A couple years ago, I was gifted a book called Moon, Moon, written by Anne Kent Rush in 1976, which was in part a loose encyclopedia of the moon and lunar cycles. It was another part experiment in interdisciplinary musing, weaving in illustrations of Hindu goddesses alongside a journaled list of Rush’s recent dreams, alongside Yeats’ poetry, Milton, goddess art and Buddhist sayings, “Fly Me to the Moon,” the history of moon as matriarch, “I see the moon, And the moon sees me,” moon consciousness …
Weirdly it felt familiar, like I was shown a new way to think and creatively express, a puzzle piece I didn’t know I was missing. I dove into learning more about Rush’s oeuvre. She has been quietly prolific in her career — the author of 17 books, her works have been translated into 13 languages, with a bibliography of titles primarily themed around women’s wellness, feminism, meditation, massage, and mindfulness. Mostly written in the 70s-80s, her books feel wholly contemporary, pairing earnest research and instructional texts with an unexpected, artful edge and a self-aware lightness.
Rush was born in Alabama in 1945. As a child, she moved to the East Coast, living in Maryland and then Boston, where she studied art and literature in school before beginning to work in publishing. In 1969, she moved to Berkeley, California, sensing innovation, progress, and fresh air on the North Coast. She’d go on to be a founding partner of Moon Books, an independent women-run publishing house that produced feminist works. She’d also co-found the Women's Studies Department at Big Sur’s Esalen Institute, and the Alyssum Women’s Therapy Center in San Francisco.
In the 1990s Rush moved back to Alabama, and has since continued writing while in recent years becoming heavily involved in state politics. I’m struck by how current her older writings feel to me now, especially alongside present-day conversations about wellness and coming back to yourself amid distractions of technology, political unrest, and layered civil oppressions surrounding race, gender, and sexuality.
It’s ironic that Rush’s works, the most useful texts I’ve found for coping with these modern stresses, were initially written to speak to a different era, regarding problems we’ve yet solve.
Her books remind me to check in with my body simply and often; to not get buried in the cerebral spiral of technology; to keep my eyes open; to protect my curiosity; and most importantly, to do all of the above so I can show up for others, for the issues I believe in, and the causes that need advocating.
Words: Leigh Patterson
Illustrator: Maggie Chiang