When Hope has Left: Practical Medicines for Challenging Times

Ceremony and Ritual

A

s I have been talking to some of the soulful seekers in my community over the past month I have observed a pattern. The election, the year, the last five, or ten years, the wars, the injustices…it has all just become too much to bear.

So they have become, in their own words: paralyzed, unable to move, lazy, unproductive, not writing, not talking, not making love, music, or beauty of any kind, apathetic, numbed out, and hopeless.

Some people actively advise that we give up hope in the face of it all, understanding (incorrectly) hope to be a frail and passive thing, a kind of butterfly with broken wings.

In reality, hope is related to another word, the funny word “hop”. Hop, yes, just like a bunny rabbit through a springtime field.

No thank you, we say, the days of rabbits and springtime fields are long over.

Except we know better.

We know that life and death are in an eternal dance with each other, we know that rabbits are ancient creatures long honored not only for fertility and gentleness but also for their ability to guide the dead in the underworld and turn into magical women running free under the full moon.

This is the stuff of hope and there is nothing passive, fragile, or boring about it. Don’t give it up. Instead, call your deepest strength back and restore it.

I have written about the importance of keeping your tenderness alive during times that seem to call for only the hard and tough, and I have written too about the ever-unbroken deepest part of your self. Today I want to share with you the very practical medicines I have been encouraging my community members to apply to themselves whenever they find that hope has left and they are in a state of being turned to stone because they looked at the monster a bit too long. People are seeing results with them, and it is my expectation that you will too.

1.    Limit your exposure. If it is possible for you to get away from a situation, person, or place that saps you of vitality and strength then please do. If it is not possible then exercise extra sharp discernment about the quality of information you are receiving, the mediums through which you receive your information, and the amount of time during each day that you spend with this information. When we are called to be in witness of something hard we do not turn away, but we also do not let it take over the entirety of our lives, we cannot if we wish to bring blessing and healing back. Practically speaking limiting your exposure means gauging how much time and energy you spend on social media networks and in conversations (virtual and otherwise) that do not have a definite goal or end point.

2.    Rest and nourish your body. Ask any doctor, First Responder, or therapist. When we witness an event or a series of events that are traumatic we enter with a surge of adrenaline, then we often freeze, and from that point life slowly seeps out of us. The way out is not force or brute will, it is rest. Let yourself rest. Drink more water and less coffee, eat clean food. Soulful seekers need to realize that when they take in images, stories, information they take it in not just intellectually or emotionally, they take it in energetically and managing that energy tuckers you out. Lay your head down and let yourself cry some good tears. Your well has been emptied out and this is the first step to filling it back up again.

3.    Get oriented. In Spinning Gold I teach a ritual called the North Star rite. Everyone creates their own and everyone has a different one; but the one thing we all agree to is that this is the thing we do every single day, sometimes several times a day, to orient ourselves anew. Just as the North Star is a fixed point called upon for navigation, the ritual you choose is a fixed point that reminds you: this is who you are, this is where you stand, this is what (and who) you stand for; it roots you in your sovereignty. The North Star rite is something my students practice at least once a day, but when recovering from trauma or when knee-deep in it, the North Star rite is something you can do several times a day, calling yourself back to yourself morning, noon, and night.

4.    Stand in beauty. Once you have regained a sense of self and orientation it is time to fill the well back up. The best way I know is through beauty. Traumatic events happen and the winds of Fortune will blow this way and then the opposite direction. In orienting yourself you fix yourself to the immovable point in the spoke of the wheel. Standing in and for beauty, you call back to mind, body, and soul that there is wonder, and vastness, and more beauty in this world that is bigger and longer lasting than whatever horror has recently visited with you. Standing in and for beauty is not saying the horror did not, is not, happening; it is saying that it did, but that it isn’t the whole of your story, not ever.

5.    Bring the blessing. I call you all Miracles for the simple reason that you are. And you can choose to bring blessings in the ways that you live and the choices that you make every single day. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said, “In Selma, Alabama, I learned to pray with my feet.” Yes to that and also: pray with your life, bring the blessing by the way that you live and the work that you do. It matters more now so move the obstacles out of the way, break out of the stone and the ice, call movement and life back in, and take care of yourself so that you can do the good work that only you can do.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Blessing for the Ever-Unbroken ~ New Moon in Sagittarius

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

On Tuesday 11/29 the New Moon dances through Sagittarius, the archer, the wounded healer, the wise teacher, the free spirit.

This is the first New Moon, or monthly new beginning, that we have had since the Presidential Election in the US. To say that emotions have been running hot and high would be a grave understatement.

And then there are the holidays, and the pressure to buy more and be more places. My son’s teacher pulled out a Gumby figure and stretched it in different directions to show how they would have to be from now until Winter break – flexible like Gumby, going with the flow, allowing their normal routine (they are five year olds) to be interrupted. When she told me that, I thought: hey, I need that lesson too! As do we all.

Join me in considering: where do I find freedom? I have one of many answers for you: we find freedom in the ever-unbroken.

Students of yoga, pilates and other rigorous exercise regimes know that what allows us to stretch out and stretch farther is developing a solid center or strong core. In the realm of soulful seeking, one of the hindrances to freedom of movement – what clouds our perception, limits our understanding of real alternatives – is a subtle and debilitating anxiety that freezes heart and mind alike.  In Spinning Gold – my class that teaches magic and the sacred arts through fairy tales and old stories – we are working with the Baba Yaga in her older-than-old first forest. What we find there is fear but/and also the deepest part of self that is solid, and that remains ever intact, whole, holy, and healthy.  What follows is a prayer for that place.

A Blessing for the Ever Un-Broken

Blessed ones in whom we live and move and have our being, today we ask for aid in remembering the ever-unbroken within us.

For we know and have heard, we have told the stories of the many sacred scars received throughout our journey and how those scars, many of them, are much more than skin-deep.

And we know and have heard about the many aspects of self and psyche; the functions and the dysfunctions, the pathologies and the anomalies too.

Let there be deeper remembering illuminated by wisdom, led by love.

Let there be deeper remembering that returns us to first self, true self, the fixed point at center around which the stars of our life revolve.

Let there be deeper remembering that returns us to core self, original self, fully intact self, where there are no marks or scars, no impressions or wounds.

Let there be deeper remembering that returns us to deepest soul self that has been and will be and holds within it all of our lineage as well as our legacy.

So that when we are hurt we can remember that there is a place over and above, underneath and beyond the wound.

So that when the wheel of fortune seems to spend faster and faster we can remember that there is a fixed and solid point upon which to stand.

So that when we feel our most broken we can remember that there is vast territory within each of us that is ever-unbroken, and that it is in that place that we make our stand and in that place that we make our home.

May it be so.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Sagittarius the Centaur

Divination and Dreams

W

e continue our jaunt through the Stars and their Earthly inspirations by considering the next sign, Sagittarius.

Sagittarius is the 9th sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Fire, and is a mutable sign. The Sun is in Sagittarius from November 21st through December 21st. Mutable signs always mark transition points in time and Sagittarius is no exception as it marks the turning from deep Autumn into early Winter. Represented by the Centaur – a mythic creature depicted as having the torso and upper body of a man and the hindquarters of a horse – Sagittarius is a sign of contradictions. Like its real life horse counterpart, no matter what else Sagittarius may be up to you will find that they are both social and highly sensitive, intelligent in mind and in body.

