Hearth and Home Vol. 13 Opening Prayer

Prayer and Blessing

M

iracles,

My seven-year-old is now an eight-year-old. It happened in the wee morning hours of Friday, March 1st and has been feted all weekend, as it will be throughout the month of March. I typically honor this moment, marking the birth of my first born child, with a blessing of sorts. Two years ago it was this one. Today I am sharing my Opening Prayer.

The Opening Prayer is a blessing I wrote ages ago. It is known by my students and clients because it is the blessing I work with to open the space before we begin to learn or work together. But it is an opening prayer in more than just one sense. It is a prayer created to open us up…to our experiences, our inner knowing, and to each other. A prayer to allow us to be open and at the same time to hold fast to the things that are most important, refusing to be knocked off course. For me, motherhood has been all about opening up. It begins with the body because to deliver a child into the world you must be physically open, no two ways about it. And then it moves from there like so many ripples in a pond…my heart is more open, my mind is more open, my time, my schedule, my checkbook, my sense of possibility, my arms, my hands, my borders, and my doors – all more open than ever before. And it all started at this time, eight years ago.

It is so easy in this day and age to be closed. Ironically, in a time when we are supposed to be more connected than ever, it is now more than ever when I see us closing ourselves off – to one another, to whatever is right in front of our faces, to hearing different ideas or opinions, to dreaming boldly about the future. We build walls and erect fortresses of solitude and silence with our heads down, bent over an illuminated screen of one kind or another. We thirst for connection – for the stranger to acknowledge us with bright eyes and a smile, for our parents to ask us how our day was, for our children to tell us their stories, for our lovers to take the time to really hear what is on our hearts and for us to do the same for them. We don’t want to be closed off…not to each other, not to the extraordinary, but if not closely watched this is exactly what happens. I say: watch closely, hold on to your dear ones, prioritize love and pleasure and tenderness, dare to be open. May this prayer be of good use to you in the endeavor.

Blessed Ones, thank you for this day.
Thank you for the Earth beneath our feet,
And for the Sky above our heads.
Thank you for the breath running through our bodies,
And the blood running through our veins.
We ask that you give us eyes to see,
Ears to hear,
And hearts that know the right path to follow with wisdom and discernment.
May it be so by all your holy names.
Amen.

xo,
Bri

Soulful Seekers Spotlight:

These little cutie pies (and sons of one of community member Jennifer L.) need some dough to go and compete worldwide in robotics. Donate here.
Remember Esmé’s book that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago? It debuted #3 on the New York Times bestseller list! The best way to say congratulations? Buy a copy…or two.

PS: I am starting a new community section in these newsletters (see above), the Soulful Seekers Spotlight. Do you have something awesome happening that you want to share? A challenge that you need a little bit of help with? A situation you would like to receive prayers and blessings for? Send it in here.

PPS: Next week I am hosting a second video chat and we are talking Money Magic + Tax Prep Mojo. This is the second one of these that I have done. Make sure you are subscribed to the Resources list  to get all the info!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Shining the Light

Lineage and Legacy

M

iracles,
​​
​​On Wednesday, June 13th, in the wee hours of the morning my beloved and I welcomed our second child, Heath Henderson Saussy, into this wide and wonder-filled world. The snapshot above is one of the first we took of him. He is held by his big brother Jasper and me, and we are all held by my incredible husband who is behind the camera. Though the image is blurry, it captures the closeness of our family and the feeling of these early days of getting to know this new bright soul.
​​
​​Many of you have checked in on me and us, sending sweet messages and gifts and all kinds of love. Again, words cannot do justice to how much love I feel radiating from our community. We are all settling in really well. I am healing quickly from labor and delivery, Jasper is taking to big brotherhood with his characteristic sensitivity, insight, and good-heartedness; and David, my ever-more-amazing husband, partner, and love, is making sure that not only baby H is well-taken care of but that we all are.
​​
​​The hours leading up to the birth were full of that stillness and depth that I have long associated with the most potent kinds of magic. One of the first things I did as early labor began was to call in my ancestors, for our lineage loves nothing so much as to welcome new legacy, the new stand ever strong upon the shoulders of the old; they are our foundation.

