magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters
ARRIVING on full moons each month.
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:
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,
hat happens when the worlds touch one another? This is one of the questions that the Ballad of Tam Lin seeks to address.
You have probably experienced this too. A moment of the hair on the back of your neck raising in sudden awareness, maybe the feeling of an angel or holy helper who has your back, or a dream that wraps itself around you for the whole day…
Enchantment doesn’t always happen on our time-table, on our own terms. Even when it does, we don’t always know what to do with it. We can become lost, knocked off track, or distracted…what used to be called fairy-led, if we are not careful and do not know how to orient ourselves with respect to the Otherworld.
In the Spinning Gold Module One teaching call, I discussed the concept of being fairy-led, the unusual times and occasions when the worlds touch one another, the need for tools that are suitable for the liminal, and how we might find a beneficial and practical way to look and live with these experiences.
Module One itself offers real tools, including the tale of Tam Lin, to begin framing and working with these experiences, in order to discover how they can in fact work within our lives.
I hope you enjoy the little clip we’ve compiled from the two hour talk. Listen here!
If you missed the teaching clip on the Introductory module, Rumpelstiltskin, and the power of Names then hop on over here and snag it now.
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To a life of real enchantment and with much love,
umpelstiltskin has something to share with you.
Whether or not you have your eye on joining Spinning Gold in the future, the very fact that you’ve shown interest in the Sacred Arts tells me that you are someone very special. You are part of the Sacred Arts community of Soulful Seekers.
As such, I hope you continue to explore and grow in all the ways your heart yearns. It is in the spirit of our very fine community that I would like to share with you a portion of the two hour teaching call on Rumpelstiltskin.
In this teaching, I talk about the nature of fairy tales, the easily overlooked Sacred Art “Right Relationship” and how the power of names and naming is at the heart of our deepest relationships to the world and our practice.
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To a life of real enchantment and with much love,
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!
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~
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 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!