Dearest , welcome to your Moon Rites missive.

Moon Rites was originally intended as a bi-monthly newsletter but I’m feeling called to shift to a monthly cycle. Moving forward, you can expect to hear from me every new moon where I’ll offer intellectual and emotional support for your scholar-activism. From time to time, I’ll share with you information about any workshops I run and ways you can work with me if you so wish. If my emails no longer resonate with you for any reason, you can unsubscribe any time via the link in the footer. If you know anyone else who may feel nourished by my words, please do invite them to subscribe: https://disorient.co/subscribe/ 🌙

Writing is my lifeblood.

It’s for me what Lauren Elizabeth calls the zone of brilliance, a skill that I’ve cultivated over the years that has become the aspect of my work that is most pleasurable, most easeful, and most aligned with my purpose.

Yet while we as formally employed academics as given the mandate, “publish or perish”, few of our institutions acknowledge, provide, or defend the resources necessary to write.

Writing requires time, and not just time striking keys on a keyboard, but time to read, time to think, time to edit, and time to rest and recover.

Writing requires space, “a room of one’s own”, as Virginia Woolf once argued. Our ‘room’ is funded by financial security, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and support for domestic labor and childcare.

Writing also requires joy. For those of us who do justice-oriented scholarship, we need to feel emotionally fulfilled and abundant in order to theorize the possibilities for a liberatory world.

Those who are aspiring or recovering scholars may have gotten the message that your knowledge is not worth publishing. You may have been told that only those awarded PhDs can think and write as ‘real’ scholars.

And if you have any marginalized identities, then even a PhD may not have been enough to convince the white patriarchal academe to recognize you.

We’ve lost and erased so much knowledge because their content and their creators did not conform to the conventions of the imperialist white supremacist capitalist cis-heteropatriarchy.

I nurtured a passion for writing against the odds. I know many of my colleagues don’t associate writing with pleasure. They carry pain, even trauma, from experiences of having their writing mocked, derided, or torn apart by cruel professors.

I credit my doctoral advisors, Professors Leanne Cutcher and David Grant, who shielded me from the neoliberal games of the academy. They encouraged me to question the myths of scarcity and overwork that drive many of us to compromise our integrity and extinguish our health for the sake of churning out as many publications as possible.

While many parts of the academic publishing machinery are broken, scholarly writing itself is extremely powerful. Social scientific scholarship allows us to investigate and codify the complex mechanisms through which injustice operates in our society.

Sharing our research means that our visions for a liberatory world can be taught in classrooms all over the world.

It means that our methodologies can be implemented in community and organizational practice.

It means that our insistence for hope can ignite a revolution.

On May 28, I’ll be hosting a ‘masterclass’ for you on academic publishing.

I’ll speak to my experiences as an Associate Editor at three journals with 28 journal articles and counting to demystify the entire process.

The workshop is open to all experienced academics, emerging scholars, and aspiring intellectuals committed to generating justice-oriented knowledge. As with my last workshop, everyone who registers will receive a link to the recording after the event. Sign up here: https://disorient.co/publishing-workshop/ and please invite your friends and comrades.

Original illustration from the Rider Waite tarot deck of The Sun as painted by Pamela Colman Smith.

For this new moon, the tarot card I drew for us is the Wheel of Fortune. This luscious, esoteric card symbolizes the wider forces beyond our control, the thread of our fate that is being spun. It represents change and the need to move in flow with what is coming our way.

For me, this card weighs heavily with the words of Arundhati Roy published a year ago at the onset of this pandemic. In her essay entitled ‘The pandemic is a portal’, Roy portends the global upheaval the pandemic brought to bear. Yet she reminds us that the wheel has long been turning. The economic and political crises that the pandemic brought into focus are ongoing.

As many of us in the Global North are seeing declining infection rates as more and more of our fellow citizens receive vaccines, we’re hearing some excitement and relief in the notion that we may return to normality.

But as Roy says, “nothing could be worse than a return to normality”. Indeed, what feels ’normal’ to us is akin to turning back the wheel to a state of blissful ignorance as though any of us can un-see the tragedy befalling the most vulnerable people in our communities, societies, and world.

Roy bids us to think instead of the pandemic as a portal. A gateway to break with the past and imagine a new world:

We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

See you on the other side,
Helena

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