Sagittarius ConstellationCentaur as Sagittarius: By Briana Saussy

Sagittarius, like its opposing sign of Gemini, has two distinct natures and these are reflected in its stories. The constellation that is sometimes simply known as “the archer” is widely agreed upon to be a centaur, a so-called mythic being that is half man and half horse and a being that in actuality expresses the beauty and power of natural horsemen and horsewomen, human beings who are especially gifted at riding upon, hunting from, and working with horses.

If you have been privileged to know such a person and watch them ride, then it is very clear where the image of the centaur came from – for there are some people who seem so at home upon a horse that they themselves become part of the horse and the horse becomes part of them. You can see how, even before we get into the myths proper, there is a dual nature within this sign so let us explore that more in depth now.

The confusion begins with a name. Specifically the story of Sagittarius is connected to two names. The first is Chiron. Known to astrologers for the asteroid that bears his title, in the ancient world Chiron was the best-known and best beloved of the Centaurs. Because of his divine parentage (no less than Zeus was his father) and his initial teachers Apollo and Artemis, he was markedly different than the other centaurs whose natures closely resembled that of the Satyrs (we will return to this but for now just make a note).

Centaur for SagittariusWhereas most Centaurs were rowdy, lascivious, wild, and rambunctious; Chiron was serious, wise, a remarkably gifted healer and astrologer, and was best known as a teacher to some of the most famous names in the Greek pantheon including Jason (of the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece fame), Peleus (the father of Achilles), Achilles (of the Trojan War), Perseus (the hero who defeated the gorgon Medusa), Asclepius (the most gifted of the ancient healers), Heracles (also known as Hercules the strongest man), Theseus (who defeated the Minotaur) and Ajax.

Chiron taught skills of horsemanship (obviously), taking aim and hunting successfully, sports and games, arbitration (one of his most famous rules was to never decide until both sides of an argument have been heard), astrology, and healing among many other subjects. Chiron is known as the “wounded healer” because he obtained a wound that he refused to heal.

He was shot with an arrow that had been tipped with a lethal poison. Some versions claim that one of Chiron’s students, usually Heracles, committed the act, and most tellings agree that the poison the arrow had been tipped in was one that could be used for healing and that Chiron had actually taught his students to make the concoction. He is the wounded healer because though he was immortal, Chiron’s decision to not heal his own wound allowed another famous figure, Prometheus, to gain freedom from his eternal punishment of being chained to a cliff and having a vulture peck out his liver, every single day, a sentence he was given for the crime of giving mortals the gift of fire. When Chiron willingly sacrificed himself and took Prometheus’ place the Gods were so impressed that they allowed him to ascend to the heavens and become the constellation Sagittarius, or did they?

Some of the tales claim that when Chiron ascended into the heavens he became the constellation Centaurus and then there are the stories that connect the star sign of Sagittarius to an entirely different name, that of the Satyr Crotus, the son of Pan.

A Satyr can sometimes be confused with a Centaur but where Centaurs have the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse, Satyrs are most commonly depicted in ancient art as having the body of a man with the hooves, tail, and beard, and sometimes ears or other features, of a goat. In some depictions they are a mix of both horse and goat which is interesting from an astro angle seeing as the zodiac sign next to Sagittarius is Capricorn, also known as the goat.

If Centaurs were known for being wild and lascivious, Satyrs were seen as positively raunchy. They were followers of both Pan and the God of Wine Dionysus and are ithyphallic (with penis always erect) in most artistic depictions. Satyrs call to mind the wild, unchecked, sexual urge. They also served a religious function during the ancient holy days very similar to what we might think of as Trickster. Their ribald jokes, sexual erections, and apparent inability to hold their liquor all made them seem absurd and ridiculous; but they were disciples of Dionysus and as such were honored during the major feast days through sacred drama. What we often think of as the Greek tragedies were plays compose for religious festivals honoring Dionysus. Before the three main tragic plays were performed the roads would be opened with a Satyr play – a shorter, humorous, performance that both poked fun of and celebrated the simple pleasures of life: good good, good drink, good sex, and joy.

Back to Sagittarius’ other source: Crotus was one of the better known Satyrs and was most beloved by the Muses. He is credited with inventing archery and the art of hunting animals. Crotus lived with the Muses (Calliope, Clio, Euterpe, Erato, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania) who oversaw various art forms and it is they who requested that he ascend to the stars as the sign of Sagittarius because he invented applause to thank them and celebrate their brilliance.

So let’s pull this all together. We have two radically different potential sources for the sign of Sagittarius. Strong voices in our culture would tell us that we have to pick one or the other story in order to really get Sagittarius but we know better, we will come to understand the sign best through both tales for Sagittarius is both the wise healer and the vibrant Trickster.

When we get to know Sagittarius in our own charts and among our friends and family members it all becomes clear. Both Crotus and Chiron are at play here. In Sagittarius’ love of being outdoors, typically casual attitudes towards relationships, love, and sex, and love of a good time and party (remember the sign is also Jupiter ruled) we see the Satyr Crotus and son of Pan showing up. Sagittarius is known as the free spirit of the zodiac and if that doesn’t sound Satyr-like I am not sure what does! And yet there is more to the story. For Sagittarius is also the sign and sector of the chart that rules religion, philosophy, and teaching, and truth-telling. In these areas we see the influence of the beloved teacher Chiron. We also see the aspect of the wounded healer and can read that as part of the stellar narrative – the wound is received/discovered in Scorpio and then with Sagittarius as our guide we learn the ways of wisdom and the wild that allow for the healing process to begin.

How do we start that healing process?

With Sagittarius, the Centaur, Satyr, and Horse as our guides the answer is simple: saddle up and take aim at what matters most.

 SagittariusCentaur As Animal: By Sara Magnuson

We have learned that the Centaur is a creature of two types, typically Man and Horse, but what does that mean? What is it like to be part Horse and how can that be unified with the nature of Humans? To contemplate what it means to be as-one with this magnificent creature we must try to understand their physicality and senses, their intelligence and intuitive abilities.

Belonging to the family Equidae, which dates to over 50 million years ago (mya), Horses as we know them look very different from their ancient relatives. Of the genus Equus, Horses, Zebras, and Donkeys are the only still-living relatives of the Equidae family. What we recognize fully as Horse today originated in North America about 4 mya and migrated across land-bridges to Eurasia, only to eventually circle back to North America. The last prehistoric North American Horses, the true “Wild Horses,” died out about 10,000 years ago, but by then they had spread across the globe. The Horses that roam our country today are actually feral Horses brought to North America in the early 1500s by the Spanish. They have been left to run wild and free for centuries, creating their own free-ranging herds.

Horse is an intuitive, sensitive creature, as it must be to meld with the human form, but before we get into that let’s get a picture of their physical nature. Horse can live up to 30 years and is of great stature – measuring 4-6 ft tall, not including the neck and head, and weighing between 800 to over 2000 lbs with more than 60% of their body mass being muscle. Horse’s body temperature runs hotter than ours and their hearts beat much slower. As big and strong as Horse seems to us humans, in the animal world they are considered prey and their senses reflect that.

Horse has the largest eyes of any currently living land mammal, one on each side of their head giving them almost 360° vision, yet overall their vision is only slightly better than humans. Their big eyes give them the advantage of detecting the smallest of movements; a much needed impression for a prey animal. Being red-green color blind, they are good at seeing greens and blues, which is an advantage to an herbivore like Horse. Horse’s sense of taste is highly attuned and their tongue can identify toxic plants, as well as distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Closely connected to taste, their ability to smell is average, but they possess the Jacobson’s Organ (humans do not) that allows them to detect pheromones. Horse has excellent hearing with each of their two ears being able to rotate independently up to 180°. These sensitive beings can hear ultrasonic frequencies (think Bats) as well as very low frequencies such as the low growls of a predator or the rumbling of another herd moving in Horse’s direction. The ability to detect poisonous plants and the pheromones of other creatures, the possession of radar-like hearing, and a highly acute visual sensitivity to movement are adaptations that have allowed a prey animal like Horse to survive for millennia.

