How to Honor a Jupiter Return

Divination and Dreams

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very 12 years Jupiter circles back to the point it occupied when you were born. This is called a Jupiter return and it ushers in an opportunity to reflect on what has gone really right, to call in support and blessing for the places you need help, and to enjoy a traditionally lucky and fortunate year.

Now there many ways of dividing time up into rhythmic cycles – some of us celebrate a completed year at the end of December and again on our Solar Return (also known as your birthday).

Some of us experience 7 year cycles, 3 year cycles, and 5 year cycles. Some measure time according to our Saturn Return which is about a 28 year cycle.

But I especially like the 12 year cycle of the Jupiter Return because 12 years is enough time to really see where your strengths are and see where your struggles are and it is the perfect time to align yourself with the blessings of this most beneficial celestial ally.

Finding Your Jupiter Return date

First you need to find out when your Jupiter Return is happening. To do this you need to do a few things:

Jupiter glyph for Jupiter Return1.) Where was Jupiter at the time of your birth? If you do not know the answer to this you will need to consult your natal chart. You can get a free natal chart here.
Note: You will need to know the time and the location of your birth to run a correct natal chart.

Once you have your chart you will look for the Jupiter glyph – it is the curvy looking 4 to your left.

2.) You will note the zodiac sign, and degree that Jupiter occurs in. The degree will be the larger number, you can ignore the smaller number for now.

3.)Moving on,  now you need to know where Jupiter is currently in the sky.

To find Jupiter you will need to work with an ephemeris – this is a log that tracks the movements of planets, asteroids, and other celestial bodies through time. The easiest ephemeris to use, in my opinion, is this one, online. Simply type in Jupiter and you can start to see where the planet is at a given date and time.

As of the writing of this article Jupiter is at 25 degrees in Virgo. On September 9th it will move into Libra.
Remember that Jupiter takes about 12 years to return to the position it occupied when you were born.

The ritual ~

This is an easy two-part ritual. Begin this a few days before your Jupiter Return actually hits). Jupiter is the planet of abundance, magnification, and also gravitas – often this planet is seen as only fun, easy, and happy go lucky but Jupiter is the reigning emperor as well as the sagacious teacher.

The first part of this review encourages us to look at some of the major life areas with Jupiter’s qualities in mind. You can do this in many different ways, but I work with a blank zodiac wheel since this is an astrology exercise. Download a blank wheel here.

For those of you working with a zodiac wheel you can divide the 12 sections might like this:

1st house: Appearance, Sense of Risk, Physical Fitness

2nd house: Cash flow, Pleasure, Skill

3rd house: Education, Learning, Friendship

4th house: Family, Home, Nourishment

5th house: Creativity, Passion, Children/Descendants

6th house: Physical/Mental/Spiritual Health, Physical Structures (including organization), Daily Practice

7th house: Partnerships, Marriage, Love

8th house: Sex, Investments and Inherited Money, Esoteric Spirituality

9th house: Teaching, Traveling, Adventure, Wisdom

10th house: Career, Competition, Mastery of a craft or skill, work ethic

11th house: Community and larger tribe, communications, big vision

12th house: Fears, Addictions, Hidden Strengths, the things left undone

 

However you look at your life, you will want to ask these three questions for each section.

1.) Over the past 12 years what has stood out the most to me about this area of life

2.) Over the past 12 years how have I been challenged in this area of life? What patterns do I see in those challenges?

3.) Over the past 12 years where have I been blessed in this area of life?

This can be an intense process so you see why I recommend that you start a few days early!

Once you have your answers in front of you, you will find that you have some very good information to work with. At this point you might want to take a ritual bath, cense yourself, go for a long walk, or just go to bed and dream.

Then when you are ready, you can create a prayer, blessing or petition to Jupiter – here is one way to do that.

Blessed Jupiter, celestial body of magnificence and great blessing, raining down good fortune, grace, depth, and wisdom on all who seek you out. Today I welcome you back to the place you occupied when you first came into my life. It has been 12 years and during that time I have been especially challenged by (fill in the blank with whatever has been especially challenging). I ask for your aid and assistance in navigating the next 12 years and coming into right relationship with these challenges.

 Great Jupiter, over the last 12 years I have also and more essentially been deeply blessed by (fill in the blank with whatever has been a great blessing in your life). I thank you for these blessings and give (fill in the blank with your thanks offering) to you as a thanks offering full of gratitude and love for all that you have bestowed and inspired.

 

At this point you will give an offering to Jupiter. You get to decide what offering you would like to make to Jupiter and how to make it.

After this the sky is the limit. You can perform a divination to look at the next 12 years or pick one theme to really drill down on. You can consecrate a Jupiter inspired talisman that you can wear, or burn a devotional candle all night long to honor the next 12 year cycle that is beginning. You might create a honey jar for yourself or work with a lodestone specifically aligned with Jupiter.

Whatever you decide, it is my deep wish that the blessings will flow. For more on how Jupiter’s upcoming transit through Libra (for over a year!) will affect you check out the Jupiter in the Balance report.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Rocking It with the Magical Lodestone

Alchemy and Magic

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odestones, also known as magnetite, magnetized hematite, tzuh shih – which means “loving stones” in Chinese, or simply natural magnets; have been a fixture in sacred arts for thousands of years.

They are one of my personal favorite talismans to work with because a single lodestone has so much to teach us about ourselves, the way desire works, and our world.

