Animalia Stellarum ~ Libra

Ceremony and Ritual

L

ibra resonates with the element of Air, and is a cardinal sign. The Sun is in Libra from September 22nd through October 23rd. Libra is the 7th sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the second equinoctial point of the year when the hours of day and night are equal to each other and ushering in the first day of Autumn (in the Northern Hemisphere) and Spring (in the Southern). Represented by the Scales, Libra speaks to balance, justice, fairness, law, partnership, beauty, and love.

The Scales as Libra

Libra has the unique position within the zodiacal wheel of being the only inanimate object. Whereas all other signs are either animals, people, or some combination of the two, Libra has been viewed since Babylonian times simply as “the scales.” Ancient Greeks saw Libra as both the scales and also at times the claws of the Scorpion we know from the sign of Scorpio. In ancient Rome the scales were depicted as being held by the Goddess Astrea and sometimes even today Libra is depicted as the scales held by Virgo, but the core component has never changed: Libra speaks to balance and has long been associated with the the rule of law, culture, and civility.

The inanimate nature of Libra gives us our first clue about how this sign works, for as we enter into the 7th house of the Zodiacal wheel we embrace the equinox – when the hours of light and day are equal – and we experience the shift from a focus on the individual to a focus on the collective. Law, culture, civility, balance, and the possibility of harmony that balance suggests are not physical in the way that a woman or a lion are, but they are animating and life-giving forces that make civilization and existence possible for all.

The scales of Libra are first associated not with a Goddess but with a God, the Babylonian Shamash who was the Sun God and also the advocate for truth and justice. Shamash, and his Sumerian counterpoint Utu, both speak to the revelation of law and justice and Hammurabi, who wrote his famous code of laws, was said to have the laws revealed to him by Shamash. The connection between law and justice was reflected in the fact that Libra’s original ruling planet was not Venus but Saturn – a planet associated with time, law, and learning. The masculine influence that we see in the sign early on also speaks to the androgynous aspect of Libra. Though often interpreted as ultra feminine because of its later association with Venus, Libra and those with the sign prevalent in their chart often blend masculine and feminine qualities in various ways; just another way that the scales bring balance and harmony between apparent opposites.

For the ancient Greeks, Libra was seen as both the scales and as the claws of the giant Scorpion, Scorpius. The association with the sign of Scorpio makes good sense. For Libra’s scales admit of the struggles that occur whenever people come together in any kind of partnership, and also remind all that harmony and a lasting peace is possible; that while your struggle may be a part of your story, it is not meant to be the whole of it. This observation speaks to another component of Libra, that of marriage and partnership. The scales of Libra are associated with balance and with harmony but what is often forgotten or overlooked in that association is that both balance and harmony actually require tension – neither is possible without some tension and struggle. So it is with our relationships. Marriage and partnerships, both romantic and otherwise, rely on creative tensions and the work of bringing two (or more) people into balance with one another.

The ancient Romans associated Libra with Astrea, the Goddess of Justice and Law and also the starry sky. Within the sky, the constellation of Libra is surrounded on all sides by constellations that are chthonic in nature, and so many of the stories surrounding Libra speak to its ability to shine the light and purity of law and order into places that are shadowed and chaotic. In this way Libra is seen as a “civilizing force” who does not forget about so-called demonic forms like celestial serpents and scorpions but instead encourages right relationship with them. The sign later became associated with the goddess and planet Venus with the idea that women are also civilizing forces, specifically through sex and marriage. Venus’ association with Libra also speaks to the sign’s appreciation of art, beauty, and culture, generally speaking.

While it is common to think of law today as merely a list of do’s and dont’s, a deeper understanding reminds that most civil laws started out their life as sacred laws and that law is one of the reasons why we do not live entirely in a “might makes right” society. Law speaks to the intersection of what we want and what we need. The forces that help navigate those tricky waters are rooted in discipline and love, and Libra advocates for both – not only in our own lives but shared with one another in friendship and community.

The Libra as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

We have come to the one zodiac sign that is not depicted as a creature, but rather as an object – The Scales. It is appropriate then to consider what is the balancing force between all creatures; from insect to man, what is the great equalizer? My spiritual experiences and studies with Nature have led me to see it is the Heart that almost all creatures possess. (The only creatures that do not possess some kind of heart also do not have a circulatory system, like Coral, Sponges, Jellyfish, and the most microscopic of beings.)

What does the heart do? It is the center of the circulatory system. It moves life-giving fluids throughout the body. It is the creator of internal rhythm. It beats without conscious prompting. It takes in the depleted life-giving fluids, restores them, and pumps the freshly nourished nectar back into the labyrinth of the body. All Animals with a circulatory system carry an organ that performs this function. For our purposes, we’ll use ourselves and the human heart as it relates to The Scales of Libra. Let’s first think about how the heart actually works.

{Warning: brief and fairly painless biology lesson ahead…}
An organ made of muscle, it is divided into four chambers – upper/lower and left/right. In the structure alone there is the representation of The Scales. Our heart moves blood equally through all four chambers; that is to say, our life-giving fluid is processed in a contraption that is built in a balanced manner. This contraption, this series of chambers, serves as a place of replenishment; a place where oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor take up equal space; a place of filling, of providing, of giving and taking, equally. Balance.

The part of our heart that we can physically feel is the mechanism that keeps the valves of these chambers opening and closing with precise regularity. This mechanism is extraordinary and can function completely on its own. The beating of our hearts is controlled by two bundles of nerves – one coordinates the top half of the heart and one coordinates the bottom half. In layman’s terms, our hearts have their own batteries that can, technically, continue to operate without stimulation from the brain. These two bundles of nerves create their own independent electrical impulses and are affected by our nervous system.

There’s a lot of electricity moving around in our bodies and it’s the nervous system that coordinates all that action, voluntary and involuntary. Part of our nervous system controls all the involuntary actions of our organs and bodily functions and another part controls our “flight or fight” response. The nerves that create the electricity necessary to make our heartbeat are influenced by both responses from our body.

Just like The Scales, an equilibrium of tension and harmony is created within our heart. All the parts and pieces working together come in 2s – two sets of chambers, two sets of valves, two batteries, two actions from the nervous system. The function of the heart is all about that balance.

{mini biology lesson over}

At rest, our hearts beat at a regular tempo all on their own. Exercise causes a need for more oxygenated blood, so our hearts beat faster to keep up. Our thoughts and emotions also cause a reaction in our nervous system, thus affecting our heart rate. The batteries that control the flow of life-giving fluids through the chambers of the heart can speed up or slow down based on our thoughts and emotions. Think about that for a second.

I am someone who experiences panic/anxiety attacks in certain circumstances. If you have ever experienced this, you know that it feels like your heart is going to jump out of your chest. The cause of this feeling is ultimately based in thoughts and emotions. If I take long, deep, diaphragm-filling breaths, and tell myself I’m not really going to die, my heart rate slows down. If I am freezing cold and I can envision myself next to a warm, toasty fire, my muscles, including my heart, relax. When I feel like I may be in danger, my heart races until safety is clear. The physical feeling of my heart beating, independent from my conscious decision, influences what I decide to do.

Do I give in to the feeling that I’m freezing cold, that I cannot defend myself, that my car is going to careen off this bridge no matter what I do?

No. I do not give in to those feelings, but I would not have a barometer to gauge my reaction were it not for my heartbeat.

We see the memes all the time – trust your heart, follow your heart, listen to your heart. Whether we know it or not, our Heart is our Scale. The work comes in not basing decisions solely on what the scale says. Libra asks us to work with all the functions of our body, including the mind, to weigh out our actions. Libra asks us to pause and consider our physical response with equal reverence to our mental response.

