A Preponderance of the Little Ones

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles, In older times, the faeries were called by our ancestors “the little ones”, among other things, just as in the ancient times the triple sisters of vengeance known as the Furies were called “the kindly ones.”  Our long ago people thought: perhaps if we call the Furies kindly, they will be so to us. And perhaps if we call the older than old faerie folk the “little ones”,  they will not exert their big powers in rotting crops, calling forth drought, and sending bad dreams to stalk us through the night. This use of Euphemism in language has been traditionally exercised out of politeness, but also out of a desire to protect and keep safe.

It is hard for many of us, even soulful seekers, to take the idea of a faerie seriously. Yet we will easily agree many of the forces forming the warp and weft of our physical world and experience truly are smaller than small, highly unpredictable, and not ever completely understood.

Storytellers of old sing of a strange and destructive beast called Rumor – with its thousand wings and countless yellow eyes and mouths – and with Greed or Fear, Rumor could run rampant through a crowd touching one person after another until all were in the thrall and utterly bewitched. No, this is not something that still happens today. Or is it?
Faerie lore and a “preponderance of the small things” – as one of the hexagrams in the I Ching advises – is common to many different storytelling traditions, even though the names we use and the explanations we give may vary from place to place and time to time.  I think the reason why must be because there is something true in these stories. The battle is not for the very big, but the very small and overlooked. We can best understand the very big, the very great, the very awesome and mighty by attending to the small, the humble, the everyday…by blessing the little ones, in all the ways they become manifest in our life.
The little actions we engage in every day, that together make up the sum of our days, our weeks, our years, our very lives – if our greatness is not rooted here, then where? The small acts, most often unseen, inexpensive for us in most ways, are apparently insignificant, but for some may mean the world because they lead to new possibilities, to fresh ways of seeing and thinking, and to the good medicines we carry in our hearts. This action, this way of living, is mostly quiet. It is not a crowd-pleaser, not an attention grabbing headline, does not stoke fires of division, but is rather much more interested in simply getting down to work and being of good help – not in intention only, but in a way that is truly productive.  There is nothing more deeply revolutionary than this.
Of late much has been said about being big, thinking big, acting big. Then there is the ubiquitous phrase: Go big or go home, a phrase much loved by some of my people, Texans, and it captures the experience of confronting the massive quite well – you can allow yourself to swept up and lost in its powerful currents or you can go home. The unsaid part of course is that “losers” go home and “winners” go big. But do they really?
I am struck by the fact that the most famous journeys in literature, whether we speak of Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, or the great Indian epic the Mahabharata, are all about returning home and going through the extraordinary effort to end up not in a position of more power or prestige, but rather to return home, to return to the beloveds, to a life filled with the little things: small, every day, seemingly insignificant, and deeply precious. In other words, they don’t go big, they go home; they go small. The big waves come and go; but it is the little ones – lovers touching, babies crying, work-finding, joy-making, and life-living that are perennial and ever present. The plants and flowers may change season to season but the root stock is sure.
I remind myself of this timeless truth when the world feels too big and fast, and the chasms feel too deep and wide to ever be bridged. The hidden roots remain, for they are tended to by the Little Ones, the least of us, that is, and the smallest acts we do, and the ways we live – in others words, by the very qualities and actions that true depth, vastness, and wonder most require. May the little ones be blessed in our lives ever and always.
Divination:
Under the full moon and lunar eclipse in Leo on 2/10 there is a good opportunity to break any patterns that need breaking –  including getting caught up in the too big and the too loud and neglecting the little.  And so our divination questions focus us:

What is the small thing, the little one most asking for your attention and care right now?

What practical actions can you take to tend it?

In love and service,
 Bri

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

A Gathering Prayer ~ New Moon in Aquarius

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

On January 27th we celebrate a brightly black New Moon in Aquarius. The week leading up to this moon has seen many different communities coming together in a variety of ways which is absolutely in alignment with the politically and communally minded sign of Aquarius. And so, it is time for a Gathering Prayer.

A Gathering Prayer

Blessed be our ways of coming together.

First let us come together within ourselves, seeing clearly all our parts – the places that yearn to help and be of service, the places that are afraid, the places that are led by the empty echo chamber of shallow voice and shallow thought, and the places that are deep enough to speak directly to the core of who we are.

