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.

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.

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.

How to Handle A Holiday Retrograde

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

The last Mercury RX of 2017 occurs right smack dab in the middle of our most festive and merry-making Holiday season. Here is a quick run down of what to expect, what to watch out for, and how to rock this retrograde while keeping your holiday cool.

Mercury Retrograde occurs from December 3rd 2017 – December 22nd 2017 and occurs completely within the sign of Sagittarius.

Traditionally Mercury in Sagittarius takes on the freewheeling and mystical vibe inherent in that sign. Sagittarius is Jupiter-ruled and so when Mercury is present within it we can tend to exaggerated thoughts, ideas, and statements. Sag is also known for being relatively blunt and straightforward (like any good Fire sign!) and so under the influence of Mercury RX + Sag we tend to lay things out in an unvarnished but also less than kind or diplomatic way – especially when we feel pressed for time. Finally, Sagittarius takes in the big picture but can sometimes miss out on fine details. What with all of the end of year partying and planning those details might be especially useful, so remember to double and triple check the fine print.

One thing that we are all going to be aware of during this Mercury RX is how the potential snags and interruptions can affect our holiday season. This is traditionally a time of travel, communicating with friends and relatives that we may have difficult or strained relationships with, and buying, sending, shipping, and receiving goodies from all over the place; Those are all potential areas where Mercury RX can cause a special kind of chaos.

On the flip side, because this retrograde occurs in Sagittarius where old Man Saturn is also hanging out, aside from the above, there is a real opportunity during this retrograde to get disciplined in whatever area(s) of life really require that here and now.
A good way to approach this particular retrograde is to work with its influence to consider what your big vision for your life is. The timing is actually excellent as this RX period ushers right into New Year’s Resolution making and goal setting – it is the perfect time to do a year/multi-year review and to get very intentional and deliberate in shaping the next phase of your journey. Philosophical, spiritual, and healing Sagittarius gives you the needed resources to both go deeper and shine brighter.

So, with that said, here are your Do’s and Don’ts for the last Mercury RX of 2017.

Do: Plan to shop, buy, and ship presents early. This is especially true if you are sending goodies to the other side of the country or internationally.
Do: Use the month of November to make all of your lists and check them twice – holiday cards, invites, party menus – anything that requires planning will benefit from the early prep work now.
Do: Consider going virtual. If you are looking at your calendar and ripping out your hair with frustration already then consider giving virtual gifts and sending out virtual cards – I even have a perfect gift option for you!
Do: Get a head start on any homemade gift making projects.
Do: Buy extra tape, wrapping paper, pens, holiday cards, and scissors.
Do: Stock up on host/hostess gifts.
Do: Double check travel plans and arrangements NOW.
Do: Keep an eagle eye on your bank account (Jupiter rules Sag and our wealth so double check your numbers).
Do: Remove yourself from negative people or situations before you say something you might regret.
Do: Allow yourself to feel the magic of the season and actually enjoy it.
Do: Go outside.
Do: Assess your daily practice, your year or last several years, and your core attitudes and beliefs.
Do: Set up any automatic payment plans now or wait until after 12/22 when Mercury is direct once more.
Do: Commit or recommit to any project or endeavor that requires long term discipline and wisdom.

Don’t: Wait until the last minute to hit the stores.
Don’t: Invite people to your party that you really don’t want to see.
Don’t: Force yourself to socialize.
Don’t: Fret about finding the perfect gift.
Don’t: Skip out on or ignore the details.
Don’t: Just say something, think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
Don’t: Make excuses.
Don’t: Binge on anything – it will be twice as tough during this period to recover.
Don’t: Go on an excessive shopping spree.
Don’t: be flake or unreliable – carry your planner with you and keep your appointments.
Don’t: Be surprised if you have to wait longer, if travels are delayed, and if airports are a special kind of chaos. Bring a book and pack a full set of clothes in your carry-on along with a toothbrush and deodorant.
Don’t: Close yourself off to the liminal magic that happens right now just because you are busy.
Don’t: Forget to say thanks.

May your season be bright and your retrograde be rocking!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missive: A Warming Potion

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

November gets chilly even for us in Texas so today I thought I would share with you a potion for warming and for cleansing that can also be used in cooking. (This entire month is dedicated to the magic of food and kitchen witchery in the Sacred Artists group so I thought giving you all an edible potion would be fun too)!

Some of you will recognize this as a twist on Fire Cider – an apple-cider based tonic that is made by many an herbalist during the cold months of the year and valued for its warming, cleansing, and immune-system building properties. Do take care though: Fire Cider is POTENT stuff and its taste is not what everyone would describe as good – although it is definitely pungent and effective.

Fire Cider is similar in nature to another very traditional magical potion: Four Thieves or simply Thieves Vinegar. Both are vinegar-based potions that have physical healing properties as well as magical properties of protection and warming. The connection between protection and warmth is quite ancient.

Fire has long been seen and utilized as an element that can confer protection on people, animals, and dwellings. Spicy ingredients like onions, ginger, and peppers are called for in protection rites world over and as you will see, we make use of them here as well. Using herb and spice filled vinegars to protect from both disease and evil-eye type conditions or, as my people say, bad ju-ju, dates back to at least the early Middle Ages and is no doubt even older than that. And, beyond all that this is an easy potion to make, relying on the magic that already lives in your kitchen.

Bri’s Fire Cider Recipe:

Ingredients
1 medium to large ginger root peeled
1 small yellow onion
1 small tumeric root
1 medium horseradish root
13 cloves of garlic
1 bunch fresh parsley or cilantro
3 springs of Rosemary
1 medium beet peeled
3 Chipotle peppers dried
1/2 a lemon

Instructions
Roughly chop all ingredients except for the dried peppers.
Fill a quart sized mason jar with the peppers and then all of the chopped ingredients.
Cover all ingredients with Apple Cider Vinegar.
Cover the jar with wax paper and the lid and allow to sit for at least 4 weeks.
After 4 weeks has passed strain the ingredients out of the liquid and add honey to the Fire Cide potion to taste.

How to use it:
Take a healthy sip of Fire Cider first thing in the morning either straight or diluted in warm water to keep all your innards running smoothly and to build up a healthy immune system.
If you start feeling sick, sip your Fire Cider throughout the day, little sips, all day long, until you start to feel better.
If working with Fire Cider straight up is too much for you, consider including it in condiments like ketchup or (my favorite) salad dressing.

To make a Fire Cider based salad dressing mix:
2 tablespoons of Fire cider
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of whole grain mustard
black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients, add a bit of maple syrup or more honey if you like and use as a salad dressing.

My hope is that your Fire Cider potion making will keep you and yours warm, healthy, and safe throughout the season!

Love and Magic,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.