Call on The Scales When…

  • You wish to find a lover, deepen a relationship, or bless a marriage
  • You want to go into any field dealing with law, justice, and/or community
  • You are ready to harness the creative power found in tension and stress
  • You wish to have more/deeper partnerships – romantically and otherwise
  • You are ready to debate, discourse, or speak in public
  • You desire harmony
  • You need to charm or persuade someone to see your side of things
  • You wish to have clarity amid the chaos
  • You would like to win a court case, or have success in mediation or negotiations
  • You are ready for balance

Be Wary Of…

  • Indecision – When the Libra project is rocking the scales are in balance with one another but when things go sideways the scales get wobbly and uncertainty prevails. What this looks like in real time is Libra not knowing which way it wants to go – do we have Chinese or Thai for dinner? Do we go see an action movie or a foreign film? Art museum or ballet? This can be especially confusing for those around Libra because much of the time Libra can seem very confident and sure of what it wants and what direction it wishes to pursue. The indecision often comes from a desire to please everyone and make everyone happy and, ironically, leads to a place where the exact opposite occurs.
  • Co-dependency – Libra likes to be liked and so sometimes Libra’s opinion is determined too much by the opinions of others. Naturally interested in harmony and balance, Libra may hide its true opinion of things and people in order to “go along and get along.” This is especially true in intimate and romantic relationships where Libra will go to extremes to keep a relationship intact, even if it is clearly not good or healthy for all parties involved.
  • Bossiness – As a cardinal sign Libra can come off as bossy. Because those with a lot of Libra in their charts tend to be good with people as a general rule, the bossiness is not as noticeable as it might be with say, an Aries, but it is still there and present. When those around Libra wake up to the fact that they are being subtly manipulated or charmed into doing something they don’t exactly want to do, the results can be the opposite of harmonious.

Questions to Ponder for Libra:

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

  • What does partnership mean to me?
  • Where is the harmony present in my life, where do I wish it to present?
  • What does balance look like for me and how do I bring myself into balance?
  • What is my relationship to law and discipline?
  • What are my strengths when it comes to negotiating and speaking?
  • What is the role that culture plays in my life?
  • Whose opinion am I most concerned with?
  • What does peace mean to me?

Active Imagination Practice

The idea of balance has a lot of baggage attached to it. Some people say there is no such thing as balance. Others say that there most definitely is, but that it is hard to define. Libra however encourages us to embody balance and that is what this exercise will help you do!

Sit or stand where you are comfortable, close your eyes, and take a long deep breath.
Take several more long, deep breaths and with each inhale imagine the air filling your lungs and moving through your body down into your feet. On each exhale, push the air out through your core and imagine each muscle relaxing, from your toes to your head.
Affirm and acknowledge both sides of your body.
Feel into the right side of your body and allow yourself to observe what the sensations are.
Beginning with your right toes and right foot and moving, breath by breath up through your leg, hip, tummy, waist, rib cage, chest, back, fingers, arms, shoulders, neck, face, all the way up to the top of your head.
Take a moment to note what you have observed…is there pain in any of the areas? Is there soreness or tightness? Is there space and brightness?
As you are ready, lift up your right foot. You can brace yourself against the wall or a table if you need to, or simply lift your right foot a couple of inches.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the sensations that occur when you release some of the support the right side of your body provides for you. What does your balance feel like here?
As you are ready, put your right foot back down.
Engage with your breath again.
Feel into the left side of your body and allow yourself to observe what the sensations are.
Beginning with your left toes and left foot and moving, breath by breath up through your leg, hip, tummy, waist, rib cage, chest, back, fingers, arms, shoulders, neck, face, all the way up to the top of your head.
Take a moment to note what you have observed…is there pain in any of the areas? Is there soreness or tightness? Is there space and brightness?
As you are ready, lift up your left foot.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the sensations that occur when you release some of the support the left side of your body provides for you.
What does your balance feel like here?
As you are ready, put your left foot back down.
Engage with your breath again.
See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the mid-line of your body – how has it changed since you tried balancing on each side?
What have you learned?
Now, ask yourself again: what does balance mean to you?

Altar and Ritual

Libra the Scales marks one of the two equinoxes of the year, when the length of day and night are equal – Spring or Fall, depending on your hemisphere. It is during these times of equinox, these times of balance, that farmers rotate their crops.

The land that has been planted full, the soil nurturing sacred food for many months, has been harvested by the time Fall comes and the farmer’s earth is in need of replenishing.

The harvested land is turned and mixed and massaged. New crops are planted that help return nutrients to the soil. The loamy earth gets a break from all its hard work with a refreshing change that shakes up the old and welcomes the nourishing new.

As Libra shows us, this is a time of year for consideration, examination, and thoughtfulness in order to bring things into balance.

For this altar exercise, we invite you to “rotate your crops” in your sacred space.

Stand at your sacred space and really look at what’s there. Pay a little bit of attention to each item. Feel its energy and reflect on what this object means to you.

Is it still serving its purpose on your altar?
Or has it done its job and is ready to be “harvested?”

Take the items you feel have served you well and can be removed and set them aside. Once you have them all together, decide if you want to repurpose them in some other way, gift them to someone else, donate them to a charity/thrift store, put them in the recycling bin, or graciously put them in the rubbish bin. Be mindful of how you choose to move these items on in the world and do what feels right to you. Thank them for their service.

Now return to your sacred space. You are looking at the items you feel are currently serving you and working well for you. Take a deep breath and feel the gratitude for these objects swell within you. Thank them for their continued service.

Take a moment to acknowledge the balance that comes with moving out the things that no longer work for you and showing gratitude for the things that do.

Now take everything off of your altar.
Gently remove each item, including any cloth or covering.
Take off any flowers, plants, bowls of water or earth, old incense burners, etc.

Meditating on the balance you want to achieve, clean each item from your altar. Wash or replace the cloth/covering, get fresh flowers, water the plant and prune off any dead leaves, refresh the bowl of water and/or earth, clean off or replace the incense burner, dust off each item and feel it in your hands.

Take a deep breath and observe everything before you. Look at it all with fresh shiny eyes! How do these items want to hang out together? Listen to the way they fall into balance with each other.

Begin rebuilding and rearranging your sacred space.

Balance does not have to mean balance between left and right, or top and bottom. Place the items on your altar in a way that feels balanced and aligned with your purpose.

When you are finished, take a step back and take a deep breath. Light any candles or incense and feel the space come alive.

Thank these items for their service to you and thank the stars of Libra for facilitating the process of finding balance in your sacred space.

About my Co-Author:

Sara 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.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Virgo

Ceremony and Ritual

V

irgo resonates with the element of Earth, and is a mutable sign. The Sun is in Virgo from August 22nd through September 22nd. Virgo is the 6th sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the point of the late Summer moving into early Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and late Winter moving into early Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Represented by the Maiden, Virgo speaks to purity, cleanliness, devotion, clarity, physical health, work, and sovereignty.

The Maiden as Virgo

If you have been waiting for a star story that gives women the central role then read on, for the sign of Virgo is all about the ladies. Virgo literally means “Virgin” and is a constellation that has been associated with the feminine and various Goddesses since we started listening to stories about stars. “Virgin” of course is a matter of interpretation, while the word still is taken today as referring to a sexually untried, “pure” woman or girl, the much older and more apt definition of Virgo is “one who is sovereign,” meaning that here we have a woman who is not owned, sold, bought, or belonging to a man (or another woman for that matter) but rather belongs to herself and herself alone. She may or may not be sexually active, may be of any age, and may be involved in the fields of spirituality, commerce, agriculture, or arts and culture as she likes because again, she belongs to herself.