The body of Horse is extremely delicate and responsive. Covered with hair, Horse is so sensitive that they can feel a fly on just one strand. Imagine the sensitivity of your fingertips, but all over your whole body. The manes and tails of Horse have been (and still are) used for a myriad of things – from pottery and jewelry to fabrics and brushes to weaponry and musical instruments. Horse also makes a variety of sounds, each labeled with unique terminology – whinnying, neighing, nickering, squealing, groaning, blowing, snorting, etc. Through body language and their senses of touch and sound, Horse communicates their moods and preferences to each other, as well as to other animals, including humans.

Left to their own natural ways, Horse is a highly social herd animal that doesn’t like to be isolated. There’s a pecking order within the ranks of a herd and smaller bands are formed comprised of one adult male stallion, several females (with a dominant mare), and their offspring. The dominant mare of the whole herd knows where all the good resources are, like food and water, and oversees the daily routine of the group while keeping the general peace. The stallion stays on the edges marking territory, offering protection, and “herding the herd” together. Domesticated Horses often live in herds that have been formed artificially by owners and breeders (or no herd at all) so these natural relationships and behaviors can exhibit a great deal of variation.

While domestication can be controversial, it is what brings Horse in to union with Man. An exact date is unknown for the taming and training of Horse, but evidence suggests this relationship began at least 5000 years ago. Horse’s first function with humans was to provide work-labor and transportation, which was crucial in the development of civilizations and agriculture. Once this dynamic was established Horse became an integral part of various aspects of human life. No longer used solely for pulling plows or chariots, Horse’s skills became an asset in wars, sports, products, entertainment, and even therapy.

As Briana mentioned at the beginning, those humans that have learned how to communicate and synchronize their bodies with Horse show us that we do not simply control Horse; there has been a process of adaptation and learning on the part of Man as well. You can’t just jump on any old Horse and start riding around like you own the place. Horse allows you to ride and it is at Horse’s discretion to deny you this privilege. In our modern world, we have made it so that we primarily see only the well-behaved side of Horse (the teacher/Chiron side, if you will), putting them to work doing what they are skilled at. But just like humans, Horses are emotional, social, curious, playful animals (the Satyr side) that form companionship attachments with other creatures. Serious horse riders know that tending to the emotional/social connection is the only way to have a healthy relationship based on mutual respect. Horse must have trust and faith in its rider and the rider must do the same. If one or the other exerts too much control or behaves negatively, both feel the consequences and the dynamic is damaged. Horses and Humans have many of the same needs and so it makes sense that these two animals can so easily merge into one magnificent, exalted creature like the Centaur.

Call on Sagittarius When:

  • You need to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
  • You are considering teaching as a profession or part of your work in the world.
  • You want to continue your education – especially higher education.
  • You need to adopt a more detached and objective attitude towards matters of the heart.
  • You are have an adventure, especially those that take place outside.
  • You need to learn something deeply and weave it into your philosophy of life.
  • You are ready to have a party!
  • You need to connect with the Wild.
  • You are ready to pursue wisdom.
  • You want more spiritual and/or religious devotion in your life.
  • You need more freedom.
  • You are ready to take aim.

Be Wary Of:

  • Flakiness – Sagittarius can sometimes be too easy-going and forget about previous commitments and schedules.
  • Rigidity – when coming from the place of truth-teller and religious disciple Sagittarius can be extremely fixed on their understanding of all that is right, wrong, and in-between.
  • Commitment phobia – Freedom is THE key theme for Sagittarius so anything or anyone too clingy will get the boot.
  • Over-indulgence – Jupiter-ruled Sagittarius has a hard time knowing when enough is enough sometimes can go overboard.
  • Emotional aloofness – Sagittarius loves relating to people but sometimes can hold issues that some find very triggering in a completely objective, overly mental, manner that does not sit well with others.

Questions to Ponder:

Sagittarius shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Sagittarius” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Sagittarius occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • Where am I naturally gifted at healing myself and/or others?
  • What is my relationship to all that is wild and untamed – what has it taught/continues to teach me?
  • What does freedom mean to me? Where do I feel free? Where do I feel trapped?
  • What is my relationship to play and seriousness?
  • What would I most like to celebrate?
  • What am I ready to learn?
  • What am I ready to teach?
  • What is wisdom for me and where do I find it?

Active Imagination Journey:

The mythology of Centaur is based on the reality of expert horse riders; men and women who moved so harmoniously with Horse that they gave the impression of a single unified being. Those with the gift of horsemanship are seen as wise and powerful because they can work intuitively and cooperatively with the elements of freedom and wildness. This meditation will allow you to encounter Horse and ask for its guidance in exploring the untamed places where we are perceptive, powerful, truthful, wild, and liberated.

Sit comfortably and take a deep breath.

Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Make each inhale and each exhale a little fuller and deeper than the last.

Feel your body slowly relaxing; feel each muscle letting go, your head; your chest; your arms and hands; your stomach; your hips, legs and feet; until all you are focused on is your breathing. Slowly in and slowly out.

See that you are walking on a smooth dirt path that is taking you through fields of green grass, as far as you can see. It is dusk and you are heading North. It is quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat and your breath all in rhythm together.

The path curves and you see that the trees have grown together to form an archway above the path. As you approach, pause and take a deep breath. Feel any fear or worry leave your body and pass through the archway feeling strong and unafraid of what lies beyond.

You find yourself at the center of a four-way crossroads. Stand calmly in the center of the crossroads and feel the beauty of this sacred and powerful place. Feel that this is the center of all things. The place where all possibilities meet. Take a deep breath and feel at one with the Great Mystery.

Standing in the center of the crossroads, you are facing North, with the East to your right and the West to your left. Turn around to focus your attention behind you, to the South. You see that this path leads into a beautiful, warm, painted desert. You can feel the sun on your face and know that this is the womb of the element of Fire. Although it may feel wild and untamed, you are drawn to the heat and begin walking down this path into the unknown desert.

The sights, sounds, and smells are tangible to you now. Breath in the aromas, feel the air of the place on your skin. Listen to the sounds of life here. Look carefully around you and observe closely your immediate surroundings. Introduce yourself to this place. Convey that you are here as a caretaker and a protector. Spend some time here, walk around, explore what’s right around you, and get to know what’s here.

Find a spot that looks inviting to you and sit down. As you sit, notice how relaxed and at ease you feel in this setting; notice how comfortable it is to be in this spot, right now; notice how much you care about this space and all its inhabitants. Breathe deeply. Listen.

You hear something moving nearby and look slowly toward the sound. A noble, glorious Horse emerges before you. Greet the animal and sit very still. Focus on the calm rhythmic beating of your heart and take slow breaths. Allow Horse to circle you, smell you, sense you. After a time, and in a slow gentle motion, reach out to put your hand on Horse’s body and it moves closer to you in agreement. Notice how it feels, how it smells, what it sounds and looks like. Sit together for a moment in silence.

Convey to Horse that you are here as a friend and an ally. Ask respectfully for its guidance and promise to be trustworthy. Tell Horse that you are open to learning new ways and are ready to explore the uncharted territories within. Open your soul and listen to what Horse has to share with you.