My ancestors form a colorful quilt around me – they hailed from the shores of Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, Germany, and France. They came from Mexico and Eastern Europe. They were among the First Nation peoples indigenous to this country. My ancestors were all, with the exception of my Native American and Mexican relatives, immigrants to not only the United States, but the entire continent of North America. All seeking out the promise, possibility, and safety that eluded them in their native lands. And so, enfolded by my ancestors, and doing the serious work of bringing new life into the world, I was also deeply aware of the crisis occurring at the border, which, as a San Antonian, is my backyard. Aware, as I held my own babies, that thousands were having their babies forcibly removed from their arms because they too, like my ancestors, wanted something in the way of promise and possibility; something in the way of safety.
​​
​​Summer Solstice is today. It is the day when the light shines the longest, a threshold moment that ushers in the second half of the year wherein the light will slowly begin to lessen a bit with each day. It is also a reminder that though the days darken and the shadows grow longer, the most essential light is not the one emanating from the Sun but the one we carry in heart, mind, and eye – the light by which we are seen and the light by which we see.
​​
​​And so a poem prayer for this Solstice – dedicated to my sweet babies and to the families that have had their babies taken.
​​
​​Light our way.
​​Not away from the dark, but deeply into the shadows, carry us.
​​So that we may see into the corners of cages,
​​And beyond the barrier of barred windows and doors,
​​Light our way, steady now, so that we do not, cannot, pretend to unsee what has been seen.
​​
​​Light our way.
​​Into the tear streaked sands of soul and soil.
​​So that we may touch and hold the outstretched, empty hands,
​​Grasping at the thin air that is rent by the mourning keen.
​​Light our way, steady now, so that we do not, cannot, pretend to unhear what has been heard.
​​
​​Light our way.
​​Back to the place of firm and strong standing.
​​Where the foundation stones are named decency, compassion, mercy, faith, hope, justice, truth, and love.
​​So that we may know ourselves both as we are, and also as we can be – best and worst.
​​Light our way, steady now, so that we choose ever and again to show up as our best, even and especially when we see how short we fall.
​​
​​Light our way.
​​Reminding us that it is never too late to right the wrong,
​​to lay down the threads of safety, protection, and connection.
​​Threading what has been into bright and blessed weaving of what is yet to come.
​​Light our way, steady now, so that we choose to heed the old stories and remember the old teachings as we create new tales replete with hope and hard truth and love that endures.
​​
For those who refuse to look away, you can support efforts to reunite families torn apart at the border by donating to RAICES directly, purchasing these scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs (with all proceeds going to RAICES), and/or supporting the ACLU.

From my family to yours,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Thoughts and Prayers: Footprints of the Heart

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

How do we heal?
What can the Sacred Arts teach us about healing?

As long as we greet difficult times and crises with the traditional “thoughts and prayers are with you” response, we have an obligation to express exactly how thoughts and prayers lead not just to action – which is the typical battle cry – but lead to deep, lasting, enduring healing.

How delicate we truly are becomes apparent when we consider not only the vast expanse of the universe we live in, but the tide the pressures, and even the dangers, of daily life.

Blaise Pascal, so long ago, trembled in complete terror at the the infinite without and the infinite within. Everything fixed dissolves. We are but fragile reeds, all too easily crushed by forces both external and internal.

That we can be hurt and that we are vulnerable in so many ways – body, mind and heart, even in ways we often aren’t always prepared to admit – cannot be denied, though it is popular to try, to claim loudly that all is well and proclaim “peace, peace” when in fact there is no peace.

While recognizing this fact of our existence – that we all have experienced wounds, that we all know what it means to feel broken – while acknowledging and even honoring it, the Sacred Arts perspective holds this knowledge in balance. Our struggles are one part of our stories; not the whole of them.

