Litscope: Taurus & Justina Blakeney’s Jungalow: Decorate Wild

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BmoreArt’s Picks: May 4-10

As nature buds and blossoms everywhere, I am reminded of the old clichéd saying about April and May, which I won’t bother quoting here—but with this month’s dicey astrology, you’ll need to smell those flowers more than you think. May contains two retrogrades, so this month is a bit of a rollercoaster. Our old friend Mercury (the planet of thought and communication) retrogrades on May 29 and Saturn (planet of rules and restrictions) retrogrades on the 23rd. And I hate to admit it, but by the time you’re reading this, Pluto, the ruler of death and sex, has already started its retrograde *nervously wipes brow*. Needless to say, this is a month for review. Remember to back up those digital devices, reconsider how you work with authority, and spend some time taking inventory of your own subconscious. Fortunately, Jupiter, the planet of good luck and expansion, enters Pisces on May 13, offering us a flash of hope during all this planetary murkiness. 

And April 20 through May 20 is Taurus season. Ruled by Venus, the planet of love, money, attraction, and beauty, Taureans enjoy all things rich, indulgent, and stable. That’s not a bad thing if you are searching for someone to help you spruce up your bedroom. Some find the sign symbolized by the bull to be a little stubborn, but that same hard-headedness is also how they commit to their friendships. Make sure to call them up for those tough projects that may take years to complete; they have the fortitude. Slow and steady is their middle name. For more on Taurus, check out last year’s Litscope.


There’s one thing Taureans don’t skimp on: their homes. That said, Jungalow: Decorate Wild by Justina Blakeney is particularly well-suited for Taurus season. The cover of this book features the author, embodying her inner Goddess, shoes off (highlighting her earthiness—cue Taurus), and standing amid a room brimming with plants, turquoise tapestries, and multicolored pillows. A fecund site, if I ever saw one. I describe this cover because it’s a great representation of what’s inside: a DIY design book inspired by Blakeney’s well-traveled life. Jungalow is like a living museum just begging you to enter and explore it.

Every chapter pulls the reader in by the hand (as only an earthy Taurus could) and shows them a new way to enrich their homes. Chapters such as “Magic in the Mix” (which makes sense since Blakeney is of mixed-race—Black and Jewish—heritage), and “Wild for Pattern” are visual extravaganzas that surprise and delight. For example, one section of “Magic in the Mix” is labeled New Mexi-Copenhagen, a verbal mash-up between New Mexico and Copenhagen, Denmark, that mixes panels containing countryside homes, a local Danish florist teeming with greenery, and folk dolls. And the DIY projects included in the book, such as Make Your Own Tessellation, just reinforce Blakeney’s practical (and very Taurean) decorating philosophy. Readers will enjoy taking their décor, literally, into their own hands. 


One of my favorite chapters is “Outside Inside,” where Blakeney showcases how transformative plants can be to any living space. As in many other chapters, the author shares how she personally connects to the topic. “I still remember getting my very first houseplant,” she writes, “the bright pink quill shooting up from the plant’s center stopped me in my tracks.” For me, however, the places where the book shines are in her real-life experiences. In a section titled “Plants Can Heal,” she explores a visit to her parents’ friends’ home in Switzerland, where she met a child her age who had a room overflowing with plants. The girl was on the autism spectrum, and her parents explained how “foliage helped to soothe her.” In this vital moment, Blakeney looks beyond herself to be inclusive when considering what design really is and how it can provide comfort. Jungalow embraces the idea that design is much more than aesthetics. 

Ultimately, what I love about this book is that Blakeney makes me feel like I could jump right in and start sprucing up my own house tomorrow. Unlike other design books that make me feel inadequate or too poor to attempt their fancy designs, Blakeney’s book uses everything and the kitchen sink! She layers the room with colors, patterns, plant statues, and rugs, and isn’t afraid to borrow from the cultures and cities that call to her heart. While sampling from all these cultures to create something altogether-new is inspiring, it may also feel slightly overwhelming. But I believe the busyness of Jungalow’s styled lounges, courtyards, and living rooms is all a part of the author’s charm. Her lush book expertly teaches readers that a “home is so much more than a place to hold belongings and take shelter from the elements. Home is a sanctuary . . . a place to nourish the body, the soul, the mind, the heart.”


The Nine of Wands (creative fire) is the card for the collective this month. This card, which hails from the Motherpeace deck, means we are lit up with energy. Nines are always the last number before transformation. We are feverishly working on whatever projects are at hand. On this card, the woman in the picture is in the center of the nine torches extending from her body—such an intense heat that may spark worry about whether you can keep all the fires lit. The snakes next to her are tamed and represent her full control over her sexual energies. This card shows us that we are powerfully mastering our endeavors, but it also comes with a warning not to burn ourselves out. In a month where we have so many retrogrades suggesting that we review, it’s important not to push too hard. Continuously fueling our passions is important, but let’s also remember to rest when our plates get too full. 



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