Here on the southeast coast, rain showers have been rolling in, mushrooms are sprouting on the forest floor and the shoreline is painted in dark clay deposits. This season is always an intense dance between fire and water, humid atmospheric winds dense with moisture and sizzling hot asphalt, emotional fluctuations and soul fuel. As I reflect on the Cancerian energy, I’m reminded of the transitional moments that past solstices revealed themselves to be, my resonance with hard-shelled creatures, and channeled words:
the glow bleeds onto the mountains
delicately rendered face of maximum sun
multiplies eyes east and west
two cymbals with fangs elongate beneath
their pervading omniscience
illumination of flesh and body reveal spirit
skin scorching hand of zenith sun
magnifies soft tissue and dense bush
the wide horizon strikes a flame
everything changes constantly
KhepeRa, the scarab, or dung, beetle is the Afrikan origin of Cancer in the Roman zodiac, which is symbolized by the crab. The scarab beetle rolls animal dung into balls in synchronicity with solar rhythms and lays their eggs in them, turning waste into new life. As a manifestation of cosmic energy, the scarab is linked with the constellations. It embodies the movement of the Sun across the sky from the eastern to western horizon, initiating forces of transformation and regeneration. It reminds us that nothing in nature is static, and that we ourselves are not things but actions of a much greater, all-encompassing intelligence in perpetual motion.
The beetle and crab are both malleable and fluid, existing in and facilitating liminal states. Their shells are portable homes that provide protection, defense and a sense of security. Cancer magnifies all of these themes with its grounding motherly essence, highly emotional being that ebbs and flows with the tides, and its particular sensitivity to what is unseen and unsaid.
Three years ago, I attended school in Baltimore during the onset of the pandemic and had two major spiritual encounters with beetles. After class, I would stay on campus and paint for long hours into the late night and early morning, laser-focused on the construction of mythic dream realms and losing track of time. These nights were sacred. As the world slept, I swept canvas, accompanied by tall easels and peculiar sounds. Down the hall from where I painted, there was a nature library that housed a collection of taxidermy animals and insects. Just outside of my classroom studio was a large glass cabinet displaying all kinds of creatures, including a wide variety of butterflies and moths.
The beetles intrigued me most. Some were monstrous in size and reminded me of warriorship, valor and alien intelligence. Their hardshell metallic coats and rich color arrangements, the thickness of their bodies and stout heads and the hair-like thorns detailing their limbs demanded my gaze and sent chills down my back. They seemed threatening and grotesque, though simultaneously beautiful beyond comprehension. I found it difficult to look at them but couldn’t stop staring. This exchange led me to confront my conditioned disturbance with bugs and to uphold respect for their existence, despite the discomfort I feel when seeing them.
I thought, How is it that Mother Nature created these beings just as she created me, yet they disgust me? I wondered what may be at the root of those feelings. I wanted to view them in the same light as the supreme omniscient eye of the Universe—to relate to them the same way I relate to myself. I discovered that in order to do this, it required me to expand my sight beyond my human form and access higher levels of perception. This involved gaining a deeper knowledge of the spirit-soul that transcends the physical plane and an awareness that every other creature in the ecosystem possesses consciousness just as I do.
One night, I was cooking dinner and playing music on a speaker. The apartment was dimly lit with string lights vining the wall. I’d left the speaker in the main room and walked over to pick it up. When I reached for it, I noticed a dark spot beneath my hand but couldn’t make out what it was. I flicked the light on and saw the beetle, sporting pure black armor, perched casually on the pink surface. My mind started reeling, speculating how she had gotten there, where she came from, and why I hadn’t noticed her until then. I was faced with the issue of what to do about it. I had been practicing nonviolence with bugs to challenge myself to engage with them in a more respectful, sound and holistic way. However, in that moment my disturbance won. I swat, driving the beetle up the wall, and sent her to the floor.
I pondered what this meant because I knew it meant something. Every experience holds value, no matter how seemingly small or mundane. As articulated in the song Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts by Funkadelic,
There’s no such thing as chance, coincidence or accident in a world ruled by Law and Divine Order.
I’d considered the beetle’s presence just as rare and mysterious as the appearance of a ghost. What’s special about the beetle and why did I encounter her at that point in my journey?
2020 brought forth a global reset deeply connected to our energetic relationship with the Sun. Under lockdown, we were sheltered in our homes and separated from each other while cosmic solar storms were opening portals of psychic and ancestral wisdom in the soul flames that burn within us. These two fires are parallel—1. (our Sun) can be witnessed as the visible light that floods our leaf tissue and skin cells, feeding the soil and us, and 2. (our spirit) is invisible, though we sense it when we trust our gut, when we breathe, when we laugh, when we tire out, when we get dizzy, when we sleep.
Cancer rules the home—our abode where we rest and assemble the pieces of ourselves back together before venturing into the world, and this abode mirrors the womb of our mothers where we were nested, nurtured and programmed with the intricate blueprint of our karmic paths. Our seclusion in domestic spaces simulated this incubation state and reconnected many of us back to our roots, ushering the forward motion that carried us to the present moment.
This summer sees us in the midst of a return to a primordial, paradisal past when solar flares spark dimensions of communication with beings who we’ve been raised to regard as Other. The beetle’s visitation was a signal of change rapidly developing, a message to change willfully and with trust, that change must occur whether welcomed or not. Change is the secret to radiance, and change is happening now.
Scribed by Alexis Williams
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