 

History, Science, and Spirit

Lodestones are the first magnets. They are in a very real way the talismans that have taught us throughout the ages about the magnetic and then electromagnetic fields that surround all objects. A lodestone and an iron needle most likely created the first compass, an event that would, centuries later, allow us to “discover” that the earth itself is a giant magnet.

The physical properties of these stones are pretty basic. They are geologically described as magnetite and are made up of iron and oxygen with a chemical formula of Fe3O4. Hematite is an iron oxide and sometimes in rock shops you will come across “magnetized” hematite – hematite that has been artificially magnetized by running an electric current through it and usually sold in sets that have a very satisfying “click” when they come together.

Naturally occurring lodestones are mostly made of magnetite but have many other oxides and materials in them as well. How they form is still a mystery but the best guess is lightening strikes that send an electrical current through the rocks. There are places in the world that have a greater amount of lodestones as well as places that seem to have none.

The word lodestone came into use around 1500 A.D. when these natural magnets were commonly used for navigation (the word lode is old English meaning “to lead” or “to guide”). Before they were called lodestones these rocks were simply referred to as magnets. The word magnet comes down to us from the ancient Greeks – some scholars believe the stones were found frequently in Magnesia and thus the name magnet but I prefer the folk tale of the shepherd Magnus who found that the iron nails in his sandals stuck to certain rocks when he walked the fields and so discovered magnets.

We don’t know exactly when lodestones were discovered but it is a good guess that as soon as we began smelting iron around 1200 B.C. in the Western world we started working with them because we were able to observe that lodestones could attract iron. However, the ancient Chinese have the earliest traditions of working with lodestones – a thousand years earlier than those in the West did – and they worked with them for magical purposes.

These ancient Chinese magicians carved a long ladle-like spoon out of lodestone and placed it on a bronze plate at which point the spoon would magically move of its own volition with the narrow end of the spoon finally coming to point South. Some scholars think the shape of the lodestone spoon was deliberately shaped to resemble the Big Dipper, which of course contains the North Star, Polaris (also known as the “lodestar”) an essential navigation point. Though these Chinese magicians had effectively made a compass, they understood their tool to be an effective form of geomantic divination, and considering the fact that this descendants of this tool would much later give us deeply essential information about our planet, I would say they were right on the money.

Fast forwarding through a thousand years we come to the ancient Greeks. They knew about lodestones and worked with them in scientific experiments, philosophical works, and magical ritual as well. From that point on the lodestone would become a common fixture in all fields interested in comprehending and understanding invisible forces or spirits.

Before we get into the lodestone specifically, I invite you to pause and think about magnetism. It was not until 1600 with a scientific treatise called De Magnete by William Gilbert – physician to Queen Elizabeth I – that we realized the planet earth functions as a great magnet. But long before that treatise was written, ancients were observing the power of natural magnets and discovering that “something deeply hidden had to be behind things” as Einstein said after his own childhood experiments with magnets centuries later.

I suspect that this was a less a shock for our ancestors than it is for us today, for our ancient people understood natural objects to be inspirited and animate in a number of different ways. Not only were forces and spirits often unseen by the naked eye, some of the most important forces and spirits were understood to be simply invisible – why wouldn’t they dwell in rocks, rivers, trees and plants?

Lodestones were seen as special and unique because the patterns they made in iron filings or the way that they could magnetize a needle started to show the invisible tracks of the unique spirit inhabiting them, much in the way that we can find all kinds of animal tracks on a mountainside after a fresh snowfall – even though we probably won’t see the animals themselves. Magnets and the fields they create, are one of the doorways opening up to the Otherworld and lodestones are, if you like, the doorknob.

Typically today when we consider lodestones from a magical or alchemical perspective we find pretty simple advice: magnets draw things to them so work with a lodestone to draw the things to you that you want in your life. That’s not terrible advice, but it does not really help us to see what a lodestone actually is, what unique properties it possesses, and how we might come into a real relationship with it. And a real relationship is exactly what we want because lodestones are not just loving stones but living ones too.

The understanding of a lodestone as a living being has been passed down from the ancient world into our modern age relatively intact. When working with lodestones (as opposed to “using” a lodestone which we would not do just as we would not “use” a person or an animal), we handle them with care, “feed” them with iron filings, and in some traditions will even give them the occasional “drink” of fresh spring water or whisky. We also talk to them but more on that in a bit.

Of course, magnets do draw and attract and so our sympathetic magical understanding is not incorrect – we can work with lodestones to accomplish something similar. But there is more to the story. Consider this blues song from the 1930’s:

“Way down in Charleston lives old Geechie Joe
I’m going down to Charleston to dig old Geechie Joe
Got a good ol’ Geechie urge, can’t do nothin’ else but go

Got misery, misery I can’t lose
Got misery, misery, nothing but bad news
Gotta dig old Geechie Joe to voodoo these jimson blues

I gotta get back to Charleston if I walk down those railroad tracks
Gonna rub my hand on a lodestone blue as black

If Geechie Joe can’t get it, I just ain’t ever comin’ back
Geechie Joe, comin’ home, Geechie Joe”From the song “Geechie Joe” recorded by Cab Calloway in the 1930’s, written by Leon “Chu” Berry.

Obviously the writer and singer of the song were familiar with the magical properties of a lodestone but the choice to “rub his hand on a lodestone blue as black” is not merely one of wanting to draw something to himself (most likely good luck, given the context of the song), but it is also a protective act to ward off the misery that our poor songster is experiencing.

