magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters
ARRIVING on full moons each month.
Happy New Moon in Aries and Happy Mercury Direct!
As you may know, one of the most effective things we can do when “Mercury Retrograde” or Mercury RX hits is to review, clean, organize, and make efforts at self-maintenance, inner and outer.
Here are just a few things that have been happening in my neck of the woods, under the auspices of the wandering planet:
1. Last week, we finalized the cover design for my book Making Magic, which you can see above. I was over-the-moon thrilled to find out that Sounds True had enlisted the brilliant art of Cassandra, who has done all of the art and site development for my website and is a beloved friend and my collaborator in the daily blessing collection. I received four images, but the above was the one that made the cut. We – including my husband and son and the creative design team at Sounds True and my fantastic editor – all agreed this one was just right. I’m so in love with it and I hope all of you are too!
2. One of the ways I’ve been working with that pesky Mercury RX energy has been to review and edit and re-structure the first manuscript of my book. I finished the chapters since the last time I wrote you, so the timing has been just perfect. For a couple weeks I have been in the refining part of what is a very sculptural act. The form is present, the various parts are mostly in the correct places, and re-arranging does have to happen. There are places where the work sings and others where life must be breathed into it anew. Even though the weather has been gorgeous I have been tied to my computer, and at the end of the day I feel covered in the glimmering dust of words and ideas and, of course, magic…
3. We have also been working with the frisky Mercury RX energy to get a ton of repairs done…our home is almost 100 years old and so there are little cracks here and crevices there that have to be taken care of. The magic of skilled handy people is a magic I have come to deeply appreciate – especially when I see them through the eyes of our seven year old – he knows that all handy people – the plumbers, painters, and masons are absolute wizards. He follows them around asking a million questions (I don’t know where he got the habit from…) and they are so patient and kind and they actually take the time to teach him little bits of their trades. We are also putting in some new landscaping (yes, more herbs and more roots for the making of more custom magical goodies)! This is part of my extensive Uranus into Taurus personal magic making protocol. I’ll be posting pics on insta as we go.
4. My belly is so big now I not cannot see my feet (sigh), and I am in the waddling phase. So many of you have written to me to ask me how I am feeling and how I am doing, and I am happy to report that I am feeling really well as I whoosh into the third trimester. The baby’s nursery is 90% there with the other 10% being the challenge of putting away all of the adorable clothes I have been gifted and lent by friends and family. Whatever else happens, this baby is going to be well-dressed, my friends! As I have told a few beloveds, we also have the car seat, so if the little man decides to come tomorrow we are ready to rock.
In other exciting news: just yesterday Jasper picked up his first real book to read just for pleasure. He has been learning to read over the last couple of years and has been working with the smaller books that are divided into various reading levels, but yesterday was the first time he pulled a book down from his bookshelf and started to read it just for fun, just for pleasure.
What was the book? My Spinning Gold students will not be surprised to hear that it is a collection of fairy tales; he decided to start with Sleeping Beauty…that thirteenth fairy is SO curious!
And so on that note I am sending love on the gorgeous spring breezes and the goodness of all growing green things!
Welcome to the newest series I call Hearth and Home. You will be able to find it posted here on Canto, and sent with love to the Lunar Letter list. (Join in the fun here). The picture to your left is a drawing by my almost-seven year old son, Jasper, who wanted me to share it with all of you. And so it is that sharing is the theme of this new series.
First of all, I want to extend a warm thank you to so many of you. Everyone I have had phone conversations with over the past month has asked me how I am doing on the book and how I am feeling in my pregnancy – to say nothing of the private messages I have received on FB, Insta, and Twitter. They mean the world to me.
Writing a book and being pregnant at the same time have become for me deeply intertwined experiences. In brief, I am now five months pregnant, and my official due date is June 11th – right around the time the manuscript is due for Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary, to be published by Sounds True, in 2019.
The journey to get to this moment has been eye-opening and tremendous, and it has encouraged me to share more openly than I usually do with all of you miracles.
If we were visiting in person, I would invite you into my home, ask you to sit at my hearth, and I’d serve you Topo Chico with lime, if it was a warmer day (which usually it is); or the tea of your choice or strong coffee roasted in high mountains.
