Hearth and Home Volume One

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Welcome to the newest series I call Hearth and Home. You will be able to find it posted here on Canto, and sent with love to the Lunar Letter list. (Join in the fun here). The picture to your left is a drawing by my almost-seven year old son, Jasper, who wanted me to share it with all of you. And so it is that sharing is the theme of this new series.

First of all, I want to extend a warm thank you to so many of you. Everyone I have had phone conversations with over the past month has asked me how I am doing on the book and how I am feeling in my pregnancy – to say nothing of the private messages I have received on FB, Insta, and Twitter. They mean the world to me.

Writing a book and being pregnant at the same time have become for me deeply intertwined experiences. In brief, I am now five months pregnant, and my official due date is June 11th – right around the time the manuscript is due for Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary, to be published by Sounds True, in 2019.

The journey to get to this moment has been eye-opening and tremendous, and it has encouraged me to share more openly than I usually do with all of you miracles.

If we were visiting in person, I would invite you into my home, ask you to sit at my hearth, and I’d serve you Topo Chico with lime, if it was a warmer day (which usually it is); or the tea of your choice or strong coffee roasted in high mountains.

Coffee, I should add, is a sort of medicine for me – not to help me wake up, but to help soothe my asthma. I actually don’t drink a lot of it; I nurse one cup slowly, the Arabic way I like to think (a nod of appreciation to Philz Coffee in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose charming owner is from the Middle East. They are a pretty famous outfit now, but when I started going, you could still see Phil in his awesome fedora working quality control – the BEST).

When I say strong coffee, y’all, I mean it. None of this new-fangled, hipster, light roast for me – no thank you! The blacker the roast the better in my opinion, and my favorite is the Tres Estrella blend (Three Stars for those of you non-Spanish speakers) from Ohori’s Coffee in Santa Fe.) All of this is to say that you should not be surprised if, after an hour of this make-believe conversation, it would seem as though I have barely touched my coffee at all. I’d be asking you tons of questions (those of you who have had readings with me or worked with me one-on-one should be nodding your heads right now) and my darker-than-the-deepest-night roast coffee would be cold and forgotten!

I like to ask questions. At the end of the day, you will discover that one of the deepest truths about me is that I am a lover of learning. One of the most important things this means to me is that I do not have all the answers. I often tell my students in the Miracle Tree Sessions and Spinning Gold that I am learning right beside them – that’s not just a thing I say – it is something I deeply believe and know to be true.

Sometimes I encounter newcomers in my community who think of me as an expert or a guru of some kind. As Jasper would say: no way! Our intuitive gifts and our Sacred Arts practices do not give us a right to omniscience nor to omnipotence, and, in my opinion, it’s better that way: life is much richer and more overflowing with surprises, wonder and goodness. Our gifts are the very expression of soulful seeking after beauty, truth, wholeness and holiness. If we had all the answers already, there would be no need for these gifts in the first place!

Every day and all encounters, in every way, present little opportunities for learning, and this experience is part of the warp and weft of not only my own life-tapestry, but my family’s as well, and my Sacred Arts practice.

As I was thinking about my desire to share with all of you the various happenings, then, I decided that I wanted these more personal posts to reflect most of all this sense of a living learning that makes up my actual life and practice. And I really want to do this with an eye to the end of giving all of you a glimpse of the way one gal, a Sacred Artist, interprets the meaning of living an enchanted life from the inside out, as well as offering a sense of the Sacred Arts in action, in the glorious mess and chaos and wild beauty that is life right here and right now.

So, for those who are interested in the more personal aspect of the Sacred Arts, I invite you to grab the beverage of your choice, kick back, and get comfy. Whatever else I may be accused of, brevity is not on the list!

The story for the past few months begins at three or four am, when I rise every morning to begin writing. I have always been an early riser (and now with a one pound jelly bean shifting and twirling during wee hours, it is especially easy to get up) and so sitting down to write before everything else just made sense.

The house is quiet. The moon, in whatever phase she inhabits, shines through the window at my desk, and after I write, I perform my morning devotions, which involve rituals, chanting, prayer, and magic. As I write, I sometimes seem to sense the little one saying to me “Um, really Mommy? That sentence just will not do”, or “Oooh, that’s a good one!”

You might be interested to learn that I am handwriting the first draft. Yes, that’s right: handwriting. It is nearly finished, two chapters to go. There will be many more drafts to come, but the work has been steady and swift – every morning the next batch of pages, one after the other. I find that for me, handwriting the book at this early stage makes up in feeling, depth and clarity of thinking for what it may lose in terms of speed and efficiency.

Once the entire manuscript has been handwritten, I will then type it out, molding it in slightly different ways as I do so, and then begin on the second draft. (A wise old teacher once compared this stage of the writing process to a momma bear licking her cub into shape.) Writing in this way is also easy because if I lose electricity – which actually happened a few times this Winter in San Antonio – or if a new idea comes to me, I just write it down. My handwritten pages are already festooned with hot pink post-it notes. It is all very high-tech.