Next let us come together with our beloveds, hands joining hands joining hands, creating a gateway of fingers and arms, solid bodies, and sure voices that can open and close with ease as we affirm that these things are precious, not to be trifled with nor denigrated or abused and if you are of the same mind then welcome home, we have been waiting, and we are so glad that you are here.

Then let us come together with the strangers, the ones we do not know or recognize upon first, second, even third glance. The ones who look and sound different, think differently, act strangely, remembering that there are infinite ways of coming together so that we might come together like a big bowl of posole where some ingredients are cooked longer and others receive less time at the fire, and there are many different tastes and together in just the right ratios they are pure magic.

Finally let us come together with our enemies, for we cannot be fully together with those we do not know, those we love, and our own selves if we cannot also look at those who would do us harm with love; knowing that there are many ways to come together so that we might come together like the prickly pear cactus does with the oak – mostly giving space and good distance from each other as they hold to an invisible line but every now and then forming the most unlikely of unions.

Let us come together, let us come to gather, and as we do may we remember the circling of stars, the drumbeat of heart, the dance of blood cells and all the perennial common grounds to which the differences, disagreements, and despairs of separateness will return once more.

 

(Photo credit: still from the fantastic film Winged Migration)

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

Freedom and our well-made commitments

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

Some phone calls come in and – even before picking it up – you just know something is wrong. One of those calls came the day after Christmas this year at 5am. Soon I found myself with my mother in an antiseptic waiting room under harsh fluorescent lights, so early that the sky was still dark and the one good coffee shop did not yet have the espresso machine working and ready.

The doctor came out, told us what we needed to know, and – thankfully – it was good news, so we grabbed our bags, water bottles, and began making our way down the corridor with various beads and talismans ringing with our movements like quiet little bells.

As we walked, we passed her by, a sister for sure, a bit older than my parents, sitting with a large plastic magnifying mirror perched precariously on the thin armrest of an uncomfortable waiting room chair.

She was, as some say here, “putting on her face.” Her foundation, blusher, and lipstick had already been completed, and she was working on her eyes. Hands trembling, mascara wand unsteady, eyes full of tears. A sister for sure and one in pain, so we stopped. And in the way that many people know, we simply looked and said, “Well…” Meaning, well, tell us your story so that we might listen for awhile and be together and share the burden.

And, of course, she did. In an early morning, none of us prepared for what was to come, beautifully accented with the flavor of her mother tongue of Spanish, she told us. Really she told us in one sentence: “Well, you know how men are…” And the tears started to roll, for us too.

They had been married for fifty years, with children and grandchildren and a whole big, wonderful, mess of extended family. He was a little man, short, and as she spoke I saw him, and I knew him because I have had relatives who are the same: hard workers you can always spot because their beautiful hands are scarred to hell and rough, decked out with silver rings and chunks of real turquoise, big belt buckles and shiny boots, a love of the smell of grease and oil, and the sound of acoustic guitar.

They had been married for fifty years, and mostly it had been good; but over the last few weeks he had lost his temper more than usual, had lost weight, and didn’t say anything but grimaced in pain and frowned more than usual…because you know how men are. These men, her men, my men too – they don’t say when they hurt, don’t even really want to allow themselves to hurt, until there is nothing but hurt. She knew. Knew as soon as he got mean; knew because she knew his family and knew what took all of them – cancer.

And so it was. This was an exploratory operation, one he would come out of, but also one that would tell her how bad it was, how long they had together. And so the tears ran as she shared with us that she hadn’t told la familia yet, hadn’t told her Padre and their congregation because it was just too much at the moment.

We prayed together to La Señora and promised that we would light devotional candles for her and her beloved. They have been burning steadily since then. We laughed too about how none of us were wearing bras and all of us had runny mascara because the morning started with tears as we waited to hear news about men we loved who had been stoic in their suffering and would do their best to comfort us and joke around even while laying down in a hospital bed with tubes attached every which way…because you know how men are.

In that statement, one that so many women I know have made, that morning I saw what I always see– a shake of the head in frustration and eyes soft with love; but I also saw the freedom that flows from our well-made commitments, the ones we choose to make and the ones we choose to keep.

This is not so much the freedom of running on the beach half-naked with the wind through your hair (although, blessed be the grace in this, too); no, it is the freedom of getting to the hospital before sunrise without wearing a bra and having a real conversation with a total stranger because this is what your commitment demands of you today.