So, if attraction is only one of many magical qualities inherent and evoked by lodestones what are the others? Here is what I have found in my own practices and years of working with these talismans.

Sources of Inspiration and Potency ~

If you look up lodestone spells or rituals you will usually find that they work like this: you create a petition for whatever it is that you wish to draw to you, you give your lodestone a name (because remember, the lodestone is living), you either speak the petition aloud over the stone or your write it down and place it under the stone, and then you feed the stone with some iron filings.

If you got into the mechanics of this set up you would find that the understanding is that the lodestone creates a kind of bridge of magnetism between the petitioner and their desired object so that the object shows up in their life – hopefully in a timely manner.

But if we pay attention to the way a lodestone actually works we discover that one of its most compelling properties is not just that it is magnetic and can draw other materials to it, but that it can also confer its magnetic properties onto other materials, especially iron. In fact, this is one of the ways that lodestones were worked with through the centuries – sailors would take a lodestone, cap it on either end with iron which would become magnetized from by the lodestone’s field and then use the iron caps to magnetizing needles or nails for working compasses.

There is much to work with here. First of all, iron, described as the “blood of the earth” is a deeply magical substance. Iron is understood as protective and those who work with the substance (blacksmiths) are, throughout myth, legend, folklore, and modern history, considered the most magical of artisans due to their proximity with the metal.

And then there is the ability of the lodestone to “inspire” other objects with its spirit of magnetic force. In his short dialogue on poetry, The Ion, ancient Greek philosopher Plato described it this way:

There is a divinity moving you, like that contained in the stone which Euripides calls a magnet, but which is commonly known as the stone of Heraclea. This stone not only attracts iron rings, but also imparts to them a similar power of attracting other rings; and sometimes you may see a number of pieces of iron and rings suspended from one another so as to form quite a long chain: and all of them derive their power of suspension from the original stone. In like manner the Muse first of all inspires men herself; and from these inspired persons a chain of other persons is suspended who take the inspiration.”

Here we see a much deeper understanding of one of the core magics of the lodestone. Something (magnetic force) moves within it and lends itself to other objects just as something can move within us, allowing us to inspire and in turn be inspired.

Magically speaking at the very least this means that when you work to attract something to you vis a vis a lodestone and that object comes, you would be well served by ritually understanding that this new object is now magnetized as the lodestone is and can be worked with as such.

So for instance, if I work with a lodestone to draw a rare and expensive book to me, and the rare book does arrive at a price I can afford, I can now see that book as functioning as its own kind of lodestone – it has become an inspired and inspirited object itself and I might work with it to draw other objects. Obviously this leads to a consideration of what you are trying to draw into your life – are the things you desire really inspiring? Do they help you in turn inspire others?

Going deeper into this first point, I would suggest that more than thinking of your lodestone as a kind of magnetic bridge, you can see yourself as a lodestone. This isn’t really that weird or far out. You do have an electro-magnetic field around you after all. Here are the steps I recommend for this ritual approach:

  • Become aware of what you tend to attract for example do you draw bad luck or good, do you attract kind people or those who are cruel? Consider what the patterns are without judging, just observe.
  • Define True North. For physical magnets this field is already determined but you are a magical magnet so you get to decide. What is your True North? Why do you do what do you? What are you really after? What really matters the most? (Those of you who are my Spinning Gold students will recognize these questions in the North Star Rite we learn). I like to phrase the understanding of one’s personal True North in this way:

“As a magnet is turned to the North, I am turned to (fill in the blank with your True North).”

  • Re-orient yourself. Once you know what your True North is, bring it into your life in some concrete way. I would recommend honoring it in your daily practice.
  • Call in your allies. Now you are a lodestone, pointed to your True North, and able to attract the things, opportunities, and situations you need to allow you to do whatever it is that you wish to do. You can still have a physical lodestone present – I do, but it will begin to function less as an active magnet and more as a reflective mirror.

This is the petition I use when working in this manner:

“As a magnet is turned to the North, I am turned to (fill in the blank with your True North)…And as a magnet can draw iron to it, I now call and draw upon (fill in the blank with whatever it is you would like to call to your side).”

 

So let’s say that you need a car in order to get to work. Spend some time with the first step and consider what your experience with cars has been up until this point in your life.

Learn from this.

For instance, if cars break as soon as you buy them and you do not know how to repair them and don’t have a lot of money to spend on repairs maybe you do not need a car at all, maybe you need a good bicycle.

Then state your True North in this situation. It might look like this:

“As a magnet is turned to the North, I am turned to the ability to continue advancing in my job and bringing in enough money to take care of my family.”

With a True North statement like that, there are many things you can do to support your focus – I would probably recommend incorporating a personal blessing into your daily practice so that you are blessed with abundance on the job site and off.

Then put it all together like so:

“As a magnet is turned to the North, I am turned to the ability to continue advancing in my job and bringing in enough money to take care of my family. And as a magnet can draw iron to it, I now call and draw upon a dependable, affordable, new vehicle that can carry me safely to that job and back home again.”

At this point if you have a physical lodestone you can sprinkle it with some magnetic sand, if you do not then take a good long drink of fresh spring water and go on with your day. When the dependable and affordable new car arrives remember magnetic transference – now it too is like a lodestone and can inspire others through its presence.