As such, the essence of the Virgin is one that belongs to all woman and men. We all have within us a feminine aspect that will not be owned or claimed by another, and the Maiden becomes both a phase of life, that thrilling time of transition between child and woman, and a cultivated attitude that, again, men, women, and all other genders have access to as well.

Sovereignty then, is one of the key features of this particular sign, and perhaps a better way of saying it is knowing how to have an ongoing relationship with Sovereignty and what it means to you to belong to yourself first and foremost. Two more qualities that come up immediately, and that Virgo is strongly associated with, are cleanliness and purity. While the ideas of cleanliness and purity have been taken out of their original meanings and applied to some truly horrific ideas (like so-called racial “purity” or ethnic cleansing), the root idea with both terms is that one can be left alone, unmolested, undisturbed, and uninterrupted. Another way to think about what it means to be clean and pure is found in the idea of wholeness.

These truths are reflected in the strong association between the constellation of Virgo and the great Goddesses of old. For this sign is exclusively associated with the some powerful Goddesses including the Sumerian Shala, Babylonian Ishtar, Greek Demeter and Persphone, and Roman Ceres and Proserpina. In each case these Goddesses were significant figures in their time and place that spoke to universal themes while especially emphasizing fertility and harvest, as is best indicated by the sheaf of wheat motif with which they are all pictured.

For the Sumerians, Shala was the Goddess of the Harvest and the Furrows, meaning that she was both Maiden, waiting to be impregnated with seed, and Mother, aligned with all that is fertile and ripe. The Babylonian Ishtar was a great Goddess associated with the gifts of agriculture, love, sex, fertility, and marriage but also war and queenship. She too was imaged as both a brave maiden and loving mother whose name was called on during the harvesting of cereal crops and grains.

This theme continues with the ancient Greek pair of Demeter and Persephone. Here we see that the Maiden/Mother roles have been split in two, literally, with Demeter functioning as the great grain Goddess and Mother of all agriculture (as well as the keeper of Sacred Law) and Persephone embodying the Maiden who experiences violation and, in turn, learns (at hands of helpers like Hekate) what Sovereignty really is all about.

The association with these ancient Goddesses speaks to several other qualities of Virgo. One is the impulse we feel under Virgo’s influence to practice our spirituality in a more intentional manner. Virgo encourages us to build altars, become part of a church congregation, and/or develop a daily practice that is full of meaningful devotions. All of these Goddesses had temples, priestesses, and acolytes and in a very real way Virgo calls up the inner Priestess within all of us.

In slightly different terms we can also see here the emphasis on health. Sovereignty itself was a Goddess at one point and, like the other Goddesses mentioned here, She had a strong relationship with the land. What we see in the stories of Virgo is a reminder that the health of our bodies is connected to the health of THE body of the earth. This sign, already associated with the element of earth, reminds us to tend to the literal ground beneath our feet and also to take care of our physical bodies. For this reason Virgo has long been associated with the medical professions.

Finally, we see in the stories of the various Goddesses that Virgo is the Maiden but also the Mother – that this sign occupies the space in between both of these qualities and encompasses them as well. Once upon a time the Maiden and Mother were not so very cut off from each other. This meant, practically, that as women aged they still had the energy of the Maiden readily accessible, and that for women who chose not to have children or were not able to have children, they were not excluded from the particular mysteries of Motherhood – the Goddesses reflected all to everyone not just a chosen few. As our stories became split and splintered so did the role of Maiden and Mother, hardening into two extremes instead of the flowing relationship they once possessed. Practically speaking we are all still finding ways to repair and heal from this particular rift, so it is quite fortunate that we need only look up into the sky at the stars of Virgo (the second largest constellation btw) to remind ourselves what wholeness actually looks like.

The Maiden as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

In discussing the human-animals of the zodiac in particular, we’ve established that the vastness of our minds is the main characteristic that sets humans apart from other animals. As the Earth Maiden, Virgo shows us the merging of our intellectual capacity and our instinctual/animalistic body. Virgo takes us out of the mind and moves downward into the body, acknowledging our physicality. Virgo is the initial connection between mind and form. The Maiden also exemplifies the ways we are similar to and aligned with other animals, rather than pointing out where we diverge.

All animals learn how to exist in their surroundings by observing (watching, listening, smelling), trying/experimenting, and then processing those experiences so that their body and mind will react appropriately in the future. It is in this way that Virgo shows us our similarities to other animals. Those born under the sign of Virgo are keenly observant and process newly-discovered information not just in the mind, but down into their earthy being. Virgos don’t just know something, they feel it in their body. Typically fast learners, once they have mastered a task it’s embedded in their muscles and bones and they quickly move through it with ease. A Virgo reading a book or listening to music is not just taking in the words or sounds, but sensing the narrated world or the vibrations of the melody as if they were in it, feeling it, creating it. The mind of Virgo is very sharp, but the influence of the element of Earth keeps them especially attuned and connected to their physical senses.

We have seen the virgin and maternal aspects of Virgo described above, as well as the ways in which she is seen as the Maiden and the Mother. The association with virginity gives an innocence to Virgo that can be mistaken for apathy or naiveté and betray the deep wisdom they have obtained with their apparent wide-eyed idealism. Such is the way of many animals – seemingly innocent and naive, yet full of knowledge. For example, a Squirrel may not appear to be a wise creature, as they are skittish and approach everything as if they’ve never seen it before; yet the Squirrel has an understanding of how to exist in its environment that is deeply rooted in its body and goes beyond pure intellectual reasoning. The Squirrel knows what to expect from familiar circumstances because of previous experience, but it is prepared and understands that each encounter can bring new variables. As the Squirrel moves slowly out of the bushes toward the open ground under my bird feeder, as it has done a thousand times before, it is still cautious and filled with trepidation. It is processing all that it already knows and taking in any new information, integrating it all together. It is this ongoing collecting of wisdom that gives Virgo a motherly quality juxtaposed with a surface level innocence.

The mental-physical integration of new facts and knowledge with previous experience allows Virgo to be practical, resourceful, patient, and methodical. This process can also cause Virgo to be worrisome, controlling, and even a bit OCD. Learning to bring intellectual thoughts into the physical form and trusting the mind-body connection can help with Virgo’s anxious or domineering tendencies. It is this same act of integrating, however, that gives Virgo the ability to learn and adapt and allows them to live well in community with others. Virgo encourages us to take our knowing into our physical form and listen, trust, and act from our entire self.

Call on The Maiden When…

  • You desire more sovereignty
  • You want to cultivate a sense of order and peace
  • You are ready to take your words and ideas seriously
  • You wish to deepen your sense of purpose through service
  • You need more devotion in your life
  • You desire order and structures that make sense
  • You need better boundaries
  • You are working on cultivating a sense of personal responsibility
  • You wish to have greater clarity around your work in the world
  • You would like to have insight into your physical health
  • You are ready harvest the fruits of your labors

Be Wary Of…

  • Rigidity – Virgo’s qualities of clarity and organization are wonderful to have on hand and available but Virgo can also become too rigid or fixed in its attitudes towards these things. Sometimes Virgo can send off the vibe that everything must be in its specific place or we simply cannot function. This makes for a clean house but also a home that is sometimes empty of spiritedness or fun. Virgo does best when it fully integrates the gifts of Leo and remembers that fun and messes also have a place in our lives.
  • Intolerance – As the Maiden, Virgo is fixated on purity and devotion but sometimes this attitude develops into a “my way is the only way” mind-set. Virgo can come off as intolerant of mistakes, messes, and ways of seeing or going about life that do not fit into their predetermined framework of “the way that things should be.”
  • Passive-Aggression – In direct opposition to Virgo’s ability to be rigid and intolerant (more than pretty much any other mutable sign, with the possible exception of Aquarius), there is also a flip side of Virgo being too easy-going and accommodating. Virgo loves to serve and sometimes in serving others can lose sight of herself. When this happens Virgo responds often in a passive-aggressive manner, not wishing to create significant conflict but also needing to express their deep dissatisfaction.

