Planning by Starlight

Divination and Dreams

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orking with astrology in a practical manner that speaks directly to our lives is something we all want to be able to do. Astrology is not one of the most popular sacred arts without reason! And when it comes to figuring out how to work with astrology in a really practical manner, planning with it is right up there near the top of the list.

Unfortunately, this is also where the problems often begin. Almost as soon as we begin we can feel lost: ascendent this and ruling planet that, where is your sun and where is your moon, and what the heck does it mean that I have Mercury in the 8th house?! The problem is basic: we are suffering from information overload.

Specifically, there is too much information to process and a lack of clarity about how to discern the information that is most relevant to you and your goals, dreams, and desires.

It makes sense. The study of the stars has been with us for millennia and some version is found in every culture. Many of you know how central storytelling is to my work and I truly believe that we started telling stories as we gazed up at the glowing heavens in wonder, awe, and yes, sometimes fear.

So, we have a study that spans time and culture and has been around for thousands of years. Add to that, the basics of astrology as most of us practice it here in the 21st century developed the Western world, begins with 12 planets, 12 zodiacal constellations, and 12 houses that correlate to specific life areas and concerns.

Right off the bat, we are dealing with 36 terms and that is before we get into major aspects (like conjunctions or squares) and even before we talk about the way that the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) speak to each component!

So then, we try to take this information and plot it into our planners and calendars (and I don’t know about you but for me just making sure I know what appointments I have on tap for the next week can feel like an uphill slog).

No WONDER we experience information overload when it comes to planning by starlight. That smart and savvy intuitive voice within you might be telling you that there has to be a better way and you know what? That voice is right.

If the biggest challenge in Astro-planning is information overload then the solution is actually pretty simple. Aristotle mentioned it thousands of years ago…start with what is closest to you. Start with what you really want to focus on in the coming year.

See, this is the beautiful thing about astrology and actually all of the Sacred Arts. You don’t need to know all of it or everything, you just need to know enough to make a beginning and you can make a beginning anywhere.

I am going to give you my process for planning throughout these lessons, but in this first lesson, I am going to talk about how I initially approached Astro-planning when I was much younger. You might be tempted to think about this as a “beginning level” or baby steps, but I will tell you from my personal experience that I have talked to many seasoned and advanced Sacred Artists who have not incorporated these steps into their own practices and once they do they are pretty impressed with the results.

Planning By Starlight Part One

Before we get into the Astro-planning part I want to say a few things about planning in general. In my experience you will have the best success at planning if you do the following:

  • Understand that this is going to be a multi-day process – you won’t get all of your planning done in one day, I don’t get my planning or the year completed in a single week – I take a couple of months to do it.
  • Pick your planner(s) – I like both paper and digital planners. I use a Filofax for my paper plans and I use my icalendar for my digital plans. The ical (you could also use outlook or gcal) function is nice because it syncs to my phone and reminds me when I have an appointment. I can also share it with my husband’s calendar, and I can send invites to my clients and students for one on one sessions directly from the calendar. I like a paper version because sometimes weird things happen with digital calendars and if you have a hard copy you are set. If you want more options on planners I highly recommend JetPens. I also like to have my journal by my side.
  • Have your materials ready to go! Some of the things I like to have on hand include different colored pens, highlighters, mini-sticky notes, colored mechanical pencils, and my computer. Some people really get into stickers and inserts. Some folks like to have a color-coded legend. I like to have some good music on hand too! You might want to invest in a good lunar calendar and have on hand a resource page with the astrological highlights for the coming year – like this one.
  • Plot out any essential dates non-Astro dates first. These might be birthdays, anniversaries, national holidays, or known periods of time when you will be on vacation. If you have children, get their school calendar and plot out the days and times that they have off, special celebrations, etc. If you follow a specific religious or spiritual practice make sure that you mark out your Holy Days as well.