Coffee, I should add, is a sort of medicine for me – not to help me wake up, but to help soothe my asthma. I actually don’t drink a lot of it; I nurse one cup slowly, the Arabic way I like to think (a nod of appreciation to Philz Coffee in the San Francisco Bay Area, whose charming owner is from the Middle East. They are a pretty famous outfit now, but when I started going, you could still see Phil in his awesome fedora working quality control – the BEST).
When I say strong coffee, y’all, I mean it. None of this new-fangled, hipster, light roast for me – no thank you! The blacker the roast the better in my opinion, and my favorite is the Tres Estrella blend (Three Stars for those of you non-Spanish speakers) from Ohori’s Coffee in Santa Fe.) All of this is to say that you should not be surprised if, after an hour of this make-believe conversation, it would seem as though I have barely touched my coffee at all. I’d be asking you tons of questions (those of you who have had readings with me or worked with me one-on-one should be nodding your heads right now) and my darker-than-the-deepest-night roast coffee would be cold and forgotten!
I like to ask questions. At the end of the day, you will discover that one of the deepest truths about me is that I am a lover of learning. One of the most important things this means to me is that I do not have all the answers. I often tell my students in the Miracle Tree Sessions and Spinning Gold that I am learning right beside them – that’s not just a thing I say – it is something I deeply believe and know to be true.
Sometimes I encounter newcomers in my community who think of me as an expert or a guru of some kind. As Jasper would say: no way! Our intuitive gifts and our Sacred Arts practices do not give us a right to omniscience nor to omnipotence, and, in my opinion, it’s better that way: life is much richer and more overflowing with surprises, wonder and goodness. Our gifts are the very expression of soulful seeking after beauty, truth, wholeness and holiness. If we had all the answers already, there would be no need for these gifts in the first place!
Every day and all encounters, in every way, present little opportunities for learning, and this experience is part of the warp and weft of not only my own life-tapestry, but my family’s as well, and my Sacred Arts practice.
As I was thinking about my desire to share with all of you the various happenings, then, I decided that I wanted these more personal posts to reflect most of all this sense of a living learning that makes up my actual life and practice. And I really want to do this with an eye to the end of giving all of you a glimpse of the way one gal, a Sacred Artist, interprets the meaning of living an enchanted life from the inside out, as well as offering a sense of the Sacred Arts in action, in the glorious mess and chaos and wild beauty that is life right here and right now.
So, for those who are interested in the more personal aspect of the Sacred Arts, I invite you to grab the beverage of your choice, kick back, and get comfy. Whatever else I may be accused of, brevity is not on the list!
The story for the past few months begins at three or four am, when I rise every morning to begin writing. I have always been an early riser (and now with a one pound jelly bean shifting and twirling during wee hours, it is especially easy to get up) and so sitting down to write before everything else just made sense.
The house is quiet. The moon, in whatever phase she inhabits, shines through the window at my desk, and after I write, I perform my morning devotions, which involve rituals, chanting, prayer, and magic. As I write, I sometimes seem to sense the little one saying to me “Um, really Mommy? That sentence just will not do”, or “Oooh, that’s a good one!”
You might be interested to learn that I am handwriting the first draft. Yes, that’s right: handwriting. It is nearly finished, two chapters to go. There will be many more drafts to come, but the work has been steady and swift – every morning the next batch of pages, one after the other. I find that for me, handwriting the book at this early stage makes up in feeling, depth and clarity of thinking for what it may lose in terms of speed and efficiency.
Once the entire manuscript has been handwritten, I will then type it out, molding it in slightly different ways as I do so, and then begin on the second draft. (A wise old teacher once compared this stage of the writing process to a momma bear licking her cub into shape.) Writing in this way is also easy because if I lose electricity – which actually happened a few times this Winter in San Antonio – or if a new idea comes to me, I just write it down. My handwritten pages are already festooned with hot pink post-it notes. It is all very high-tech.