Questions to Ponder for Virgo:

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

  • What does Sovereignty mean to me? What is my relationship to Sovereignty?
  • What am I devoted to and how do I express that devotion?
  • What is my body and physical health telling me about my overall approach to life?
  • What is the role of organization and cleanliness in my life?
  • Where do I love to serve others?
  • What does right relationship to work look and feel like?
  • Where do I need more clarity?
  • What am I ready to harvest?

Active Imagination Practice

When we talk and feel into intuition things can get very foggy and vague quickly. This is because intuition belongs to the Otherworld, the liminal world and it works according to the rules and customs of that world not our highly analytical, extremely audio-verbal waking experience. Thankfully there is one immediate and direct way to begin experiencing your intuitive guidance, and yes, we all have intuition, the path of this experience lies through and within your own blessed body.

Sit or stand where you are comfortable, close your eyes, and take a long deep breath.
Take several more long, deep breaths and with each inhale imagine the air filling your lungs and moving through your body down into your feet. On each exhale, push the air out through your core and imagine each muscle relaxing, from your toes to your head.
Affirm and acknowledge the presence of your shields and note if any areas or zones of the body need especial attention at this time.
Engage with the your breath again.

Ask in your mind and heart for your body to show you what YES feels like for you.
Pay attention specifically to what area of the body comes alive upon YES and what that life feels like: an opening, a heating up, a tingling, something completely different?
If when you first ask you feel that you do not receive a response in and through the physical body then, remaining engaged with the blessed body breath, allow yourself to remember a time in your life where you were asked a question, given an opportunity, or made a decision and the answer was YES.
Remember the specifics of the situation — the people involved, the time of day and season of year, the specific content. Then focus on the memory of your YES, what did it feel like in the body? Where did it happen in the body?

Once you can see, sense, touch, know, and feel your YES, then we turn our attention to NO.
Ask in your mind and heart for your body to show you what NO feels like for you.
Pay attention specifically to what area of the body comes alive upon NO and what that life feels like: an closing, a cooling, a tensing or contraction, something completely different?
If when you first ask you feel that you do not receive a response in and through the physical body then, remaining engaged with the blessed body breath, allow yourself to remember a time in your life where you were asked a question, given an opportunity, or made a decision and the answer was NO.
Remember the specifics of the situation — the people involved, the time of day and season of year, the specific content. Then focus on the memory of your NO, what did it feel like in the body? Where did it happen in the body?

Once you can see, sense, touch, know, and feel your NO, then we turn our attention to MAYBE.
Ask in your mind and heart for your body to show you what MAYBE feels like for you.
Pay attention specifically to what area of the body comes alive upon MAYBE and what that life feels like: a calming, a cooling or heating, a settling in and down, something completely different?
If when you first ask you feel that you do not receive a response in and through the physical body then, remaining engaged with the blessed body breath, allow yourself to remember a time in your life where you were asked a question, given an opportunity, or made a decision and the answer was MAYBE.
Remember the specifics of the situation — the people involved, the time of day and season of year, the specific content. Then focus on the memory of your MAYBE, what did it feel like in the body? Where did it happen in the body?

When you have completed this meditation, record your body’s responses. Make note of your physical and emotional feelings for each question. Reflect on how you can listen to your body in everyday life. If you don’t feel you have clear signals for yes, no, and maybe in your body after completing this exercise, revisit it weekly until the answers feel solid to you; be patient and know that your mind and body are meant to talk to each other.

Altar and Ritual

The Maiden, and the Goddesses of agriculture and harvest with whom she is associated, are most often depicted with a sheaf of wheat, so to honor her we must make bread!

The art of bread making (yes, it is most definitely an art) is ancient and brings us back to our common ancestral roots; for making bread is a very grounding experience. It is essentially a quite simple process of blending and waiting, but the physical act of combining the relatively few ingredients leads to the creation of something nourishing and wonderful!

For those of you that think making bread is too technical or delicate, it doesn’t have to be. Provided below as a simple and easy method of creating a “no-knead” bread that keeps the sacred process alive but does not require any baking experience. In this recipe we are also going to add some sacred herbs to create a most exquisitely magical bread.

(If you already have your own favorite bread recipe and/or are experienced with making bread using other methods, feel free to follow what you know and try adding some sacred herbs.)

IMPORTANT – do not use a bread making machine! The purpose of this exercise is to create this nourishing, sacred bread with your own two hands.

This “no-knead” method is taken from the book, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. A highly recommended resource if you’d like to start making your own bread.

This recipe will make four 1-pound loaves that you will bake one at a time over several days.
You will need a 4-5 quart glass bowl or plastic container, a baking stone (pizza stone works great), and a boiler tray.

Ingredients:

– 3 cups lukewarm water
– 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated yeast (2 packets)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
– 2 teaspoons total of dried herbs (4 teaspoons if fresh); use herbs that have a magical significance for you, but make sure they are edible and tasty!
– 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour (do not pack when measuring)
– Cornmeal (for sprinkling on the baking stone)

Step One: Mix and Store the Dough

– Put the lukewarm water in the glass bowl and add the yeast and salt. Gently stir to dissolve, but it doesn’t have to be completely dissolved.
– Add the herbs to the water mixture.
– Add all of the flour at once.
– Mix with a wooden spoon if you want a good workout and/or doing it all by hand is especially important to you. It’s also perfectly ok to use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until it is uniformly moist without any dry patches.
– Cover loosely with a lid, cloth towel, or plastic wrap, but you do not want it to be air tight.
– Allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse or flatten on top (about 2 hours).
– You can technically use the dough at this point, but since the dough is quite wet it will be easier to handle after being refrigerated for at least three hours or even overnight.

Step Two: Shaping and Baking

– Sprinkle your work surface and the baking stone with a generous amount of cornmeal.
– Take out your refrigerated dough and lightly sprinkle the whole surface with flour.
– Pull up and cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough from the bowl.
– Add a little more flour as needed so the dough won’t stick to your hands.
– Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The bottom of the loaf will start to appear to be a collection of bunched ends and the top will be very smooth. Be careful not to over-handle the ball and the whole process should take about a minute.
– Place the shaped ball on your work surface and allow to rest uncovered for 40 minutes.
– Place the baking stone in the oven on the middle rack and the boiler tray on a rack below.
– Preheat the oven, with the baking stone and boiler tray inside, to 450 degrees. Allow a full 20 minutes for preheating.
– Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour and, using a serrated knife, slash a 1/4 inch deep cross, tic-tac-toe, or any other pattern into the top of the loaf.
– Place the loaf on the baking stone and pour 1 cup of hot water into the boiler tray. Be sure to do this relatively quickly so you can trap the steam in the oven.
– Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Avoid opening the oven to check on it for at least 30 minutes.
– When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or “sing.” Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
– The remaining dough can be stored and used as needed for up to 14 days.

About my Co-Author:

Sara 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.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missives: Solar Eclipse Magic + How to Banish

Learning and Community

M

Miracles,

Apologies for the re-send of last month’s Magical Missive email earlier today (and a hearty bow and thank you to Mercury Retrograde!) Some of you wrote to me already telling me how much you liked it – which is awesome – but it is not the correct magical missive for this month!