It is the freedom of knowing that your mettle will be tested again and again in the name of love and knowing that you will rise and show up each and every time, even when your mascara is running and your face is wet with tears. And so I say, blessed be our well-made commitments and blessed be all commitments we have chosen freely.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

Prayer for Real Peace ~ New Moon in Capricorn

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

As the new moon in Capricorn the last new moon of 2016 unfolds her ebony robes upon Thursday 12/29, many of us may find that we are still surrounded by the holiday hustle-and-bustle.  Even so, we don’t have to let that stop us from opening up the brightest gift at the end of the year the still threshold that forms in the last days of one year and the first days of the next. During this time it is common to hear a plea, a prayer or a request that arms or weapons of all kinds be placed down, that sharp-edged weaponized words be gentled and turned to better uses, and peace be invoked.

And yet, when we make entreaties for Peace, what is it really that we are speaking of? What are we calling forth? Here is my prayer for myself and for all of us seeking to answer that question and call forth a deeper, truer, peace in our lives and communities.

Prayer for Real Peace

By the heavens above and by the earth below today we come seeking peace.

But our prayer is not a prayer for what some call peace that softly whispers look away, look away…

Our prayer is not for the peace that lies and hides and pretends things are otherwise than they are.

No, our prayer is for real peace, made in the knowing of what real peace, true peace is.

Peace that is fierce enough to make all bloodthirsty war-makers know fear, as they tremble in the knowing that in the end, they lose.

Peace that is vast enough to cover all lands, all people, all places even and especially the ones most broken.

Peace that is wild enough to speak to the lion.

Peace that is steady enough to call to the lamb.

Peace that is strong enough to lift up even the weakest.

Peace that is bright enough to illuminate that largest shadows and show what they truly hold.

Peace that is profound enough that all might remember it.

Peace that is radical enough that it scoffs at the notion of “sides”.

Peace that endures through it all and can be found as a shining thread running through all stories, all faiths, all religions and mystical traditions, all families, all singular lives no matter how ensnared they may be at a given moment, no matter how damaged or beyond redemption they may seem, we may seem, you may seem.

Our prayer is for peace and we make our prayer by seeking this peace out, in all the ways and by all the means that we can, for our selves and for one another, this day and every day, and may it be so, Amen.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.

The First Magic, Creator of Space

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles,  Some of my favorite businesspeople – those who have been wildly successful in building their empires – say the same thing: if you aren’t moving ahead you are falling behind. Makes some sense, especially in today’s business environment.

The way this dictum gets worked out in a more prosaic way, however, is that busy-ness all by itself equals or leads to success. A rolling stone gathers no moss. It is as if by simply moving from one task to another, we will achieve what we want to achieve; but if we stop, we will languish and we will die.