Now you are ready to start working with some Astro info! As I wrote above, you can start anywhere. And with astrology, the best place to start is with the really obvious stuff – the celestial bodies that you can actually see with your naked eye. Here are three approaches to help get you started:

Sun Sign ~ Most people’s beginning point with astrology is learning their sun sign. This is the zodiac sign that the sun was transiting during the time of your birth. The sun remains in each sign for about a month and because its motion is fairly regular those month-long periods more or less retain consistent start and end dates. When you are talking to someone and they say “Well, of course, I care about my work, I’m a Capricorn!” they are sharing their sun sign with you. These days you can literally google your sun sign if you happen not to know it. Identify your sun sign and work with that as your first (and possibly only) step in your planning adventure this year. Here is how to do it:

Let’s say that your sun sign is in Sagittarius. The first thing you can do is note when the sun will be in this sign in 2020 (November 21st – December 20th).

Mark out that time period on your calendar. Your birthday falls in this period so obviously, the star that day. Then, think about how you typically feel during this time of year.

Do you feel too busy and unable to really enjoy your solar return (ie, birthday)?

Do you feel like this is your favorite time to go on vacation?

Do you want to snuggle down and rest during this time of year?

Think and feel into years past and what your experiences have been. Jot down a few notes. Then ask yourself, what would I like my experience to be this year during this period?

Think about the sun. In traditional astrology, we consider it a planet and it is the planet of enlightenment and revelation. Practically speaking the light and warmth of the sun makes our lives possible. Think a bit about the sign of Sagittarius. Here is an article you can read on it if you don’t know where to begin. What are some of the major themes you associate with this sign? How might they play out in your practical planning?

See? Planning with your Sun Sign! Easy!

I see the Moon ~ After working with your sun sign you may want to turn your attention to the moon. Lunar-based calendars are some of the oldest and the Moon gives us a reliable way to tell that days are passing because this celestial body actually transforms over a 28 day lunar cycle – going from seeming to be completely invisible in the night sky (during the New Moon) to full and radiant, to vanishing once more.

There are many ways to incorporate the Moon into your Astro-planning projects but the easiest and best place to start in my opinion is with a lunar calendar. Get one for yourself – there are many to choose from – and treat it as a kind of journal. Each day notice what sign and phase the moon is in – this is a great way to familiarize yourself with the Zodiac too. Every day, jot down a few notes directly into your lunar calendar. These notes should describe how you felt on this day (because the moon speaks to our feelings), and record any places you felt stuck or deeply intuitive (because the moon speaks to both of those areas as well). After a couple of months of this, you will start to notice patterns and get a sense of what moons are really supportive for you and what moons might pose more of a challenge. You can then consider this information in your planning efforts.

You may also want to note in your calendars when the full and new moons are every month. These days have been honored since time beyond time and a good way to begin appreciating the stars and all they have to share is by setting aside a little time during these two points each month to honor and observe the heavens. Here are some ways to do that on the New Moon and here are some ways to do it on the Full Moon.

Pick a Planet, any Planet ~ So, you are now considering the sun and moon in your plans. This is great because you can look up in the sky at any time and connect to either. As you are looking at the night sky you might see that there are some other celestial bodies asking to be noticed. They might look like really bright stars but they are not, they are actually planets. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and sometimes Uranus can be seen with the naked eye in the nighttime sky at certain times of the year. (And a hot tip for beginning stargazers: the best time to look at the night sky is during a New Moon because the absence of the moonlight allows the stars to shine brighter).

Planning with the planets has many layers but again, we start really simple. And with the planets, the best place to start is in understanding how they work from a Sacred Arts perspective. Quite simply the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, and of course Earth) speak to practical concerns and issues – the stuff that again, is closest to us. Here is how to work this:

Perhaps this is the year when you want to draw the right partner into your life, or maybe you are getting married this year and stuck on finding the best date for your “I Do”! In that case, you might want to really pay attention to the planet, Venus.

Begin by asking if are there times of the year when she is visible and times when she is not?

Does she have a special day of the week associated with her? (She does, it is Friday).

Is she going to be retrograde (when the planet appears to move backward) at any point in the next year? Mark out those moments on your calendar.