Coercive and Compelling ~

For the ancients and modern scientists alike, one of the most fascinating aspects of lodestones is that they are not only naturally occurring magnets; they are naturally occurring permanent magnets. When it comes to magnetism there are two unique qualities that we consider. The first is saturation, this basically measures how strong a magnet is, how saturated the material is with magnetism. Typically lodestones have small saturation points – they are not going to win prizes for their ability to pick up big chunks of metal.

The second quality is coercion and this is where lodestones shine because they are highly coercive magnets. A coercive magnet is very difficult to de-magnetize. The more coercive a magnet is the greater a magnetic field moving in the opposite direction must be in order to make the magnet lose its magnetism. This means that lodestones make ideal permanent or long lasting magnets.

In magical practices folks often make the mistake of thinking that their lodestone is “dead” when it no longer exerts much magnetic pull – for instance, when a lot of the iron filings fall off the rock. (Typically they will stand up straight on the stone like little bits of hair). But in reality one may have a lodestone with a pretty weak saturation point that still has a high amount of coercion and can magnetize other objects. A good way to test is to place an iron nail on your lodestone and see if the nail becomes magnetic. Likewise, those who test their lodestones by seeing how much material the lodestone can lift are missing the point, the nature of the lodestone is not one of saturation but coercion, or, as I like to think of it, lodestones are more concerned with quality over quantity.

While the technically coercive nature of lodestones is a relatively new discovery, the stones themselves have been understood to have a compelling quality for a long time and put to use in all kinds of ceremonies where one object, situation, or individual was to be compelled towards another. In my experience the coercive nature of the stone makes it ideal for accomplishing multi-layered goals.

For this process you can work with an actual physical lodestone or you can work with yourself as a lodestone as we saw above. The idea is relatively simple. You’ll take a large goal and break it down into component parts. To use our example above, let’s say that you need a new car to get safely to and from work. You could break this down like so:

Goal #1: Save up enough money to make a down payment on the car.

Goal #2: Come into contact with a legitimate and fair car dealer.

Goal #3: Have a clean credit check and a dealership willing to give you good terms.

Goal #4: Purchase the car in an easy and effortless manner.

Begin by writing your first petition for goal #1. Given the nature of our example you could even break goal #1 down into further bits and pieces – maybe you need to get a promotion in order to save up that money or perhaps someone who owes you will deliver on their debt – you see how this can go forward.

Once the first goal has been accomplished turn your attention to the next. This time when you are working on goal #2 you have the coercion of the lodestone and you have the coercion of the first accomplished goal – your iron rings are starting to connect.

Besides general attraction work, lodestones are often called on to bring lovers closer together. 11th century devoted Muslim and Islamic scholar Ibn Hazm understood this quite well:

“My eyes find nowhere else to look but at you,

Like what happens with the lodestone (and the pieces of iron)

Changing direction to right and left in accordance with where you are.” – Ibn Hazm from his love poem Ring of the Dove

Sometimes lodestones are sold in matched pairs to facilitate workings for love and romance. The stones might be gently nudged towards each other over a number of days as the would be lovers also come together, or they might be placed in a sacred vessel like a medicine bag or prayer bowl to encourage fidelity and blessing in a relationship. Both are lovely methods but again the specifically coercive nature of the lodestone is overlooked.

For instance, one could take a lodestone, dedicate it to a blessed union, take two iron nails or pins, place them on the lodestone, and then draw those pieces together allowing them to finally come to “rest” on the lodestone which is the physical equivalent of keeping a steady flow of loving energy and attraction flowing through the channel of the relationship.

Navigation Tool ~

“For what is more strange than this stone? In what field has Nature displayed a more perverse willfulness? She has given to rocks a voice, which as I have explained, echoes that of Man or rather, interrupts it as well. What is more impassive than the stiffness of stone? And yet, we see that she has endowed the magnet with both senses and hands.” – Pliny, Natural History

The nature of lodestones is one of direction and way marking; they are the stones above all that you want to have with you when you go on any kind of a pilgrimage. And yet, when people do work with them they are often left up on a shelf to collect dirt and dust and not really related to. Pliny was right to recognize that underneath the apparent stiffness and impassivity of the stone there are “senses” and “hands” both qualities that help us find our way. The only thing that is required is a slightly different relationship to the stone itself; I’d recommend that we stop looking at it as another tool and instead start seeing it as the natural talisman that it really is.

And, as is the case with all talismans, there are certain things that a talisman has a natural resonance to and others that it does not. So it is for any lodestone. If you are working with one in any capacity and not getting the results you desire consider what it is that you are after and before burying the stone or giving it away, ask if the stone is perhaps leading you in a different and more useful direction? Remember, they were the first compasses.

As a final note, lodestones are most usually worked with to gain some kind of material good. But as I have noted elsewhere, all magic has an inner and outer component. This means that you can work with your lodestone to gain a new car but you can also work with your lodestone to gain more clarity in your divinations or dreams. You can judge which will be most useful to you in the long run.

The Basics of Working with your lodestone

Keeping all of the above in mind here is how you can begin working with your lodestone.