When you are ready, thank Horse for its wisdom and generosity. Assure it that you will carry its traits and lessons proudly and with honor. Remember that you can always return to this place again. Wish Horse a safe and joyful life as it returns from where it came. Remain seated in this place for a moment and reflect on your encounter. Think about how you will carry this knowledge with you.

Slowly stand up and see the path that will lead you back to the center of the crossroads. As you reach the center, notice your breath and pause here to center yourself in your new-found wisdom. Face the threshold of the crossroads with a new understanding and sense of purpose. Take a long deep breath

When you are ready to return, the archway of trees and the path you originally walked opens before you. Follow it, going back the way you came, through fields of green grass as far as you can see. As you walk, you are aware of your steps, your heartbeat and your breath in rhythm together. Become aware of your presence in your physical body. Allow your mind to gently return to the present moment where you are sitting comfortably, listening to your breath. When you feel ready, open your eyes.

 

Altar and Ritual:

In honor of easy-breezy Sagittarius this is a pretty straightforward and simple ritual.

Begin by contemplating what you really need to aim for and at right now – what requires your undivided attention and focus, what have you been afraid of pursuing full out even though you know you need to

Got it?

Write it down. It can be a word, a phrase, or a 10 page letter – totally up to you.

As you write include what obstacle(s) have kept you from aiming true in this endeavor.

For now just note them, call up the Sagittarius objectivity and don’t get down on yourself or judge, just notice.

Now, with your petition in hand, go out into the natural world somewhere wild. Go somewhere where once upon a time great herds of horses ran over the ground with their manes flying behind them. This might be a park in the middle of a concrete city, it might be an arboretum or in the middle of a beloved wood.

Bring an offering.

You can bring whatever you like but knowing Centaurs and Satyrs as I do I would recommend some or all of the following: figs, honey, cream, goat cheese, good red wine, and sage.

Bring a spade and a container to hold a small amount of earth in.

Walk around until you find the just right place.

Say a blessing to and for all that is wild and free and offer up the goods you have brought.

Ask for permission to scoop up a bit of good earth so that you may apply the knowing of the wild to the wisdom you need in taking proper aim.

Once you have received permission scoop up a small amount of soil.

Conclude with any final offerings and thanksgivings.

Carry your earth back home and place it on a plate or bowl in your working space.

Set a candle in the center of this sacred earth, I recommend orange if you work with colors, otherwise white or natural beeswax work great.

Anoint the candle in any way that you like, affirming and acknowledging that this candle is opening the road so that the wisdom of the wild can be applied to the obstacle(s) that keep you from taking true aim at what matters most.

Choose a number of days to perform this ceremony – it can be 3, 7, or 14 depending on the obstacles you are dealing with – how big they are and how many there are.

Divide your candle into the appropriate sections – you can do this by sticking pins in the candle or simply eyeballing it. For instance, if you are working over 7 days then you will burn 7 segments of the candle and so on.

You can begin this work at any time in the lunar cycle and day, usually I do this at sunrise.

On the first day light your candle and then take a bit of the dirt you have collected and blend it into the dirt in your front or back yard. If you do not have a front or back yard, blend the dirt into the soil of a living plant in your home.

As you mix the earth in, ask that you be able to apply the wisdom of all that is wild and free to your particular situation so that your obstacles may be removed and your aim may be true.

Repeat this every day for the number of days you have chosen.

On the final day blend in the rest of the remaining dirt.

Take some time to reflect on all that you have done and for each obstacle you noted pick a practical action that will help you remove that obstacle and have true aim.

Once you have picked your actions, go do them.

 

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Save

Save

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Blessing for the Dead ~ New Moon in Scorpio

Lineage and Legacy

M

iracles,
This New Moon in Scorpio also marks the eve of Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and Samhain – all festivals that honor our Beloved Dead and our Ancestors. Those of us who have family members, living or dead, who are Catholic, may be familiar with the prayer cycles known as the Offices of the Dead that are traditionally recited on November 1st, All Saints Day.

Throughout these prayers and vigils there is a refrain spoken thus: The Fear of Death Confounds Me. The common understanding is that this petition, repeated over and over again, is meant to bring comfort to all of us who are, on some level, terrified of death.

But the deeper teaching can be found staring straight at us from the words themselves. The fear of death confounds me, meaning, a fear of death is a strange, confounding even, fear to have.

But why it is confounding?  Does it not seem at first glance to be a perfectly normal and reasonable fear? We do not know what lies on the other side of the veil and we feel, keenly, the loss of those we love.

We do not know, but our ancestors do. You may know their names or you may not. You may have blood relatives to honor or you may not. It makes no difference. Each of us have ancestors of blood and spirit who have gone beyond the veil, gone before us, and they know. They tell us in a thousand ways that this fear, this fear that we all carry truly is confounding. There is nothing here to be afraid of. They gently nudge us to set this fear down and get on with the good work of living well.

Today our blessing is a call and response prayer to and for our Dead but also to and for each of us. It is written in first person intentionally and is meant to be read over yourself.

Blessing the Dead ~

These days are of the Dead and so I ask for blessing as I stand with, commune with, and remember the Dead.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my feet so that they will always find their footing and carry me along the paths it is now time to travel.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my knees as I dance all night long with them, reminding me that the dance is always allowed in all worlds.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my core and center so that it continues to be a strong and sound center point amid all the motion.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my heart in her red and blue robes, beating the ancient drums in tempo with her own bright, beat.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my throat, whispering into my mouth the words that they wished most to say and could not, giving me the gift of true voice.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my ears so that I can hear their stories, hear all that is said and unsaid in thousands of bird song languages each of stunning beauty.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my mind so that I know them, in all of their cracks and crevices and imperfections I know them for who they truly are, and I love them.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my memory, expanding out with their slightest touch they call upon me to remember the pieces of my own lineage back together, and in so doing sow within the good, black, dirt that their very bodies have nourished, the seeds for the legacy that is to come.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead are of me and I am of them, and there is no place for fear within this sacred hoop, only the love upon love upon love that has led to the miracle of my own blessed life.

If you would like to join in our free community altar for Honoring our Beloved Dead you can do that here (open through 12/29 at 12noon cdt).
For more on this special time of year, I highly recommend this post by Terri Windling. For more on Death in folk and fairy tales faces check out this article.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Sacred Arts approach to self-harm

Learning and Community

T

his post came from a question asked by a member of our community who has (very, very) patiently waited for me to respond.

It took me so long because I wanted to write my response as a post here on Canto for the general public; as this topic warrants more public understanding and discussion.

Right now in 2016  4% of adults self-harm, 15% of teenagers self-harm, and up to 35% of college students self-harm.

This is one form of compulsive behavior that affects so many of us and those we love in different ways.

Now some would say that this is a mental health issue and as such should be left to mental health professionals. Obviously there is truth to that, but I have found that the Sacred Arts speak to our mental health concerns, just as they speak to everything else.

So while seeking treatment and good counsel in this are is absolutely the first step, there are techniques and tools within the sacred arts that we can work with to support people who self-harm and are ready and willing to receive help.

Here are some of the best sacred arts based tools and techniques to address this:

1.) Spiritual Cleansing and ritual bathing – cleansing one’s home and body in an intentional manner has long been believed to have protective qualities as well as the ability to remove negative influences and hardship. Any kind of mental or physical disequilibrium falls into the “negative influence and hardship” category.

One of my favorite ritual bath recipes to employ when you are seeking to stop any kind of damaging compulsive or addictive behavior is made with:

  • one part kosher salt
  • one part olive oil
  • a pinch of dried grapefruit rind
  • three pinches of lemongrass
  • three cardamom seeds
  • a pinch of black pepper.