The idea of handwriting the first draft actually began with a fiasco. At the end of December’s Mercury Retrograde, my seven year old laptop took a tumble and, as the Ancient Greek poet Homer says, bit the dust. In an instant, without a threnody of underwater goddesses to support me or announce the departure, I discovered that I had lost the nascent files I had created for the book. Oh, there was a moment of despair! But then, I realized that I had actually handwritten the pages first. So I went to my three ring binder and saw that, indeed, the pages were still there in my spidery scrawl. No batteries or plugs were needed to access them; and, as long as I keep the sheets protected from the elements, they have just what I need to make the most solid start I can muster. And from that point, I haven’t stopped.

In my course Spinning Gold, I refer us to J.R.R. Tolkien  “eucatastrophe”, a narrative element he identifies in Fairy Tales. This tumble-down topsy-turvy destruction of my old trusty laptop is a little example of eucatastrophe, because – as a result of this loss – not only did I discover a better way to approach the writing of my book, I also decided to replace my laptop with a desktop which is much better for my posture and my health (my dear friend Theresa Reed – the Tarot Lady – who also happens to teach yoga was like: DESKTOP. NOW. She is wise). Handwriting the first draft has also cut down on my screen time, which has been very healthy for me and for the wee one.

So both the book and the baby have forced me to take a fresh look at some of my daily habits. This, my friends, is one of the first steps of Sacred Arts in action; one that I have seen many of you do as well.  For me, as I have been writing the book, I have felt the need to allow my own ideas their own space, silence, and time for gestation and deep metabolism.

Reading too much, or the wrong things, taking in information without proper discernment, can muddy those waters. One becomes more sensitive here. Actually, our community of Soulful Seekers is full of sensitive folks – those who feel deeply, who take external information and stimulus in a deeply internal way. For me, as I felt a growing sensitivity occur on multiple levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, one of the biggest changes I’ve made has to do with my intake of news. My habit was to look at various news items on the internet, or an app on my phone, just as a matter of convenience.

I started noticing that I never really spent any time with any one of the items. Glancing, skimming, here and there, working with the general, most vague impressions of things. How could I not feel ashen blooms of anxiety on a regular basis? I want to be an informed citizen AND there had to be a better way, other than exposing myself to huge amounts information, without being able to process or digest any of it effectively. I also noticed that in my community my students were experiencing something similar – so many of us are on media and social media overload these days.

So now I have put a stop to all of this glancing and skimming, and have migrated offline to ‘slow’ media and long form writing – to my favorite weekly periodical the Economist, a British publication.  I’ll work through it, slowly all week, from cover to cover.

I don’t agree with everything there, but I like the style of thinking and reporting, its global scope and comprehensiveness. When I have the time to take a short break from my writing, my teaching and counseling work and my devotions, I grab my strong coffee, usually in the afternoon (which I still haven’t finished, by the way, and since it has grown cold, I ask my sweet husband to warm it up for me); I turn everything off, I slow down and I take my time. I am happy to report that this way of approaching the news – looking to offline sources of long-form writing and analysis – has promoted some very good ‘mental’ digestion – has helped to build a kind of psychological toughness, and promotes the development of knowledge rather than merely fleeting impressions of things. I do the same thing with fiction – right now I am reading the Antelope Wife  by Louise Erdrich.

Once you begin to look at the basics, there is no stopping. One thing leads to another. We pay attention to one place and others unfold. (This is why, by the way, I teach about and encourage the interrelationship and wholeness that holds between all of the Sacred Arts.)

So I’ve also become aware of some unhelpful ideas when it comes to book writing. I know many of you are writers yourselves, and probably a few of you would like to publish a book one day too. One of the ideas I had when this process started was that I would have uninterrupted days where for hour upon hour all I could do was write. Conversely, is the fear that if we don’t have long stretches of uninterrupted hours, there would be no way I would ever finish the work.  But after actually having a few of these halcyon days of zero interruptions over the Winter, I realized that, for me at least, having long stretches of time to do nothing but write was a kind of hell.

I love writing so very much. But I also love and have a duty to teach my Spinning Gold and Miracle Tree students, I love my one-on-one sessions, I love creating ritual and ceremony for my Witch In Your Pocket and Lunar Lights clients, and so on. I love every part of my work. I realized I have watched it feed and nourish the writing in some unexpected ways. It turned out, devoting all my time to writing choked out one of the more important sources of inspiration for my writing, which, after all is said and done, is all of you. What I discovered is this: I don’t need all of the time, I just need the right amount of time.

As I tell a story of magic with pen on paper there is another magical tale growing inside of me. I am one of those lucky and blessed women who seem to have easy pregnancies (though I do feel that I made up for it with my first labor which was thirty-six plus hours). This pregnancy has been markedly different from my first, because now it is not just two who are affected by the little one; it is also our first child, Jasper.

This pregnancy is also different because I am thirty-seven, whereas I was twenty-nine when I was pregnant with Jasper. During my first pregnancy, I discovered how pathologized pregnancy is, at least here in the US (I cannot speak to other traditions in other places). You are often made to feel almost as if there is something wrong with you for being pregnant – that you are fragile and must be hawk-eyed by every doctor and nurse, that you require many medical personnel doing medical things around you all of the time. Because of some of the health issues in my family, my husband and I both chose to have our first child and this next child in the hospital. And I love my Ob-Gyn – she is the bees knees and does not make me feel like a sick person at all.