This month we are focusing on the Solar Eclipse that occurs on August 21st. Eclipses are my favorite time to break patterns and I find solar eclipses to be especially strong for this work.

When it comes to breaking a pattern there are several steps involved. The first of course is clearly identifying the pattern that you need to break. Some people like to write this down, others like to talk it over with their magical study buddies, and still others like to go into the liminal and talk to their holy helpers about the patterns that are showing up, gaining further insight in the process.

The next step is to decide what you want to replace your old pattern with. If, for example, you are trying to break the habit of smoking then you will want to replace it with something healthy – maybe eating more greens, or something fun like ballroom dancing!

Then you are ready to banish the old pattern, story, habit, or belief, and call in the new. There are thousands of ways to banish (banish is a fancy word for “get rid of”) things you no longer want or need. While there are elaborate rites you can perform my favorite ways of banishing are simple and straightforward.

What you will need:
Yourself
A quiet space
To think about what you really want and need to banish

Ceremony:
Cultivate Calmness
Breathe in a blessing on yourself, affirming and acknowledging that when we breathe in completely and fully we say YES to life and to all that nourishes us.
Breathe out whatever it is you are ready to banish, breathe out fully, exhaling completely, so that whatever pattern you are releasing is fully let go and set down.
Take a moment to feel into the space that you have created by releasing whatever it is you needed to release.

Final act:
Breathe in fully once more and as you do so, breathe in whatever it is you are filling that space with – in our example above it would be “eating more greens for health and vitality” or “ballroom dancing for fun”. Breathe it in fully and then take a moment to offer thanks as it falls into place.

Patterns broken. Banishment done! Have a blessed eclipse!

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Sacred Arts, Faery Tales and the Wild

Ceremony and Ritual

M

Miracles,

You return from that trip to an exotic place – or perhaps to the wilds of nature. There to greet you on the front porch steps is your life again, waiting for you. Then what?

You discover something unsettling.

It’s like you’ve never left in the first place. For awhile you feel fresh again, but then all the bills are there, the push and pull and tensions of everyday living are. still. there.

Ugh! What’s happening? We try to get away and refresh, and maybe it works for a little while, but then the same problems crop up – and repeat themselves.

Since the days of Rousseau (and actually much earlier), all too often we’ve accepted the view that the natural wild is a realm “over there” away from where we live, from our lives.

To begin our journey then, our really soulful work, we believe we must somehow make a big leap, if it were even possible, over into that realm and start from there.

In truth, not only is no such leap is necessary, but the leap itself can actually makes things worse. For the wild – the true wild – is a property of the heart and the real inferiority found in us and in nature, within relationship; and it is found in those encounters where we least expect it. That can happen to us wherever we are – in the car, in the doctor’s office, at the bank, on the street, in the city, the country, the mountains.

Now many important lessons can be learned by stepping outside the human realm and into nature, or outside the familiar to a realm that is foreign and different. Don’t get me wrong.

For the Sacred Artist, it is simply a matter of where you begin. As the old stories teach, the exotic realm is not the wild at all, and not a starting place, but a kind of abstraction. Where the true movement begins is right where we are.

The story of Sir Gawain and Lady Ragnelle – the guiding story of Module IV of Spinning Gold – speaks directly to this, and how it plays a role in a life that manifests real enchantment.

It begins with the scene of a deep betrayal, and as a consequence the land of the kingdom in the story dries up, crops wither away, and there is no longer water, moisture, or vitality of any kind. People are not able to have children, all of the food crops and animals are destroyed, the living land turns into one perilously close to death. Spiritually, psychologically and pragmatically, we lose the power to manifest our dreams, desires and intentions.

A betrayal occurs or is experienced: someone tells us “not to quit our day jobs” or that our “sister is really the talented one” or that our art making, prayer making, sanctuary building, word crafting, is a “nice hobby”.

Sometimes the betrayal happens within: every time we tell ourselves that there isn’t anything worthwhile or relevant or meaningful in the creative work we are called to do, anytime we stop ourselves before we even start by getting busy cleaning or talking to a friend or doing five errands all before noon, then we too feel that icy wind blowing across our soul soil and snuffing out our creative spark. Creatively we feel “stuck”, “frozen”, “bored”, “dried up”, “numb” and “dead”.

And so, in order to right this wrong and bring life back to the land, Sir Gawain, bravest and truest knight of the Round Table, is given a specific task: he must learn the answer to a singular and shining question.

And so must we, in our own context, learn the answer to the question.

Failure to do so results not only in the loss of life for the land, but also in the loss of Gawain’s own life. (So you know, no pressure).

Gawain goes into the wild, and it takes him the traditional initiatory time, a year and a day, to discover the answer to his question, an answer that comes at a wild and wondrous price as those familiar with the tale know. Without spoiling the ending of the tale, I can assure you that both life and true wildness return to the kingdom.

The quest, the traveling into parts unknown, and wondering through the deep wild wood, are all necessary steps along the way to retrieving the fuel that can keep the creative spark burning and it is this way for us as well.

Like Gawain, we must brave the icy wilds, go on a quest and find the needed answers that will provide fuel for our brilliant and bright spark to burn once more.

But the wilds need not literally be wilds – like literally wilderness area. For it is only when he returns, that the real magic begins to move: he has an encounter that changes everything and restores wholeness.

Gawain’s story and teachings focus specifically on the Sacred Arts of Ritual and Ceremony and concrete practices you can try out.

The story, like all the fairy stories we encounter, speak in particular ways as helps in breaking down the idea that there is this world of here and now and another world of dream and magic that we can yearn for but never fully participate in.

The practices we learn in the Sacred Arts of Ritual and Ceremony, as well as others, help us weave the worlds back together through stories and the Sacred Arts.

Those soulful seekers who practice the Sacred Arts can attest to not only more creative vision and ideas, but more creative vision and ideas that become concretely manifested so that they may be shared with the world. We should expect this result. For if we can learn to see gold in straw, then we can certainly remember the ways to care for a practical intention or a project from start to finish, so that it is able to emerge fully whole and intact.

And it is those concrete manifestations of your creative brilliance that turn anywhere you are, and everywhere you are, into terrain that is wild and overflowing with wonder.

The next Spinning Gold guest teacher I would like to introduce, Ryan Edward, is all about the intersection between the Sacred Arts and creativity. With several Tarot and Lenormand decks to his name, Ryan’s work has been published by US Games and is beloved within the Sacred Arts community, and for good reason: his work is quite gorgeous and his skill is matched only by his kindness. In fact, as a professional designer, he sees the the creative work of design as a form of the Sacred Art of Divination. Intrigued? Give it a listen!

Bri

Ready to Spin some Gold? Register Now 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Baba Yaga, Creativity and Time

Learning and Community

D

ear Miracles,

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people interested in taking Spinning Gold is: how much time will it take? Perhaps you’ve heard me say before that any teacher you consider working with should be willing to learn from her own experience and to change her mind when appropriate.

My response to this question has changed over the three years that I have run the program. The best way I can answer the question is: the rest of your life.

Because, seriously, that’s what we are talking about when it comes to the Sacred Arts. These traditions and practices are ancient. They were, in many cases, the first witnesses to culture being created by our long-ago people.

When we devote ourselves to learning the Sacred Arts and working with the primary source material of myth and fairy tale from which they spring, we are devoting ourselves to a life-long project.

Ghandi spoke the following words, springing from a deep tradition of Sacred Arts practice, which speaks directly to what I’m getting at here:

Learn as though you were to live forever, live as though you were to die tomorrow.

