The Witches & Wine Interview with Chaweon Koo

This past summer my new friend Chaweon Koo and I shot a series of astrology-themed videos.  She just released the first one, the “Pluto Babe” interview, to her Witches & Wine YouTube channel.   

It's about fifty whole minutes of us contemplating my favorite misunderstood planet, Pluto, and related topics such as trauma, shame, and now and again the goth scene and some celebrity Pluto Babes.  I'm so grateful to Chaweon for allowing me to reveal the sexy and cool aspects of Plutonian astrology ... and I can't imagine a better intro to my style if you're curious about working with me.  Enjoy!

I wrote some follow-up thoughts below ... 

*Chaweon asked me to send her my most Pluto Babe themed pics, and not all of them made it into the video so I'm interspersing them here ... 

So many people fear Pluto that I was thrilled to have the opportunity to wax eloquent about a planetary energy that always kicks my butt in the right direction. 

Our discussion in the video revolves around being a trauma survivor and how that gives you an alternate perspective on the world – what it is to be a Pluto Babe, in other words. 

 Me at the gates to the observatory in Flagstaff, AZ where Pluto was discovered.  The "P" at the top is Pluto's glyph!

Me at the gates to the observatory in Flagstaff, AZ where Pluto was discovered.  The "P" at the top is Pluto's glyph!

While I’m absolutely thrilled with the content of the video, as a proper Virgo with a perennially doubting Jupiter in Gemini, I started to wonder how the conversation would be perceived …  

In one particular section, I talk about how “overcoming things we’re not supposed to survive” is a magical superpower that can make others deeply uncomfortable.  While I still 100% feel that this is a telltale sign that Pluto loves you, I also wondered if this slant could be perceived as me minimizing the effects of trauma …

 Doesn't everyone have "black-and-gold" alchemy-themed parties?  Just me?

Doesn't everyone have "black-and-gold" alchemy-themed parties?  Just me?

And that got me thinking about how many of the things that remain unresolved traumas in our lives have a lot more to do with society’s failure to make space for victims of trauma than the traumas themselves.  You don’t have to look far to find examples: Combat veterans.  Rape victims.  Widows and widowers.  We’re all sorry that these things happened but we’d rather avoid the people who carry the Plutonian stamp of deep trauma.  By insisting that the pain remain marginal to our everyday social experience, we prevent trauma survivors from healing.  We project so much “otherness” onto trauma victims that they are denied the very things they most need to heal: the comforting assurance of normalcy and social acceptance.

Today I can’t stop thinking about an experience that crystallizes what it is to be a Pluto Babe for me.  Years ago I was having a mug of tea with my best friend of two decades, and she was describing how it felt to be around a new boyfriend: “It’s this safe and warm and contented feeling, like you have when you’re around your family …”

Then she froze a bit, remembering my violent family history.  “Well if you came from a good family …” she continued awkwardly.

 Me revisiting the site of my sulfur cloud tattoo inspiration at the aptly-named Bumpass Hell in Northern California.

Me revisiting the site of my sulfur cloud tattoo inspiration at the aptly-named Bumpass Hell in Northern California.

As a younger person I would have been enormously triggered by the mere fact that I didn’t know what that safe family feeling was … But on that evening when I was having tea, in my thirties, with my best friend, what stung the most was that she imagined I was incapable of understanding a perfectly normal and mundane reality like feeling safe with your boyfriend.  I was never going to be let back into the fold, apparently – the things that had happened to me were so damaging, in her mind, that I would never be able to understand basic emotional needs like comfort and security.

 It was always a privilege to model for Oregon photographer Melissa Mankins ...

It was always a privilege to model for Oregon photographer Melissa Mankins ...

Well THAT in a nutshell is why I think the idea of a “Pluto Babe” is necessary … for all those people like me who start sweating and squirming every time an assignment around “recalling a childhood memory” pops up in a classroom or a workshop.  I always know I’m going to have the shittiest story in the room and make everybody cry.  Or be jittery with the PTSD while other people are oohing and aahing about Grandma making cookies. 

My story is my story and I’m fine with it.  But I also understand that most people won't know what to do with my story.  It might make people afraid.  It might make people disgusted or angry.  Sometimes people imagine that trauma is contagious and perhaps subconsciously reject me as an “unlucky person.”  I think a fair amount of the rejection also flows from social taboos: “No one is ever supposed to talk about this stuff, what the fuck is she thinking?  What totally outré thing is she going to do next?  Better keep a safe distance from Ms. Overshare from now on …”

 I should mention - Pluto Babes make awesome Moms.  

I should mention - Pluto Babes make awesome Moms.  

If telling the truth of your life makes other people uncomfortable, you’re a Pluto Babe, which is my shorthand for “your experiences and perspective and pain are perfect and divinely necessary.  You serve other gods than the norm but you are still beloved by those gods, and your life has purpose.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You are gorgeous and special and divinely flawed like every other human soul.  Your lens is your lens and it is perfect.”

“Pluto Babe” is saying to the survivor of epic trauma that “you’re NORMAL,” at the same time that it undercuts the supposed benefits of normalcy …

I have no stake in minimizing the effects of trauma.  But I do think it’s important that we dignify the survivors of trauma by speaking about them in terms other than those of “irreparably damaged lives.”  And I wouldn’t be here claiming any kind of authority if I didn’t think that it was possible to overcome the darkest and most incorrigible of wounds …

 Me rocking my greene lyon necklace and gold veil on my wedding day on a rainy Spring Equinox ... how's that for some Plutonian authenticity? ;)

Me rocking my greene lyon necklace and gold veil on my wedding day on a rainy Spring Equinox ... how's that for some Plutonian authenticity? ;)