But, the culture around pregnancy and pregnant women has A LOT of shifting to do and that is ESPECIALLY true if the woman is over thrty-five. As I reflect on this, I think there are bigger ramifications that it speaks to. I wonder if this is part of what happens when we have any kind of liminal experience, which pregnancy and birth definitely are; but so are others, like divorce, physical illness, recovery from addiction, or mental breaks – each of these events have undeniable physiological realities and may require medical treatment and intervention.

But to think that the only reality they carry is medical – that there are not other, more subtle realities also at work and that there are not other, more magical treatments and supports that are also appropriate – seems very short sighted to me. It does not gel with any of the traditions that I am familiar, nor with ones deepest sense and experience of things. A pregnant woman needs both her physical and metaphysical needs attended to in various ways. She also has a specific kind of access to magic and the liminal that can be of benefit not just to her, but can and should be to the benefit of the entire community. So yes, lots of room for improvement here.

Of course when Baby Saussy (whom we are calling Sausalito for the time being) kicks and moves and twirls and tumbles, I am not concerned with the fact that large parts of the culture pathologize pregnancy. I am much more interested in talking to the little one, engaging in my morning rituals of prayer and chant and magic, and writing up some information on making magic that supports conception, safe pregnancy, and then the wonderful, wild, ride that is being a parent.

I am also deeply aware, even more than usual, of the large percentage of our community who cannot or have chosen not to have children. I have written to you all before and I know that for many of you, reading this brings up all the stuff – excitement and love for me and my family (which I am so grateful for) but also sadness, depression, even anger too. I get that. I want you all to know that when it comes to this momma, you are seen, you are beloved, and you are held as precious. My beloved and I are so grateful that our boys have a large community of men and women who they can call on for guidance, inspiration, mothering and fathering in all of the different ways that mothering and fathering can and do happen. You all are a vital part of our lives.

When it comes to magic, my big effort over the past month has been to say thank you. I was gifted with a wonderful gratitude jar and card set for Yule. Every day I write down something that I am grateful for and I also text it to my best girlfriend. Sometimes the things are what you would expect: grateful for a healthy baby, grateful for an amazing husband, and sometimes they are not: grateful for pain that gives me information, grateful for hot water – what an incredible luxury that is!

On the 1st of January I created a big gratitude altar for my Holy Helpers complete with tons of flowers and good candles and their favorite foods. I did not ask for anything. I just spent time saying thank you for what has been given. It felt so good. The shifts felt in my life and family over the past thirty days because of that practice have been noticeable and it is now a regular part of my monthly rituals.

So ending this first letter on that note seems just right to me. Some things that I am grateful for right now and that I would love to share with you:

My beloved husband and the amazing not for profit he runs alongside managing all of the operations for my business.

My son’s fantastic art making (see above) and the fact that I get to live with artists and musicians.

My allowance of one cup of coffee – which I will shamelessly nurse throughout the day and ask my husband to heat up for me again and again and again.

Really cute kittens. 

This book.

This service.

This blog.

The fact that Tarot and Photography are talking to each other.

Open roads.

And each one of you.
In love and magic,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Threads of Gold: Beauty and the Beast + Hope and Dreams

Divination and Dreams

M

iracles,

2018 is here! And we have just passed a beautiful full moon – a Super-Blue-Blood moon in the sign of Cancer – yesterday: we are full of hope, real hope. Spinning Gold, my lovely course on magic and fairy tales, is well underway and flourishing.

What a wonderful group of magic and soul seekers are journeying together on this experience!

Here’s the latest news:

We’re beginning to schedule the second round of one-on-one calls this month. Let’s be honest. I loved the first round so much! And so have my students. It has been such an irreplaceable part of the course now to have an opportunity to meet each and every one of my students, and get to know them a little better, have some heart-to-heart communication.

So many online courses are mass manufactured, and the teacher never knows you by name. You click on a youtube video, or download course content and that’s it. But I want to bring you the opposite: personal, real connections with knowledge and crafts that will help you nourish the roots of your life.

Even though many of the elements of this teaching are rooted in timeless things, the approach we take is such new work, we all need all of the support we can get – and my desire is to give that to you!

The group has already journeyed alongside of Rumpelstiltskin, the faerie knight Tam Lin and his lover Janet, and we have met up with the fierce and wild Baba Yaga. Now we are onto Module Three where we explore the tale of Beauty and her Beast.

What this means is that by now everyone has accessed or received their gorgeous guidebooks for Module III. The Guidebook is delivered as a high-res, downloadable pdf, but many of my students print theirs out because we like pen on paper. In reality each guidebook is a basket full of bounty and beauty, with useful magical treats and explorations.

By now, students will have listened to the story, experienced the active imagination journey, reflected and wrote in their journals, tried all or some of the Sacred Arts practices and crafts for this Module, and continued weaving into and working with other practices from previous Modules.

All the Modules hang together. In fact, the active imagination journey is crafted as a journey that continues throughout the entire course from start to finish, drawing the fairy tales’ magical territory and characters into its singular realm.