  • Get a lodestone. You can purchase them from spiritual supply shops or from geological and mining supply companies. Or you can find one! Check not so much for magnetic saturation but magnetic coerciveness.
  • Ask your lodestone what it would like to be called.
  • Ask your lodestone how often it would like to be fed.
  • Ask your lodestone if it would like to receive a drink and if so, what kind and how often.
  • Ask your lodestone if there is anything else you should know as you begin working with it.
  • As you work with your lodestone remember not to declare it dead if its magnetic pull seems to weaken, check its level of coercion.
  • If your lodestone does seem dead then tradition indicates burial to be the most respectful manner of disposal.
  • Decide (hopefully with your lodestone) on a work rhythm. For instance, I remove all magnetic sand from my stone, wash it down with water, cense and oil it, once a month on the New Moon.

Keep learning from your lodestone and discovering new ways of working with it. Magnetism is a very old magic that we are still just starting to understand, and these little humble rocks have much to teach.

 

Sources for this article include:
Livingston, James D. Driving Force: The Natural Magic of Magnets. (Cambridge: Harvard UP 1996.)

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

What to do BEFORE Mercury Retrograde

Divination and Dreams

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ear Miracles,

Mercury will be retrograde from August 30th – September 22nd. If you are Mercury sensitive then I recommend the Mercury RX survival kit. And no matter what your Mercury rx experiences have been, here are the things to check on BEFORE the speedy planet begins its apparent backwards descent.

 

Electronics: Anything with an electronic component – computers, televisions, smart phones, even appliances. Consider what the electric tools are that you use every day and start with those. Make sure you have light bulbs and printer ink at your house and ready to go. Obviously back your computer and phone up. You don’t need to use this pre-game time to organize files (that is actually a great thing to do during the retrograde), but do make sure everything is stored, saved, and accessible.

 

Physical mail and shipping items: If there are things you need to physically mail – letters, thank you notes, bill payments, invoices, etc try to get them out before Mercury goes retrograde. And, in my experience, I always run out of packing tape during this period so if you ship out things to people you might want to make sure your shipping supplies are nicely stocked.

 

Your vehicle: Again, you can get the tune-up or repairs during the retrograde period – I actually schedule ours to occur during retrogrades as much as possible, but make sure that the vehicle is in driving condition, check up on tires, make sure your AAA membership is up to date, that there is enough gas in the tank, etc. If you use public transportation make sure that you arrive earlier during the retrograde period to allow for the blocks and bumps that do occur with such systems from time to time.

 

Travel plans: If you are going somewhere and need to make reservations for flights, rental vehicles, and/or lodging, I recommend you get those tasks completed before the retrograde period begins. I have traveled, somewhat extensively during Mercury rx and not had a problem because I scheduled the travel and arranged it beforehand.

 

Relationships: Look at the relationships in your life; personal and professional. What are the relationships that are currently suffering from lack of clear communication and cooperation? Those are the relationships that are most likely to be affected during the retrograde period. Do what you can now to strengthen and shore up those connections – even if that means agreeing to disagree but not get into any tough discussions until after the speedy planet goes direct once more. And since we are talking about communication…

 

Communications: If there is a big conversation that you are finally, finally, ready to have then have it before Mercury goes retrograde or accept the need to wait until after it is direct. This can be anything from telling your lover you’d like them to move in to telling your boss that you want a raise. Also, remember that communication is never exclusively verbal; heed your non-verbal cues as well.

 

Writing projects: If you are waiting to start a big writing project go ahead and start it now. Projects started during Mercury rx tend to be harder to stick to, but projects already underway can benefit from the extra Mercury-infused scrutiny of this time.

 

Zodiac Sign: Consider the sign or signs that Mercury is going retrograde in; each sign gives the retrograde period a slightly different flavor. For instance, this time around Mercury will be retrograde in Virgo, that means that this is a prime time to reorganize your physical spaces, get medical check-ups and second opinions, and be especially careful with financial transactions.

 

Take it deeper: Finally, I encourage you to go deep with your retrograde experience; don’t keep it at a superficial and crazy-making level but allow yourself to see it as the reminder of our connection to the depths, the unseen, and the crossroads that it truly is.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

13 Questions for Uranus Retrograde

Divination and Dreams

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iracles,

This one went out to the Facebook group first (you can join, you can join!) and I wanted to share it here as well. Uranus went retrograde on July 29th and is retrograde through December 29th. Typically when the outer planets go retrograde we do not feel it in our daily lives as much (except at the exact moments they retrograde and then go direct in some cases) but their prolonged backwards turning provides an opportunity to focus on the ways a planet’s specific and individual medicine is at play in our lives. As always, I find the best way to accomplish this is not through telling you what this planet “means” but rather giving you all questions in alignment with a specific planet’s gifts and challenges. Obviously, you can take your time with these and discover for yourself what your relationship with Uranus is or could be.
1.) What is my relationship to the heavens? (Ouranos in Greek means heaven)

2.) What does divine inspiration feel like to me? What does it look, sound, and taste like? How do I cultivate it?

3.) Is my vehicle and tech in good working order? Have I backed up the things that need to be backed up and tuned up the things that need to be tuned up?

4.) What area(s) of life need fresh vision at this time?

5.) What is my relationship to the future – my personal future as well as the global future?

6.) What messages do I send out into the world on a daily basis? Are they the messages I want to send out?

7.) What messages do I receive? How do I receive them (from people, happenstance, dreams?) and what do I do with the information?

8.) What sentimental attachment(s) am I holding onto that no longer serve?

9.) Who makes up my large community and how do I connect with them?

10.) Where does the volume need to be turned down in my life and where does it need to be pumped out full blast?