Maybe this is a year where you really want to make some strong professional connections, publish something, or move. In that case, you might want to work with the planet Mercury – the mover and shaker of the zodiac. Consider the questions we asked for Venus and then go deeper. Mercury the planet resonated to the Roman God Mercury, the metal Mercury, the Ancient Greek Hermes, and on it goes. Find out about these figures and materials. What is their story? That might seem like an arcane approach but it is actually an approach that will allow you to plan all the better with this speedy planet.

If fitness, losing weight, winning any kind of contest or competition, or developing the discipline to attain mastery in a given area is your focus then you will want to work with Mars. Again, follow the same approach outlined above.

Just Start ~ Starting small, with one planet or one sign, or even one season, can often be the best way to make a start when it comes to planning by the stars because it guarantees that you WILL actually start.

And as you do this, do not, for the love of all that is holy, make it abstract. Begin by thinking concretely about the current year we are in. What has worked for you? What has not? Where did you feel like you had enough time and where did you feel like you did not? Having answers to these questions will set you up for excellent success as you look to the stars.

As you answer these questions you might find yourself thinking: yeah, yeah, Bri – this is great and it gives me a good sense of my personal preferences, but what about the big Astro-events I need to be aware of? How do I factor those into my plans? 

To which I say: hold your horses as that will be the topic of our next lesson!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson Two: And Now You Wait…

Ceremony and Ritual

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iracles, wait

We are continuing our week-long teaching on Creating Ceremony. Now we turn to Lesson Two – let’s do this!

Have you ever had the experience of creating a ceremony, casting a spell or laying down an enchantment only to discover that despite your best efforts, attention to detail, and hardcore organization the work falls flat on its face?

Maybe it doesn’t deliver the goal you were hoping for. Maybe it doesn’t result in anything at all. Or maybe it concludes in a tangled web of unintended consequences that have you hiding your head under a pillow.

No doubt you have had this experience. I talk to folks every day who go through this, and I have experienced it myself. It is super common. I call it a ceremony slip. (As if your ceremony slips on a banana peel. Oops!)

Ceremony slip is also easily avoidable because usually, this occurs for one simple reason: we aren’t willing to wait and pay attention.

Here you are. At this point, you have already learned to banish (and maybe had a good cry along the way). You are ready to get started formally on creating a ceremony for a specific need or purpose, a need or desire to change within and without.

Now, most books and teachings will tell you that the next step is to state your purpose, make your prayer, and/or write your petition. Declare your intention!

But, in my experience and in my own learnings that is NOT the next step. That is what results in dead, flat, ceremonies that don’t change a thing.

For truly effective ceremonies that don’t fall flat, the next step is actually to wait and watch.

What I’m talking about here is active waiting, not passive, twiddle-your-thumbs waiting. Through your banishing, you have opened the door and cleared the way. Now you need to take the time to see who and what presents itself to you.

You are looking and listening for communiques from the Otherworld and your Holy Helpers (that’s the name I use to describe spirit allies, guardians, and guides). By looking and listening with care, you are entering into deep communion.

This communion can show up in a huge variety of ways. Some of the experiences reported to me include:

  • Dreams
  • Seemingly random coincidences that are strangely connected
  • Finding specific talismans or omens during my daily business
  • Communications from Ancestors and my beloved Dead
  • Friends reaching out with an essential piece of information
  • Opportunities that just magically show up
  • Direct vision and communication with specific Holy Helpers
  • Employing divination to gain clarity and refinement

Listening, watching and waiting is the part of the creation process that takes the most time. It may take one day or several. The process may take two weeks before you have the information you need to move ahead. Sometimes it takes longer. Some ceremonies are weeks, months, or years in the making.

Because waiting actively is the part of ceremony making that takes the most time, waiting is also the part that people tend to skip over. Traditional societies understood that planning and creating a significant ceremony will take multiple days, weeks, or years. It is a process that cannot be rushed, controlled, or plotted out directly on the calendar.

Those creating and participating in a ceremony understand that after initial banishing work, they need to find a way to enter into communion with the what we call the Otherworld. At that point, we are out of ordinary time and in that space of time-out-of-mind that C.S. Lewis describes so beautifully.