My presentation of the Sacred Arts is non-dogmatic, and very much encourages the creative development of practices you already have. And if you don’t yet, what a great way to start!

I have included specific instructions for Sacred Arts practices that are rooted in elements of the the story.  For Module II, for example, you’ll find “Summon your Backbone with your cord”, “The North Star Rite” and “Working with Sacred Fire”. We continue our talismanic discovery, with our Courage Talisman.

And one of my guest teachers will help you make your very own Spirit Doll (a motif that features strongly in the tale of the Baba Yaga!)

Beauty and the Beast has its own Sacred Arts practices, introducing “divination and dreams”.  Have you ever done an “omen walk”? I teach you how. This is foundational work that nourishes all work with any sort divination tool you might choose to use. You’ll also find a bedtime ritual to cultivate sleep and dreams, and other useful practices to boot.

Oh, and let’s not forget the teaching call for Beauty and the Beast is coming up in a few days: later this month I’ll send a little clip your way so you can hear what’s happening!  I hope you like it.

The core of Beauty and the Beast, as I teach it, is coming to grips with hope, and finding a way to protect and forge a robust hope that can meet and overcome the challenges of life.  On this call, I’ll be discussing:

  • The true nature and power of hope, why we lose it, and what the symptoms of lost of false hope are
  • Why Hope and Living an Enchanted life go hand in hand
  • Three medicines for restoring Hope found in Beauty and the Beast
  • Omens, Dreams, Divination and the ways that the Otherworld speaks to and nourishes hope
  • Spiritual Work while feeling hopeless and/or depressed
  • Every call concludes with an active imagination journey.

I’m looking forward to the work I’ll be doing with everyone on this Module – answering questions, sharing insights and making new connections.

And for your listening and learning pleasure, I hope you enjoy a little clip from a discussion with one of my guest teachers and a dear friend, Fabeku Fatunmise on lineage and legacy work – yet another resource to help you develop the groundwork you need for a robust and vital Sacred Arts practice in everyday life. Listen here!

To a life of real enchantment and with much love,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Feast Day of Candlemass and Imbolg

Ceremony and Ritual

B

rigid, Maman Brigitte, Bride…by whatever name you know Her, she is the one who calls us back home to ourselves; the one that endures, the one that reminds us that no matter how difficult things become and no matter how broken our paths and promise might be there is a constancy running through our lives and testifying to our essential ability to be whole and intact. Imbolg and Candlesmass are the names given to her specific Feast Days.

Bride reflects us back to ourselves in the waters of her sacred well, and in the telling of her tale. Click to Tweet

Her beginnings are in ancient Ireland where she did not easily fit into any single category:

Is she a mother? Yes.
Is she a maiden? Yes.
Is she an ancient and wizened one? Yes, that too, and everything in between including the occasional white cow, sheep, or goat.
Is she a Goddess of fire? Indeed.
But also a Goddess of water? For certain.
Is she a witch? Most certainly.
Is she a holy woman and Saint? Of course.
Is she a healer, a poet, a fertility bringer? Yes, all of that.
But then is she also a warrior, a blacksmith, one that might show up in the tavern with the best stories to tell? Yes, she is all of those things as well.

Some would say that she only became associated with the Dead and with the Ancestors when her veneration was brought into Haiti by indentured servants from Scotland and Ireland, who shared their love of Bride with the African slaves as both groups were forced to work the sugar plantations.

It was in Haiti that she became Le Grande Brigitte and/or Maman Brigitte, a powerful lwa in the Voudou pantheon recognized in the Caribbean as well as New Orleans and the Deep South.

But Bride’s strong and timeless association with the fey people, the Little Ones, in old Ireland tells me that she, like most Goddesses who know something of baby making and birth blessing also has known for aeons how to walk the tracks of the Underworld and be in congress with those who have passed beyond the veil – for the Ancestors and the faerie folk know each other quite well.

Her skin color, hair color, eye color, and accent changes from place to place, just as we change. Her refusal to fit neatly into any one box mirrors our own inability to do the same – we are after all miracles, containing an entire cosmos without our beating, sacred hearts and our inability to only be or do one thing does not mean that we are without unity.

The core of Bride holds strong and she endures as we do too and it is here we find her deepest teaching and the deepest way of honoring her.

For there are many ways to love her and many offerings to make; so whether you know her as the sheep milk and cheese loving great Goddess of Eire; the butter loving Saint who blesses all of the candles that will be used throughout the year, or the raucous woman who knows the cemetery like the back of her hand and likes hot peppers in her rum, Bride’s request is the same:

Bring all of who you are to my table. Leave no part behind, hold no part back. Remember the touchstones you call upon day in and day out, remember the deep unity you carry within you at all times, wherever it is, there you will find me waiting.

Bring all of who you are, including all that you need aid with, all that you wish to bless and honor, all that is heavy on your heart to her table. She is there. She has always been there. And she will continue to be there, always.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Protected: Saturn in Capricorn

Learning and Community

S

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Star Stories: January Edition

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Welcome to January and blessings of the Full and Supermoon in Cancer to you! This is an astro-packed month that is bookended by two full super moons – pretty auspicious way to begin 2018 if I do say so myself!

