Hearth and Home, Vol. 4: Make Space for Life

Foundations

M

iracles,

The above photo gives you a glimpse of what our garden looked like right around Beltane, May 1st. We had entered into a period with our land where certain plants needed to be uprooted, soil turned, and bedrock prepared for the coming of new life. It has been deeply allegorical for where our family and our work has been too. Since the last New Moon I entered into the final month of my pregnancy and this week our second little one will be arriving at some point! Plants have rooted down in the garden while pictures have gone up onto the walls of the nursery, and baby clothes – some old, some new, – have been placed in drawers.

As is always the case with life, it doesn’t take much to get things started if you are willing to make space. Plants are placed into the ground, fed with water and the right amount of sun and moonlight, and with a little time and attention (and daily offerings to the faeries and our Holy Helpers) our stone and cardboard covered garden became a lush and beautiful wonderland – no small feat in South Central Texas during the hot month of June! The same has been true for the life of our family and home – a little attention here, some detailing there, making sure that we all have plenty of time not just for work but for rest and dreaming and creating – these have been the priorities as our family makes room for the newest addition.

My book and writing have also been reflective of this process: the completed manuscript was sent in to my publishers on May 1st. A few weeks later I received notes for the first round of edits and so dove into them. Fortunately there were not that many and the entire process struck me as a tightening and refining that felt fantastic. It reminded me deeply of stories I have been told about my great-grandmother.

She was a Cherokee woman who lived in rural East Texas and kept a chicken snake in her kitchen cabinet – to keep away mice or to startle visitors or maybe both – and one of the tales that has been passed down about her is that she would braid her long dark hair tight, tight, tight, into a braid, and then take a lit match and run it down her braid singeing off any errant hairs. This, she claimed, was how she kept her hair smooth and glossy. Editing felt like that to me. Taking the tightly braided words and then running a match over them – gently, but firmly, burning away the excess and the loose ends so that at the end of the day we are left with something more potent and refined.

It has touched me deeply how our community of soulful seekers has also been making space for life and what sings of life. Personally I have felt this in all of the well-wishes that I and the family have received from so many of you. I have experienced it too in the generous gifts that have been sent our way – some for the baby and some for me!

Over the past week as the news has been filled with the tragedy and the deaths of luminaries who touches the lives of so many, I have also been humbled to see how our community comes together to create space for hard discussions, thoughtful takes on controversial issues, and perhaps most meaningful of all, a sense of not assuming that we understand what another soul is encountering in their deepest hour of shadow. For these things too are part of life and cannot be overlooked, swept away, or ignored. I appreciate the nuance, and the time and thoughtfulness that seem to have become ever more endangered, that our community takes in feeling and thinking and speaking – we lead by example, it is the only way.

And amid the sadness that has been so thick in the air I hope that you too are making space for life, in all of its divine mess, radiant beauty, breadth and depth. As the below picture of my garden shows you, we do not, any of us, flourish in spite of the hard, we flourish right along side of it. That is what it means to make space for life.

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Ways of Life and Death in Stories and Soulful Seeking

Sacred Arts

M

iracles,

People turn to the Sacred Arts when they are ready to get real. What I see over and over again is that those drawn to the Sacred Arts and the stories that have carried them down through time do not come from any one specific area of life. I could not do a marketing profile or customer avatar for them if I tried. Of course this makes sense – the Sacred Arts have been practiced and developed by all sorts of different people through all times, so in a very real way they belong, and they call to, all of us.

But whether it is a college professor, a doctor, a lawyer, or a potion brewing witch that I am speaking to, here is what I have seen and heard: the return to the Sacred Arts comes about because each individual is ready for an experience that is more real. The sense that we are sleeping through life as surely as the Miller’s Daughter slept through the transformation of straw into gold is no longer acceptable. We have been jolted awake and the world of weak fantasy no longer has a hold on us.

Frequently what jolts us into wakefulness is a vision of beauty, the breath of Enchantment on our cheek, a plain, every day, occasion that turns into something no less than a straight up miracle. But sometimes the things that jolt us awake are painful, traumatic, and the causes of great and deep suffering. Stories work with both sets of experience as well as the mundane moments when the Otherworld just shows up unannounced in the form of a Fairy Queen washing clothes or a cat that talks.

