by Grace Ng Dung
On the Friday following the US election, I dreamt of shit.
In the dream, a dark haired woman stood on the edge of the rainforest. She looked to be of indigenous American descent, though she was wearing casual modern clothes. She held an animal up by its front paws, as it took a poo. Afterwards, she performed some bodily ritual in which the droppings were neatly tied up and tossed into the forest.
A strange dream, yet once I woke I didn’t think much of it.
But later in the day, after a friend’s kitten shat on me and I encountered a lone human turd on my walk to the park, I realized the universe was talkin’ shit to get my attention.
I started reflecting on the symbolism of ‘excrement’ and the strange phrase “holy shit”, because wisdom often veils itself with paradox.
A force began to reveal itself, and in true alchemical fashion it spoke through the law “as above, so below”—presenting itself in both its earthly and astrological counterparts.
First I encountered a goddess in the pages of Aztec Philosophy, revered for her relationship with shit and transmutation.
Tlazolteotl is the “Eater of Filth”. She swallows all the transgressions, the misdeeds and vices of humankind, thereby purifying and regenerating those who seek to purge themselves of psychic and spiritual waste.
She presides over the decomposition & fertilization of the Earth as well. The Aztecs used earthly waste— a compost of human & animal excrement and rotting vegetation & carcasses—to spread over their crops fields.
As decomposition began, Tlazolteotl’s bowels—stretching far below the soil into the land of the dead—regenerated the organic debris into humus, a rich and revitalizing fertilizer that enabled corn to grow. The corn in turn nourished the people, thus was life recycled and sustained.
Just like the woman in my dream, she came from an indigenous American culture.
She came from a culture where all processes in nature were regarded as sacred, before christianized-beliefs colonized the mass psyche and made distinctions between “holy” and “unholy”.
Like countless other wisdom traditions, the Aztecs recognized that all the material of this world is relative, and it was in relationship to the whole that something’s purity or impurity was discerned.
Things arranged in a better or more harmonious order become pure. Things arranged poorly and in a state of discord are impure.
When earthly and human filth is not given to Tlazolteotl to regenerate, it remains out of place, becoming an impure agent of disease, pollution, and death.
But when it is given to her to consume & excrete, transformation reorders & integrates it to sustain life. Put in its appropriate place, shit ascends to a state of holiness.
The alchemists claimed that the gold of transformation is “found in filth”, those elements dismissed as inferior.
Tlazolteotl mirrors the fifth stage of alchemy—fermentation—when putrefaction occurs and a new life form springs forth from the bounty of decay.
She is the original alchemy of Earth in action; the transmutation of dross material into a sublime state—living, vibrant, regenerative soil. The foundation we all depend on and take for granted.
Her presence is not personal; her role affects the entire community. I felt my dream wasn’t only communicating things to me about myself, but about humanity as a whole.
I looked to astrology to see what planets mirrored her universal message.
I had the dream on November 12—Scorpio season.
In medical astrology, Scorpio rules the bowels, generative system, and rectum! Could it have been any clearer?
Scorpio is actually ruled by Pluto— the ultimate transmuter.
Pluto remains hidden, completing its regenerative work in the dark bowels of the psyche.
It’s Pluto that harbors our personal & collective shadows, Pluto that processes our darkest desires for either our downfall or redemption.
At the time of my dream, as well as the next few years, Pluto moves through Capricorn—bringing forward the shadows that control public authority, government, and various other circles of power. (Remember this dream came four days after the election—one of the shittiest moments in US history, an event I’m choosing to view as a massive colonic…)
No big mystery then when you consider all the racism, sexism, psychotic fundamentalist ideals, ignorant mob mentality, desecration of land & sacred sites, waste & pollution of natural resources, manipulation of food sources, bogus elections, and the stinking specters of greed and fear that have surfaced in our society.
Pluto is helping us push our shit out so we can finally get our shit together.
That’s right—it’s helping us.
Because as dark and dismal as it all may seem, the higher truth of nature tells us that everything is right on schedule.
And nature always knows best.
What would happen if none of our psycho-social waste ever came out? We’d be constipated, and our growth as a species would remain stunted, as well as our relationship to the rest of the natural world.
We’ve had enough of that.
And the process doesn’t end with the purge– it can’t just be ignored once it’s out in the open. Like Tlazolteotl teaches, it must be consciously attended to and transmuted, otherwise it serves only to pollute and spread sickness.
“This is the holy caster of water. The Cabiri grow out of the flowers which spring from the body of the dragon.” — the inscription from the painting “Watering Hades”, from Carl Jung’s Red Book.
This means that WE get to be the alchemists.
Fucking beautiful, right??
WE get to transmute all this heavy human lead into gold!
No benevolently graceful force is intervening to do the work for us—because we are the sacred deity we’ve been waiting for. We’ve gotta quit complaining and be motivated to care.
We have to stop victimizing ourselves by blaming the government and the patriarchy—we unconsciously allowed the corrupt to usurp authority for centuries.
The next era in our planetary evolution is emerging, and it needs soil and nutrients. We’ve gotta utilize what we’ve got.
All the compost of our current era—the hate, the fear, the greed, the separation, the victimization, the colonization, the domination, the selfishness, the repression, the ignorance, the apathy…those are our base metals.
And damn if we don’t all do our dark Plutonian dance and sublimate it all into compassion, integrity, ingenuity, acceptance, responsibility, wisdom, and playful-fucking-joy. It’s time.
Ancient art depicts Tlazolteotl defecating flowers. Personally, I’m stoked to shit roses soon, aren’t you?
To the Anima Mundi, the Great Spirit, or whomever sent me that dream—thank you. I’m grateful I can begin to look at the filth of our society and be inspired to act instead of worry.
About the Author:
Grace Ng Dung is an artist and illustrator seeking to re-enchant the world. A childhood obsession with books—coupled with a set of angelic parents—pushed her to pursue a life writing and illustrating her own stories. A frequent visitor of Faeryland, she is driven by a desire to illuminate the invisible world of spirit and the human psyche through the use of art, and strives to inspire others to care for the earth. She aims to love more and think less. Visit her at www.gracengdung.com or on facebook.
featured image: Tlazolteotl excreting flowers in an Aztec codex.
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