This is is what the Sacred Arts teach us. Take any practice of meditation or prayer, rituals and ceremony, any devotion to the movements of the body and spirit, any use of divination and folk practices of magic or storytelling. Look at Tarot or Astrology – for example – and consider the stories being told there, the situations unfolding.

Here is what you will find: just as we are delicate in ways we may not be totally willing to admit, we are also tougher and more resilient in ways that we also aren’t always prepared to admit, or in ways that we simply have a hard time seeing. There are possibilities – choices – we haven’t yet imagined, potentialities waiting for us in real life, here and now, like those newly discovered rooms and places that many of us come upon in our night time dreams.

We would like nothing more than to realize this about ourselves – that we are tough and tender, that we are broken and blessed – not either/or but both/and, and yet, it is so very difficult to see ourselves, to know ourselves, wholly. Much easier to flip through ideas and big abstractions, words and images, much easier to misjudge where the broken places and the blessings that emerge from them show up in our unique and particular lives.

The Sacred Arts are not treasure maps where X marks the spot, nor are they a labyrinth where there is one way in and one way out. Rather, the Sacred Arts are like the pilgrimage pathways that can be found world over – they are knowings, they are practices, they are prayers poured out straight from the soul that give us the needed support as we go about literally re-membering ourselves, re-membering all of our parts, re-membering that every wound also calls forth a medicine.

There is not “one pathway to rule them all”, not a one-size-fits-all method, but many related, complementary mutually supportive pathways, woven together by each living soul. Maybe they are woven neatly, but often they are not. The stories, songs, poems, dances, rituals, wisdom books, prayers and blessings, the clothes and fabrics and foods, the architectural dwellings, the divinations and the magical ways and means, all serve to help us make those discoveries for ourselves, in our own time, out of our own raw and direct experiences of life – and this is what, at bottom, matters most.

That is to say – it is not “thoughts and prayers” that matter so much. It is your thoughts and your prayers, and their ‘metabolism’ within the horizon of your own life that matters. The specific ways you think and the ways that you act on those thoughts. The ways that you pray (with a reminder here that prayer was never meant to be uttered in an abstract, passive and impersonal voice). When understood in this way, your thoughts and your prayers are part of the blessing that come out of your particular wound. They are part of your medicine, and we are all a little bit more healed when they are shared. The actions that come from them inspire and help others find their own way.
Hearts heal differently than bodies. This shouldn’t surprise us because our mind and heart follow somewhat different pathways than our beautiful bodies do. This difference is precisely what makes ‘heart and soul’ healing so difficult to achieve – especially if we are locked into a single way of looking at the healing process, abstracting from the physiological processes of the body. It is why, when I write about healing, I also write about wholeness and holiness – they need to be kept together.

It is also why so many of our collective efforts so often come down to so many unsatisfying remedies and palliatives that never work – rationalistic ten step programs and three steps to happiness. We’re groping in the dark here. Mystery does not operate according to blue prints and soul tends to ignore the best laid plans.

And so we run. And in our culture this often looks like forgetting. It sounds like the banal “thoughts and prayers are with the survivors” that lacks all teeth, all presence, all gravity. It looks like getting really pissed and angry and righteously indignant and then getting tired and then moving on, until the next trauma emerges, be it personal or political or global, and we go through the whole cycle again.

All too often we never stop fleeing from our private sufferings, never stop reaching out for healing in systems and life-ways far away and apart from our own – sometimes even avariciously grabbing them long before they are ever freely offered. We gain as much distance as we can from our scars and brokenness, from our raw experiences, and we learn to cover up and distract ourselves in a thousand different ways.

But, as they saying goes, you cannot outrun yourself. To flee from what hurts is also and at the same exact time to flee from what can be healed. It is a betrayal of self and soul and it does not make for easy sleep or better living. Certainly it does not make a future that knows more in the way of healing, wholeness and holiness and less in the way of suffering, brokenness, and diminishment.

