Life

Ask A Taurus: Why Are You So Iconic, Though?

A Taurus is a sensual, enigmatic, practically perfect being

It's officially Taurus season, and I am living for it. How can I hate the muddiness of spring and love Taurus season so much, all in the same breath? I don't know, I contain multitudes! I am spending my days stuffing my nose into lilac bushes and groaning with pleasure at their offering of color and aroma. I want what Taurus offers: the comeback. I want the simple pleasure of witnessing life return to drag me to my knees.

When you spend time with a Taurus, you learn that more is simply more and there's no reason to pretend you've had enough of a good thing. Ask for what you want and take what you are due. Okay, in that spirit, I've summoned three fantastic Taurus people to my Taurus questions and guide you into the light of earthly consciousness. What have they to teach us about being the animal aspect of Venus? "I feel the rightness of these things in my body; I don't have good words for them yet," writes my friend Cass. "… What must I learn next? As if sensation is a syllabus! True to form, I am stubborn when it comes to relearning what drives me, how to be driven."

They are scholars, podcasters, mediums, witches, writers, healers, and—honestly—the best kind of heartbreakers.

Cass Adair is a writer, independent scholar, and audio producer based in Virginia. His work has appeared in American Literature, Avidly, American Quarterly, and Nursing Clio, among other places, and on various National Public Radio member stations.

Taurus people are often portrayed as very food-focused, perhaps because of their sensual nature and what I suspect is a general discomfort with delving deeper into the eros of daily life. As a Taurus yourself, is there a sensual practice you enjoy that isn't food-focused? Wrapping yourself in many fabrics? Anointment? Too many cats?

Thank you for asking this. I am always bored by presumptions about my food preferences! I feel fine about food, but I feel passionate about tromping around my neighborhood playing Pokémon with my headphones in, about curling up in the correct soft chair with multiple liquids—here is my hot tea, here is my seltzer and ice—and reading a palm-sized paperback whose pages are the right thickness and do not tear too easily. Driving my same-old station wagon with windows down. Are these practices all too mediated (audio, text, machine) to count as sensual? Here is what else I love: climbing rocks or trees in a tank top, swimming, moving a small boat, or standing on a bridge. Being a boy with feet in the sand without shoes—embracing my body's clichés.

In 1986, the good Taurus Janet Jackson sang to us of the "pleasure principle." According to ye old Wikipedia: "In Freudian psychoanalysis, the pleasure principle is the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs. Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id." Let's not focus on the musty F-word and instead inquire about drive. Were there moments in your life when the "pleasure principle" behooved you? How did that work out?

I have an ambitious (anxious) streak that has sometimes made it difficult to hear that pleasure call. Sometimes I find that it shouts in my ear. Last year, I turned down a prestigious but short-term academic position to move back to my home state and live near some mountains. That was the right thing to do. I fell in love with a new person around the same time, that spring/summer, which was also right. I feel the rightness of these things in my body; I don't have good words for them yet. That's part of what makes these decisions so pleasurable—they don't feel so much like decisions. And still, I'm writing this, wondering, If these are lessons in permitting myself to be driven by something other than money and approval, what must I learn next? As if sensation is a syllabus! True to form, I am stubborn when it comes to relearning what drives me, how to be driven.

Taurus people are loyal to the end, sometimes to their own detriment. Is there any book, teaching, or practice, in your life that has taught you when enough is enough?

Would you believe that the first thing my therapist did for me in graduate school was loan me a book about codependency? Of course, you'd believe it. So, that: The radical concept that attachment itself isn't a virtue, but can sometimes be a form of intervention or concealment, a type of invasion or lie. Relatedly, I just quit drinking (enough is enough) and, in that process, have been revisiting Mary Karr's Lit, which I first read years ago, on a floor mattress, back when I didn't permit myself the joy of a bed frame. And: Sometimes I feel that in order to survive in this world, I have to let Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" interrupt me whenever it needs to, like the Staunton-Richmond train that blasts its horn three or four times a day behind my house, not letting me ignore its cargo.

Do you have a Taurus icon or a Taurus elder that you look up to? Why do people need icons anyway?

Not only am I a Taurus, but my mother is a Taurus, and so are both of her parents. Everyone's birthdays are in the same week, the same week as Mother's Day, and it is all very intense and overdetermined. This convergence has led me away, I think, from seeking Taurus mentors. Who needs icons anyway? Yes, precisely. But, sure, I look up to the philosopher Sara Ahmed, who knows enough about institutions to have left them behind and is a Virgo. If it helps explain anything about me, as a young person, I was obsessed with Susan Sontag and Virginia Woolf, writers, critics, elites, egoists; Capricorn and Aquarius, respectively. As an adult, I am less into icons and try to look less up than around: to boyfriends (Leo and Virgo), siblings (Cancer, Capricorn), friends and comrades of all signs (but disproportionally fire and earth).

