Hymn to the Undertow

There’s not been one night
Since you left me
That I haven’t called your name

I’ve whispered it into my palms
–A prayer
To keep me sane

Now you want to come back to me
Make my wish come true

Tell me how am I to know?
Is this the undertow?
Is this the undertow?
Is this the undertow?
Is this the undertow?

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Constellation Conversation

Kyla Searle

“There’s more than one way for light to shine through our bodies, or there’s more than one course that we might go on. [There is] this quality of the light that allows for a real relationship with the unknown and with the possibilities that come from that, and of claiming it. …the Moon being a reflection, the Moon being a place that we will never reach, but there’s a thing between us. I think about that in my own life, the things that I have reached for. And it’s really the place between that becomes the project, the engagement, the thing that you experience.”
—Kyla Searle, in this edition of Constellation Conversations

Kyla is a writer/producer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently co-creating the feature doc The Black (W)hole. Kyla regularly produces short films such as Free (Sozo Media), Dear Black Girls (SF Dance Film Festival), and Ride Out to Vote.

Kyla’s work has been supported and developed by the Hemispheric Institute, Anna Deavere Smith Works/the Institute for Art and Civic Dialogue, the Astrea Foundation, the Kennedy Center, the Pop Culture Collaborative and more. Kyla’s work in creative documentation has been presented at the University of Heidelberg, The American University of Paris, New York University and the New School. Kyla holds a B.A. in Metropolitan Studies, minor in Public Health from UCLA, an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Research from NYU and an M.F.A. from Brown University.

Who is Moon?

Moon Astronomy

  1. The moon is the Earth’s only permanent natural satellite–the 5th largest natural satellite in the solar system.
  2. The moon drifts 3.8 cm away from the Earth every year. 
  3. The moon is believed to have been created when another celestial object smashed into Earth shortly after the solar system began forming 4.5 billion years ago.
  4. The moon is responsible for the ocean tides. 
  5. The moon has quakes called moonquakes caused by the Earth’s gravitational influence.

Moon Astrology

  1. Symbolizes emotions, the unconscious, and instincts. Ruler of Cancer.
  2. The moon reflects the soul. Representing the inner world,including emotional nature, subconscious, dreams, intuition, and instinctual actions. 
  3. In many cultures the moon is evoked as a metaphor for evolution in life from maiden (waxing), to mother (full), then crone (waning)–an archetype referred to as the “triple goddess”. 
  4. The Sun and Moon are interconnected and interdependent though they have opposite properties and energies. The Sun’s energy fuels the ego while the Moon’s energy nurtures the soul. While the Sun is “active”, the Moon is receptive, presiding over dreams and memories revealing our inner emotions and turmoil. The shadows of the moon mirror our own shadows, the dark, and unknown places within.
  5. The Moon’s glyph resembles the Moon itself in its crescent phase. The crescent indicates reception, and that the Moon is a lens that focuses upon the light of the Sun.

BAckstaGE Gallery

Invitation to Practice

If the Moon is born from the Earth, its proximity & distance, its consistent and ubiquitous cycles, and its aeons of symbolism combine to reflect us back to ourselves. Who is a Moon in your life? Who marks time with you? Who reflects back some principles of being that are mirrors in your life (keeping in mind that mirrors can be reverse images)?

Build an altar to one of your Moons. You’ll see in this case I have built an altar to the late, great Josephine Baker, whose presence in my life has been lunar. An altar can be as simple as you wish, or as elaborate. This hews toward the simpler side. Remember that it should be born of intention. I include elements of water, fire (candle), air (incense & the vibrations from the bell), and earth (crystals). I also include offerings of food (honey) and a flower. Finally I encourage you to speak or write a point of meditation or a request for clarity/communication. I will keep this up for a bit, and then take it down, with gratitude. There are many traditions of altar building that involve very particular processes and sequences. This is a simple gesture, intentionally broad, to encompass your own point of entry. When you have finished, if you feel like sharing (and keeping it private is more often than not the way) please feel free to share a photo of it, or part of it, by uploading an image to Instagram and tagging #atenlife


We invite you to share an image of your altar. All shared images will be displayed on the site for others to experience. You can attach your name or not in the upload portal. Feel free to stay anonymous if you’d like.

Choose Your Destination