Read on to find out what it in store for you this month and head’s up: this will be the last monthly Star Story that goes out to my mailing list. I have loved putting these together but now that I am writing the book I need to focus my energy on that project.

Star Magic students will still get the low down though in our Facebook group so if you have loved these updates and you want to learn more about astrology, join up! Save $100 when you sign up in January – there is no code to enter, I just reduced the price for this magical month only.

And, if you ever need Astro help, head over to the Astro RX age for 2018 – it has all of the essential dates for the year PLUS you can sync them to your Ical or google calendar.

And now, to the Stars!

The Sun
January begins with the Sun in serious, elegant, and refined Capricorn.
Ask: What light am I ready to shine?

On January 19th the Sun enters into airy, breezy, and easy Aquarius at 9:09 PM central time.
Ask: What am I ready to share with my community?

Finally, one more move from the Sun this month on Saturday, January 27th as the Sun in Aquarius trines with the Moon in Gemini. This is a beautiful time to get really clear on your message AND the ways that you want to share it (including the best platforms to use).
Ask: What am I ready to share?

The Moon
January kicks it off with a gorgeous Full Moon and Super moon at 11 degrees Cancer, at 8:24 PM
Ask: What are my dreams telling me?

On January 8th we have a Waning Quarter Moon at 18 degrees Libra at 4:25 PM
Ask: Where do I need to return balance?

Then, on the 16th we celebrate a New Moon at 26 degrees Capricorn at 8:17 PM
Ask: What mastery am I ready to begin?

January 24th brings the Waxing Quarter Moon at 4 degrees Taurus, 4:20 PM
Ask: What does right relationship to ease and abundance look and feel like?

On January 31st we round out the month with the Full Moon + Total Lunar Eclipse at 11 degrees, Leo 7:27 AM
Ask: What is one pattern, attitude, and/or belief I no longer wish to follow when it comes to expressing my feelings and how can I reverse it today?

Mercury
On January 11th Mercury moves into Capricorn. This can be a time that marks a new level of seriousness in communications and those of you who write or communicate for a living can expect to have some professional opportunities arise during this time. It is also a time when it is easier than usual to be negative and pessimistic and also to get depressed. Turn that on its head by doing that popular thing you’ve read so much about: adulting.
Ask: What responsibilities do I need to attend to?

Next up, on Wednesday, January 24th Mercury is conjunct Pluto in Capricorn. This gives you insight into how your attitudes around mastery and excellence can translate into powerful transformation and it is also a great time to find hidden or lost things and/or to uncover secrets!
Ask: What secrets do I need to uncover?

Finally, on January 31st Mercury Moves into Aquarius. This is a brilliant time to connect with your groups of people: friends, colleagues, like-minded fellow travelers of all kinds. It is also a time when you can expect to see more activity on social media. If you have a web presence use this period to begin any re-vamps or to get even clearer on your messaging. Big picture and future facing thinking are at an all time high right now. Keep your eye on the news for significant tech developments.
Ask: What groups and people do I want to connect with?

Venus:
On Tuesday, January 9th, the Sun in Capricorn is conjunct Venus. Anytime this happens Venus brings her emphasis on love, beauty, harmony, and peace into the full light of the brilliant Sun – and the sign that the Sun is in will flavor the entire thing.
Ask: What would happen if I got serious about love?

Then, on Saturday, January 13th Venus and Uranus square up. This is a prime time to have difficulties in relationships – especially virtual relationships so watch your social media feed, choose your words with care, and try your best to be kind to those you encounter. Also, beware of tiring yourself out in your effort to be loved by all.
Ask: Where am I spreading myself too thin because I want people to like me?

Next up, on January 17th Venus moves into Aquarius. This will feel awesome coming off of that square with Uranus. This is a great time to give love and attention to online friends, presence, and business – change up your profile pics, update your bios, make sure your LinkedIn account is all spiffy – you know the drill. Networking opportunities right now are a definite YES as are collaborations.
Ask: What groups, congregations, and associations are in need of love and support?

Mars:
Mars kicks into high gear early in January as on the 1st he makes a beautiful trine with the Full Super Moon in Cancer activating our emotional intelligence and heart centers.
Ask: What is the best way to engage with my feelings right now?

Then, on Friday, January 26th Mars moves into Sagittarius. Mars in Sagittarius is all about travel, new experiences, and testing boundaries too. This placement gives us all an attitude that is both unconventional AND interested in optimizing our spiritual experiences as well as that highest of Sagittarian goals: freedom!
Ask: What actions will increase my freedom right now?

Jupiter:
On Saturday, January 6th Jupiter is conjunct Mars in Scorpio – this is a brilliant time to optimize your areas of finance and investments as Scorpio rules both of those areas. Also, a brilliant time to expand your knowledge by learning secrets that will help you foster greater success!
Ask: What is the secret to greater abundance?

Saturn:
On January 13th Saturn is conjunct Mercury in Capricorn. This can be a tricky time and is a classic astro moment for feeling depressed, fatalistic, and existentially angsty. Go outside or watch these cute goats at play.
Ask: What do I learn from restraint?

