women."
Lilith in Cancer points to this very dynamic, and it makes me wonder how many others with endometriosis have this placement in their birth chart?
Lilith is the archetype of the feminist in my view. According to medieval Jewish tradition, she was Adam's first wife, before Eve. Lilith struggled to accept subservience to Adam, and so she left. In astrology, Lilith represents the dark aspects that require healing. It is true that the body exhibits the emotional state of the mind and spirit. My body holds on to its period blood. It is afraid to let go. It is afraid of womanhood, of the feminine principle. I live and speak my queer femme politics, but do I experience them on a cellular level? I guess this is a work in progress, and this work is not mine alone, it is the undoing of trauma experienced at an unconscious level within the collective femme memory.
My challenge at this time is to embrace the feminine. For me, this means connecting my thoughts to my bodily experience, being present with my emotions, resisting the urge to intellectualize my visceral experience. My focus is to be in my body. Through queer femme politics, I have developed an understanding of strength that is non-traditional, that includes femininity, but I have done this through theory, thought and intellect alone. To embrace vulnerability, to fail and not allow my self worth to be affected, to be rejected and care for myself in the aftermath - these are my present challenges through which I will channel my femme power.
I will not be surprised when I pull Strength or the Empress in my next tarot spread.
Photo by SunLit Photography @sunlit.thurston on Instagram