11.) Where have I recently felt like things were disrupted in a significant way? What did I learn from the disruption?

12.) What messages/understandings/insights have I received that feel essential and important but have not yet been fully woven into my life? How can I weave them in now?

13.) How do I inspire others?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Man Who Taught Me About Magic

Lineage and Legacy

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iracles,

You all know that lineage matters a great deal to me yes? I’m a strong believer that those who teach, as I do, should especially be clear and honest about their lineage – who are the people who gave them both information and inspiration? I’d like to tell you about one of my earliest, deepest, and truest teachers today, my grandfather.

Today is my grandfather’s birthday and if he were still among the living he would be 82 years old. He died on July 28th five years ago after living in a state that was very much in both worlds (due to a massive stroke) since October 31st, 2005. I miss him every single day; but I also speak with him every single day. That is one of the gifts of remembering your Beloved Dead.

I don’t think it would be too extreme for me to say that the first person who taught me to walk in both worlds; the man who taught me magic, was my grandfather.

From a very young age he instilled within me a love for story, for the wild and unruly (whether it be plant, person, or critter), for music of all kinds, and for the holy. It was on long walks with him through meadow and thicket that I found the roots of my own radical reverence; planting zinnia’s in row after row as a storm rolled in, sitting barefoot on the front porch shelling peas while he played his acoustic guitar, closing my eyes while he would take my hand in his own much larger, dark brown, work-calloused hand and listening with my skin as he would tap out the beat of a song and then ask me to guess what the song was – learning to listen, he called, it, with more than my ears.

My grandfather was a devout Baptist after meeting my grandmother (he himself was raised with the “old ways” and there was never much elaboration on what, exactly, that meant); but I knew from an early age through his teachings that church was not where one went to properly see and speak with God – in order to do that you needed dirt under your nails and dew on the hem of your gown.

Papa taught me where to hide offerings for the Little People, how to make a sacred vessel out of a bored out knot hole in a living tree so that the animals of the field would always be allies (you fill it with acorns and honey naturally enough), how to spot and harvest the wild onions and garlic that grow in the springtime, the Texas Persimmons that are ready right about this time of year, and the chili piquin peppers that show up in February. He taught me that the juiciest blackberries are always hidden beneath the most thorns and that it is worth the prickles and a few drops of blood to get to them, how to burn a piece of land to prepare it for sowing in new life, what rocks could be moistened and then used as red clay body paint, and where the fat horny toad lived. Papa taught me to help wherever you could, to never kill a spider, and what snakes were helpers or dangerous by turn. He taught me about how barn owls will come and speak to some people in their dreams and when they do, you best listen to their messages.

My grandfather was not perfect, not by a long shot. He came of age in a place where everyone was poor but even among them, his family was seen as especially poor. Considered a half-breed because his mother was Cherokee, the family grew up on literally the wrong side of the railroad tracks. Physical violence in his family was the norm as it was in so many families at the time and Papa told many stories of traveling over to the Black part of town (in highly segregated rural east Texas) and learning how to play guitar there. He would be “skinned alive” by his daddy when he got back home but it was worth it because it was music. Talk about a language that transcends. He was in many ways a hard man to live with by all accounts, with a terrible and often violent temper. The times with him were not easy, especially for those who loved him best.

Sometimes I am asked by students and clients if I think people can really change. This is an old, old, question. I say yes. No hemming and hawing, no qualifications. Yes. People can change. Fundamentally and deeper than deep; yes, it is possible. I know that because I know my grandfather did when I was born. According to our family it was sudden and extreme, as if much of the anger, frustration, and violence was breathed out of him in one great gust. He still had his moments – I remember a few of them myself, but with the arrival of me, his first grandchild, the storm raging inside of him mostly passed on. I would never say such change is easy or common; but is it possible? Oh yes.

I was talking to my grandmother yesterday about today, my papa’s birthday. She reminded me of the date of his death (I always forget) and I remember being able to sit beside his still body with my husband and my five-month old son. It was a blessing to sit there with him, hold is now-cold hand in my own one last time before we set about creating the rituals and blessing ways that we make when one of our beloveds passes on.

I told my Nana that I do not memorialize the time of his death, but rather I remember him at the time he was born and came into life, today, August 7th. His candle has been lit, I’ll make the cornbread he so loved and drink some Big Red soda pop in his honor. I’ll continue asking him questions, he will continue telling me stories, and when the owl shows up in my dreams now, I know it comes as a gift from him.

My papa loved to tell stories and he loved a good audience (Leo). I know he would like me telling all of you part of his story, and he would want each of you to go out, find magic, and tell many more stories of your own.

May it be so.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Standing in the Depths by the Little Church in the Mountain

Foundations

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The bone-filled catacombs of St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna. Vestibule at Windsor Abbey. National basilica in Washington, D.C.  Rowdy jam sessions at American and Missionary Baptist Churches.

I love these churches. I don’t always love what they stand for, but I love the reverence they are filled with, and I especially love the stories that they tell.

But none of these churches compare to a certain little shrine carved into a rocky cliff-side in Northern New Mexico. You might miss it if you didn’t know where to look.  The ground is rough, the sun hot, and when you visit, you will surely return with ankles covered in dust from a red dirt road.