2.) Working with a lodestone to draw and attract not only greater clarity but the external supports (people and systems) require for the breaking of addictive or compulsory behavior.

3.) Creating a salt jar, which I think of as a ceremonial “reset” button, as well as very protective and cleansing.

4.) Creating a prayer bundle, mojo bag, or medicine bag for the one who is suffering. In this case you want to think about the individual you are making the bag for. If possible, it is a good idea to have them help you in fashioning the bag.

You will want to use your own good judgment and take into account what herbs, roots, and talismans would be appropriate given the specific person and situation, but some of my favorites to include in any work where there needs to be more clarity and a cessation of harmful, compulsory behavior are:

  • small rose quartz and/or clear quartz crystal
  • small piece of black tourmaline (it can even be a black tourmaline bead)
  • soil or dirt from a place where the individual felt healthy and happy
  • a few small kernels of dried corn
  • Archangel root (commonly known as angelica)
  • High John the Conqueror Root
  • Solomon Seal Root
  • a bit of dried grapefruit rind
  • a bit of Juniper or Cedar
  • a sprinkle of pink dried pink rose petals

5.) Prayer and blessing are obviously recommended. Here is one that I wrote for my clients who have self-harmed or who have loved ones who have self-harmed. This was originally written for people to say over themselves but you if you have a loved one caught in this cycle you may bless them with it.

Blessed ones in whom I live and love, move and have my being. Thank you for this day. Thank you for the earth beneath my feet and for the sky above my head. Thank you for the breath running through my body and the blood running through my veins. I ask that you give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that knows the right path to follow with wisdom and discernment.

I ask too that you keep me whole, in vital health, and fixed on the fact that I am holy, beloved, and needed in this world in so many ways that are both seen and unseen, known, and unknown to me at this time. Support me in my attempts to stand in sovereignty, just as I am, untouched by the criticisms and harrowing howls, clean and safe here and now.

Bring me back to the place of loving and caring for myself in all good ways as I remember and make room for the sensations of deep pleasure and sincere being that go hand in hand with the health, wholeness, and holiness that are, were, and ever will be my own. So it is, amen.

If you need resources and more information about self-harming, I highly recommend Cornell’s categorized resource list.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Scorpio the Scorpion

Divination and Dreams

M

iracles,

I am so delighted to bring a new astrology series to Canto. As my students can attest to, when I teach astrology I always begin with what I call “naked eye” astrology – just looking at the stars and tracking the moon and sun to begin to orient oneself to celestial happenings.

But in our astrological considerations as in all else, the ancient tenet of “As Above, So Below” does apply. For star stories are not only inspired by the heavens; they are at least as much (and perhaps more) inspired by the living creatures, plants, animals, and mythic beings, that each Zodiac sign is based on.

I have always wanted to write a series here that explores the various zodiac signs in depth, but I wanted to give you all something that was not the norm or the boilerplate astro babble you can find so easily in various places.

So I was really delighted when the opportunity arrived to partner with Sara Magnuson of Candlesmoke Chapel who has been incorporating an animist and animal-loving approach into her sacred arts practice for many years. This is the first in what will grow to be a 12 part series, and I hope you enjoy each one of them. It is a long read but worth your time, so sit back with a cup of coffee (or what have you) and sink into all that is of Scorpion. As always you can get more astro goodness in the Free Resources area.

Scorpion brings us into the full power of the autumnal season and exemplifies the balance between the fading harsh Summer Sun and the emergence of the Dark Moon of Winter. For their relatively small size, Scorpion evokes fear and signals danger to most other creatures. Just as those that fall under the sign of Scorpio are often more deep and intense than we realize, Scorpions are surprisingly complex and diverse in their behavior and lifestyle.

scorpions scorpioScorpion As Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Belonging to the class of Arachnids (meaning they have eight legs and are related to Spiders), Scorpions are ancient creatures with fossils dating back 430 million years ago. They are found on all continents but Antarctica and can live in all kinds of places, from deserts to jungles. Their ability to adapt is quite incredible. Scorpions can survive many months without food or water by purposefully controlling their metabolism (kind of like a hibernating Bear). The only constant in Scorpion’s environment is the need for soil or sand. It is their nature to dig and hide under the earth, although they can often be found under rocks and in small crevices. Some Scorpions tunnel elaborate burrows complete with a front porch and various rooms.

They are nocturnal creatures and must have a place to hide during daylight hours. Unlike other nocturnal creatures, such as Owls or Raccoons, Scorpions exhibit photophobia, a physical reaction to light. They don’t choose to be active at night because it fits their lifestyle habits, but rather because it causes physical discomfort to be in the presence of the Sun. It is believed that their sensitivity to the UV spectrum in particular enables them to sense when it is safe to emerge from their lairs and begin hunting or searching for a mate.

Scorpion’s ability to acclimate to its environment as long as it has soil/sand teaches us to focus on the essentials and to understand that everything else can be adapted to. Scorpion’s sensitivity to the Sun teaches us about our relationship to light and dark, what is safe and unsafe. These are the basics of survival, of existing – is there food nearby and am I safe from harm.

The behavior of Scorpion is aggressive and predatory. They have two large front claws that are used to easily crush their prey and this brute force is often their preferred method of killing. Primarily hunting insects and other arachnids, they can also take down small reptiles, amphibians, rodents, and birds. They are most well known, however, for their venomous tail. Scorpion’s venom is made up of neurotoxins and enzyme inhibitors that cause paralysis and internal decay of the victim. Not all Scorpion venom is created equal and the poison of each species is tailored to their environment and preferred type of prey. They will wait in hiding, stalking and ambushing their mark, but they are also known to fearlessly march right into another creature’s living quarters and attack. Whichever method Scorpion uses to kill its prey (force or venom), its lack of teeth means that it is not capable of consuming any solid food. Once its meal is acquired, Scorpion must inject it with venom in order to liquefy its insides and then drinks its feast straight from the source. This is a brutal description, but speaks to the primal nature of Scorpion.

It is these behaviors that teach us to look at our defensive mechanisms, our venom, our poisons. Are our defenses strong enough? As Scorpion has the strength of its claws combined with its venom, do we have more than one defensive option? Scorpion’s aggressive nature also teaches us about bravery and power. They enter a combative situation with surety and confidence, knowing they have the appropriate weapons. Just as Scorpion’s venom is highly specialized to its prey, how can we tailor our defensive actions to the situation at hand? When do we need to be on guard and when do we need to take the kill shot with our poisonous tail?

There also exists a healing nature to Scorpion, however counter-intuitive that may seem. The highly poisonous venom of many creatures, including Scorpions, is often used in creating pharmaceutical medication. Scorpion venom is currently being studied as treatment for all kinds of human ailments – arthritis, lupus, cancer, and non-addictive pain medication. In their natural behavior, Scorpion uses its poison for purposes other than death and knows just the right amount of venom needed to kill or to simply soothe. Those in control of this type of personal spiritual medicine are fully aware of its potency and in the best of cases, they use it with purpose and in just the right way; in the worst of cases, they use it with malicious and manipulative intent. As we will see, Scorpion uses its powerful poison with a great deal of mindfulness.