There is a word for this motion in Newtonian physics: inertia. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. Procrastination, I contend, is simply on the other side of same dead force, the same inertia. Simply being busy is, then, no real remedy for procrastination (and I think our beloved procrastinators feel this deeply.)
But as it concerns busy-ness, at the root of all this is a mode of life the sociologist Max Weber described in his classic Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. This philosophy of action and business can make you a lot of money and help you accomplish a lot of deals; but by itself and as a philosophy of life, it tends to detach you from your friends, keep your children from knowing who you really are, and even, ironically, prevent you from doing the really hard work of your soul.
Action is not bad a thing. In so many we ways we need more effective action, which is in a way what all sacred arts are about. And you won’t find me crucifying the protestant work ethic; it is too much a part of my lineage and life to do so. It is very hard for me to stay still, and I am the sort of person that will work willingly and devotedly around the clock. If I lived in a perfect vacuum, all by myself, maybe I would.
But nature abhors a vacuum. I have come to recognize again and again, by those who bear witness to me, that busy-ness all by itself – only doing, only moving from one task to the next -misses a crucial ingredient in life, and those of us who live from a place of action alone or a place of rest alone can feel it. It’s a life not only without salt or savor or flavor, but without sustenance, without nourishment.
Intuitively we know this and our popular art depicts it quite clearly. The hero in the action movie, for example, never has a real and lasting romantic relationship – they can’t, because love requires something more than action alone, and action finds love, well, boring. Love requires the whole of who we are, as does wisdom, as does courage, peace, the best art, even real wealth. Why does it require the whole of who we are? Because it is the whole of us, and only the whole, that can respond most effectively to what is truly needed. The failure of workaholism and – on the other side – of procrastination are really failures to respond to what is genuinely needed – which is to say, a failure to allow the whole of us to come into play and into action.
So what is the solution? Something we rarely think about, because it is literally empty, and that is: space. To the degree that we want any of those goods in our life, community, relationships, and even knowledge, we have to look down at the roots of things, to the very spaces we create. Space is commodified all the time in our world – in the form of property and real estate – and it may seem like the most limited thing, like our time, but it is in fact the most abundant and powerful resource we have.
To see what I mean, I invite you to close your eyes. And then…imagine you are standing at the edge of mountain overlooking a great valley to the south which is shrouded in darkness. It is about an hour before dawn, a faint light is beginning to show on the Eastern horizon. A little bench for you to sit down upon and rest appears behind you. By the faint starlight, you sense movement to your left, and you spot what seems like a bushy tail disappearing behind a rock outcropping…
Wait. Stop. Where are you? You have taken one step into that realm of infinite space I call the sacred imagination.
Now try it again – close your eyes. At first you may see nothing. What do you want to see or do there? Swim in the stars, in the drift of neutrinos, or the depths of the sea, or stand in the middle of grove of ancient redwoods? It is your call, and yours alone.
Do you recognize the working of this realm in your own daily life? If not, I invite you to look further into it. This is a place in which interior palaces and journeys can be built and made, which for magical and mystical figures like Giordano Bruno and St. Theresa of Avila is more than talk or more than a parlor trick – but can become a serious life practice that flows directly into all corners and aspects and spaces of daily life.
Creating spaces is a magical act, and it is one of the first. Click to Tweet
Every time we make and approach an altar, call upon our allies, light the candles, bless what needs blessing, we are creating space that goes beyond space, a time that goes beyond time. We are, as it were, bending space, molding it; amplifying, deepening and extending it. Space-creating is attraction magic at its finest because the best ideas, truest words, and most interesting experiences are never found on the schedule or in your planner. These are reserved for the in-between moments when you are catching your breath after a sudden squall of tears or folding up the laundry. You cannot schedule time for wonder or true insight, beauty, or passion; but you can create the spaces that give each of those virtues the real chance to appear and dance through your life.
They create the conditions for deep effective response to what is needed in your life, here and now.  They will bless the spaces you have created and their appearance will encourage you to continue creating more.
How do we create space? We know what to do. We have to first of all be willing to do what is needed, no matter what form it takes. And that is hard. Sometimes it means that we need to sit quietly, for example, staring out of the window at the falling rain and the coursing wind while the candles burn down to their waxy stubs. Or it may mean that you have to be ok with the fact that the trip to the store is going to take an hour longer than you thought it would because you saw a neighbor or a friend losing it in the cereal aisle and now is not the time to walk on by, but the time to stop, place your hand on their heart, and listen no matter the cost in time.
There is no formula to know in advance what is needed at any given time.  But our readiness, to give ourselves over to what is truly needed, is already to begin creating the space. Space is created and blessed at once when you put down the pen, put down the report, put down the computer and pick up the phone so that you can talk to your best girlfriend that you haven’t gotten to see all year, read a story to your child, throw the ball for your pup, or just let your cat stare at you disdainfully and maybe allow you the privilege of petting her – if you’re lucky.
Creating spaces is a courageous act because there is real fear in the process…fear that we are gathering moss, missing out, falling behind, failing and flailing. It is a scary thing to look at the list of goals you took so much painstaking time on and scrap them in one go, because you missed the most obvious ones: spend more time with the people that you love, get to know every tree in your front yard, take a few minutes to talk to the mockingbird that graces your morning with its song.
Blessed be the ones, therefore, who are willing to fall behind, be a little foolish, and even fail…and blessed be the spaces they can create. For they are the ones who, in truth, race ahead, not aimlessly, and not without direction, but with eyes and hearts set on true purpose and infinite promise.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and 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. Click to Tweet

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 new moons and full moons each month.

Tenderness, The Breaker of Curses

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

To be cursed is to be dried up, devoid of moisture and suppleness, brittle and lacking the essential ingredient of life: fresh, circulating water. The most harmful afflictions of body, mind, spirit, and soul are those that seek to take away, ignore, and otherwise exploit our ability to be tender towards ourselves and towards one another. The remedy for this affliction may take many different forms, but always includes blessing what is tender within you.

In many different cultures, the evil eye is understood primarily as a “drying” condition, one in which your money dries up, your health dries up, your fertility and verve for life also dry up. In opposition, to be blessed is to be moist, supple, full of flowing water, clean, bathed, and tender like new shoots of grass, tender like fresh green wood sprouting forth from a tree, tender like the water filled skin of a newborn baby nestled up safely in your arms.  Losing one’s tenderness, therefore, is tantamount to losing one’s life.