Anyone who has worked with fairy tales and myth will tell you that the stories grow in their influence and impact on your life as time moves forward. And anyone who has made a serious study and practice of any of the Sacred Arts will say the same – the more we discover the more uncharted terrain we see that there is to explore.

So that is my best answer. This is a lifetime commitment. Not to me, and not even to the program per se – although current and past students do receive lifetime access to the material – but to yourself. Your are committed to your insights, your discoveries, your bone deep knowing, and most of all to your experience of enchantment for the rest of your life. It’s a pretty good match, one that allows you to experience every single day as more full of magic, not less!

It is popular to say in our uber busy world that a program will change your life in 5 minutes, 2 hours, 10 seconds a day – much like the attitude towards online learning in general.

This promise of little effort and maximum results can yield a sexily high market share. But only for awhile. Two things happen almost immediately: the first is that people catch on. And the second is that you start to notice that whatever it is you are producing – your creative vision, strategic plan, or new venture, reflects the paltry amount of time put into it.

Time is required for you to do your best work no matter what it is and time is required for the things that really matter to you in your life.

A wonderful illustration of this can be found in the third story we work with in Spinning Gold. The Baba Yaga is an Eastern European and Russian story steeped in the wide mountain ranges and deep forests of that area. The old Baba Yaga herself (as I was taught she is always the Baba Yaga and not just Baba Yaga) is the million year old woman who created the world. She speaks to the Sacred Art of Lineage and Legacy – that is the ability to connect with, learn from, and know your past history and stories as well as ability to envision, create, and call-forward your future possibilities. In other words, her hands are quite full. And the Baba Yaga takes her time – literally.

For at three different points in the story a knight in shining armor on a white horse, red horse, and black horse consecutively comes busting out of the Baba Yaga’s chicken-footed house and rides headlong into the deep woods. We later learn that these strange knights who seem in some ways tangential to the rest of the story are actually the hours of the day.

The white horse represents Dawn and all of the hours from Dawn until Noon. The red horse represents noon tide and all of the hours between Noon and Midnight. And the black horse riding knight is Midnight and all of the hours between Midnight and Dawn. That scratches the surface of this part of the tale – for red, black, and white are traditional ceremonial colors associated with many medicines as are horses and as are the helper figures of knights.

But what I want to impress upon you all today is that the Baba Yaga who is a deeply creative force keeps her time close to her. She does not fritter it away, spend it all in one place, or give it up and over easily to someone or something else.

This is only one tiny learning from the Baba Yaga; there is so much more as Spinning Gold students will find.

Everyone who is drawn to Spinning Gold has a rich inner life including dreams and visions that they want to bring into the world here and now. Many of the students within the program and those considering the program already have some kind of daily practice which they wish to deepen. All students care about learning more when it comes to the Sacred Arts – and the truth is that this takes, time as any meaningful, creative work does.

Practically speaking, to keep up with the program it is a good idea to allow 3-4 hours a week of study time, plus 5-10 minutes a day for your daily practice. And just as the Baba Yaga has a life that supports her relationship with time, so too will you be supported in your Spinning Gold journey – by the Spinning Gold alumni who have walked the road that you are walking, in our private facebook group, by the course caretakers and guest teachers, and by me – through the optional one-on-one meetings, the weekly office hours, and the teaching calls.

Another way that we deeply support you? Alumni and this year’s students will have lifetime access to Spinning Gold– that means that you can (and most do) take the course again and again to deep their journey. (Full disclosure: as Spinning Gold grows and changes I do not know if the lifetime access part will remain; to make sure that you have it, I do recommend signing up this year. That’s not a strong arming sales tactic – just the truth).

At the end of the day, making the time for an intensive study and practice of the Sacred Arts and what it means to live an enchanted life is up to you, but myself and my team want to support you in every way that we can. And as it turns out, making the time is a good habit to cultivate across the board not just when it comes to Spinning Gold. In fact, creative people talk all of the time about how you have to make the time to do the work that you really want to do. Case in point? Our next guest teacher.

Najah Lightfoot is a new guest teacher this year, added to our growing group of Sacred Artists in the Spinning Gold Resource Library. Like The Baba Yaga, Najah is a witch and rootworker who possesses a unique perspective on time and creativity – she is also a published author with Llewelyn publishing company and is working on her first book! She shares with us her journey from wanting to do something creative and meaningful to actually doing it, and talks about what was required along the way….listen to a clip here!

In love and magic~
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Leo the Lion

Divination and Dreams

L

eo resonates with the element of Fire, and is a fixed sign. The Sun is in Leo from July 22nd through August 22nd. Leo is the 5th sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the point of the deep Summer moving into late Summer in the Northern Hemisphere and deep Winter moving late Winter in the Southern Hemisphere. Represented by the Lion, Leo speaks to creativity, boldness, influence, luxury, Kingship/Queenship, and self-expression.

The Lion as Leo

Like its preceding sign of Cancer, Leo is strongly associated with the legendary figure of Hercules and his first task, defeating the Nemean Lion. But the story of Leo starts long before that. Like the sign of Taurus, the constellation of Leo has been recognized almost universally as that of a lion. It is one of the oldest constellations of record recognized in both Sumeria and Babylon and has always been associated first and foremost with royalty and kingship. One of the original 48 constellations described by 2nd century Ptolemy, Leo is now among the 88 recognized constellations today and a beloved site in the sky for star gazing due to its uniquely bright stars.

These two initial features of an association with royalty and bright star clusters already give us a sense of how Leo works. Often one of the more maligned signs of the Zodiac, best expressed in the unkind statement “All ego Leo,” Leo is actually the point within the Zodiac, and within our own natal charts, where we discover what hidden talents we have that support us in rulership and also in shining brightly.

Kingship has long been associated with this sign and it is worth noting that to be a King or to be a Queen did not always mean seizing power unlawfully and lording it over the peons. Many ancient traditions had various ways of electing or appointing their royal rulers and in many places the mark of a good King or Queen was the health and well-being of their people and land. Along the same lines, just as Cancer is associated with the Mother and the Mothering qualities that we all possess, Leo is associated with the Father and the Fathering qualities that we all carry within us. While working with Cancer we were encouraged to get clear about our relationship to our Mother, our ability to Mother and the connection between Mothering and nourishment, Leo supports us as we meet our inner Father and work on our relationship to power.

The story of the Nemean lion is clearly a tailing of a much older story that involves the wild God Dionysus and his rock and roll ways. Dionysus is the God of the Grape, Wine, and the Wild. He is described as a “foreign” God meaning that he was not Greek originally and most likely much older. He is also a dying God, one who dies back and then resurrects again each year, just as the grapes and other greeneries do. In the legends that surround Dionysus we see a powerful and charismatic deity who is charming and persuasive, especially to women.

Flirtation, charm, enthusiasm, and fun are all classic traits that Leo shares with the God of the Grape. But Dionysus was not interested in women in a sexual manner for the most part, he was interested in having a party and the more influential the people who showed up were, the better. In this way too Leo is invoked, for as Leo situates us with respect to our personal power one of the natural questions that comes up is where do I, and where do I not, have influence?

Dionysus was strongly associated with the Lion and is often depicted wearing a Lion skin (and little else). Cut to the tale of the Nemean Lion – a Lion who held women captive in order to persuade their men to come and attempt to rescue them, and then, when the men did arrive, would devour them.

In actual history the rites that honored Dionysus were in many cases open only to women and men were strictly prohibited from participating. One notable exception to this are the tragic and comedic dramas that were performed in Athens every year as part of the rites in honor of Dionysus. Leo, of course, is the sign most strongly associated with the theatrical arts.