The unexpectedly complex nature of Scorpion comes through the strongest in its courtship, mating, and parental behaviors. These seemingly vicious creatures exhibit an unusually gentle and beautiful coupling ritual that can take as little as one hour to over a day to complete. Using pheromones and vibrations of the body (called juddering), the male lures the female into a long slow dance aptly named promenade à deux. The male tenderly takes the female’s front claws into his own and guides her around as they search for the perfect spot to mate. During this dance the female often becomes impatient and agitated, to which the male responds by placing a small amount of venom in her mouth to calm her. They mate without touching their bodies together and, once they have found a satisfactory spot, the male deposits his sperm on the surface and guides the female over it. When the dance is complete the pair separates and each goes on their way. This curious act of civility and politeness betrays their outward nature and speaks to us about the importance of discerning when to be hostile and when to be compassionate.

The most exceptional behavior of Scorpion, however, is displayed by the Scorpion Mother. Unlike most arachnids, Scorpion embryos develop inside the mother’s body until hatching rather than laying eggs and leaving them to develop and hatch on their own. The young scorplings (yes, they are really called scorplings!) are carried on the mother’s back to regulate their temperature and moisture levels until their first moulting. Mother Scorpion shows a devotion to her young that is practically unheard of in the world of invertebrate animals.

It is quite amazing that this small, hard-shelled, apparently simple-minded creature contains an extraordinary depth of character that is hidden in their smallest actions. The world of Scorpion is about ensuring that our most basic needs are met – food, safety, sex, nurturing – and defending them with the force of a giant.

ScorpioScorpion as Scorpio: By Briana Saussy

In looking at the tale of Scorpios from ancient Greek myth, what we find is a story that in some ways feels a bit of a let down, especially to those with some astrological knowledge about this sign and those born under its influence. However, as is the case with many myths we must dig a little deeper and move past the obvious in order to find the real medicine that Scorpio carries and this is especially appropriate to the star sign that in many ways is most at home in the darkest depths.

The story of Scorpios and the story of the zodiac sign Scorpio is one of struggle and snags. It is in some ways a cautionary tale in the same style as that of Icharos – beware, for this is what happens when you fly too close to the sun, when you try to move from your mortal coil into mysteries fit only for Gods. However, in deeper ways Scorpio is a story of soul and how the very snags we encounter and the struggles that seem the most drenched in agony are the same that show us beyond all doubt what kind of mettle we are made of.

The tale begins as most tales do with people who were watching the skies and sharing stories of what they saw. In this case the phenomena describes a pursuit during the summer months of the constellation Orion by the constellation Scorpio which is then followed by a waxing of Orion’s strength during the winter months. Across the sky writ large was the story of a chase, conquering, and then apparent resurrection of the one who is conquered. But why is the Scorpion chasing the god-like and beloved giant Orion? What has happened to cause this celestial struggle?

Some say the battle began when Scorpio was called forth by angry Artemis who had heard Orion’s proud boast that he was so powerful and so mighty that he could – and would – destroy all life, all living creatures in order to prove his greatness. Since he wished to prove himself through destruction, so the story goes, Artemis – lover of all wild places, peoples, and creatures, decided that destruction was what he would indeed have, and sent her ally Scorpios to battle with Orion on behalf of all life everywhere.

Here we see one of the primary strengths and weaknesses of the star sign Scorpio and those born under its influence which is the ability to conquer and destroy. There is a martial element to this sign which can be clearly seen when we remember that two planets long associated with the sign are Mars, Saturn, (and, since its discovery, Pluto which is now considered the primary ruling planet of the Scorpion). The Mars influence in Scorpio can be seen in its ability to seek out and destroy whatever threatens its security, safety, and stability. In the first version of the tale this ability is put to profound use as Scorpio’s seek and destroy style is more than a match for the intensity of Orion’s power. (Sun-sign Scorpios and those with strong Scorpio or 8th house tendencies are often labeled as “intense” right out the gate). According to the tale Scorpios is called on as the protector of life itself which can be translated into Scorpio as the protector of those who cannot adequately protect themselves and also Scorpio as the protector of creativity, sex, and fertility — all of the things that lead to and give literal life.

One of the signature qualities of those born under this sign and those who are deeply influenced by it is a desire to protect what is theirs and what is dear to them at all costs. They will go to war, and win, against impossible odds if they feel threatened or if someone they love is threatened. This ability to go to battle is found in the actual animal’s fierce devotion to its young.

At the same time, each of us know that sometimes we are tempted to say “peace, peace, where there is no peace” and deny that certain habits, behaviors, thoughts, and relationships create a stability that is hollow and false. The Scorpio influence shows a more negative side in its ability to encourage one to say stuck in toxic situations because doing otherwise — calling a spade and spade and getting out of dodge — feels like a move that would threaten what is stable and known.

Some say that it was not destruction but its opposite, procreation that caused Orion’s downfall. In this tale the Goddess Artemis appears again but this time in rare form as a lover who has fallen under the spell of handsome and powerful Orion. Artemis’ brother Apollo becomes enraged at his sister’s behavior and so calls the Scorpion to come forward out of the black depths to kill the hero out of malice and revenge.

In this version of the tale we see the association between the Scorpion and eros, love and erotic desire. When you read a horoscope about the sign Scorpio you will often see their sexual prowess and intensity remarked upon. But for a Scorpio sex is never just sex. Sex is the doorway into deeper mysteries, into an ecstasy that often does have a religious or spiritual element (remember that to be in ecstasy is literally to be “standing outside of oneself), and also to deep healing. For the ancient understanding of erotics was not one of mere bed play but of asking and daring to answer the question, what is it you most want and where is it you most lack?

In this “lovers thwarted version” of the tale we also see the flip side of the Scorpio way of love – when they love they love fully and completely and most of the time deeply loyal. However, if Scorpio feels wronged in areas of love then they will seek out revenge on whoever wronged them with their typical and formidable intensity.

A third telling of the tale moves away from the relatively young Olympian Gods Artemis and Apollo into a much older time when Gaia, the earth herself, cried out under the weight of Orion’s hunger and ambition. He wanted…all of it, all of the time; he was ever-famished and no matter how much abundance she provided it was never enough. Sounds familiar, yes? And so, in a desperate bid to save her offspring, creation itself,  she called forth the Scorpion to sting the Giant into submission and stop the ravishing of all the lands once and for all.

Scorpio can wield the energies that are capable of going deeper than deep and preventing destruction on a massive level but that ability also means that Scorpio must in some way understand and relate to the experience of being always hungry and never fully satisfied. (Some of you have heard the saying that the sign Cancer is simply Scorpio in a housecoat – consider the above in light of that). One interpretation of Scorpio is that this is the area of the chart and this is the sign that is most willing to traffic in the occult, to show up and work the corner in the red light district, to run the illegal business, and to transgress in every possible way. But the teaching is more straightforward: Scorpio supports us in dealing with all of the taboos, the third-rail subjects, the unmentionable motivations that everyone has a relationship to: money, power, death, sex, the interior spiritual life.

Each of the tales tells of the struggle, a battle royal that went on for ages, season after season, year after year, as the cosmos continued to spin out more stars and planets and celestial bodies. On one side we have the giant Orion, doomed to lose, for the first time, this struggle against an enemy.

Astrologically wherever Scorpio shows up in the chart is traditionally understood as a place of struggle, a place that carries both wound and medicine, an area that is broken and spilling forth with unique blessing also. Scorpio, as the 8th sign occurs after the sun has been in Libra, the 7th sign. Tradition teaches that the first 6 signs in the Zodiac wheel are concerned with Self while Libra, the point of balance, encourages a turn towards relationship between ourselves and others. Scorpio IS interested in relationships – the deeper and more real the better, so let us consider his partner in the tale – Orion.

