Neptune Retrograde

Foundations

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In the ancient world there are moments in some of the better known stories and plays when the rivers begin to run backward. The seasoned reader knows that whenever that occurs something profound, and usually quite challenging, is about to happen. The event may be sudden but most often it is more gradual. The one sure thing is that once the rivers are running backward things are going to change and they won’t go back to the way things were before – they can’t. To my mind, this is an excellent illustration of what happens when the planet and holy helper Neptune goes retrograde.

First we must note that it is not uncommon for Neptune to spend as much or even more time retrograde as it spends moving directly. As one of the outermost planets its orbit is incredibly long and it takes its time moving through the sky – one of the aspects of this celestial helper we will return to in a moment. Neptune experiences a retrograde every year and that retrograde lasts between 6 and 7 months.

As I have written elsewhere, retrogrades of the outer planets are generally not believed to affect individuals as much as they are understood to give shape to global events. However, my personal and professional findings indicate something slightly different. What I have found is that we are all affected by outer planet retrogrades in different ways. There are those who can experience one outer planet retrograde and not even know that anything is happening. Those same people can experience another outer planet retrograde and be deeply affected by it. This speaks to something I have termed planet-sensitivities. We are especially sensitive to a planet when it is strongly aspected in our charts. So for instance, the planets that rule your Sun and Moon signs as well as your Ascendant, are all planets to watch. The planets that have strong aspects in your chart are also planets to pay attention to.

This means that when it comes to working with Neptune’s retrograde we have to look at both the global and potential personal effects.

Neptune is a planet strongly associated with the qualities of healing, spirituality, unconditional love, art and beauty, fantasy, romance, and the past. There is an otherworldly quality to Neptune (accentuated by the fact that the planet is retrograde for so long) that makes those born under its influence seem especially beautiful, magical, alluring, elusive, and also not quite of this world. The greatest challenge we find with the Neptunian flow is that of practical thinking and sound foundations. The visionary capacity we all possess is expanded by Neptune to a great degree but this is not the planet to remind us to put a foundation on those castles we have been building in the sky.

When Neptune retrogrades we collectively and globally have the opportunity to:

Review any fantasy-making that we have been engaged in and determine whether those fantasies can be turned into reality or whether they need to be banished altogether. Here we should think about collective fantasies that countries and nations are working with. Some endeavors may be called “fantastic” to deprive them of momentum and support while other agreements really are based on make-believe fantasy that needs to be sharply addressed and brought into line with reality.

Reflect on history, the mistakes, and the learnings from the past. Neptune’s retrograde can both encourage this reflection and also make it more difficult to glean the most useful insights from history. This is also a period of time when we may find our leaders or the leaders of other countries re-writing history to make it more acceptable or palatable.

Reconsider our attitudes towards healing. This includes mandates around health care and the status provided to health care providers, as well as access to basic necessities that promote health and healing worldwide. This period of time can also provide a useful review for new health and healing technologies and often the missing pieces that make such new methods possible are found during Neptune retrogrades.

Reengage global awareness around water and water rights. Water is the element of this planet and so issues around water and access to water are often first and foremost when we go into Neptune retrograde periods. Learning where your individual water comes from is a great start.

Refuse to dull our senses. Neptune’s influence can encourage more than one kind of fantasy making. Refusing to engage in fantasies that are harmful or going nowhere, refusing to let drugs, alcohol, or other poisons take precedent over what we collectively know to be good and healthy and useful, is a powerful move to make during Neptune Retrograde. We can also see the temptation to go in the opposite direction wax in strength during these periods. Staying sober, especially during these times, is the sound choice.

Re-investigate the stories that sound suspect. Neptune can bring the gifts of fiction into everyone’s life in positive and not so positive ways. Stories that sound suspect, dodgy, or have bad sources should be examined closely during these retrograde periods as their fault lines are most likely to show.

On a more personal level, when Neptune retrogrades we find that we are best able to:

Recommit to any artistic endeavor that is ready to be completed and shared with the world. This can also be a more general recommitting to your own personal creativity and the role that art plays in your life.