Uranus:
On January 2nd Uranus turns direct in the sign of Aries. This is subtle for many people but those who are Uranus-sensitive (Aquarius, Gemini, and people with a packed 11th house) will feel it more. Fresh energy and a desire to turn a new leaf and do something raucous are all indicated at this time.
Ask: What energy is ready to shift?

Neptune
Not one to be left out of the fun, Neptune trines with the Full and Super Moon on January 1st – Neptune, Mars, and the Moon form a grand water trine on this day in their respective signs of Pisces, Scorpio, and Cancer – it is a gorgeous time for diving deep and finding treasure!
Ask: What healing magic have I found in my depths?

Pluto:
On Tuesday, January 9th the Sun is ALSO conjunct Pluto in Capricorn (note that Venus is also in on this action – see above). Sun and Pluto in Capricorn together mean serious career power moves may occur at this time, conservative ideas are going to undergo radical transformation, and those who are Pluto or Cappy sensitive might feel an even deeper level of seriousness.
Ask: What power do I find in excellence?

Love and Stars,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hold On, Hold Close, Hold Together

Foundations

M

iracles,

Like millions over the season, I have seen the new Star Wars movie, not once but twice. (If there was ever a job description for “mom of a six year old boy” – this would very likely be at the top of the list.) It is my favorite Star Wars so far, in large part because the core conflict of past Star Wars (dark vs. light) has given way to a more interesting and, I think, more relevant conflict of new vs. old and, in a parallel argument, hopelessness vs. hope.

As I thought and felt into what words our community of Soulful Seekers might need to hear at this moment, I kept coming back to these themes: old vs. new, hopelessness vs. hope. And then, when I saw them writ large on the screen, I knew it was time to write about them. Of course, the truth is that I see them, we see them, everywhere, and that this popular film, meant for entertainment, in fact embodies not a few of our struggles.

Our culture’s wholehearted embrace of new technology, convenience, and efficiency is one of the most obvious places we see what is New accepted and what is deemed Old jettisoned off to the side – as we forget, even to our own detriment, to ask old essential questions about trust, goodness, truth, and excellence. Much of our political rhetoric is pitched as Old vs. New, “Conservative” vs. “Progressive” and so often seems to miss the point. Before either category, we are people, daughter, son, sister, brother, lover, mother, father, and friend, whose ideas and words have the power to make blood flow or the power to staunch wounds.

We can even see the Old vs. New and the Hope vs. Hopelessness motif playing out astrologically as Pluto, planet of deep transformation, is joined by Saturn, planet of conserving old ways, in the sign of Capricorn, which speaks to our most powerful, stabilizing, often corrupt and in many cases highly beneficial institutions. We all feel this movement and the sea change it anticipates.

And I see it personally. Every year as the Old Year dies and the New Year is born, it seems that everyone is thrilled at the possibility of a fresh start, a blank page, a new chapter – I feel that thrill too! – but all too often, in our haste towards the new and uncharted, we are willing to leave everything from the past, from the Old Year at the threshold, not discerning the lessons, actions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences that are worthy and worthwhile and should be carried with us into the next year, and the next, and the next – perhaps carried for the rest of our lives, perhaps not, but definitely held onto for now.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely think culling and banishing are essential at this time (which is why I created a community ceremony to do just that) and throughout the year. What I am advocating for is a selective, intelligent, and courageous, approach to the magical and sacred act of banishing.

A few days back, I was talking to my oldest friend, someone I’ve known since second grade. He is a now successful choreographer, director, and librettist, who works all over the country putting together plays, musicals, and operas. We were catching up after 15 years of not seeing each other, and reflecting on where we have come since we were eight years old. We both observed that none of our successes have been simply good and none of our failures have been simply bad. This is not a new thought – you know it to be so in your own life too. When you consider what to release and what to hold onto, remember this. Not every bright moment needs to be carried forth and not every pain or struggle needs to be set down and immediately escaped. They are all teachers.

Without spoiling the moment for those who have not yet donned their lightsabers, what I can say is that in the film The Last Jedi, there is a dramatic moment that clearly says: this is not working. This way of holding things, Old vs. New, Hope vs. Hopelessness? At the end of the day it does nothing but pull us apart. We can see this politically, as the arguments get louder and the listening (especially to voices that have different thoughts and opinions from our own) diminishes. We see it personally as we drop the Old in favor of the New and say ‘this year everything will be different’ again, and again, and again until the whole thing, well, gets kind of old. Oh, the irony.

The conflicts need to be re-framed; which is to say, we need a deeper and clearer understanding of them. The New without the Old is unrooted and unmoored. It lacks consciousness of lineage, which also means that in a very real way it lacks vision and clear direction. The Old without the New is ossified tradition for tradition’s sake that, at worst, breeds ignorance and superstition, and at best is not open to the spirit of a thing, but only the form. Either one without the other is downright dangerous…politically, personally, and spiritually. The same is true for hope and hopelessness. To only have hope and to see the world through rose colored glasses is to ignore much suffering and that in itself is a cruel act. To only feel hopelessness (something more and more voices have advocated for recently) is to act fundamentally from a place of fear and wrath, not love and courage. And we have all seen what happens when we only act from fear or anger.