The idea of handwriting the first draft actually began with a fiasco. At the end of December’s Mercury Retrograde, my seven year old laptop took a tumble and, as the Ancient Greek poet Homer says, bit the dust. In an instant, without a threnody of underwater goddesses to support me or announce the departure, I discovered that I had lost the nascent files I had created for the book. Oh, there was a moment of despair! But then, I realized that I had actually handwritten the pages first. So I went to my three ring binder and saw that, indeed, the pages were still there in my spidery scrawl. No batteries or plugs were needed to access them; and, as long as I keep the sheets protected from the elements, they have just what I need to make the most solid start I can muster. And from that point, I haven’t stopped.
In my course Spinning Gold, I refer us to J.R.R. Tolkien “eucatastrophe”, a narrative element he identifies in Fairy Tales. This tumble-down topsy-turvy destruction of my old trusty laptop is a little example of eucatastrophe, because – as a result of this loss – not only did I discover a better way to approach the writing of my book, I also decided to replace my laptop with a desktop which is much better for my posture and my health (my dear friend Theresa Reed – the Tarot Lady – who also happens to teach yoga was like: DESKTOP. NOW. She is wise). Handwriting the first draft has also cut down on my screen time, which has been very healthy for me and for the wee one.
So both the book and the baby have forced me to take a fresh look at some of my daily habits. This, my friends, is one of the first steps of Sacred Arts in action; one that I have seen many of you do as well. For me, as I have been writing the book, I have felt the need to allow my own ideas their own space, silence, and time for gestation and deep metabolism.
Reading too much, or the wrong things, taking in information without proper discernment, can muddy those waters. One becomes more sensitive here. Actually, our community of Soulful Seekers is full of sensitive folks – those who feel deeply, who take external information and stimulus in a deeply internal way. For me, as I felt a growing sensitivity occur on multiple levels, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, one of the biggest changes I’ve made has to do with my intake of news. My habit was to look at various news items on the internet, or an app on my phone, just as a matter of convenience.
I started noticing that I never really spent any time with any one of the items. Glancing, skimming, here and there, working with the general, most vague impressions of things. How could I not feel ashen blooms of anxiety on a regular basis? I want to be an informed citizen AND there had to be a better way, other than exposing myself to huge amounts information, without being able to process or digest any of it effectively. I also noticed that in my community my students were experiencing something similar – so many of us are on media and social media overload these days.
So now I have put a stop to all of this glancing and skimming, and have migrated offline to ‘slow’ media and long form writing – to my favorite weekly periodical the Economist, a British publication. I’ll work through it, slowly all week, from cover to cover.
I don’t agree with everything there, but I like the style of thinking and reporting, its global scope and comprehensiveness. When I have the time to take a short break from my writing, my teaching and counseling work and my devotions, I grab my strong coffee, usually in the afternoon (which I still haven’t finished, by the way, and since it has grown cold, I ask my sweet husband to warm it up for me); I turn everything off, I slow down and I take my time. I am happy to report that this way of approaching the news – looking to offline sources of long-form writing and analysis – has promoted some very good ‘mental’ digestion – has helped to build a kind of psychological toughness, and promotes the development of knowledge rather than merely fleeting impressions of things. I do the same thing with fiction – right now I am reading the Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich.
Once you begin to look at the basics, there is no stopping. One thing leads to another. We pay attention to one place and others unfold. (This is why, by the way, I teach about and encourage the interrelationship and wholeness that holds between all of the Sacred Arts.)
So I’ve also become aware of some unhelpful ideas when it comes to book writing. I know many of you are writers yourselves, and probably a few of you would like to publish a book one day too. One of the ideas I had when this process started was that I would have uninterrupted days where for hour upon hour all I could do was write. Conversely, is the fear that if we don’t have long stretches of uninterrupted hours, there would be no way I would ever finish the work. But after actually having a few of these halcyon days of zero interruptions over the Winter, I realized that, for me at least, having long stretches of time to do nothing but write was a kind of hell.