Re-examine any fantasies or delusions that are siphoning life force and vitality from you and giving nothing of real value back in return. (Obviously, if and when you identify them, you then banish them!) Pay special attention to the areas of love and money as Neptune retrogrades can really aggravate those two arenas.

Reflect on our own history, including our ancestors and our lineage, for valuable teachings. This is also an ideal time to do healing work on behalf of Ancestors and lineage.

Reconcile any deceptions we have been told or told ourselves with what is actually true. Neptune retrograde is an ideal time to “come clean”.

Recognize our capacity to be both healers and healed, and to work from a place of deep, abiding, and unconditional love.

Remember and work with our dreams and the wisdom they contain.

Neptune retrogrades are long periods of time, incredibly well-suited to sincere reflection. Work with this period of each year in a conscious and proactive manner in order to go deep and move the things that need to be moved with incredible swiftness. Neptune is not a speedy planet as we saw above, but it is deep and thorough, and the endeavors we take on under its auspices are endeavors that stay with us throughout our lives.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Neptune as a Holy Helper

Learning and Community

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iracles, Neptune

He is known as the Earth Shaker, a lover of horses, of waves, and of depths, his original name most likely hails from the Sanskrit root “dawon” meaning, one who flows. It is easy to write off Neptune or his Greek equivalent Poisedon as vain and vainglorious Gods who care little to nothing for the affairs of mankind but to do so would be a grave mistake.

With his trident Neptune can cause the earth in of her greatness to literally shake and tremble, causing earthquakes and tidal waves and great flooding. Sometimes disruption is necessary, and when it is, he is a Holy Helper to call on. As the creator of Earthquakes he is also a Holy Helper to call on for protection from shifting and moving ground as well as big waters and flooding.

His trident could cause destruction, yes, but also could call up fresh or salty water from the earth’s layers to spring up and through even the most parched lands. And so he is an ally for anyone who is trying to bring more moisture, suppleness or fertility into their lives, anyone who finds that their life is too dry, too desiccated, lacking creative flow and depth would do well to call on him.

He is also strongly associated with horses, animals known for their sensitivity and their power, but also strongly associated in the ancient world with the art of healing. We may call on him whenever we are working with horses, but also whenever we need to have the qualities in our own lives that we associate with horses – power, attention, sensitivity, great endurance, and keen intelligence. His favor may be sought in matters of healing – both by those who heal and by those who are in need of healing, for water and healing have been associated with one another for age upon age.

The newer stories say he pulled the wrong lot and was given domain over the depths but the older stories tell of him choosing to make the vast deep his home…and so he can aid us in feeling at home there as well. He is a God of both sea and freshwater, not picking one over the other. For all dealings concerning water – from finding it, to purifying it, to working with it or harnessing its power his favor must be sought out. Beloved by fisherman and those who work with the Sea, he may also be called upon by those who are invested in protecting the sea and all of the life it holds, and by those who are working for equitable water rights around the world. As the seas warm and rise he is a particularly good Holy Helper to get to know. Neptune is the one who holds our hand when we go deep – into our physical world and into our psychic terrain. For this reason he is also associated with dreams and the Zodiac sign over which the planet named in his honor – Pisces – rules, are known to be the dreamers and the ones who are most able to speak to and with dreams.

He is the protector or challenger of every voyager who must cross water. Making an offering to him before setting off on a water-heavy adventure is always a good idea. One of his sons is said to be the founder of Atlantis, the sacred isle that destroyed itself with the very technology that allowed it to be so very advanced. The ancient Greeks spoke of Atlantis as ancient meaning that Neptune has seen it all unfold this way many times before. For this reason, it is deeply associated with history and specifically our ability to learn from our history. So we may call upon his aid whenever we need to reflect – globally or individually – on what history has taught us and what it will continue to teach us.

In his oldest stories he is the husband, the lover, the devotee of the Earth herself, and we cannot help but reflect on how the sea ever and always kisses the land. Wherever the Earth finds herself in need of a protector, defender, or servant, Neptune may be called upon, for he bears the waters that bless the rich dark soil and allows all growth to happen. His depths mirror our own and in his waves we can find strands of our own story reflected over and over again.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to Work With a Planet As It Changes Signs

Learning and Community

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iracles, changes 

When a planet changes signs it is *always* an opportunity to create and participate in deep magic. The planets of our solar system each hold world making/ world destroying energy and it is not coincidental that they were named for some of the greatest Gods in our classical lineage.