Our thoughts and our prayers. The expression has become a trigger for so many because it sounds like mere pablum. And yet. When you take the time to speak to people who live close to the marrow of life, you will also find that in the deepest shadow what carries through is exactly thought and prayer – perfectly aimed, correctly tuned, full of fierce passion and deep wisdom. What can illuminate our way so that we have more of the second and less of the first?

We might turn to the image of the Sacred Heart for help. Here we have the familiar heart symbol, but there is a fountain of fire pluming from within the heart’s division, the heart itself is encircled with lines of radiance, with barbed wire, with rose thorns, or sometimes wings. When we see it in its radiant glory, we may easily forget that the shine and radiance is that of a heart and spirit that has been to hell and back.

In image and imagination, every possible wound has been inflicted on the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart speaks to the scarred heart, pierced by a thousand swords, cut by a thousand pieces of glass, wrapped in rusty barbed wire and a crown of thorns; and sometimes, at first, we think that those scars are something to hide from the world, something to keep quiet, to keep covered up. In our modern parlance it has been dragged down, shot up, bruised, dented, banged around in all manner of ways and yet…still keeps on ticking.

Where does it get all that power from? From what or where does it arise?

See for yourself. Sacred Heart speaks also to the scared heart, afraid because we know we can be harmed, frightened of our worst dreams coming true, scared that the wounds we are asked to face cannot ever, really, be healed. Experiencing the traumas to body and spirit that cut so deep, the ideas that bind us to a limited view of life and love, the habits that keep us from not just living life, but living life well, we are afraid that we will only ever be broken.

Sacred, scarred, and scared heart teaches us this then: the way to strengthen your thoughts and prayers into something real, something lasting, something that actually will bring healing is nothing more than to really learn to bear witness to what is broken, in the full knowledge that the blessing can and will be found.

Not either/or but both/and.

Buddhist traditions (like all spiritual traditions) also have their own Sacred Arts practices, and tell the same story: the radiant lotus blooming out of the muddy murky depths. The suffering of our lives and the deepest well-spring of joy and peace are not two separate realms or fundamentally different things, although they may appear to be. Our challenge is to face our own tendency to always look away, in the other direction, far away from that ‘muck’, for our joy – oh god anything but the muck! – and, in so doing, cut off the real sources of joy in our lives.

The Catholic tradition reminds us that to the Sacred Heart, what we call broken shards and scars are for it the crown jewels which bedeck and bedazzle.

And the Sacred Arts remind us that Thoughts and Prayers are not weak or insipid or pointless so long as they come from your own rich soul soil, for then they reverberate with effective power, opening blessing ways that come from within the heart of sorrow and the deepest wounds.

This is not an easy teaching, and I’m afraid many will find it hard to stomach. I would like nothing more to to tell you that there is a silver bullet formula, an easy five step program, and that when you learn magic, a simple magical spell will solve all of your problems in a flash.

Ah, but then you would never come to be reminded and to discover your own bone-deep knowing what real magic is, and that it is here, in your life, and it has been waiting for you, all along.

And if I insisted that it’s to be along a single path, why, you will have been misled along a fruitless direction and would consequently never come to know what gifts you truly do have in this life, and moreover why it is we have the Sacred Arts in the first place to lead us forward along the footprints of beauty, power, wisdom and grace towards thoughts and prayers that usher in real healing and enduring change.

In love and blessings,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Prayer for the Solar Eclipse

Lunar Letter

M

ay we shine.

And as we shine, we know that we journey, one foot in front of the other, carving out the regular cycle of our stories, the circular motion of cell and breath and life, and that during this journey there will be interruptions.

We trip and we fall as we wander our course, sure as the Sun and Moon also trip over themselves in their giddy rush to meet one another once more, falling into each other’s limned embrace.

And as we rise up with our skinned knees and elbows we might, if we are brave, we might, if we are something close to wise, say “thank you” – hearing within the interruption a call to attention and awareness, discovering grace in the fall.

