The Fabric of Time: Exploring the Potential of Nonlinear Prefiguration
Have you ever imagined a more utopic version of Santa Cruz, where the San Lorenzo river runs wild and capitalism is a notion of the past? You may be imagining Aulinta, a virtual alternate reality of Santa Cruz.
Aulinta is a speculative project that posits an alternative parallel present, where our shared timeline split in 1973 with a renewable energy revolution that started in Nigeria, and went on to create a post-scarcity, anti-capitalist, anti-colonial world.
The project creates a critical utopia, meaning there are many difficult problems that still need to be addressed, and social change is visited as a set of thorny problems, absent the bland heterogeneity that the concept of “utopia” can often bring to mind. In Aulinta, governance, language, economies, city planning and more are collaboratively thought through and implemented in a consensus-oriented way that honors Indigenous sovereignty.
In what can be called “the conventional timeline,” or, the 2020 in which COVID-19, apocalyptic wildfires, and rising fascism exist, Aulinta functions as a kind of crowd-sourced, prefigurative game in which Santa Cruz residents collaboratively think through and argue the conceptual and practical underpinnings of the project, co-creating stories and visions of a utopian reality that maps onto the current one.
The Freedom Quilting Bee:
Textile Art and Mutual Aid
in the Civil Rights South
In Wilcox County, at the rural center of Alabama, a remarkable convergence of political, economic and artistic innovations gave rise to a new vision of self-determination and social transformation that would forever change the lives of the communities that lived there.
In 1965 the national Civil RIghts movement had become focused on the Black Belt, a place named both for its rich fertile soil, and because it was home to many African American share-croppers who lived and worked in extreme poverty. Amidst an atmosphere charged by racist murders and police violence which would prompt President Johnson’s legislation protecting voting rights, the black community and their allies responded with counter-demonstrations and perhaps most memorably, a four day march from Selma to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King Jr. Black residents experienced targeted economic repression by landlords, business owners and banks, finding themselves suddenly evicted or required to pay back loans or store credit in full as a direct result of their participation in these demonstrations for voting rights, as was often communicated to them directly. These events, and the increasingly dire conditions that led to them, contributed to this region being the focus of daily news headlines across the country over the spring and summer of that year. It is from within this crisis that an incredible group of talented black women artists came together and built a network across the country that enabled a thriving community project in Wilcox County, Alabama, known as the Freedom Quilting Bee (FQB).
Compost Poesis: Death Magic and the Soil Food Web
is equal parts personal essay, feminist science and invocation of the occult forces at work in the compost underworld, informed by the current practices of bioremediation – the regeneration of toxified and damaged landscapes with the help of plants, microbes, bacteria and fungi – as well as the writer’s many years experience in witchcraft, a spiritual tradition that honors the Earth in all its living, dead and non-living glory. The reader is asked to consider the many layers of meaning and magic at work in this most unassuming site of decay and it’s radical potential for directly supporting the material well being of the ecosystem that is the soil, the reciprocal relationships that compose (and decompose) it and the myriad beings that rely upon on it.
“Complementing this is the universal notion that the dead can see the future, that they know everything. For them time does not exist as it does for us who measure it by successive days. They inhabit the earth’s black dream, the womb of every day, the belly of fate from which all that occurs rises briefly to our sight – they have passed decisively beyond the limits of the human condition, that partial knowledge confined to what light reveals”1. Rabinowitz seems to be referring to the human dead, but there is no reason his statement cannot extend to the non-human dead, or even the extinct. The unruly dead of which Hecate is the steward surely includes those countless myriad lives, species and beings undone by the hubris and violence of the Anthropos. The army of the unruly dead grows with every passing moment – in the current cascading collapse of ecosystems, between 150-200 species go extinct every 24 hours. It is not known if there is any magic that can bring them back, but in the world-view of spirit, ghosts and witches, they are not fully gone but remain at the side of their Divine champion and those dedicated to her, seeking justice and, barring that, revenge. Upon sensing this growing horde, most avert their gaze with a shudder, but for those of us who seek to strategically ally ourselves with these multi-species kin, so wronged by “our kind”, there is no looking away.1 Jacob Rabinowitz, The Rotting Goddess, 105, 111
Giving Shape: Towards Unsettling the Anthropocene
is an essay that uses seemingly simple forms as models for ways of seeing, feeling and sensing through the patterns at large in the proposed new geological epoch called the Anthropocene. Weaving together personal narrative, a wide array of texts, and an assortment of illustrations by the writer, the ideas unfurl in each section with increasing complexity, from the hierarchies of the pyramid to the worlds-within-worlds of nested baskets. Using examples from nature and personal experience as well as perspectives from diverse scholarship across many fields, this writing attempts to apply a neurodivergent lense to perceiving the colliding realities vying for survival under late Capitalism and striving to make other worlds possible.