It is easy to lose sight of this in the day to day grind of things and also in the irreverent trivializing that many of these Gods have experienced throughout time. Nevertheless, that GIANT energy is still there.

In old school Astrology as in old school magic (coming mainly out of a European with some Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian influences), the planets, like all Holy Helpers were to be controlled and mastered and made do one’s bidding.

Which hopefully by now we can all agree is beyond ludicrous.

In other, older systems the understanding is different. It is one of relationship, RIGHT relationship, and alignment. And every celestial event is an opportunity to LEARN something about not only ourselves but the greater world and to TRANSFORM an aspect of our lives and also how we show up in the world. (Because THAT is also the best and most direct route to transforming the world itself, yes?)

Now the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Sun, and Moon – which are considered planets in most star stories world over) are fast-moving and change signs very quickly.

The understanding here is that in many ways we too change quickly and these planets are excellent to become friends with and get to know when we are in need of SWIFT intervention/aid/transformation.

The outer planets do not move so fast. Jupiter stays in a single sign for about a year. Saturn stays in a sign for over 2 years. The outer planets are understood as cosmic forces that do their work SLOWLY and THOROUGHLY. They prefer long-term commitments and relationships where we show up consistently. And as we know, showing upstarts with PAYING ATTENTION.

So…I am telling you now that Saturn is going to change signs this month.

On March 21st it moves from Capricorn – where it has been hanging out for over 2 years, to Aquarius. This first move is akin to dipping our toes into the pool. Saturn will retrograde out of Aquarius in the Summer and then return for good to this sign in the Winter of 2020.

I am telling you because I would very much like you to think about Saturn and think about Aquarius BEFORE you read a bunch of things that tell you what to think.

This is because, as always the best medicine and magic comes from WITHIN and you will have associations and ideas for this event and its meaning for you personally that NO ONE else will.

My recommendation is to take your journal and jot down your associations in a first thought/right thought kind of way. I often do this with my students and clients, I’ll tell them: “I say Saturn, you say:” And then write whatever comes to mind. Even if what comes to mind is: I don’t freaking know anything about Saturn! That too is fine and can be worked with.

You can then use these notes as a jumping off point for writing a petition or voicing specific magical desires BUT, and more importantly, these notes start to outline what a relationship with these Holy Helpers can be and look like. They give you a starting place.

But before that, we will talk more about the Holy Helpers that are Saturn and Aquarius.

xo,
Bri   changes changes changes 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missive: How Do You Honor Your Beloved Dead

Ceremony and Ritual

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iracles, beloved dead

As promised, the next few Lunar Letters will continue a series I call “Magical Missives”. These are letters in which I share specific magic know-how for your pleasure and personal adaption. I know, I’m excited about it too!

For this Magical Missive, it’s only fitting that we work with our Ancestors and the Beloved Dead. After all, autumn is in the air, and we are nearing Dia de Los Muertos, or the Days of the Dead, as well as the day of Samhain/All Hallows at the end of October, beginning of November.

My goal here is not to overload you with information (we’ve got enough of that, don’t we?) but for you to walk away with a way to frame the work and some super practical ideas you can use to help you cultivate and enrich your relationship to your Beloved Dead.

I have seen quite a few articles advising people on the one true way to honor their Ancestors and/or to build the altars, make the offerings, etc.

The question I always ask and encourage you to ask, is: is this helpful to you? There are about as many ways to honor the Ancestors as there are Ancestors to be honored!

So in this missive I share with you how I do it and how I was taught, and how many locals in my city go about honoring their Ancestors, not as THE ONE TRUE WAY, but as helpful suggestions and enticements to you to get started in what is a wonder-filled deeply personal adventure.

Start Here: Discover and Reflect
So you want to cultivate your relationship with your Beloved Dead. Wait. Hold on. Why in the world would you want to do that?