Okay, but let's say you've become a Taurus icon. What would you be famous for? What sage wisdom might you impart to the baby bulls of the world?

My ambition-brain (I guess this is my newly discovered Sag rising?) wants to write all my ideas down quickly and suddenly be brash and important and listened to. (This persona really enjoys twitter dot com.) My Taurus brain wants to perfect a single footnote for the rest of time. So, I guess I'd be famous for writing lots of things badly or one thing with precision. Either way, both sides need to be reminded that I do not have to earn affection via output. That it is capitalism, not truth, that conflates labor with value and value with values. I can afford to just be, beach barefoot, book-in-armchair, etc. I'd pass that on: not everything in this life is something you must earn through doggedness or exchange.

Tell the people where to find your special Taurus magic work in the world.

Right now, I'm writing and making radio in Charlottesville, Virginia. My non-peer-reviewed stuff, text and audio, is on CassiusAdair.com. If you want to read anything peer-reviewed (although, literally, why), email me and I'll send you a copy. I'm at @cassius_a if you want tweets about trans stuff, literature, academic drama, Animorphs, and feelings.

Jasmine Chavez Helm is the co-founder of Unravel: A Fashion Podcast, which focuses on fashion history. Jasmine has worked as curator and archivist in Los Angeles and New York. She is passionate about exploring the cross-cultural intersections between history, art, fashion, media, and people. Jasmine's current research and passion archive @recuerdosdenicaragua focuses on the history and culture of the indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguans in the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

As a Taurus is there a sensual practice you enjoy that isn't food-focused?

I turn to fabric daily. When I was a little bull, my grandmother would always bundle me up in blankets and, ever since, blankets make me feel safe, secure, and, moreover, luxurious. Overall, I love to be in a cozy sweater, a serape, wrapped in blankets or under the covers in bed. Cuddling with my husband in our bed is therapeutic for me as well. Hugs from the ones you love are essential.

Additionally, I am a bath and body junkie! Taking a long hot bath cleanses me, relaxes me, and makes me feel sensual. I'll light my Oshun and Yemaya candles with some palo santo while I soak up in the tub. Moisturizing is a part of my daily routine. I love to have soft skin, and it gives me the opportunity to feel my body and see where I might be tense or need a little TLC.

Were there moments in your life when the "pleasure principle" behooved you? How did that work out?

This is an interesting question. I think as a Sun and Moon Taurus with Sagittarius rising, I continuously balance my need for security and for freedom or adventure. My drive towards pleasure principle usually occurs at an emotional or physical breaking point when I just need to release it through some pleasurable or sensual outlet. It feels almost primal and, in that case, it can be both negative or positive because it seems abrupt.

For example—I'll focus on the positive—I fractured my ankle at the start of 2019 and had a long commute from work to home. My entire body and back felt totally out of balance and incredibly sore. I kept putting off getting a massage because of multiple silly excuses: "It costs money. I'll get home late. I don't have time, etc." Last week, my shoulders felt like they were on fire, and I abruptly scheduled a massage at a local place. It felt amazing to have hot stones rubbed all over my body, it was a wonderful, pleasurable, relief that luckily had positive benefits.

Taurus people are loyal to the end, sometimes to their own detriment. Is there any book, teaching, or practice, in your life that has taught you when enough is enough?

I'm a typical bull in that I will take on responsibilities, pressure, endure relationships and toxicity until I'm pushed into a corner and then I rage—often I take that anger out on myself. I've learned about creating boundaries from the practice of attending therapy. As a Taurus, I will go about my business and try to be strong in moments of adversity and, often, don't communicate my issue because I don't want to burden others, show weakness, or be judged. I found that therapy was the space I needed in order to communicate my feelings and thoughts. And, it's where I learn to create boundaries, let go, and practice self-love.

If I could give a song recommendation, I suggest that every Taurus listen to Gary Numan's song "M.E." on the album The Pleasure Principle. It teaches you that you need to prioritize yourself and to turn off other people's noise.

Do you have a Taurus icon or a Taurus elder that you look up to?

Bianca Jagger is my beloved Taurus elder and icon! I believe icons can provide inspiration for us. Bianca Jagger was born in Nicaragua, where my family is from, and then educated in Paris. She was launched into the spotlight when she married Mick Jagger. Soon after they had a child, they divorced, and she dedicated her life to human rights. In the 1980s, she was on the frontlines fighting for the liberation of people in Central America. Once again, over the past year, she's been fighting for the liberation of Nicaraguan people. I believe Bianca Jagger epitomizes so many Taurus qualities including perseverance, dedication to philanthropy, and humanity, fierce loyalty to her convictions and friends, and exceptional style.

Let's say you've become a Taurus icon. What would you be famous for? What sage wisdom might you impart to the baby bulls of the world?