Orion has his own set of tales and stories and his greatness must be understood for the fullness of Scorpio’s own teachings to take root. For here is a giant among giants – a hunter and a shaman complete with his ritual belt and club whose very name can mean “light from heaven”. Orion could walk on water, speak to Gods, and he became ritually blinded and then upon making the proper amends at the right time, was able to regain his sight once more. He is huge, more powerful and vast than all of the seas and all of the mountains and all of the deserts combined. And yet. The Scorpion ushers forth out of the blacker than black sky and after many years of struggling so that at one point it seems Orion will vanquish the enemy and at another point he will be vanquished, it all comes to a point. That specific point is the star Rigel, which can still be found today in the constellation of Orion marking his heal, and where all of the tales agree Orion was mortally wounded by Scorpios who was in turn declared the victor.

Scorpio is one of the signs most at home with depth psychology and analysis. Highly psychic, Scorpios are often drawn to the sacred arts because they feel a natural resonance to things like magic, ceremony, alchemy, and ritual. This is also the area of the chart that deals with lineage – your ancestry and your inheritances be they financial and otherwise and many a good investor has serious Scorpio influence in their charts. Scorpio is interested in the ways that severity and punishment are the flip side of generosity and mercy so it is no surprise that all fields dealing with criminals and justice are aligned with the sign as is the field of law.

Each of us carries an inner Orion, the ability to be great coupled with the ability to be overly proud and overly ambitious. And each of us also, no matter what your sun sign might be, carries the gifts of Scorpio – the ability to stun that ambitious overreach, the wisdom to understand that your personal power is in a direct relationship with your willingness to be of service to others. The Scorpion also reminds us, as it did Orion, that it is often the most humble, overlooked, of creatures that at the end of the day carry real power.

The story does not end with the struggle. As it is told, the Gods were so impressed with Orion’s endurance and inability to admit defeat, that they blessed him by removing him from the painful sting of death and placing him up into the heavens where his honor could shine out among the stars.

But the story I know is a bit different. In facing the Scorpion, Orion learned that his true power was not found in his ability to demolish and remove all obstacles standing in his way nor was it his ability to satisfy every craving and hunger. No, rather his true power was demonstrated in his refusal to turn away from struggle, to engage in the battle no matter the cost and in his wisdom to apprehend that the true enemy was not the Scorpion but rather his own inflated and misplaced pride.

This is the teaching of Scorpio, one that applies to and can be of benefit to all.

Call on Scorpion When:

  • You need to be brave in the face of great odds. 
  • A situation or relationship calls for deep devotion and loyalty.
  • The least of things needs to be seen and protected.
  • You are ready to come into right relationship to personal power and service.
  • The superficial and surface no longer persuades and you wish to deepen your understanding in any area.
  • Creative endeavors of all kinds need to be strengthened and given better boundaries.
  • You wish to deepen an erotic relationship and/or take sex seriously.
  • You want to come into right relationship with wealth, money, and your lineage.
  • You want to master your own poison and learn to discern when and how to take action.
  • It is time to get to know your own potential to poison as well as to heal the places that have been poisoned.

Be Wary Of:

  • Acting from a place of revenge or malice or any desire to “get back at someone.
  • Hidden motivations that place your welfare before that of your loved ones.
  • A tendency to invite conflict and drama.
  • Over seriousness and intensity.
  • Addictive behaviors that are hard to address because doing so threatens your sense of “peace and ease.
  • Selfishness and protectionism.

Questions to Ponder:

Scorpio shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Scorpio” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Scorpio occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • Where am I naturally willing to go deeper and look harder?
  • What has been the greatest struggle of my life – what has it taught/continues to teach me?
  • What does power mean to me? Where do I feel powerful? Where do I feel powerless?
  • What is my relationship with light and dark, figuratively and literally?
  • How can I be more powerful in each of these aspects?
  • What can I do in the light that I never thought I could?
  • What abilities do I have in the darkness?

Active Imagination Journey:

Cultivate Calmness.

Ground, Center, and Anchor in the ways that feel good and right to you.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are standing in a dry desert in deepest night. There is no moon and the stars shine out all around you, more than you have ever seen in your life. Although it seems that no life can thrive in this inhospitable climate; see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that there is life. The yipping bark of Coyote, the papery rattle of a Rattlesnake, the scurry scuffle of a burrowing Owl sinking back into its nest inside of a cactus.

Affirm and acknowledge that you have come to this place at this time to learn a new teaching about your life, one that is gifted to you from the stars, you have come to encounter the Scorpion. Acknowledge that it does not matter where Scorpio occurs in your chart or whether you were born under this Sun sign or not – we all have this constellation present in some portion of our natal chart.

As you are ready look straight ahead.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that a path has been illuminated for you and down a bit on that path is a beautiful stellar glow. This glow comes from the vast constellation Scorpio, come down to the horizon line for you at this moment. If you are ready to learn what it has to teach then walk forward.

Walk forward. Walk forward. Walk forward.

You grow closer now and so, walk forward, walk forward, walk forward.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel that you are now standing before the starry constellation and on the desert floor moving all around you are scorpions running every which way, and you are not afraid. As you are ready bend down and place one hand on the desert floor.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel as one of the tiny Arachnids crawl across the palm of your hand.

Looking at it here under the stars high above you and illuminated by the light pulsing out from the constellation of Scorpio, see how complicated and beautiful the creature is. Put aside the surface feelings of disgust and fear, resting certain in the knowledge than in this place and in this time the Scorpion will not harm you.

As you are ready, ask it what its teaching for you is.

Give yourself time to truly listen.

When you are ready to depart allow yourself a few final moments to say goodbye and to agree to any promises, oaths, or exchanges that you can in good faith make.

Breathe in a blessing on your body and as you exhale bring your awareness back to the room that you are in. Feel the weight of the air upon your skin and allow yourself to stretch and move in any ways that feel good and nourishing to you.

As a final act, note what the teaching from Scorpio was to and for you.

Now, choose three PRACTICAL actions to bring that teaching fully into your life here and now.

 

Altar and Ritual:

Our altars are generally used for positive purposes – to draw success, money, love, peace, and harmony. For this work, Scorpion asks us to look at the interconnectedness of positive and negative, the balance of using your poison for good or bad (and sometimes “bad” is what’s needed).

The idea behind this ritual is to see where there is light in the darkness and, in the reverse, where the shadows live among the light. It involves approaching your desires from the other side, the opposite angle, in a way that is counter to our natural tendencies.

To this end, Scorpion asks for a separate space, an altar all to its own, a dedicated place to focus on very specific intentions that are not to be mixed in with everything else. Find a place, big or small, that you can dedicate to communing with Scorpion and its astral counterpart.

Think of two major issues in your life right now that you would like change – one positive and one negative. For example, you want your sick mother to get better and you want your noisy neighbors to move out. The way these issues are often approached is to call on positive, healing energy for your mother and to focus on negative things that will drive away your noisy neighbors. But Scorpion asks us to flip this around – to see where we can take positive action in the dark places and where the shadows have influence in the bright places.

Cover or leave bare your altar surface in whatever way feels right to you.

Obtain two white candles and two black candles. They can be of any height that you prefer, but be mindful of how long they will take to burn. The duration is up to you and this ritual can be completed in one sitting or tended to a little bit at a time.*

Divide your altar in half with a light side and dark side, either in your mind or with a physical delineation. It can be divided horizontally or vertically, as you see fit.

Set up one white candle in the side that you associate with lightness, white, and positivity, but don’t light the candle.

Set up one black candle in the side that you associate with darkness, black, and negativity, and don’t light it.