Here’s why, y’all: your relationship to the Dead, paradoxically, nourishes and vitalizes your relationship to life. For real. If you want more vitality in your life, begin with the ways you are or are not honoring those who have passed away, those Beloved Dead.

If you are like most people who have grown up in the pretty conventional parts of the United States and Canada, you likely won’t even think it is possible, let alone desirable, to have a vibrant and active relationship with the Dead. You probably think building rich and creative altars for the Dead is, well, a little weird, a little morbid. In fact, you likely don’t even think about it at all. Honoring the dead with lovingly created altars is probably not even on your radar, except when we are hard-pressed to do it by necessity. And even then, many of us honor the dead as little as possible, and with as little as we can.

The truth is that honoring our Beloved Dead – as often as possible and with as much joy and love as we can – is a normal and deeply human preoccupation, something people have done in most times and places, all over the world from ancient times down to the present day.

The fact that we do and can relate to our Beloved Dead is one of those universal themes we see repeated again and again. Some of the earliest human habitations feature ritual burials placed lovingly, exactingly, right under where the current generation lived, slept, ate, and raised their children.

Traditions honoring Ancestors can be found in ancient Africa and Asia across the Mediterranean, throughout Europe, and of course in South and Central America as well as Mexico. The conventions around death in much of the U.S. and Canada and some parts of Western Europe are quite simply an aberration (and typically a sanitizing cover-up of more vibrant indigenous traditions that needed to be rooted out for political and religious reasons).

Despite our technological advancement, we seem to be the illiterate brothers and sisters of a wider world of humanity, peoples who are highly literate in the ways of death and honoring the dead.

Now different cultures have different rules and norms when it comes to how you relate to the Dead. The good news is that we can begin to learn again the ways we’ve forgotten and enrich our relationship with our Beloved Dead. But we have to be willing to listen and learn.

We have a great teacher in North America: Mexico and certain parts of the Southwest of the United States. Honoring the Ancestors and celebrating our Beloved Dead has become much more popular in recent years, especially with the release of movies like “The Book of Life” and “Coco.” Those of us who grew up with these traditions typically feel that this newfound popularity is well deserved.

Where I was born and raised, in San Antonio, Dia de Los Muertos is a big deal – the whole city celebrates it. In one area of town, a large community altar brings together people of all walks of life in a colorful a rich celebration of those Beloved Dead. Even if you are not Mexican, South, or Central American or of descent from those countries, you can learn from this tradition about your own relationship to mortality. For it strikes a deeply human chord, and resonates with the heart, with what’s true.

I always advise my students to first begin where they are. Do a little digging into your own background. I am not talking about taking a DNA test – although if you want to, go for it. I am talking about speaking to any living family members you have about death lore and death customs in your family. Maybe all has been forgotten, but maybe not!

You may be surprised to learn that you have more than you think you do. This, in turn, can lead to learning new things about your heritage and lineage deeper than modern memory, and it is a wonderful way to begin the process of honoring your Ancestors before you build a single altar!

Ancestors Alive: Who are the Ancestors?
Before we talk about how to honor your Ancestors let’s talk briefly about who the Ancestors are. Generally speaking, the term Ancestors simply means the ones who came before you and in common usage refers to relatives and family members (typically, but not always, related by blood).

You don’t need to go very far down this road before you discover that you probably have some ancestors that you did not know and did not hear stories about (and therefore have no relationship with) and you may have ancestors that you did not get along with while they were living and you do not want to have a relationship with them.

This is why I break the term of Ancestors up further and talk about our Beloved Dead. Your Beloved Dead are the people related to you through blood (family members) or spirit (the family members that you choose. The Beloved Dead can include well-known or even famous historical figures) that you have a deep relationship with and to. They are the ones you love.

There are more levels of Ancestors you can work with, but for starters, we will just talk about the Beloved Dead – they are the ones you will honor during this time of year and they are the ones who will be represented and nourished at the altar.

And while we are on the subject, let me remind everyone that our pets and animal familiars are also included in the category of our Beloved Dead! It is completely traditional to honor deceased pets and animal companions on the altar and to work with them throughout the year. So do include your wild ones when considering who your Beloved Dead are.