Seeing too the patterns to which we have clung and agreed and perpetuated knowingly or not, and taking the moment of rising to decide if we still wish to walk in this particular way on this particular path, knowing that the choice resides within, as does the answer.

And as we choose, righting ourselves once more, traveling our path with greater purpose, we no longer fear the falling, the missing of the mark, or the wandering off the course and into the wild and star-filled woods. Rather, we welcome the moments of panic and loss, recalling the freedoms that they hold alongside our own true commitments, knowing that they bring us ever closer to the embrace of our own deepest Beloved.

And so, burnished by shadow and bruised by our falling, we shine ever brighter.

Image credit: The above image comes from the book Sun and Moon, which I first heard about from the fabulous Arts and Culture blog, Brainpickings. Sun and Moon is published by indie publisher Tara Books, dedicated to giving voice to marginalized art and literature, and featuring the work of ten Indian folk and tribal artists illustrating ancient stories about Sun and Moon.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missives: How to Seal and Bless Yourself

Alchemy and Magic

T

oday one of the greatest challenges I see for soulful seekers is developing skin” not actual skin, mind you, but emotional and spiritual skin. Our bodily skin is a beautiful thing: it is not a rigid boundary.  It offers protection to internal organs, while being a bridge of sensitivity to the the surrounding world.  Our challenge is not making thin skin somehow thicker; but trying to work with skin that appears to be missing in the first place.  Soulful seekers are delightfully and dreadfully opento possibility, to enthusiasm, to optimism, and enchantment. But with this very high degree of openness, also comes increased sensitivity to all of the stressors in daily life to those things that cause worry, anxiety, and suffering, to the point where reading the daily news cycle is an exercise in daily open heart and open gut surgery.

What is needed here is protection magic that is strong, simple, and durable.

This is a little ceremony that teaches you how to seal yourself and begin to get skin so that you are better able to choose what and who is allowed into your inner sanctum, as well as what and who is not allowed within your borders. The magic made here is not about cutting off or casting out in most cases, nor about being closed up; rather, it is about you, making the needed effort, to keep yourself inner and outer safe, yet dynamic.

What you will need:
A quiet place where you will be undisturbed.

An answer to the following question:
What place(s) in my physical body take in the most external information?
(My answers to this question are: eyes, head, mouth, heart, ears, and hands).

A physical gesture that you decide on to acknowledge each answer you gave.
(I use the traditional sign of making the cross over myself as part of my lineage is Catholic and also as I know that crosses are much older than any one faith tradition, speaking to the crossroads and the liminal).

Any other ritual items you might desire, like candles or incense.

Ceremony:
Cultivate Calmness
Take a moment to become aware of and connect to the earth beneath your feet, as you do so, breathe in the deep, green, energy of the earth and breathe out in gratitude thank you.
Take a moment to become aware of and connect to the celestial skies above your head, as you do so, breathe in the high, bright, energy of the stars and breathe out in gratitude thank you.
Take a third moment to become aware of and connected to your physical body and all that it does for you.
Acknowledge your desire to shield and protect yourself so that you walk in greater sovereignty.
Attending to the answer you gave to the question above, breathe in a blessing on yourself. Exhale in gratitude thank you, and as you do so make the physical gesture over yourself that you have decided upon.
Notice how it feels to be shielded and sealed.
If you want, conclude with a series of blessings.

Final act:
Repeat daily. I recommend doing this at least three times, morning, noon, and night, you can of course perform it more frequently than that.

Love and Magic,
Bri

PS: the above illustration is from the dark and wonderful story known both as Donkeyskin and Deerskin and is by Arthur Rackham, an illustrator whose work I deeply love. The story is all about the traumas that happen, even in the best” families and teaches how skins fit, don’t fit, and can be grown. Read the entire story here and for a wonderful exploratory essay on the story, check out this article from the Journal of Mythic Arts.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

A Litany of Blessings For You and Your Friends to Share

Prayer and Blessing

M

arch 1st is a magical day for me. blessings

It is the day that my little boy was born, 6 years ago now, and I became his momma.