The Nemean Lion was defeated by Hercules and the women were set free, but in a curious move, Zeus, the headsman of the Gods (and the father of Dionysus), elevated the Lion into the heavens and created a constellation of him. Some say this was to honor the heroic feat of Hercules but others find this move to be telling that the Nemean Lion was a stand in for Dionysus – a God who wielded a very different kind of power, just as Leo can.

The Lion as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Lion – King of the Jungle. Except Lions don’t really live in the jungle, but we’ll get to that.

Lion generally brings to mind power and strength. In fact, it’s hard to see Lion’s weaknesses for all its grandeur and magnificence. The strengths of Lion are obvious and many; nonetheless, let’s paint a clear picture of this glorious creature.

Panthera leo is the second largest Cat, after Tiger, and lives primarily in savannas and open grassland. Lion is an apex predator and a keystone predator. This means that Lion is at the top of its food chain and it is prey to very few. As a keystone predator, Lion plays an important role in controlling the population of its prey. Weighing in at 400-500 lbs and 6-11 ft in length (including the tail), they are formidable to say the least. They can run up to 50 mph, strike their claws with over 300 lbs of force, and bite with over 600 lbs of pressure. Like all Cats, their senses of hearing, vision, and smell are exceptional and are most acute at night. Lions rest (i.e. lay around) for 16-20 hrs a day – again, like all Cats – but that’s where their similarities end.

Unlike any other Cat in the Felidae family, which includes house cats, Lions are social. They live in groups we all know as a pride, which consists of 2-4 males (called a coalition), 5-7 females, and their offspring. Each adult Lion plays a very specific role and cooperation is key. Females are at the core of the pride social unit and do not tolerate outsiders. Prides are lineage-based and membership almost always only changes with the birth and death of the females within the pride. Few Lions live solitary lives and those that do spend most of the time looking for another pride to join. It is rare for females to accept a lone Lioness into the pride and males will only accept lone males after fierce battle.

Lions are also unique among Cats in the way they express gender, physically and behaviorally. In most Cats, there’s no obvious difference between males and females; you have to look at their genitals to tell them apart. Lions, on the other hand, exhibit sexual dimorphism – an outward, physical distinction between the sexes beyond their reproductive organs.

The mane of the Lion is the most obvious difference from the Lioness and tells many things about him. How big or small his mane is, how thick or thin it is, and its color all tell about genetic preconditions, sexual maturity/testosterone production, and climate. It turns out that darker fuller manes are usually favored among females. The larger of the two sexes, his role in the pride is very distinct – eat, mate, defend territory, protect other members of the pride. He rarely hunts, leaving that to the Lionesses. When not patrolling the borders of his territory, he is often found looking after the cubs while the females are finding dinner. The lifespan of the Lion is about 10 years, much shorter than the Lioness’ 14-15 years, and cause of death is typically injury from other Lions. He is best at defending and protecting and that’s what he does.

The Lioness is an elegant and complex creature. It is within and amongst the women that the cooperative nature of Lion shines. Due to her slightly smaller size and lack of mane, Lioness is the more effective hunter – she is swifter, more agile, and aerodynamic than her male counterpart. While they can run very fast, they can only do so in short bursts, so if they miss a catch it’s usually due to lack of endurance. Within their hunting groups, each Lioness plays a very specific role that is strictly observed and carried out. Some females fan out to the sides, while others flank the prey, and still others do the actual pouncing. Their maneuvers are smooth and precise because they know and trust that each Lioness will fulfill her position on the team.

The cooperative nature of the Lioness goes even further with raising their young. The females of a pride will synchronize their menstrual cycles to facilitate cooperative cub rearing. It is much easier to have groups of cubs that are around the same age rather than cubs at all different stages all the time. Females share the duties of providing the general needs of the cubs and are diligent mothers. The Lioness moves all of her cubs to a new den about once a month so their scent doesn’t build up and attract predators of the babies. At 2-4 years of age, male Lions are pushed out by the females to join the other adult males, while the young females remain with the core group of Lionesses.

Lions collaborate, coordinate, and unite. All this cooperation provides many benefits – protection, maintenance of territory, less injury, and kin selection (i.e. increased survival of kin vs self). Lions are extraordinarily distinct from one another in their appearance and actions and those born under the sign of Leo contain all the qualities of both the Lion and the Lioness. One could not exist without the other. The true power of Lion is twofold – power comes from complete ownership of its strengths and weaknesses; and power comes from an unflinching trust in the pride. Each Lion knows what it’s best at and doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Lion walks proud with its golden fur shimmering in the sunlight, daring anyone and everyone to question their identity.

During the Sun’s transit through Leo, we ask all of you to draw on the powerful energy of this heavenly body and, no matter what you look like on the outside, own yourself in all your magnificent glory. Draw on the nature of Lion and Lioness and know that you are a strong, powerful, majestic creature.

Call on The Lion When…

  • You want to cultivate a sense of power and authority.
  • You desire to shine bright and bold!
  • You are ready to take your creative life and vision seriously.
  • You wish to bring more luxury and quality into your life.
  • You need more fun!
  • You wish to express yourself more sincerely and authentically.
  • You are ready for the spotlight.
  • You are excited to bring more play into your life.
  • You need more enthusiasm in your life.
  • You would like to take more care with your physical appearance.
  • You want to associate with power brokers and influential people.
  • You want more passion!

Be Wary Of

  • Arrogance – There is a fine line between Pride and Arrogance and Leo often has trouble spotting exactly where that line is. This is a wonderful area of the chart to work with when you need to develop a sense of healthy pride and ownership, but watch out for that pride turning into the kind of arrogance that can result in the loss of friends, allies, and so much more.
  • Selfishness – Wherever Leo occurs in your chart is a place where you are very much meant to be seen and heard. Well and good but this can easily turn into a feeling that you and ONLY you are the figures that matter. Leo rules the heart of the body so it is a good idea to keep it firmly in mind that when we come from our heart we make room for everyone and nip any selfish “me and only me” attitudes in the bud.
  • Superficiality – Leo can encourage us to take more pride in our personal experience – to look and feel glamorous (whatever that means to you). When we are in the high Leo vibe we often love to get shiny jewelry, a new hairdo, and some nice makeup. There is nothing wrong with that but Leo does well to remember that outer appearance and inner essence really are two different things, they can speak to each other, but don’t mistake one for the other.

Questions to Ponder for Leo:

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

  • What is my relationship to power and authority?
  • What is the realm that I “rule” over?
  • Where do I have a special ability to carry more influence and clout?
  • What is the role of play in my life?
  • Where do I love to spoil myself?
  • What have I learned from my relationship to my father?
  • What luxury am I ready to indulge in?
  • What am I creating?

Meditation/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 great savanna under the blazing sun. The light around you is golden and the sun’s warmth feels good on your skin and a soft breeze blows through your hair.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the golden light all around you and the beat of your own heart. As you are ready, see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel the appearance of a great golden Lion that is running towards you in time with your own heart’s rhythm. Affirm and acknowledge that the proud beast means you no harm.

See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel its golden presence and it comes ever closer to you. When you are ready look into its tawny eyes and feel its hot breath on your skin. 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 celestial Lion, Leo.

Acknowledge that it does not matter where Leo 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 and so we can all learn from it.

As you are ready, close your eyes and take a deep breath in. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel, the presence of the Lion before you. Affirm that its powerful form is part of its message. Note what the initial message is for you at this time.

When you are ready, breathe in a blessing on yourself and your Lion familiar, exhaling in gratitude.
Then, ask the Lion what you need to know about power and creativity right now.
Listen to the answers you receive and it begins to lick your palm with its sandpaper tongue.