While there are many ways to honor and work with your Beloved Dead during this time of year and throughout the rest of the year, in most cases, the first step is to build them a house so to speak. This house is what we call the altar.

Altars, Altars, Everywhere
The first thing you will want to do before you place a single thing on the altar is deciding who and which Beloved Dead you wish to honor. Yes, you may have only one individual on the altar if that is the only Beloved Dead you have. Yes, you may have lots of individuals on the altar if you have lots of Beloved Dead. A couple of rules of thumb that are useful to keep in mind are:

  1. As I was taught it is inappropriate to honor the Beloved Dead that has not been deceased for at least a year. This means that if your Aunt or your beloved cat died in March or April they would not be included on the altar you build in October. There are exceptions to this and ultimately you have to do what feels right and in alignment for yourself.
  2. It is not appropriate to put the pictures of the living on the altar with images of your Beloved Dead. The exception is babies that have not yet been born (ie, ultrasound pics) may be placed on the altar. It is also customary to put items that belong to the living, especially the living you wish the Ancestors to bless and protect on the altar, just not their actual image. For example, you could have a charm bag that you made for one of your children on your Ancestor Altar but not the picture of the child. Again, consult your own best lights when following these guidelines.
  3. Family members can usually happily share an altar space together. This includes in-laws, so you may include all the Beloved Dead in one place. The exception to this is if there was a serious rift between certain family members. If there was, and you wish to honor both of them then it is a good practice, at least as you begin this work, to give them each their own space.

Keep in mind that the altars and offerings we make for our Ancestors are basically proxy centers for working directly with their graves. It is still typical in many places to go and feast right at the Ancestor’s grave. If you can do that then I highly suggest it. Pick one Beloved Dead to honor each year when you follow this protocol unless you have a bunch of family members buried in the same place in which place you can have a complete fiesta!

With these points in mind, the next thing to do after selecting which of your Beloved Dead you will honor during this season is to decide where you would like to place the altar. When thinking about your altar you mostly just want to have a place where you can set up a picture, candle, glass of water, incense, and a bit of food without having it majorly disturbed. It is quite traditional to place these altars outside and if you have young children or cats that may well be the best choice.

Once you have established where your altar is going to go ahead and cleanse it. You can get directions on that here.

Elements to Include
Once again, you will be the best person to determine what you want your Ancestor Altar to look and feel like but my recommendation is that you start very simple and grow your altar in cooperation and relationship to the Ancestors. The essential elements you will need to include are:

  1. An image or object to represent the Beloved Dead you are working with. Pictures when available are often used but other objects can be as well. For instance, I have the strings from the last guitar my grandfather played as well as his guitar pick on my altar. This is also where the use of sugar skulls comes in to play. The custom is to make (or buy) a sugar skull for each Ancestor you wish to honor. You write the name of the ancestor on the foil strip that is on top of the sugar skull’s head to designate that is is the stand-in for that particular ancestor. This is also why some altars have lots and lots of sugar skulls. Once the Days of the Dead are over you can remove the sugar skulls and set them out around your home where the late autumn rains and snows will melt them into the ground ensuring you have a sweet year ahead.
  2. A candle – any kind of candle works although beeswax is a traditional choice. Nowadays in San Antonio, I mostly see the glass-encased paraffin candles.
  3. Water – a glass or bowl of water is a mainstay on an Ancestor Altar because water is seen as both refreshing to the ancestors and it also creates a barrier between the living and the dead so that nothing gets confused.
  4. Incense – Copal resin is the scent of choice for many of us in the Southwest and Mexico but choose something that is pleasing to you and if possible that has resonance with your Beloved Dead. The presence of incense carries over into the marigold flowers you often see on Dia de Los Muertos altars – these flowers are associated with the dead because they have a pungent and sharp odor that allows the dead to find their way to the altar. For in several traditional understandings our Beloved Dead does not have possession of the senses we do. In fact, the only sense that is left fully intact is their sense of smell which is what they use to find their offerings and places of honor. This is why having a scent is so very important.
  5. Offerings – Offerings for the Dead call upon what they enjoyed in life. Where I live we make a special bread called pan de muerto which is offered, but we also offer up elaborate food: usually I whip up a batch of drinks using my family’s secret margarita recipe, add chips, salsa, cerveza, enchiladas, and tamales. I might make a big pot of chili and I always give my maternal grandfather a can of Big Red as that was one of his favorite indulgences.Offerings of tobacco and alcohol are also common. Some schools of thought encourage such offerings to be left out, but I have found that as long as the individuals being honored did not have a destructive addiction to their favorite substance it is fine to include it on the altar.It is fine to create a small plate of goodies and put that on the altar and then eat the rest of them yourself. A bunch of my family members are buried in a nearby military base so I make their margaritas and serve them up graveside!
  6. Flowers – these can be plastic, paper, fresh or dried. Flowers are not absolutely necessary but they do add a nice touch!