I like to imagine the first moment it occurred to someone to make this shrine. Who was it? What was their name? A natural hollow in the face of the rock, perhaps by starlight, or firelight, or by the changing light of the seasons, was enough. Take some small tools in hand, a modest hammer and chisel perhaps; for the volcanic tuff across the valley, a simpler implement would do just fine, like a spoon. But go to work, scrape a little off here, a little there, and then smooth it until the hollow is deep and well-rounded, like the curvature of a big belly. Soon you will have the protected, safe space needed to make a home for a loving image of power and grace.

Every time I visit the shrine it is different. People leave their marks, their little touches. Someone has left money. Someone else has left flowers or removed old ones.  Photographs are left. Names and dates are etched into the sedimentary rock. Traces of countless untold stories are braided together into this space.

Carved into cliff and mountain, there is no pew here, no enforced silence. A great part of the charm, I think, is its informality, its improvised, unplanned character. More likely there is the basso beat of a low rider or pickup truck spraying gravel along the dirt road. Folk shrines like this one so often feel closer to the heart, to what a human being actually feels about the sacred and profane – not what we are led officially and symbolically to feel.  Beyond the official channels, there is a living poetry of human thought and feeling, a great simplicity and ineffable complexity to what we actually feel about the sacred and profane that resists easy formulation.

You can find some the best handmade, homespun, precious prayers in places like this, and their holiness is full-bodied and low, down to the ground, so that they might hear the words of even the smallest ones.

Folk shrines are not an exception to this part of the country, and they certainly were not invented by Christian folks. Perhaps no more evidence is needed than to go across the valley to see the cliff dwellings in Bandalier Canyon. But wherever we look, folk shrines in natural places are the norm for fragments of pre-modern life-ways that still remain today across the globe.

Look anywhere and you will find them. All lands have been graced by these handmade churches of stone and tree, river, and wind if you know where to look. Even the ancient Greek peoples of the Pericles’ Athens made informal folk shrines to the gods, goddesses and other semi-divine beings, places of power woven into the interstices of the natural landscape. Everywhere you turn, there would be a sacred center touched and memorialized in the plane trees and the rocks.

What do folk shrines remind us? Old ones have become such a part of the hills and forests, that they seem to have grown out of them. They make the hills hillier even, and the trees just a little greener. The marks and inscriptions left by countless unknown people are little messages to the next who come along: take heart! We were here. And yet there is a gleaming something that reminds us, that while we are in the world, having grown out of it, we are nevertheless not entirely of it. There is a little swerve, a little swing to the left, a powerful something that is free.

To be in the world, not of it, is like going out into the ocean, deep enough that you really feel the pressure of the water on your body, you feel the pull and push of the tide and yet, you stand your ground, you stay put, firm in this place that is your own. It requires strength of body and mind – an understanding of the ocean currents – not be pushed or pulled in this or that direction.

Then the tide’s strength and roar can so much that it overpowers you and you find yourself swept along once more – going in a direction you had not planned on, carried by a borrowed momentum and not one that comes from your own desire and choice. You get swept along and then the momentum slows, and you drift until something snags you, or you snag it, and you grind to a halt with wet hair and muddy feet, take a breath and get your bearings once more.

In life, we lose our footing and get carried away by the current. What really happens in those moments?  As I understand it, what happens is that we forget, we forget our own true innate holiness – that we are infinitely more than ourselves, and deeply rooted in a great, unfathomable mystery. We forget that inner swerve and swing which is somehow free from all circumstances – but which is something shared by all creatures. We forget too that we are born not to one world only, but two – a practical here and now, and an enchanted dream realm of then, now, and forever.

I was asked the other day what I mean when I say that I teach sacred arts to soulful seekers. Fair question. I’ll put it this way. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to see more cliff-side churches, more votive candles in limestone nichos, impromptu shrines in the trees and the rocks. Because these are shrines not just to the holy; they are sanctuaries to human vulnerability and strength, to memory, to our stories, and to the radical reverence found within and not away from the life we live and the land we live it upon.

The tides can be strong and the current overpowering. But the shrine in the mountainside continues to stand so that all might come, all might pray and bless, all might heal and weep, and on their ways back home with their dust covered ankles they remember, as do we, – we are in this world, not of it, not only.

What is your favorite shrine?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Sacred Arts and Civics: a report on the Delphic Days gathering

Divination and Dreams

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ear Miracles,

I hosted the first Delphic Days gathering – the first of what I hope will be many and I wanted to share some of the insights that the group came to together. For those of you new to the concept, you can read more about Delphic Days here. The fundamental inspiration behind this event is the Oracle at Delphi and the ways in which oracles, divinations, dreams, and intuitive knowings were once upon a time brought directly to bear on civic and political concerns.

Soulful seekers sense that our political, civic conversations are too often one sided and entirely neglectful of the sacred arts. There are clear reasons why this is the case (separation between Church and State being one obvious one) but there is also a sense that these two sides of our lives and our dialogue are too cut off from each other and that need not be the case. Your tarot cards might actually give you more insight into current events than that third article from HuffPo does.

So we came together, readers and diviners, and all read on the same question:
What do we need to know to improve our relationships with all of the other beings on this planet (all genders, races, species, etc)? This question was asked in some manner by 75-80% of the participants and I chose this articulation of the question as the most comprehensive.

Then we had a Socratic style conversation on the insights and questions that our readings raised for each of us. Here are a few remarks and themes we touched on.