I love writing so very much. But I also love and have a duty to teach my Spinning Gold and Miracle Tree students, I love my one-on-one sessions, I love creating ritual and ceremony for my Witch In Your Pocket and Lunar Lights clients, and so on. I love every part of my work. I realized I have watched it feed and nourish the writing in some unexpected ways. It turned out, devoting all my time to writing choked out one of the more important sources of inspiration for my writing, which, after all is said and done, is all of you. What I discovered is this: I don’t need all of the time, I just need the right amount of time.
As I tell a story of magic with pen on paper there is another magical tale growing inside of me. I am one of those lucky and blessed women who seem to have easy pregnancies (though I do feel that I made up for it with my first labor which was thirty-six plus hours). This pregnancy has been markedly different from my first, because now it is not just two who are affected by the little one; it is also our first child, Jasper.
This pregnancy is also different because I am thirty-seven, whereas I was twenty-nine when I was pregnant with Jasper. During my first pregnancy, I discovered how pathologized pregnancy is, at least here in the US (I cannot speak to other traditions in other places). You are often made to feel almost as if there is something wrong with you for being pregnant – that you are fragile and must be hawk-eyed by every doctor and nurse, that you require many medical personnel doing medical things around you all of the time. Because of some of the health issues in my family, my husband and I both chose to have our first child and this next child in the hospital. And I love my Ob-Gyn – she is the bees knees and does not make me feel like a sick person at all.
But, the culture around pregnancy and pregnant women has A LOT of shifting to do and that is ESPECIALLY true if the woman is over thrty-five. As I reflect on this, I think there are bigger ramifications that it speaks to. I wonder if this is part of what happens when we have any kind of liminal experience, which pregnancy and birth definitely are; but so are others, like divorce, physical illness, recovery from addiction, or mental breaks – each of these events have undeniable physiological realities and may require medical treatment and intervention.
But to think that the only reality they carry is medical – that there are not other, more subtle realities also at work and that there are not other, more magical treatments and supports that are also appropriate – seems very short sighted to me. It does not gel with any of the traditions that I am familiar, nor with ones deepest sense and experience of things. A pregnant woman needs both her physical and metaphysical needs attended to in various ways. She also has a specific kind of access to magic and the liminal that can be of benefit not just to her, but can and should be to the benefit of the entire community. So yes, lots of room for improvement here.
Of course when Baby Saussy (whom we are calling Sausalito for the time being) kicks and moves and twirls and tumbles, I am not concerned with the fact that large parts of the culture pathologize pregnancy. I am much more interested in talking to the little one, engaging in my morning rituals of prayer and chant and magic, and writing up some information on making magic that supports conception, safe pregnancy, and then the wonderful, wild, ride that is being a parent.
I am also deeply aware, even more than usual, of the large percentage of our community who cannot or have chosen not to have children. I have written to you all before and I know that for many of you, reading this brings up all the stuff – excitement and love for me and my family (which I am so grateful for) but also sadness, depression, even anger too. I get that. I want you all to know that when it comes to this momma, you are seen, you are beloved, and you are held as precious. My beloved and I are so grateful that our boys have a large community of men and women who they can call on for guidance, inspiration, mothering and fathering in all of the different ways that mothering and fathering can and do happen. You all are a vital part of our lives.
When it comes to magic, my big effort over the past month has been to say thank you. I was gifted with a wonderful gratitude jar and card set for Yule. Every day I write down something that I am grateful for and I also text it to my best girlfriend. Sometimes the things are what you would expect: grateful for a healthy baby, grateful for an amazing husband, and sometimes they are not: grateful for pain that gives me information, grateful for hot water – what an incredible luxury that is!
On the 1st of January I created a big gratitude altar for my Holy Helpers complete with tons of flowers and good candles and their favorite foods. I did not ask for anything. I just spent time saying thank you for what has been given. It felt so good. The shifts felt in my life and family over the past thirty days because of that practice have been noticeable and it is now a regular part of my monthly rituals.
So ending this first letter on that note seems just right to me. Some things that I am grateful for right now and that I would love to share with you:
My beloved husband and the amazing not for profit he runs alongside managing all of the operations for my business.
My son’s fantastic art making (see above) and the fact that I get to live with artists and musicians.
My allowance of one cup of coffee – which I will shamelessly nurse throughout the day and ask my husband to heat up for me again and again and again.