In my dreams, I'd pursue my Ph.D., become a respected curator and support the art, education, and access of POC youth in the United States, Mexico, and in Nicaragua by starting a nonprofit of some kind.

My advice… oof! When I look back on my life, I realize that I've learned to use my stubbornness to get me through la vida. My "wise" words to baby bulls: Use your stubbornness to your advantage. Allow it to clear a path before you—don't let it hold you back.

Tell the people where to find your special Taurus magic work in the world.

I host a fashion history podcast called Unravel: A Fashion Podcast with my Taurus co-host, Dana Goodin, and Joy Davis, a Libra—she always keeps us balanced and in check! Our Instagram is: @UnravelPodcast

You can find my personal work here, and learn about the @recuerdosdenicaragua digital archive dedicated to the history and culture of indigenous and Afro-Nicaraguan on Instagram.

Kyoko Nakamaru is an ordained minister, medicine womxn, spiritual counselor, interdisciplinary artist, poet, and writer who uses her relationship with ancestors and the unseen to weave stories of what was and what will be. She seeks to use all the mediums she works in as medicine to help her communities heal. Kyoko currently resides in Los Angeles.

As a Taurus, is there a sensual practice you enjoy that isn't food-focused?

I'm obsessed with flowers. I live in southern California, so a $20/week budget has my little bungalow overflowing all year round. I buy from the Japanese-American farmer at the market every week and then ritualistically arrange them. I believe in creating a dedicated sacred space in each room and flowers are such a beautiful way to bring more life to those altars. My bathroom arrangements make me the happiest.

Were there moments in your life when the "pleasure principle" behooved you? How did that work out?

When I was 22, I fell in deep with a brilliant metal musician who was also a heavy drug user. For years, I'd been battling, and losing to, autoimmune illness, which was actually misdiagnosed Lyme disease. I was cornered by medical institutions, heavily mis-medicated, and getting sicker by the day. I don't think I really knew what pleasure was at all. Hedonism wasn't something I'd ever tasted before. For a few years, I quit Western medicine, had lots of fantastic sex, did copious amounts of drugs, lived out a total rock cliché, and barely made it out alive. When I ended my run, sobriety put me in exactly the right place to start living my divine path. I'd do it all again.

Taurus people are loyal to the end, sometimes to their own detriment. Is there any book, teaching, or practice, in your life that has taught you when enough is enough?

I'm in the process of putting that principle into practice right now. I'm currently pregnant and acutely aware that the energy I expend is actively shaping this future person. On a cellular level, the time in utero creates an intense blueprint for how to survive in this world. I'm showing them that I am worth the sanctity of the life I put around me. If I'm enmeshed in toxic relationships or holding space for folks who don't honor and respect me in all the ways I deserve, I'm saying that someone else's trauma is worth more than my peace. I grew up feeling less-than and undeserving in unnumbered ways. I refuse to model that depreciated emotional-patterning for this little being. I want my kid to have an infallible belief in their self-worth.

Do you have a Taurus icon or a Taurus elder that you look up to? Why do people need icons anyway?

Adrienne Rich! There's a line from her poem, "The Burning of Paper Instead of Children," that resonated with me as a young dyke writing to save her own life.

this is the oppressor's language

yet i need it to talk to you.

Freshman year, I'd had to write extensively on Nietzsche's "on truth and lying in a non-moral sense," and examining language with that lens kinda leveled me. I felt like my calling to write was futile. I had an 18-year-old's existential crisis, and Rich's work helped pull me up. This was the first gift of her writing to me. At different stages of my life, she spoke to new places within me.

Icons, when you can actually look up to them, are critical lights on frequently dark paths. At some point, you're going to need a beacon otherwise, you'll stay lost.

Let's say you've become a Taurus icon. What would you be famous for? What sage wisdom might you impart to the baby bulls of the world?

If I ever reach some level of unwanted fame, it'll be because I survived my own story and chose to tell it. My advice is to face your trauma head-on. Go deep into it, learn the crevasses and intimate folds of what pains you. Tease the stories through your fingers until you see the shape of your own landscape. Be unafraid of your truths, especially if they're terrifying. It's the only way to truly get free.

Tell the people where to find your special Taurus magic work in the world.

On May 24 and 25, at Highways Performance space in Santa Monica, I'll be performing in a show called Asian America: The Future Is Now.My beloved Taurean friend, Kyoko Takenaka, is directing, and I'm the spiritual and creative consultant for this queer collaboration of poetry, dance, meditation, and sound that we've been dreaming up since last fall. Come check it out!

I'm moving into a meticulous exploration of inner worlds, so I've been stepping back from my client work to focus on this transformation. I'm working on a couple of writing collaborations and finishing up a memoir I've been writing for a decade. Hopefully, that will make its way into your hands by next year. For now, you can check out KyokoNakamaru.com.