So what to do? How to understand this in a way that makes better sense? How to put it together so that we ourselves are also more together? As usual I suggest we get literal with it. I envision the New Year as a baby. I see a robust and healthy little baby boy – who is carried in the strong arms of an old woman. To me she is Hekate, radiant Crone Goddess and midwife whose “crime” that got her kicked off of Mount Olympus was daring to cherish all children, all new life, no matter their parentage and no matter their imperfections. Old and New coming together, carrying time forward once more.

Maybe for you it is found in the strong affinity that the Old and the New have for each other, how they enrich and enliven and season each other. I think of my how own son carries a special love for his Nana, my grandmother – now in her 80’s – who loves babies and little children and her great grandchildren in the way that only a Nana can.

And you can reflect on your own life too. Are the actions and accomplishments, dreams and desires you wish to summon up in 2018 more likely to occur if they are informed by your past, if they are woven into your full story? We do not need to carry everything with us as we go forward, but we also do not need to feel as if everything must go either; just as we can know that feeling hopelessness at times does not preclude us from living from a place of hope.

There will always be tension between opposing forces, whether they be Old and New, Hope and Hopelessness, or a thousand other oppositions that we could conceive. Some spiritual teachers advocate for a resolution of all tension, dissolving difference into single unity, and for letting go as radically as possible. I do not. Not only do I find that this approach does not work in day-to-day life, but I find that our differences, our specificity and particularities – and that includes the uniqueness of our manifold stories – are essential to who we are, to how we are, and I think our actual experience resists attempts to smooth out and down all rough edges.

But I do know this about tension. The tension is a force that can destroy, break apart, and sever forever. And it is also a force that is required to fly, to soar, to fall in love, to flourish, and to create anything. Rather than letting go, perhaps we ought to try a new direction, to seek to learn how to hold that tension in a more beneficial, useful and creative way. The solution would not be to choose Old or New, Hope or Hopelessness, but instead choose to find a way to hold both, together, as we hold of our parts together, and as we hold onto one another. It will not be easy. But this, then, is my wish for the New Year, carried by the Old – may we learn what it means to hold on, hold close, hold together and may we do it beautifully and well.

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Hard and the Hopeful

Foundations

M

iracles,

I love our community of soulful seekers for many reasons, but one of the most basic is that you are all willing to go down beneath the shine, the gloss, and the superficial into the real, the tough, and the hard. For we all know that when we are willing to get real we don’t lose the shine. In fact, the reverse takes place: we grow in strength, vitality and beauty. We shine out even more luminously and brilliantly.

Many of us have lived our lives up against necessity. It is easy to forget that necessity was once viewed, in all seriousness, as Necessity, with a capital “N”. That is, as a Goddess.

And you don’t mess with Her.

Because of this you understand that magic, prayer and blessing, ceremony and ritual are not goods reserved for a luxury leisure market. They are essentials that directly inform us right here and right now, and indeed help bring us into a more productive relationship with that oldest of Goddesses, Necessity.

When life throws you a curve and you have nothing else, you still have the Sacred Arts and all that they hold. No matter what. We find our blessings in our broken places.

It is also true that because our community is full of real people with real challenges — we are not the stuff of glossy magazines or Vaseline coated lenses — it can sometimes feel like the good, the blessed, the fruits of our labors, are always just out of reach.

We work our tails off, but the rewards we are hoping for or the treasures we seek are one more, ten more, a hundred more, steps farther down the road. In spiritual circles and communities, it can often seem as though it is somehow “not allowed” to talk like this or think like this or feel like this. It’s a buzzkill, or “low energy” or “bad vibes” or not in alignment with our highest good.

Now we know well enough that the hard parts of our stories are not the whole of our stories. But we also know that they are present. They are there. You can run but you can’t hide from them – nor should you. As a leader in our community, as a teacher, and a counselor, I see the struggle we are all engaged in and I am engaged in it too, right there with you, shoulder to shoulder.

So, in this last lunar letter of 2017, I want to give you a story of hope. Hope is a feeling, a power, a virtue that has perhaps been difficult to come by for many over the course of this last year.

I wanted to begin by giving voice to what many of us have experienced in the struggle, because the only kind of hope that matters is the kind that is tough enough and tender enough to look at real struggle head on, not flinching, covering over, or trying to hide when faced with the hard.

In order to practice hope we need stories that reflect hope, so indulge me while I share a very personal one with all of you.

Let’s begin with the Full Moon. As you read this, the Full Moon is in Gemini. Gemini is the first Air sign of the zodiac – a sign of sharing, ideas, connection, deep message, and true voice. Finding true voice is something that many of us struggle with today.

The world is so noisy that it is hard to hear ourselves think, seemingly impossible to hear ourselves speak out loud or write words down that reflect what we know to be real, true, and meaningful, what we know to be sacred and blessed.

For me, true voice, has always been especially hard. Starting out as I did with a cleft pallet, two major surgeries and years of speech therapy, it was literally an uphill battle as I learned to use my voice, to speak, to express myself.