The fact that Tarot and Photography are talking to each other.
And each one of you.
In love and magic,
The last Mercury RX of 2017 occurs right smack dab in the middle of our most festive and merry-making Holiday season. Here is a quick run down of what to expect, what to watch out for, and how to rock this retrograde while keeping your holiday cool.
Mercury Retrograde occurs from December 3rd 2017 – December 22nd 2017 and occurs completely within the sign of Sagittarius.
Traditionally Mercury in Sagittarius takes on the freewheeling and mystical vibe inherent in that sign. Sagittarius is Jupiter-ruled and so when Mercury is present within it we can tend to exaggerated thoughts, ideas, and statements. Sag is also known for being relatively blunt and straightforward (like any good Fire sign!) and so under the influence of Mercury RX + Sag we tend to lay things out in an unvarnished but also less than kind or diplomatic way – especially when we feel pressed for time. Finally, Sagittarius takes in the big picture but can sometimes miss out on fine details. What with all of the end of year partying and planning those details might be especially useful, so remember to double and triple check the fine print.
One thing that we are all going to be aware of during this Mercury RX is how the potential snags and interruptions can affect our holiday season. This is traditionally a time of travel, communicating with friends and relatives that we may have difficult or strained relationships with, and buying, sending, shipping, and receiving goodies from all over the place; Those are all potential areas where Mercury RX can cause a special kind of chaos.
On the flip side, because this retrograde occurs in Sagittarius where old Man Saturn is also hanging out, aside from the above, there is a real opportunity during this retrograde to get disciplined in whatever area(s) of life really require that here and now.
A good way to approach this particular retrograde is to work with its influence to consider what your big vision for your life is. The timing is actually excellent as this RX period ushers right into New Year’s Resolution making and goal setting – it is the perfect time to do a year/multi-year review and to get very intentional and deliberate in shaping the next phase of your journey. Philosophical, spiritual, and healing Sagittarius gives you the needed resources to both go deeper and shine brighter.
So, with that said, here are your Do’s and Don’ts for the last Mercury RX of 2017.
Do: Plan to shop, buy, and ship presents early. This is especially true if you are sending goodies to the other side of the country or internationally.
Do: Use the month of November to make all of your lists and check them twice – holiday cards, invites, party menus – anything that requires planning will benefit from the early prep work now.
Do: Consider going virtual. If you are looking at your calendar and ripping out your hair with frustration already then consider giving virtual gifts and sending out virtual cards – I even have a perfect gift option for you!
Do: Get a head start on any homemade gift making projects.
Do: Buy extra tape, wrapping paper, pens, holiday cards, and scissors.
Do: Stock up on host/hostess gifts.
Do: Double check travel plans and arrangements NOW.
Do: Keep an eagle eye on your bank account (Jupiter rules Sag and our wealth so double check your numbers).
Do: Remove yourself from negative people or situations before you say something you might regret.
Do: Allow yourself to feel the magic of the season and actually enjoy it.
Do: Go outside.
Do: Assess your daily practice, your year or last several years, and your core attitudes and beliefs.
Do: Set up any automatic payment plans now or wait until after 12/22 when Mercury is direct once more.
Do: Commit or recommit to any project or endeavor that requires long term discipline and wisdom.
Don’t: Wait until the last minute to hit the stores.
Don’t: Invite people to your party that you really don’t want to see.
Don’t: Force yourself to socialize.
Don’t: Fret about finding the perfect gift.
Don’t: Skip out on or ignore the details.
Don’t: Just say something, think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.
Don’t: Make excuses.
Don’t: Binge on anything – it will be twice as tough during this period to recover.
Don’t: Go on an excessive shopping spree.
Don’t: be flake or unreliable – carry your planner with you and keep your appointments.
Don’t: Be surprised if you have to wait longer, if travels are delayed, and if airports are a special kind of chaos. Bring a book and pack a full set of clothes in your carry-on along with a toothbrush and deodorant.
Don’t: Close yourself off to the liminal magic that happens right now just because you are busy.
Don’t: Forget to say thanks.