Affirm and acknowledge the answers and, as you are ready, ask the Lion any other questions you have at this time.

Take time to listen with care.

Then, as you are ready, breath a blessing onto the Lion’s face and then see, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel as it retreats back into the tall grasses. Affirm and acknowledge the blessing you have received.
As you are ready, bring awareness back to your present place here and now, and then set about your work of claiming your deep power once more.

Altar/Ritual

For this ritual we’ll be honoring the masculine/feminine sides of ourselves individually, as well as the place where they blend – all under the shining glory of the Sun.

What you will need:

4 candles – red/pink, blue, purple, and yellow (any shade of these colors is fine)
3-5 Items that represent your masculine side and/or represent masculinity in general to you; these should be positive symbols for you; the goal is to *honor* the masculine side of yourself; suggestions – an arrow, a horn or antler, a High John the Conqueror Root
3-5 Items that represent your feminine side and/or represent femininity in general to you; again, these should be positive symbols for you; the goal is to *honor* the feminine side of yourself; suggestions – a pomegranate, anything in the shape of a circle, a Queen Elizabeth Root
1-5 items that represent the blend of masculine and feminine within you, the parts of you that are not gender specific
Optional – if you already identify with a particular spiritual path or cultural group, use items that symbolically represent male, female, and gender-blending and/or gender-neutral within that context to further your connections.

The Ritual:

Think of your altar as a triangle, with two base points closest to you and the peak opposite.
At the right base point, place the blue candle.
To the right of the candle, place the items you have chosen to represent masculinity.
At the left base point, place the red/pink candle.
To the left of the candle, place the items you have chosen to represent femininity.
At the peak, place the purple candle.
Above the peak, place the items that you have chosen to represent the blend of masculine and feminine.
In the center, place the yellow candle to represent the Sun fueling the triangle.
Light the yellow Sun candle first.
Next, light the candle that you identify with most (it’s ok to light the purple candle first) and move toward the candle that you identify with the least.
As you go, draw power from the Sun and the candle you lit first.
Moving on, use that power to honor the other parts of yourself and the knowledge within them.
Sit with candles for at least 10 minutes, meditating on the flames, the symbols, how they work together, and the everlasting Sun catalyzing the effort.

Let the candles burn as long as you can without being interrupted. If you must put them out, be sure to re-light and sit with them again until they’ve burned completely down. Once complete, collect any leftover candle wax and bury it outside all together.
Collect the symbols you used during this candle rite and arrange them however you see fit – keep them on your altar or create separate spaces for each part of the triangle. You can also bury them outside with the candle wax, again all together.

Remember: always observe common sense fire safety when burning candles!

About my Co-Author:

Sara 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.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Fairytales and the Enchanted Body

Spinning Gold

M

iracles,

Your body is just an illusion — these are the beginning lines of a very popular ad that keeps showing up in my Facebook stream. It goes on to talk about how feelings are “only” stories, and how our perception of our body can easily be reduced to neural hard wiring. As I read the copy, I keep thinking that I am getting something wrong, but I’m not.

Our bodies.

Our blessed, beautiful, bodies. Lordy, have they been through the ringer. Our bodies that let us move and dance, laugh and cry, tremble in fear and in ecstasy, jump and clap and snap to music, sway our hips and shimmy our shoulders; they are our first allies, our beloved companions; our bodies are our first altar place of devotion, physical shrines of blood, flesh, muscle and bone built for honoring.

And yet. Ads such as the one that I have seen are very common. And not just in the dominant culture where we would expect to see such nonsense. Body shamings, body bashing, and body discounting (most insidious of all) are all there to be seen in our spiritual and soulful communities too. They are more subtle, but you have probably run up against it before: the notion that if you were really doing things right or aligned with the highest vibration you would be such and such a size (with a bank account to match!) or the notion (dreadfully common) that you are physically sick because of some spiritual hang-up (as opposed to the understanding that your body is not static and like anything else ALIVE has moments of health and moments of illness and every wonderful thing in between).

This misunderstanding and neglect of the body, and the central role that it plays in our lives and in our soulful seeking, is one of the reasons that I have included physical Sacred Arts practices within each module of Spinning Gold – because when we physically do something we embody our practice, and when we can embody our practice, we begin to actually see, respond to, and enter into in a better relationship with our body, as well as spirit, as well as soul.

Many members of my own Sacred Arts community, both among the alumni of Spinning Gold and also in the community more generally, deal with some tough physical limitations.

Whether it is a case of chronic fatigue, auto-immune disorders, or physical pain and loss of mobility, some of the most rewarding work I have been privileged to do is to sit side-by-side with people who have been forced to get to know and honor their bodies due to unusual external circumstances. They are wise beyond belief, and have taught me so very much.

One of the deepest lessons is this: no one who experiences serious physical limitation will ever tell you that the body is a mere illusion. What we experience is real, limitations are real, and what is inside of us – our voices and hearts within – that cry out for freedom, for wholeness and healing, this too is no mere illusion, but is, rather, one of the most for-real things about us.

The nature of story and storytelling itself is deeply entwined in the body – for voice itself, whether spoken or not, is unimaginable without the support of body. Within fairy tales in particular, the body plays a special role, for marvelous and terrible things happen to bodies in these tales. They turn into birds. They are placed into iron hot shoes and made to dance until they drop. They make love to stars. They talk to fishes, cats, and wolves. They hold little ones who are afraid, or they wrangle daring escapes. They die and with true love’s kiss come back to life once more. All things rich and strange happen to bodies in stories just as they do in every day life and this reminds us that the reality of body for us is a great mystery and question. The body is not an illusion but it is a source for illustration ~ for the ever-changing body is one of many gates opening up to the pathway in between the worlds; the one that leads straight to real magic.

One fairy tale stands out above all others when it comes to delighting in the body and speaking with wisdom, and that is the Ballad of Tam Lin.

The Sacred Art that Tam Lin speaks especially profoundly to is Alchemy and Magic and the virtue or native power of Love. We see all of these come to bear at the climax of the tale when the faerie knight Tam Lin changes from one form into another, while his lover Janet holds onto him. Wolf and Bear, Lion, and hot iron bar, Janet holds on as her lover transforms until finally he returns to his true state – that of a naked human being.

It is her love that allows her to hold on, her love that allows her to see the transformations for what they really are: exaggerated illustrations of what every body does – transform, each and every day. It is a physically riveting tale – one about bodies that reminds us that the best magic is embodied, and that we best weave enchantment into this world here and now by giving our body a place of honor within our Sacred Arts practices.

As I mentioned, each Spinning Gold module includes multiple Sacred Arts acts and crafts, and in Module One when we encounter Tam Lin and fair Janet, I share one of my favorite kitchen magics with you – the humble yet effective sacred vessel known as a salt jar. Here is one set of instructions on how to create one for yourself – it is a wonderful activity and allows you to get physical with your magic making.

Get to Know the Spinning Gold Guest Teachers for 2017-18!

When it comes to having an embodied practice of the Sacred, no one does it better than my dear friend Myra Krien. Myra is an exquisite belly dancer based in Santa Fe, and a gorgeous soul. Lineage is important to Myra’s own path – she is the granddaughter of Alan Watts, and – even more significant for her own path – the great granddaughter of Ruth Fuller Sasaki, a woman who was a trailblazer in bringing Buddhism to America.

I love her dearly and am deeply honored to have her wisdom included among our Spinning Gold guest teachers. Myra also has a lot of wisdom to share about how we come to know our singular, exceptional bodies…Listen to a clip of our conversation here!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.