When I did discover my voice I realized it was different from everyone else’s. I saw things differently, and I responded to information in a different way. I asked (and still do ask) a lot of questions to the chagrin of family members and students. (I say “a lot” of questions, but that is probably downplaying it: they would laugh and tell you “thousands”.) I will sometimes make light of the heaviest situations and I can get dead serious when people least expect it.

My voice has led me to strange and wonderful places – to being the only woman in various debate competitions, to studying classics in college and being the first in my immediate family to graduate; to teaching adults and facilitating classes for adults on classical texts from around the world; and of course to working as a Sacred Artist for all of you my dear soulful seekers.

In business, my voice has led me to say a loud NO to attitudes and opportunities that everyone else seemed to say yes to. It requires me to write letters (like this one) that are longer than what anyone recommends.

It has asked me to make myself personally available and not walled off by a team to my community, my students, my people.

My true voice says NO to sales funnels, slick marketing, mystifying the Sacred Arts, or positioning myself as an “expert”. My voice has said YES to teaching even when I was sure I was not ready, to taking on the role of leader in various communities that I serve even though I wanted to serve, not lead; to skipping the intermediate steps in the labyrinth and going straight to the mountain, and to moving on with it already.

I listen to my voice and I follow it, because I know first hand how easily it can be lost, because as a very young child I worked like the Devil to gain it back; and also because many of my ancestors had voices that were not ever really heard, not ever really acknowledged. And so when I speak, I speak not only for myself, I speak for them too, and for those who will come after I am gone. I feel that responsibility every day. I know many of you do too.

Listening to my true voice has not always been easy. It has made my life better in innumerable ways but it has also made it hard in that it requires work, daily showing up, real effort, seeking for knowledge and right action, one foot ever moving in front of the other.

One of the things that occurs when you begin to listen to your true voice is that you hear the answer “No” quite a bit. And it isn’t “No, you aren’t worthy” or “No, who the hell do you think you are to try that?”

It is more along the lines of “No, not that way.” “No, not right now.” “No, not for you, not ever.” If you are really listening to your true voice, you can’t argue with those true No’s. You have to practice patience and you have to have mercy on yourself.

You will also receive external No’s because you are greeting the world with your true voice – not the voice that is expected or demanded or foisted upon you, but your voice, your ideas, your words, your vision – and many times the world at large just seems not to get it, not to want it.

But then some people do. They become your community as you all have become mine. Often from that community comes financial support which is vital and needed. Always from that community comes another reason to keep on in your work. Because even if you are only sharing your true voice with one other person, it might change something in that person that would never otherwise be changed; it might heal a heart, save a life, make the day a little more doable, and that alone is worthy and worthwhile.

Some true voices find the ways to speak, to write, to create and they are the ones we hold dear, look up to, and feel inspired by. They become our creative North Stars. I’m not sure what alchemy or magic occurs that makes it possible for one’s true voice to be heard above the fray, but I am sure that whatever else it requires, it demands work. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, totally un-sexy toil and devotion.

It also requires friendship, because your real friends will see your true voice, and they will cherish it, encourage you to remain in it when you are wondering “is this really worth it?” Sometimes your friends will be the ones who open the door for you so that someone else can hear that voice too.

I won’t say that if you work hard enough the door will always open. You know too many stories and I know too many stories where that is simply not the case. But what I will say is that when the door does open if you have spent a lifetime making the effort and facing the hard then you are ready for what lies ahead and you can meet it with hope.

In October I learned that such a door had been opened for me. One of my favorite publishing companies, one that I admire ethically as well as for the works they release into the world, Sounds True, offered me a book deal. Having a book published has been a dream of mine since early childhood. When other little girls were planning their fantasy wedding, I was planning my author bio – true story! But throughout the years true voice said “Not yet.” “Not now.” “You need to do this first.”

As the years went on the dream of publishing a book seemed a fainter though still a burning star within me, but Necessity had me working on other things – like building our community, teaching classes, working one on one and in an intensive manner with a small group of students, hosting gatherings, and so on. These were the things that needed to happen first, needed to happen now.

A year ago, with the trepidation someone feels when approaching a beloved dream, I sent in a proposal. I pulled a card and got the Devil. This would be a dance that would keep me on my toes. There would be some hard and I had to meet it with hope. I made a dear friend along the way; I learned the true characters of others and gained insight into myself, and now I am writing a book about magic – not what other people say it is, but what we know it to be, what my true voice has taught me about it throughout these years. She will be born in the Spring of 2019. I’m still in awe.

Now I know that if I followed the current state of things I’d make a brief statement about how awesome it all is and then go back to posting pics on instagram…but my true voice won’t let me do that.

Instead I want to say that this is yet another of countless examples all around us that serve to remind us that when it feels like our efforts and our work and our dreams remain unseen and unheard and unrealized, that they are seen, they are heard, they can be realized, and the hard that you face and struggle with today can be the seedbed for the hope that you will be able to give to someone else tomorrow.

That’s the truth about hope. It is meant to be shared, and it dies when you hold onto it only for yourself. You all have shared hope with me in countless ways. I know that magic of our shared hope is part of what brought a book deal and publishing into my world. There aren’t enough words to say thank you, so instead I will promise to work hard, do my best, lead with my own true voice, and carry that hope back to each and every one of you as often as I can.

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.