May your season be bright and your retrograde be rocking!
s I have been talking to some of the soulful seekers in my community over the past month I have observed a pattern. The election, the year, the last five, or ten years, the wars, the injustices…it has all just become too much to bear.
So they have become, in their own words: paralyzed, unable to move, lazy, unproductive, not writing, not talking, not making love, music, or beauty of any kind, apathetic, numbed out, and hopeless.
Some people actively advise that we give up hope in the face of it all, understanding (incorrectly) hope to be a frail and passive thing, a kind of butterfly with broken wings.
In reality, hope is related to another word, the funny word “hop”. Hop, yes, just like a bunny rabbit through a springtime field.
No thank you, we say, the days of rabbits and springtime fields are long over.
Except we know better.
We know that life and death are in an eternal dance with each other, we know that rabbits are ancient creatures long honored not only for fertility and gentleness but also for their ability to guide the dead in the underworld and turn into magical women running free under the full moon.
This is the stuff of hope and there is nothing passive, fragile, or boring about it. Don’t give it up. Instead, call your deepest strength back and restore it.
I have written about the importance of keeping your tenderness alive during times that seem to call for only the hard and tough, and I have written too about the ever-unbroken deepest part of your self. Today I want to share with you the very practical medicines I have been encouraging my community members to apply to themselves whenever they find that hope has left and they are in a state of being turned to stone because they looked at the monster a bit too long. People are seeing results with them, and it is my expectation that you will too.
1. Limit your exposure. If it is possible for you to get away from a situation, person, or place that saps you of vitality and strength then please do. If it is not possible then exercise extra sharp discernment about the quality of information you are receiving, the mediums through which you receive your information, and the amount of time during each day that you spend with this information. When we are called to be in witness of something hard we do not turn away, but we also do not let it take over the entirety of our lives, we cannot if we wish to bring blessing and healing back. Practically speaking limiting your exposure means gauging how much time and energy you spend on social media networks and in conversations (virtual and otherwise) that do not have a definite goal or end point.
2. Rest and nourish your body. Ask any doctor, First Responder, or therapist. When we witness an event or a series of events that are traumatic we enter with a surge of adrenaline, then we often freeze, and from that point life slowly seeps out of us. The way out is most often not force or brute will, it is rest. Let yourself rest. Drink more water and less coffee, eat clean food. Soulful seekers need to realize that when they take in images, stories, information they take it in not just intellectually or emotionally, they take it in energetically and managing that energy tuckers you out. Lay your head down and let yourself cry some good tears. Your well has been emptied out and this is the first step to filling it back up again.
3. Get oriented. In Spinning Gold I teach a ritual called the North Star rite. Everyone creates their own and everyone has a different one; but the one thing we all agree to is that this is the thing we do every single day, sometimes several times a day, to orient ourselves anew. Just as the North Star is a fixed point called upon for navigation, the ritual you choose is a fixed point that reminds you: this is who you are, this is where you stand, this is what (and who) you stand for; it roots you in your sovereignty. The North Star rite is something my students practice at least once a day, but when recovering from trauma or when knee-deep in it, the North Star rite is something you can do several times a day, calling yourself back to yourself morning, noon, and night.
4. Stand in beauty. Once you have regained a sense of self and orientation it is time to fill the well back up. The best way I know is through beauty. Traumatic events happen and the winds of Fortune will blow this way and then the opposite direction. In orienting yourself you fix yourself to the immovable point in the spoke of the wheel. Standing in and for beauty, you call back to mind, body, and soul that there is wonder, and vastness, and more beauty in this world that is bigger and longer lasting than whatever horror has recently visited with you. Standing in and for beauty is not saying the horror did not, is not, happening; it is saying that it did, but that it isn’t the whole of your story, not ever.
5. Bring the blessing. I call you all Miracles for the simple reason that you are. And you can choose to bring blessings in the ways that you live and the choices that you make every single day. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said, “In Selma, Alabama, I learned to pray with my feet.” Yes to that and also:
It matters more now so move the obstacles out of the way, break out of the stone and the ice, call movement and life back in, and take care of yourself so that you can do the good work that only you can do.