Generally speaking, I was intrigued by the fact that several of us on the call got the same cards – including reversed or upright positions, in the same place in our readings. These readings were not pre-planned, in fact, people did not even have to use Tarot to read on the question at all! Nevertheless many of us shared a few of the same cards. Even more interesting was how everyone had a unique interpretation to the meaning of their card that complemented the other interpretations – it was a kind of synchronized reading! That said the remarks below record my own understanding of our conversation and each participant will no doubt have more to add and obviously I do not speak for them.

 

Broken Pieces

One of the first questions that came up dealt with the relationship itself. A couple of folks pulled cards that were some version of the World in reverse and understood this to mean that our relationship to the living, breathing, world is, in many ways, upside down. I pulled the four of cups and considered the possibility that we have been unwilling to fully commit to being in a relationship with other beings on the planet, period. From that we discussed the notion that other beings on the planet may not be thrilled about being in a relationship with us, either. The overarching sense is that the relationship is broken so now we searched to find the blessing and the ways of healing.

 

Ancestors and Guides

Another element that surprised me was the presence of the Ancestors for most of the folks on the call. I had pulled a card specific to my Ancestors (as I always do) but I had not expected anyone else to, silly me! Several of us received a message that our Ancestors have been here, they have seen these changes, and our Beloved Dead are able to help us navigate these choppy waters. We also reflected on the possibility that the Ancestors are willing to function as go-betweens working to restore right relationship between ourselves and other creatures. I would add that while I know this can work generally (ie, the ancestors of humans working to restore balance between humans and the natural world), I think it is more effective when taken individually – my ancestor can help me have a deeper relationship with where I live right here and right now.

 

False Dichotomies

We all had a sense, represented for a couple of us by the reversed 2 of Wands, that a big challenge as we seek to enter into right relationship across the board is the sense of a false dichotomy. One individual put it like this: there is a door opening and we are going through – whether we want to or not! Another said that her reading referred her to inflated ego ideas on either side of the issue: the one side being that we can choose to be in a relationship or not and the other side being that this relationship between ourselves and others is already pre-determined.

It reminded me of the central issue in the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna really does not want to fight in basically a big family civil war and the Lord Krishna tells him that there is no such thing as abstaining from the choice – choosing not to act is still a choice, one that has real consequences. We agreed that the fact of the matter is that we are already IN this relationship, so the question is: how we live up to our part, how do we become better partners?

 

Fear and Discernment

Fear was another theme we all saw in our readings. Fear of what others think. Fear of doing/saying the wrong thing. Fear of not knowing what to say or how to act, period. Fear of getting shamed if you do/act/say/think the “wrong” thing. There was also a question about what right relationship with fear looks like – there are ACTUAL things to be afraid of and yet, we don’t want our fear to tyrannize us, to be the determining factor in our actions. How do we meet these fears?

The answers we arrived at all touched on discernment and also unique giftedness. Discernment was represented for several of us by another common card: the King of Swords. Clear insight, reasoned analysis calling on the whole of reason – not just logic, communication that brings us together both in ourselves and with one another. One participant said the King of Swords encouraged her to use discernment to “cut through the bullshit and get on with it”; that pretty much sums it up.

 

The Farmers Market Model

We met the fears with a powerful vision of the Farmer’s Market Model inspired by the Three of Cups that another participant drew. This was the moment in our conversation when we turned from the challenges and the obstacles into possible solutions. One participant said, “it is important to play from our strengths.” We discussed the possibility than when trauma happens it is not responsible to expect there to be a single appropriate response, nor is it adequate to come up with one-size fits all solutions.

Rather, we want to be like a Farmer’s Market – where we have the opportunity to really encounter the things that actually nourish us and beautify our homes, and we can meet the sources those things come from, we can talk to the people who grow the food we eat, listen to their tales, pay them a fair wage for the work they have done. We could also be the ones at the market with the booths offering our own gifts to those in need of them. And of course at a Farmer’s Market we would never want eight stalls all selling cucumbers – we want each stall and booth to bring some unique and one of a kind to the gathering. So it is with us. Consider and work from a place of individual strength, understand that a relationship is an ecosystem and it needs diversity and many parts to be fully functioning and healthy.

At this point we had done quite a bit of work and so there were some silences, some pregnant pauses where everyone was gathering their thoughts and visions. That is actually a good sign for this kind of conversation – we want to allow for silence spaces too and no one should feel pressured to fill the air with talk.

 

Keeping our Cups Full

Several of us had cup cards that came up within the readings: Page of Cups, 3 of Cups, and 9 of Cups. We all felt similarly that the cups were an interesting suit to see given the question. One member felt strongly that this was a reminder to play, to have fun, to replenish ourselves and not always be on the frontline, burning ourselves out. We also felt that the King of Swords and Sword cards we had received, followed by the Cups as they were, reminded us that our thoughtful analysis and our communication is in the service of full feeling, and most of all love.

 

Restoring and renewing our relationships with others is possible. It begins with getting clear about our own roles, our gifts and strengths and taking clear, concrete, practical actions to contribute something whole, healing, and holy. We also all felt that calling the sacred arts back into the conversation was really useful – that if we kept them out we were really only having a one sided relationship – something that we all agreed there has been quite enough of!

 

Big thanks to everyone who participated and lent their voice. Speaking of fear, I think we make these things much less frightening and at the same time are able to look at them clearly and directly, when we do it together.

 

Did you read on this question? If so, what did you discover?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.