O Oracle, there are so many conflicting explanations for COVID-19, from hoaxes to “Mother Earth healing herself from climate crisis.” How do I make meaning of our existence in a time of Coronavirus?

Dear contemplative comrade,
In response to your responsible question, the Oracle offers up the seven of honey as an answer.

seven of honey

worker bees in rebellion. queen beheaded.
clockwork capitalism of a colony in late decline.
sharpening stingers with diamond cutters, in
preparation for the swarm. chaos of creation—
a hive without cells, rich in a democratic jelly.

The hive is an example of individuals who come together to form a whole. The lesson impressed upon us by the rapid spread of the virus is that our earth is one organism. Yes, we exist somewhat autonomously from each other; we have rights as individuals, and there is a sanctity to the life of each part of the whole. And we can no longer afford to operate as if our decisions today do not affect tomorrow. We cannot afford to believe that if we have healthcare, we won’t be impacted by those who don’t. We will be harmed by the notion that our nuclear family unit floats along in its own bubble.

This particular poem from the Oracle invokes an economy that believes that for one community or nation to be free, we must all be free. I hope that for many of us who have long supported universal healthcare, or even universal basic income, that we have a visceral experience of it in our bodies.

I am seeing that impulse in our community—the worker bees coming together democratically, organizing needs and ability to give, taking care of their neighbors. It is heartening, it has an indelible effect on us for generations to come. But we must seriously ask ourselves this question: what world is it that I want to
return to?

Because before COVID-19, there was a family on your street drowning in medical debt, without a network to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Before COVID-19, there was a single mom, elder, or immunocompromised person living in your neighborhood who was not able to feed themselves and their family well every single day. Before COVID-19, there was someone living in your town who was sleeping wherever felt warmest and safest, including park bathrooms
and bushes.

Perhaps this is the swarm. Have you ever seen the swarm?  A young queen sets out to form a new hive, and the drones follow. This is also when they are at their most gentle. A bee won’t sting when it doesn’t have a hive to protect. And yet we fear this phenomenon. I believe we are swarming now. We are at our most gentle, even when the world outside appears formidable.

As for a practice, the Oracle offers up this:

rituals & rites

companion plant a cash crop of saffron among acres of
rosemary and parsley. invite proletariat bees to pollinate
the crocuses. enlist an army of hands to pick blossom,
pluck pistil, dry filament. ten thousand blooms produce
an ounce. dye a red flag to wave over a labor intensive revolution.

I hope that we are experiencing a shift to long-term thinking that we as a species have needed so badly. We are notoriously bad at taking seriously what we do not see clearly. Climate crisis has loomed for so long; and even I—as concerned as I have been with the earth’s wellbeing for years because we can’t have an end to white supremacy or capitalism when we are all dying from dirty air, water, and land—even I struggle to stop flying on planes, to refuse single-use plastics, to minimize my own imprint.

We have needed to set aside the whims of the wealthiest on this planet. We have never had a population problem; we have had a distribution problem. Which is a problem with relationship, relationship to resources, relationship to ourselves. I hope that the ability of the government to create money and send it out is a clear lesson in this.

Humans are not the virus. Every loss of human life is a sadness. Regardless of their age or health or history, every untimely death, and the request for doctors to decide who receives treatment, is devastating.

We must understand that we are companion planted into this earth with every other being. We must understand the labor involved in pivoting in a real way—in a way that historians will be able to point to a thousand years in the future—in making a hard turn in a way that results in there even being humans on this planet in a thousand years.

afrose fatima ahmed is a hybrid Texan-Washingtonian raised in the Tri-Cities who provides poetic soul guidance with her oracle deck “blood gold and honey.” She was a 2017 Jack Straw Writer and a 2018 GAP award recipient from Artist Trust. afrose comes to poetry as just one avenue for creating experiences of beauty and communion for herself and other people.