Cinderella’s version of this is waiting for the Fairy Godmother to come. She doesn’t know what is going to happen. She doesn’t know that *anything* will happen. But she has banished, and now she waits. In many versions of the tale she grows closer to the natural world at this time, often the first step in communion with the Otherworld. She does not state her desires until after the Fairy Godmother has arrived.

This is crucial because once you have stated your goal or desire, once you have made your petition, the ceremony is in full swing. Before you have struck any matches, made any songs, or done any magic, the ceremony is hot and going because your request, your desire, your prayer has been made.

The question upon which success now turns is…was it made correctly? Did you ask for what you really want? Did you petition for what you actually need?

When we wait and commune with the Otherworld we find that we often receive critical pieces of information and insights that allow us to refine our desires, goals, and intentions, so that our ceremony really does address what we need it to address. Succeeding in this, we can avoid those awful ceremony slips, and the change we create is actually the change we want.

So go ahead and let yourself wait…Fairy Godmothers show up on their own schedule, but they do show up!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson One: Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Ceremony and Ritual

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iracles, blood

I am sure most of you have heard the expression “blood, sweat, and tears.” We usually call upon it when we have made a huge effort at something. And, like many common turns of phrase, it hides a deeper meaning in plain sight.

Blood, sweat, and tears, are some of the most valuable prizes we possess. In countless fairy tales, a single drop of blood has the power to destroy the most powerful kingdom or overcome the finality of death, where the sweat of physical and mental exertion can show the true nature of a character. And then there are the tears. Tears turn into magical, life-giving waters. Tears heal and thaw out frozen hearts.

In fairy tales and folklore, blood, sweat, and tears are substances that become valuable once they have been shed for the sake of something…or someone else.

We see it in Cinderella. Once the little Cinder girl has realized that she really cannot escape the house…cannot escape her life and cannot go to the ball – which stands for all that is possible and hopeful for her – she begins to cry. Big, body-shaking, river-forming, tears.

The cry of the heart is the action that opens the door and opens the way. Cinderella begins to create her own ceremony. Her tears are what garner the attention of the common creatures around her, creatures whom she has cared for. And her tears are what call in her fairy godmother as well.

Cinderella engages in the first step of creating ceremony: she is banishing.

Banishing is an old word that basically means releasing, letting go or casting out. People often talk casually about ‘letting go’, in order to manage stress. But you’ll also hear on occasion someone talk about the need to banish a room that feels like it is full of funky vibes – they might cense the area with a sacred smoke or recite a prayer of protection to make the area feel cleaner and safer.

But before we talk about banishing rooms or objects, we have to look inwards at our own inner landscapes and ask what needs to be released and put down once and for all.

When we banish, we can take a few moments to acknowledge what is hurting or weighing on or frustrating us. And then we perform a ritual action to release it.

Banishing is the necessary first step in creating ceremony, the thing you do before anything else because it opens the road and it clears the way. When we drop whatever it is that we are clinging too tightly to, we are able to breathe a little easier and see with more clarity and objectivity. Clarity and objectivity of mind are qualities that must be in play if you want to create a ceremony that can really change things from the inside out.

There are lots of ways to banish. There are prayers you can recite. There are specially formulated incense blends that call on the elements of fire and water to assist with removing what is no longer needed. Some traditions call on making noise – like clapping, yelling, ringing bells, or stomping your feet – to clear the spaces both without and within.

Bleeding, sweating, and crying are all forms of banishing – and they are so powerful because they involve our physical bodies and the substances within them. Another beautiful (and simple!) way to banish is simply through breathing. Here is an exercise you can try:

  1. Take a breath in and allow it to move from the soles of your feet all the way up to the crown of your head.
  2. Before you release that breath think of one thing that you need to release and let go.
  3. Breathe it out and into the earth where it can be transformed into something good and useful once more.

There may be many different feelings that this exercise conjure, some very subtle. Each person will find responses in very different ways. But don’t be surprised if you start to tear up a little or have an all-out crying fest. In fact, that is usually a sign that you are on the right track to creating ceremony that really will change you from the inside out.