Timing
A very frequently asked question I receive is on the timing of all of this — when does the altar go up? When does the altar get taken down? What are the days when the altar is most active?

And the answer is…it depends. It depends on who your Beloved Dead are and what they want, it depends on your lineage and heritage, your culture, and traditions, and it depends on how you are working with your Beloved Dead.

It also depends, quite practically, on how long it is going to take you to create your altar. If you are working with a lot of ancestors and making lots of offerings then you obviously will want to give yourself more time.

All of that said, there are certain times of the year when it is especially auspicious to connect with your Ancestors. Some of those times are:

October 31st – Halloween/Samhain in some European traditions and it also kicks off the three days celebration known collectively as Dia de Los Muertos. Some folks build their altars on this day. Some choose to begin altar construction a week before, and some choose to build their altars beginning the day after Michaelmas (the Feast of Archangel Michael) on September 29th. There is a lot of Halloween/Samhain folklore out there pertaining to the Dead, probably the best known is the hosting of a Dumb Supper.

November 1st – El Dia de Los Innocentes or the Day of the Children (Innocents) – this is when children who died are especially honored and remembered. The altars are full of toys, sweets, maybe a favorite blanket or stuffed animal during this time. Children lost in miscarriages, stillborn, and aborted children are also traditionally honored during this time. The altar would be up and active by this point in time.

November 2nd – Dia de Los Muertos/Dia de Muertos – Day of the Dead – this is the day when the Beloved Dead who are not children are honored – it is when we cook a lot of food! The altar is up and active at this point.

Once these days of the dead are over some folks take the altar down immediately. Some will leave the altar up past Thanksgiving (here in America) and some will leave the altar up through the Christmas season – which is also strongly associated with ghosts and the Beloved Dead, and take the altar down around Candlemas on February 2nd. Some (like our family) leave the altar up all year round because our relationship to our ancestors is ongoing.

Christmas/Yuletide Season – as previously mentioned, the days around Christmas and especially the Omen Days that follow Christmas are traditional times to make contact with ghosts and our Beloved Dead. Creating an altar during this season and/or refreshing an altar already built is a worthwhile endeavor.

Memorial Day – here in the U.S. the last Monday of the month of May is celebrated as Memorial Day and in the Deep South, it is known as Decoration Day. This is a traditional day when folks come together to clean up the cemeteries where their dead are buried, refresh their flowers and keep up their tombstones. It is also pretty typical for old time cemeteries to have their annual meeting on this day. Although it is in the thick of Spring this is a powerful time to contact your Beloved Dead, build or refresh their altars.

If you are working regularly with your Beloved Dead then the monthly upkeep of the altar is a good idea. You can work with the Dark Moons to clean off the altar and remove anything that does not belong and the Full Moon is a time to connect and commune with your Beloved Dead.

Communion
So, once you have your altar up and have decided to have an ongoing relationship with your Beloved Dead, then what? What do you do?

Traditionally we approach our ancestors the way we approach any Holy Helpers. We thank them for the goods and blessings in our lives and we ask them for whatever we have need of. In the case of our Beloved Dead we also welcome them, we feed them, we tell their stories to the younger generations, and we build an ongoing relationship with them. How do we do this? It depends on you and your family members, and what makes sense for you.

Simply the act of building your Beloved Dead a dedicated altar space and feeding them already lays a solid foundation for the relationship. You can speak to them, cook their favorite foods, play their favorite music, and write them a letter.