The web as spiral wheel is also a way of conceiving of time in one of its cyclical, non-linear forms. A term that has emerged within one of my communities of practice, that of queer, anarchist-feminist witchcraft and earth-based spirituality, is Whole Time, in which the past and the future are not separated by hard boundaries and the spiral wheel of the web structure allows both practical and magical actions in the present to ripple through it in all directions. It seems that in the same way that we can be affected by interventions from our multi-species descendents in their present/future, we are impacting our multi-species ancestors in their past/present. It is potentially possible to jump along the cycles of time the same way the spider can move from one ring of her web to another without having to traverse the circuit in its entirety. While this description may seem at once far-fetched and all too simple, it is generated out of my own experience of over a decade of collaborative work in intensive ritual experimentation, non-chemical altered-states and rapid cultural transformation – it is not something that can be accessed by any shortcut that I am aware of. It also builds upon the praxis of my predecessors in the Reclaiming and Radical Faerie Traditions and has been undoubtedly influenced by countless inter- and intra-actions over decades of blurred cultural sharing and appropriation from countless sources, for better or worse. That said, my experience of this phenomena/facet of Time has been experiential without much prior framing besides those of the science fiction variety. It is only now being connected to accounts from indigenous writers and scholars detailing millenia-old ways of interacting with Time as a complex being outside of the incessantly ticking linear clock-time imposed through genocide and violence by colonialism and capitalism.
The Holy Mother, the Queen of the Witches and the Goddess of Flowers: Encounters with Death through Deity
The Godds are sometimes referred to as “The Mysterious Ones”. They are many things to many people and finding a way to personally relate to and make sense of their powers can be a lifelong journey. In this intimate account, the writer shares the experiences, teachings and theories that have helped form her ever-evolving relationships with a few of these beings. Through humor, wonder and sometimes terror, the revelations contained in these pages are offered in the spirit of reciprocity, an acknowledgement that the stories we tell help shape our worlds. This work is by no means an attempt to “demystify” the divine, but to add another voice to the polyphonal song that exalts and celebrates our complex entanglement with the unknowable.
“Instead of trying to put a face, especially a human one, to the underlying power I clearly sensed in both my darkest and most ecstatic moments, I oriented myself towards the more Elemental manifestations of the sacred, and found meaning in the organization of powers, medicines and ally or accomplice beings into rough categories, residing in discrete directions radiating out from my own center. Making sense of the divine is no easy task, some people make their life’s work of it and most never quite figure it out. For a long time this system worked for me and I was blessed to have a significant community of people who also tended to prefer to work this way for group ritual. It led to many years of experimenting without the direct invocation of Deity as was traditional in Reclaiming and it was very enriching. But inevitably there came to be a mysterious absence in my meaning structure, a hole or opening, vaguely shaped and waiting for me to walk through it into the unknown.
This led me back to Deity, but not in the ways one might expect. Despite all my seeking for some concrete experience with Deity in my baby-witch years, it never came to me in the more common ways it seemed to for others. I suspect that this has as much to do with my neuro-divergence as my particular orientation as an artist and perhaps even the non-consensual, heroic dose of entheogens that blew my doors of perception off their hinges at a formative age. All that is to say that I never saw a beautiful, terrible woman in my mind’s eye, I never heard her speak to me in words. I felt her in the crushing white noise of a waterfall, in the overwhelming repeating forms of a patchwork quilt, and more recently I have felt her as a shudder in my proximity to death.“