For more on Banishing, check out this article.

xo
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Blessed be our ability to see with clarity and respond with wisdom.

Daily Blessings

Blessed be our ability to see with clarity and respond with wisdom.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Many Branches–Beth Owl’s Daughter

Learning and Community

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ear Miracles,

So one of the things that I really do love about the web is how it has allowed me to connect to people that I would not have encountered otherwise and Beth Owl’s Daughter falls into that category. I LOVE her! We have been in some of the same social circles because we are both tarot readers but we really hit it off when I wrote an article about the Sylvia Brown episode and Beth graciously posted it at her very popular blog. From then on I knew I had found a kindred spirit in Beth Owl’s Daughter-even though we live far apart, and even though our busy schedules do not allow us to connect that often, we wave to each other through social media and I know that she stands with several other gifted intuitive as an example of what our field can be if we are willing to work with honesty and integrity!

In her own words: 

For over four decades, Beth Owl’s Daughter has been a mystic, seer, and spiritual guide in the non-ordinary realms.  A trained Priestess and intuitive, she devotes her life to sharing her gifts with thousands of clients worldwide. Her lifelong passion has been working with the Tarot, an art she has been practicing since 1972.

Beth is…

* a master level Tarotist. She is a member of several organizations that promote and set guidelines for ethical Tarot practice.

* an internationally respected reader, teacher, writer, and leader in the professional Tarot community.  She has published hundreds of articles, reviews, and columns about the Tarot both in print and online. She has been featured in many radio interviews and podcasts and her blog and newsletter have received numerous awards.

* a former officer on the Board of Directors for Cherry Hill Seminary, the world’s first and only graduate-level educational institution for Pagan clergy.

* the founder and organizer of one of the world’s largest, oldest, and most successful Tarot social groups (the Triangle Tarot and Friends Meetup).

Beth Owl’s Daughter is also an ordained interdenominational minister, an Usui Reiki healer, and she practices the Craft with deep roots in the Reclaiming and Faery traditions.  She lives in a little cottage in the woods of northern Durham County, NC with her husband John, their cat, and countless spirit allies.

These days, having completed her second Saturn return, she is deepening her magical practice, and doing more teaching and writing.

You can find Beth on the World Wide Web at the following hot spots!
Her awesome website!
Twitter

So, everyone probably asks you about your name, and I was reading about your name on your site. One of the features pointed out about owls is that they form a “Link between the dark, unseen world and the world of light” and I LOVE this idea. How does this resonate with your own work–do you form a link yourself, do you illuminate links that are already there?

Oh, what a fun, insightful question!  Thank you!

What this means to me is also expressed beautifully by the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, when he said, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

Mainly, I think I am a seer of patterns, which is why I love the Tarot since it is a symbolic pattern language.  With Tarot, and my other ways of knowing, I can see how patterns of behavior, thought, and habits act like engines in the subterranean realms in our consciousness. They can drive unhappy choices, self-sabotage, and other distortions that bring suffering.  Until they are recognized, they can seem like forces beyond our control or even understanding.

I do feel that at times, I am just helping show what is already there.  Other times, I experience that healing and transformation move through me coming straight from Mystery.  So I guess the answer to your question is I am honored to do both.

Your tagline is: practical wisdom for an extraordinary living–can you talk a little bit about how arts like tarot reading and magic can lead to practical wisdom? 

I don’t know if I can talk a little about this. I can, however, talk on, and on, and on about it!

But attempting to be brief, I think that Tarot has gotten a bad rap as being only for gullible cloud cuckoo-land woo-woos.  While I do use the cards in mystical and esoteric ways, I also see Tarot as an instant, intimate kind of personal Google.

The Tarot can be an instant, truth-telling tool any time you need help on your creative projects, understanding relationships, working through life passages when you need support for healing – just about anything.  It can especially help us get clarity and perspective when making choices, even in the most everyday situations.

For instance, I love to consult the cards when I am writing and get stuck.