I don’t talk about my son very much in the public sphere, not because he does not occupy my thoughts (he is the center of them always) but because in the age of internet everything, I respect his privacy, my privacy, the privacy of our family and I want to give him the opportunity to decide when, what, how, and with whom he wants to share. Sovereignty starts early.

That said, he, along with his dad, are two of my greatest blessings. And I firmly believe that one should be blessed and be a blessing in turn, so it’s time to share, in honor of him.

Here they are: A Litany of Blessings. Every daily blessing I have written in aural (audio + oral) magic.

Let them wash over you. Listen to a few or to the entire 40+ minute track, share it with a friend for maximum blessings awesome.

 

And happy birthday Jasper; thank you for blessing me.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Prayer for Prisoners ~ New Moon in Pisces

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

Today the moon is New in Pisces; a sign that I am deeply fond of as both my husband and son are fabulous fish!

Pisces is commonly known as the sign of artists, dreamers, and mystics, but what is less understood is that Pisces is also traditionally affiliated with the concept of prison, restriction, and self-imprisonment.

In my Baptist upbringing I was taught that bondage can be literal and physical, spiritual and emotional, or all of the above. While there were many teachings in my church experience I find deep fault with, this one carried a deep ring of truth with it. Imagine my surprise when, years later in college I would study the writings of a slave named Epictetus who said the same thing thousands of years ago and then went on to advise the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

I love all of my students and everyone that I am privileged to work with and for, but the prisoners I have known and worked with carry a special place in my heart. I don’t ever advertise my pro-bono services but the clients I do take on for pro-bono work are those that are incarcerated, coming out of incarceration, or in some cases, going in. Somehow they find me and together we work to make things a little bit better.

Prisoners are all too often unseen and unheard and our current system of incarceration makes continual family support next to impossible to achieve – ironically, at a time when it is probably needed the very most – but I wrote this prayer not just for the literal prisoners and those in locked institutions. I wrote it for everyone who has ever felt imprisoned – be it in a category, a set of walls, a body, language, place, or state of mind that allows little in the way of clean air and freedom to come in.

As the sign affiliated with those who have experienced prison, Pisces is also the sign of mercy and compassion and it is my hope that this blessing will deliver some of both to all who feel that they have been locked in, locked down, and imprisoned.

Prisoner’s Prayer

Blessed be the prisoners.

Those that are literally on lock down in order to keep them from hurting themselves or others, in order to keep them safer than they would be otherwise, in order to keep  them controlled, because of justice and because of injustice. 

Blessed be the prisoners.
Those that are politically, economically, and spiritually bound up so that there is not the freedom to do and to be, to think, to say, to act, to worship, to love, and to bless in the ways that are most right and best for them.

Blessed be the prisoners.
And the ones that love them; their families, their friends, lovers, children, colleagues, prayer groups and congregations of all kinds who wish to be near their beloveds, to be able to say the word or give the touch that can bring hope and healing in its wake, and who, through no fault of their own, must struggle so to offer even that.

Blessed be the prisoners.
In the prisons of iron and concrete, in the prisons of word and ideal, in the prisons of poverty, ignorance, and despair, and in the prisons of the barbed wire wrapped heart, no matter where they dwell, they are seen and they are known by those who care to look within their communities and within their mirrors.

Blessed be the prisoners.
Who have committed the errors and the acts unspeakable and feel that now, there is nothing left to do but wait for death, for no redemption is possible.

Blessed be the prisoners.
The ones who will stay behind bars forever and the ones who live every day lives nevertheless seeking the ability to slip out and away from the bondage that takes on so many different colors, shapes, sizes, and forms.

Blessed be the prisoners.
Within or outside of their jail cells and dungeons and traps of all kinds may they look within, not without, and discover the ocean of freedom welling up and washing over their scarred and sacred hearts.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.