The loss of tenderness and thus of life is not difficult to achieve. Let yourself be taken over by anger, envy, jealousy, hatred, and fear, and you will know how easy it is to do. You can observe for yourself the negative consequences of being taken over by these emotions, how they cause a withering and a contraction in your life and relationships.  But even so, we may come to doubt the need for tenderness. Why be tender in a world and in a time that seems so often to only reward the tougherthannails? How does one cultivate tenderness in the face of violence, bloodshed, and injustice? What is tenderness other than one more vulnerability, easily overcome by those who are “stronger”? How do we stay tender in times such as these and how do we bless our tender places?

We bless our tender places by calling in the waters. We call in the waters so that we might cry good and salty tears, make nourishing soup, wash the dust off our clothes, and irrigate the seeds we have planted. So that we may drink of the waters and bathe in them, washing ourselves clean, literally renewing ourselves. We call in the waters from within, reaching deep and accessing the sacred well that may be blocked or polluted, but is simply waiting to be set free, waiting to be cleansed so that it can run, rush, and spring forth from the solid ground of your very life.

Tenderness – and the circulating life waters corresponding to it – points to the deepest parts of our resilient nature. Resilience is a power, and it is what makes for much needed hardiness of life and soul. Sometimes it seems that there is no water to call in, no source of nourishment, of lifecelebrating and lifeprotecting magic. But finding the water, finding the sources of life and nourishment, is not an easy task. Especially not when you look around and all you see is hard, sunbaked rock, packed gravel, and too much asphalt.

I have lived most of my life in desert regions, and so I know from firsthand experience the water that is there, hundreds of feet under the ground and flowing in madly rushing rivers or collected in fathomless lakes. You don’t see it, but it is there. When the territory around looks most inhospitable to tenderness, then you know that you are in exactly the right spot to fill yourself up with all that gives life, all that keeps you supple, all that keeps you tender. You may have to dig for it, you might have to learn to collect it drop by drop from precious rainfalls, you may end up going on a pilgrimage to find it; but it is there, waiting to be called upon.

To bless tenderness is also to protect it. Click to Tweet

In desert areas that are hot, arid, and dry, the culture is one of toughness, and even the plants with their prickles and thorns seem to just be waiting for their chance to chew you up and spit you out. If you neglected to look closely, you would be forgiven for thinking that toughness and hardness is all that matters. But soulful seekers DO look closer, and what we find are that the plants with the best boundaries are the same that have the most tender, water-filled skins. They give us the blessing way. Find the water, find the sources of life, and when you do, keep them safe; build a good boundary around them. Don’t just let anyone access your tenderness, choose actively and with discernment who and when and where receives the privilege of your softness.

To bless our tender places is to ask for and gladly accept help. In many cultures there are Gods and Holy Helpers who bring the waters of life, bring the rains, bring the thunderclouds that roll in with their big noise, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and reminding you that you are very much alive, creating with every breath you take, holding an infinite cosmos within your very body. We are not islands meant to do it all on our own. We have two-legged and four-legged, winged, clawed, fanged, and finned relatives who are here and ready and willing to help point us in all the right directions; so we look to them and we listen.

Finally, tenderness is meant to be shared. Like water, it requires a solid vessel, the boundary of the cacti, to keep it stored up safely; but once we are filled up with it we cannot help but overflow. The overflow happens in many ways through tears and laughter and deep kisses and long touches, through creative work and vibrant dance, and the sweet sound of the saxophone or drums under the stars. These are all medicines, results from the blessing and safe keeping of your tenderness, that literally spill forth and out into the world much like water, nourishing much like water, and restoring so many that are on the brink of death back into life.

Tenderness is no small thing. It is, in truth, a source of the greatest strength. It is not the weak spot or the pain point to be covered up, but rather a sign post, the tracks in the snow, that carry you forward to your own headwaters, no matter where it leads. So remember that anytime the flow feels blocked, anytime your skin feels shrunken and life feels too dry, relationships too brittle, and your broken places too yawning and jagged; remember when you feel raw and exposed, vulnerable, or too tender, remember what lessons tenderness has to teach you about your own hardiness, your own deeply resilient nature. It may be time to bless your most tender places and call forth the waters once more.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on new moons and full moons each month.