You can pray the prayers that they prayed in their honor and make special pilgrimages to the places that mattered to them. If you have household implements you inherited from your ancestors you may use them on a regular basis to further cement the relationship.

When my paternal grandmother passed away I did not receive much, but I did get a collection of the wooden spoons she cooked with (and the woman loved to cook) that I use whenever I cook. I always feel her presence with me during those times. The point is…these are your people, so you will have to decide what the best way of communing with them is.

Magic
Magic is deeply associated with our Ancestors and most of it incorporates divination of some kind. It is commonly believed that our Beloved Dead have the ability to “see” into the future in ways that we cannot. If you want to try your hand at this, here is one Ancestor-Informed Reading How-To I shared several years back.

Another very common way to work magically with our Beloved Dead is to appoint one (or more) of them as special protectors for the living. They typically line up to do this job, especially if they are being asked to protect and keep an eye out on children, ie, the Descendants. Seeking aid from your Beloved Dead in whatever situation needs help and support is also quite par for the course.

Typically this takes the form of making a petition, followed by an offering or a promise. As you work and get to know your Beloved Dead you will find that they will share other magics with you in due course.

However you choose to go about it, I wish you a happy, healthy, vibrant and wise relationship with your own Beloved Dead. Building altars to the Dead can be a fun and creative experience for you and your loved ones, not somber and grim duty. And as one friend from Mexico told me, don’t hold back. Have a party!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Tribe is Tribe

Foundations

M

iracles, tribe

I was in an import store shopping for my best friend’s birthday a few weeks ago. I had found a piece of jewelry that I knew she would love and as the store owner was ringing me up I was explaining to her that my bestie is originally from Iran and that while this piece is not from her home country she would still love and appreciate it.

The store owner interrupted me though and simply said, “She’ll love it because tribe is tribe.” Tribe is tribe. She said it with all of the confidence and clarity of a woman who has spent that majority of her life among and within tribes.

Tribe is tribe.

I know that in our never-resting news cycle the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio that occurred at the beginning of the month are old news for most of us. They have left, as all mass shootings have since 2011, their fingerprints all over me though and are still fresh.

As I fielded emails from people asking if I was alright and checked on my own set of family and friends with El Paso connections, I kept hearing that woman’s voice in my head – tribe is tribe.

And I wasn’t sure why but I knew it was important. Then I took a walk down one of my favorite streets where an Acequia was full of water and running at force and I remembered. What I remembered was a psych class I took about a hundred years ago.

We were studying mental health in indigenous populations and I learned that one of the indigenous populations found in New Mexico and Arizona – the Navajo People – have a very specific way of looking at mental illness (and many physical afflictions too). The understanding is that while one person in the tribe may show symptoms of illness, be it mental or physical, the entire tribe is actually afflicted and that any healing that is worth a damn will address not just the individual who is obviously ill but the entire tribe.

I have been marked by every mass shooting since 2011 because that is the year I had my first baby. And that is the year when I found myself worrying about everything: leaving out a tiny piece of something that the baby could choke on, losing him to SIDS, speeding cars, and falling shelves, and…going into a public place where my child could be shot and killed, or I could be shot and killed leaving my baby without a mother or my husband could be shot and killed leaving my baby without a father. 2011 is when I started taking it personally.

Every time I packed lunch for my little one to take to school I would lay down a prayer that my baby and every baby child would be protected from a bullet, that today would not be a day a mass shooter came to a school, a place of worship, a place of work, or a place of fun. Now that I no longer make his lunch I pray that prayer every morning.

And because my babies are beautiful, blond-haired, blue-eyed, boys, I also pray that they are never the ones holding a gun aimed at someone else’s baby – because the statistics indicate that my boys fall into the category of the ones most likely to commit a mass shooting as well as most likely to commit suicide with a gun.

I don’t go into politics in my work or my writing. I remember sitting in hard-backed pews at the Baptist church and resenting the hell out of a preacher who had the audacity to tell me who to vote for. Dressing up that unique kind of tyranny in the “New Age” trappings of incense and crystals don’t make me feel any better. I believe our founders knew what they were about when they separated church and state.