Stories that deal with pain and suffering are actually much more common than we think. Many of our best beloved stories have bloody parts that were deleted by later adapters and collectors in order to “protect” children. In some of the oldest versions of Cinderella, for instance, the evil step sisters have their heels and toes sliced off in order to squeeze into those damn glass slippers. (Of course, in the oldest version of Cinderella the slippers are not glass at all but warm, fur-covered moccasins – how far we have drifted from that older than old telling). In the Tale of the Handless Maiden, a perfectly sweet and innocent young girl’s hands are chopped off by the Devil, and Handsel and Gretel are two young children who find themselves starved, neglected, abandoned, and then almost cannibalized in turn.

So many of our stories deal with pain and suffering because they are experiences that we all have, and, as I said earlier, they are experiences that season us so that we are ready to wake up and get down to business. Among my clients and students, few experiences carry the power of wakefulness that Death does. This is what the sister stories of Medea (from Ancient Greece) and La Llorona (from Indigenous Mexico) speak about. They tell us about Death and the many ways it comes in and makes itself at home in your kitchen and at your table. They speak to us of the destruction that occurs when oaths and vows are broken. And, more than that, they challenge us to find a different way, tell a different story, and make a different ending.

The Sacred Arts speak to Death and contain many rituals for the moments of Death that we all experience, as well as ceremonies and healings when Death approaches and for the aftermath Death leaves behind. Soulful seekers understand that Death is part of a natural cycle of Life and as such we honor it and create magic to help us relate to it in ways that are healthy, whole, and holy.

Our next guest teacher introduction is something of an expert on Death. Martha Jo Atkins. Dr. Atkins founded the Children’s Bereavement Center in San Antonio, Texas. She has, in her own words, always had an affinity, curiosity, and comfort around dying. She is also a magical woman who understands the needs to create meaningful ritual and ceremony around the roles that Death plays in our lives. Listen in to a clip of our conversation and learn more.

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

What to do when everything is NOT Ok

Lunar Letter

A

personal favorite theme in faerie tales is one I have come to call “peace, peace, but there is no peace.”  It goes like this: the hero or heroine is in a dangerous situation, but they refuse to recognize or acknowledge that fact.

In the story of the Little Match Girl, a homeless and hungry child freezes to death because she wastes what little fuel she has created pretty pictures and fantasies instead of assessing her perilous surroundings and seeking aid.

In the tale of Bluebeard, a young woman comes upon a room full of dead bodies but chooses to turn away and try to hide her discovery, wanting nothing more than to pretend that it never happened.

In the pages of Cinderella and Snow White we see this theme too — widowed men continually marrying bad, cruel, unforgiving women. Are all of the evil-step mothers really amazing actresses or are the men turning a blind eye to the things they would rather not see (or deal with)?

In all of these tales, there are only two possibilities: death or revelation. The stories teach us that to ignore what is really going on is tantamount to signing our own death warrant. To say “peace, peace” instead of squaring ourselves up to whatever is really happening is to breathe out the one lie that can take us down.

You might think that this behavior is found in faerie tale or myth only. Not so. We see it all of the time. It happens anytime someone asks you “how you are doing” and you respond with “I’m ok, great, fine” even when that is not the case. I have seen people “I’m OK” themselves into bad relationships, terrible jobs, unhappy marriages, and dangerous health situations. “Peace, peace”, but not really and certainly not now. This behavior comes from the best possible place…our desire for peace, our desire to truly be OK…but because it lacks the will to see things as they are, this well-intentioned desire leads ever and always to the exact opposite.

Longtime readers of mine know that I am an optimist. I believe in the best possible outcome, I expect the impossible on a regular basis, and my work is crafted around the reality of miracles. I never advise that we go looking for trouble or that we wallow in victimhood of any kind.  Yes, I believe in the power of positive thinking. But without a willingness to face uncomfortable truths, positive thinking is no longer a useful tool but a weapon capable of inflicting great harm to the self.

Call it like you see it, see it for what it is, and respond with compassion and courage.

This is the only way to call forth what is truly and deeply healing, whole, and holy in ourselves and each other. When we are able to do that not only do we stop the “I’m OK’ mantra we discover that much of what we wish to have more of in our lives, much of what we are yearning for, is already there, if only we see it clearly.

So it is that beauty is not perfectly smooth and soft but has edges, scars, and wrinkles. So it is too that magic requires transformation and demands a departure from comfort. Love — brave, brave love never turns away from fear but takes fear by the hand and walks with it through all kinds of terrain. And peace, lasting peace, is found by telling the truth, sometimes rocking the boat, making waves, being your one, blessed, perfect in your imperfections, self.

They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace. — Jeremiah 6:14

(Listen to this lunar letter by clicking here).

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.