this weekend, obsession becomes prayer becomes discipline
I don’t wanna be your friend/I just wanna be your lover
No matter how it ends / No matter how it starts
So begins “House of Cards” by Radiohead.
A song that has haunted me through many cycles of my life.
It was a touchstone anthem of the pining anticipation that was my first big love. To me, this song is a prayer. I listened and consecrated the words into a mantra. I just wanna be your lover. I wanted love so badly and for the most part, couldn’t articulate why. I just knew that my heart felt like it was going to explode. Was I interested in an actual relationship or just caught up in a fantasy? But, also, what’s so wrong with being caught up in a fantasy anyway?
This week, Venus conjoined Rahu, the North Lunar Node. Rahu is the head of the dragon. The fire breather. Rahu is insatiable hunger. Craving. A constant sense of dissatisfaction. Rahu wants more, more, more. Rahu doesn’t do heavy lifting. Rahu pushes us off the edge. Rahu’s suggestion catapults us into an amorous other dimension. When Venus conjoins Rahu, we become crudely aware of what we’re lacking. Pleasure and art and sex and connection become obsessions. We want love so bad.
Artist/influencer/theorist Gabi Abrão (@sighswoon) posted a flood of stories (flood being another Rahuvian word) just as the Venus-Rahu conjunction went exact (on Thursday 6/15), riffing on this tweet:
Using the example of her own deep dive into Lana Del Rey’s body of work, Abrão made a case for going deep and hard for the work of a few artists we really love rather than passively consuming tiny bits of everyone’s nonsense. “Love through intimate understanding, not compulsive consuming.” There’s more art than ever before, and it’s more available than ever before, but are we actually engaging with any of it? Remembering any of it? What @JohnnyABottom and Abrão are really getting at it is: how do we return to quality over quantity? How do we create a safehouse—an ether—for what we love amidst the perils of infinity?
This got me thinking about Cal Newport’s idea of Deep Work or “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task.” Newport’s general thesis is that we need to quit social media and embrace boredom in order to get our minds settled (and lubricated) enough to actually focus (the “deep work”) for about…an hour per day. But my question: is “deep work” possible without love?
I think that Rahu-Venus shows up on both ends of the deep work/mindless scroll spectrum. Rahu-Venus can be no rest until an entire discography is devoured and body of work is digested. But without a worthy muse, Rahu-Venus falls into a gluttonous death spiral: the instant gratification of TikTok or the empty calories of a family size bag of Hint of Lime Tostitos, or the outlet mall of Tinder.
When I was in my big love—or, let’s call it deep love—I listened to “House of Cards” so many times that it made me nauseous. I listened to it so many times that I heard the lyrics as I wanted to hear them It was only years later, when I heard it in a Just Salad in the Financial District, that I thought, “is this song about love or government corruption?”
In January 2019, I was in a yoga class in Los Angeles. It was one of those classes that’s half super physical and half restorative. I hadn’t worked out in months (let alone remembered to breathe), and was so relieved when we got to the restorative portion. I wanted to bliss out in pigeon pose and forget about the woes of my material reality. But then “House of Cards” started playing. Filling the sweaty room with my prayer for deep love. There’s something so hilarious about a Radiohead song from 2007 playing in a yoga class in Silverlake in 2019. But really, the joke was on me. I went back to that same class several times, and “House of Cards” was always on yoga teacher Declan’s playlist. I started going back to the class just to hear the song, to hear my prayer. Declan had no idea but he was saving my life. He was reminding me that to get through the hard time I was currently experiencing, I needed a muse.
After Venus met up with Rahu this week, the love planet immediately started heading towards Saturn. Venus and Saturn make an exact square tomorrow (Saturday, 6/18). Saturn is what turns our pipe dreams into a brick and mortar business. Without Saturn, all the deep work and deep love of Venus-Rahu might consume and obsess forever, and won’t be forced to materialize.
On November 4, 2018—a couple months before Declan played “House of Cards” on the speakers at ROAM Yoga on N. Hoover St in Silverlake, Los Angeles 90004—I wrote this in my journal:
B U I L D
U N I T Y
let love flow
let love flow
To bring this all full circle and go back to the why now of Gabi Abrão’s deep dive on Lana: Lana Del Rey was born with a Venus-Rahu conjunction in Taurus, opposite Saturn in Scorpio. A cosmic configuration not dissimilar from what we’re experiencing now. It’s one thing to feel everything, and it’s another thing to make an altar for those big love prayers. It’s one thing to write poetry in your diary, and quite another to publish your diary along with your cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” for all the world to hear. I’m not saying you have to spend your weekend writing anthemic poetry about the melancholic beauty of Los Angeles, but I’m saying that you should make something about what makes you feel excessively in love and excessively alive.
Prayer is discipline. You can be a romantic and have boundaries. You can have it all.