The first time I tried this was about thirty years ago.  I was writing a short story and couldn’t decide which way the plot ought to go. I got the bright idea of doing a reading to ask.

Surprise!  I got everything I needed and more!  The court cards told me about the dynamics of the characters in ways I had not considered; a couple of Major Arcana cards revealed huge insights about their motivations, and the pips offered a much better story arc than the one I’d planned.

Looking back, it seems so obvious, but at the time, it was jaw-dropping to me. Since then, of course, my fabulous Tarot colleague, Corrine Kenner, has written the ultimate book about using the Tarot as a writer’s tool, Tarot for Writers.

After that epiphany, I began exploring the most mundane questions about my work projects, vacation plans, and so on. I don’t recommend becoming dependent on the Tarot for every single decision in your life, but I also think that we have only just begun to discover the many pragmatic ways it can help us live on a bigger, more empowered and joyful level.

You are a tarot reader like myself — what is one thing about the work of tarot reading you wish more people understood or were exposed to?

Please don’t ask me to tell you what will happen. “Will he ask me to marry him?” “Will I get the job?” “Will, my house sell? And when?” “How soon before my daughter moves out?”

These are typical questions and I absolutely do understand our very human desire to wish we knew all the answers in advance. But that is not how the Tarot works because that is not how life works.

Tarot tells the truth. And the truth is, there is not some immutable destination called “the future,” that we are all just passively riding towards.  This is not a movie and we are not following a preordained script.

Yes, there are some readers who offer predictive readings, but even they will remind you (if they are ethical readers, that is), nothing is carved in stone – your free will to choose is always an option.

Other than our mortality, we can change just about anything. I just can’t buy that we are stuck on some conveyor belt of time heading into one fated event after another.

So my approach is to encourage questions that bring us clarity and understanding about the underlying relationships, perspectives, assumptions, and choices that are currently at work in our lives. The better we can see those, the better we can anticipate and shape the experiences that we actually want.

The closest thing to any correct answer about what will happen is another question: “What do you want to have happened?”

Knowing and naming your heart’s desire is true north and the Tarot is a compass.

Tell me about the Tarot Boutiques–they sound amazing!

Oh, Bri – they really are! We are having so much fun with these!

As you may know, I have been teaching introductory Tarot classes for many years and also leading our Raleigh-Durham Meetup, where we’ve had lots of study programs taught by myself and our other members.

But I have wanted to offer something more advanced, intimate, and even experimental.  My home is the ideal place because it has a very peaceful, magical vibe that I love to share.

Since January, once a month, I have been facilitating tiny “boutique” workshops that appeal to the “discerning Tarot connoisseur.” Each workshop is designed to focus on one specialty topic that can add sparkle to your personal or professional practice.

We have played dress-up, embodying the Tarot Soul Cards; we have gone on guided meditations; we have investigated how to create spreads and how to ask questions, and much more. And all with tasty snacks, lol!

Upcoming classes include working with Valerie Sim’s “Comp Tarot” method of comparing answers from different decks; creating and using a Tarot journal to boost your knowledge; Tarot as Muse (for writers, yes, but all kinds of creative pursuits); the use of herbal magic in association with the Tarot; and a mini-series about going pro.

Really, the possibilities are infinite, especially with my participants also adding their suggestions.  One afternoon a month, geeking out on Tarot in a kaleidoscope of ways – what could be better?

If you could give one piece of wisdom to my readers today, what would it be?

I believe we are living in a time when it is crucial for every one of us to find our gifts and get involved. We no longer have the luxury of playing small or hiding out behind our petty dramas. Find your vast underground pool of courage and step up!

Each person reading this has powerful intuitive wisdom and has the ability to make vastly important changes in a world that is in desperate need. Those changes may look small, but we never know which small action will be the tipping point that makes all the difference in the end.

Whether it is the Tarot, or runes, or healing, or simply cultivating more enlightenment and love – now is the time we were born for.  Keep asking questions, dare to peek behind the curtain of consensual reality.  You are so much more powerful than you might have thought, and our world is far more mysterious, aware, and divine than we’ve been led to believe.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.