Sit for a moment and take a deep breath. Call in the medicine of Scorpion. (as we continue, it is important to keep track of the white and black candles as instructed)

Light the white candle on the white side of your altar first and acknowledge the positive, bright side of yourself.

Light the black candle on the dark side of your altar next and acknowledge the negative, dark side of yourself.

Take a deep breath and feel that Scorpion is with you, asking you to be not afraid of its dangerous elegance.

Think of the negative issue in your life that you would like to change (i.e. your noisy neighbors). Gather up all your angry feelings and focus on the black shadow candle you have just lit in the dark side of your altar. Envision all the negative thoughts and feelings you have about this issue in the flame of the black candle as it sits in the dark side of your altar.

Take the second white candle and hold it in your hands. Focus on the situation or person(s) that make you angry and frustrated. Hold it/them in your mind and ask Scorpion to show you how to use your poison for good. For example, rather than wishing that bad things happen to your neighbors as payback for bothering you, wish that they win the lottery and move away because they want to. If you are in competition for something, wish that your adversary “loves to lose.” Use the flame from the black candle on the dark side of your altar to light the white candle you hold in your hands. As the white candle takes flame, feel all those negative desires burning into pure white hot fire, illuminating the sea of darkness with a beacon of kindness. Set this white candle in the dark side of your altar.

Take a deep breath and know that Scorpion is guiding you to use your powerful energy with mindfulness and civility.

Now, think of the positive issue in your life that you would like to change (i.e. that your sick mother will get better). Gather up all your tender-hearted feelings and focus on the glowing white candle you have already lit on the bright side of your altar. Envision all the positive thoughts and desires you have about this issue in the flame of the white candle as it sits in the light side of your altar.

Take the second black candle and hold it in your hands. Focus on the situation or person(s) that you want to send healing energy to. Hold it/them in your mind and ask Scorpion to show you how to use your poison in a malicious way. For example, rather than wishing for your mother to heal, curse the disease that plagues her. Ask Scorpion to show you the root of the matter, the thing that is causing the need for healing in the first place, and how to destroy it. Use the flame from the white candle on the bright side of your altar to light the black candle you hold in your hands. As the black candle takes flame, feel all those positive desires lighting the black coals that will annihilate the source of this malady or discomfort. Set this black candle in the light side of your altar.

Take a deep breath and know that Scorpion is guiding you to wield the power of your venom in the proper direction.

Spend some time sitting at your altar while these candles burn; a white candle and black candle burning together on each side of your altar. Meditate on each of the two issues at hand and allow Scorpion to show you how to regulate and redirect your energy.

You may sit with the candles until they burn out or snuff them out when you are finished. You can revisit and relight these candles, in the same order, over several days. One way is not better or worse than the other and you should continue to work this dedicated Scorpion altar as you feel called.

*always use common sense fire safety when burning candles indoors.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson  is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

Save

Save

Save

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Families of blood and choice

Lineage and Legacy

Dear Miracles,

During this season of remembering and honoring our ancestors and the Beloved Dead, and in the festivals that come after for many of us – the holiday season proper – it is unavoidable to think about family, and for many of us, those thoughts are not happy ones, and they are not simple. It can be a time of loneliness and despair, rather than cheer and solace; or it can be a mixed bag of both in such a way that leaves us profoundly confused.  If the unfolding season leaves so many people despondent, confused or alone with respect to family, that is because family really is a confusing and complicated thing. So many of us simply do not have families to turn to. Or if we do have families, so many others have relationships straining to the breaking point. Or others may even have no relationship: for how can a relationship be cultivated between people who stand on different sides of what seems to be a great unbridgeable chasm?

No wonder that, as soon as the times of coming together begin, so many of us withdraw, out of genuine need for protection, simply because when it came to family, we did not seem to luck out.

We have a saying in my family: we say “in-laws and outlaws” when lovingly referring to the extended family. You try to find a way to laugh, because sometimes that’s the only thing you can do, short of moaning. I’ve got some salty stories to tell about the generations way back, let me tell you, and I bet I’m not the only one. I’ve lost count of so many people who have a history of cruelty and violence in their family, a history that forces them to keep their distance at all costs. How do we honor such truths, and how do we tell such stories?  Aren’t they better left unsaid and forgotten?

A Sacred Arts perspective on the whole problem of family begins with the community of the living and the dead, the past, present and future. It begins from the vantage point of the whole, which for us is like gazing at the radiant sky and earth on clear and starry night. What might we learn if we start here? No matter what form family takes, no matter what it looks like at present, everyone has a family, and that means everyone has stories worth telling and listening to. Stories are healing, and so that means that we don’t have to go very far to let the healing begin.

The dead are all-too-easily forgotten – even the ones that deserve to be remembered. Out of sight, out of mind. So when we think of family, we tend to let only what we see and touch orient us. But if we start with the whole, family is not necessarily made up of people we can always touch and see with our eyes, nor are they necessarily related by blood. Not only in space, but even far away in time do they dwell. The living and the dead make up our family.  What this means for us is that there is a tremendous wellspring of strength from which to draw, starting with this enlarged sense of family.

One of the delightful older stories (it comes from the writings of Plato) has family and friends meet in the afterlife for what looks like a festival. Before moving on to the next phase of their journey, they pass their time strolling about together at leisure sharing stories with one another about their experiences.  Can you imagine getting all your people together to share stories? What an interesting and raucous time that would be – it would be a story in itself. If family is a mess, it is a divine sort of mess.

We wish our family could be the ones that care for us, laugh and cry with us, and love us always and no matter what. We wish all of our ancestors are the ones who stand behind us with their hands placed ever so gently upon our back and shoulders urging us forward, encouraging us to dream bigger and go farther than ever.

But we know perfectly well that families do not always do all of this for us. Families are composite, unfinished projects. They are not a single species, not a single static form, but rather an entire living, dynamic ecosystem, a forest or field teeming with life, with blessing and joy, with hurt and suffering, and – most assuredly – with the unexpected.
From a Sacred Arts perspective, the unexpected is the realm – and the discipline – of magic. And so family is too, those people who are so familiar to us, too close to us or even too far, those people whom so often we’d rather forget. What is most unexpected is that this enlarged sense of family – with all of its conflicts still intact – in fact carries us, supports us, sustains us in a surprising way.
From the vantage point of the Sacred Arts, the broken places in our lineage, our story, and our understanding are the same places that have been so deeply blessed. They are places from which the deepest graces flow unimpeded.
If we know how to listen and to look with open mind and heart, these family conflicts point the way to our own good, and they carry us, guide us, through difficult terrain.
The single greatest thing that family conflicts reveal is the mystery of our self-sufficiency and freedom: We are dependent creatures. In order to be truly free, we must be able to accept our real need of others.
What is the character or nature of this need? Our experiences with family can help us, in no other way, understand and accept the meaning of that need.
To be carried by what arises within the reality of family is not to say that we are not capable of standing on our own. It is, rather, to reclaim those darkest problems for ourselves, in a way that is life-giving, constructive and healing. We are carried by family in the same way the earth helps us stand on our own two feet, supports us as we move in freedom. We are carried in the way a camel helps us sit and move over great distances. This is the way families of blood and choice carry us.
The call of the season, starting at the time of this super full moon in Aries, is to look to what carries you truly. Look to the stories and the sights, the scents and the sounds that carry you day in and day out; there’s your family. Look to the ways that you in turn show up to carry others. Who are they? Whether they live next door, or a thousand miles away, it makes no difference; they too are your family. Where is care given and where is care received? Look to those places and you will find them among the living and among the dead – your people, your tribe, your family.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.