However, for better or for worse, I am a spiritual teacher and writer and as such, I have a community of people who look to me for moral guidance. When the bullets start to fly I am asked to give words of comfort, clarity, and wisdom. To be clear: this is a task that I in no way feel adequate to, but it is also one that has been laid on my shoulders by nature of my work. So this is what I say: Tribe is Tribe.

And the killings and the killers are part of our tribe. There are many people in our tribe who are ill, who are hurting, and who are sick, but at the end of the day, all that really means is that our whole tribe is hurting, is ill, and is sick. Any remedy that further separates us from each other is no remedy at all and any attempt to bring some of the tribe together while leaving others out in the cold has failed before it even begins.

In 2011 I joined a special club, a tribe within a tribe, of parents who send their children to school every day praying that today won’t be the day that their child’s classroom door bursts open and guns begin shooting. We pray that today won’t be the day our babies are shot, today won’t be the day our babies are killed.

But this is not just my club, my tribe, or my problem. Tribe is tribe. This is everyone’s problem. The fact that bulletproof backpack sales have gone up 300% before the 2019-2020 school year begins is not my problem or the problem of my other parent friends, it is also my Republican uncle’s problem, my Progressive mother-in-law’s problem, and it is your problem too. Because tribe is tribe.

Every baby that dies and every person who thinks they can solve their problems with a gun pointed at someone else is everyone’s problem, the only way to address it is together, most especially together with the very ones you don’t want to deal with. You know, the difficult members of the tribe who look different and talk different, the ones that make you uncomfortable, the ones you’d rather not talk to.

You know Miracles, the inverse is also true. If one person commits to healing, to betterment, to living a life of integrity and justice and kindness then the tribe as a whole is blessed by that too. One of my favorite stories to illustrate this comes from the Jewish tradition.

It is the tale of the Tzadikim-Nistarim – the hidden righteous ones. They are 13 people who, through consistent right action, uphold the entire world and make life possible for all. My favorite part of this story is that these righteous ones are hidden even from themselves.

Meaning that it could be you, it could be me, it could be any of us. Because what one of us does touches all of us. Because tribe is tribe. And because there is nowhere else to go, nowhere else to be, but right here, with everyone else.

Here is a version of the prayer that I pray over my babies on a daily basis, feel free to work with it in your own life if it speaks to you.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson Three: Say it Loud

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, creating

Welcome to the third lesson of the Creating Ceremony series! I call this one “Say it Loud” because that is what we are going to do.

At this point you have banished and then done what is probably the trickiest part of creating effective ceremonies – you have waited and communed with the Otherworld.

You are now ready to say your prayer, make your petition, state your intention, and/or declare your goal.

Magical ceremonies follow the same laws of physical matter in many ways. For instance, the law of Mass-Conservation tells us that matter is neither created nor destroyed – it only changes forms. This is true of magic too. When we create ceremonies we should think less about creating something out of nothing or annihilating something else – rather, we should think of our work as arranging and re-arranging things for the best possible result.

Keep this in mind as you create those petitions, prayers, and intentions.

Take some time to come up with the ‘just right’ statement. You will most likely need to journal and reformulate your words a few times until they have the flow you want.

That flow, by the way, is very subjective. For some people their petitions need to be as brief and simple as possible, for others they want long, flowery prose, some folks prefer to weave in words from other languages, while others like to write their petition in verse.

I often chant my petitions over and over again and/or sing them so personally that I prefer shorter petitions with rhythm and rhyme.

If you get stuck in this process, these prompts might help you:

What is the current situation I want to transform?

How do I want to transform it?

Who is going to help me do that? (This prompt is really asking you to consider what Holy Helpers will be allies for you in this endeavor but it might also bring up allies present right here and right now).

What is the final outcome and/or the possibility that I am yearning for?

Once you have created your petition, prayer, or intention I encourage you to say it and say it loud. There is deep magic in working with our voices and letting them be heard. Some schools of magic call this the “power of utterance.” So write it down, carve it on a candle, inscribe it in clay, but say it out loud too – once or many times.

xo
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

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.