Hearth and Home Vol 19: You Don’t Have to Share

Foundations

H

e went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.” From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol share

Lunching with two good friends last Spring, our conversation turned naturally to house and home. Spooning gobs of guacamole into Baby Heath’s happy and very large mouth, I bemoaned the fact that I was sure our house was too small for my two big strapping boys. They are both in the 99th percentile in each age bracket for height, weight, and head size. I mean, are we going to have to get a meat locker to meet their ‘feed-me-Seymour’ style appetites? But the thing was, I said, we really did not have a true third bedroom, so obviously we would need to move. Right?

Both of the women laughed and spoke in rapid Spanish that I couldn’t follow. This was, they explained, one of the American attitudes that were a particular puzzle to them, having grown up in Mexico. They could not understand why Americans were so determined to have every child in a home have their own room. It wasn’t because this attitude was privileged or spoiled or ridiculously luxurious that they took issue with it. They just thought that putting a child in his own room seemed so very lonely for the children.

They went on to tell me that in Mexico, even in grand and large houses, the children would naturally all come together in one room, sleep together, tell stories, sneak sweets – in short, do all of the things that children like to do. They would not dream of being isolated in their own rooms. After that lunch, I went home and a few days later my husband and I spoke to our eldest. We could, we said, look for a bigger house so that each boy would have their own room or we could stay put in this house and this neighborhood that we all loved, but Jasper would have to share his room. Jasper, in turn, looked at us with a mixture of incredulity and amusement that only an 8 year old can muster, rolled his eyes, and pronounced that OF COURSE, he was sharing a room with his brother, DUH. Considering the conversation over, he then went to his desk, got out his art supplies and replaced the “Jasper’s Room” sign on the door with a “Jasper and Heath’s Room” sign. David and I looked at each other, a little stunned it had been so easy and also thinking – Well, hell. Why didn’t we do that sooner?

Over the past week, three synchronicities have made me think about this story again and again. The first was a newsletter that contained an enthusiastic exhortation to soulful seekers to share with each other — their ideas, inspiration, favorite people and teachers, the best art and pieces of writing and magic making that stirred their souls. The author claimed (and had a good amount of evidence to back the claim) that online advertising was and always had been DOA and that as a result when we find someone or something that enlivens and inspires us then we have a responsibility to share that with others because that is really the only way we find each other on the internet any more. Sharing is how we make the web work.

The second moment was in an email with a friend who was distraught about a conversation she had had with a couple of her friends. They had wondered if she could marry them and she told them that she did not do wedding ceremonies. They were super disappointed and she felt horrible that she had to say no – bad to the point where she was thinking maybe she should do wedding ceremonies. I asked her if there was any part of her that was interested in doing wedding ceremonies, and she said: “absolutely not”. So then I asked her if she knew anyone who did wedding ceremonies. It turned out she knew three people! She went back to the couple and gave them the names. They were thrilled to have some leads and she was thrilled that she was able to support them after all.

The final situation centered around the shooting at Saugus High School in California two weeks ago. A few days after the shooting, I started receiving private messages and emails thanking me for a specific stream of posts I have shared on social media, hashtagged as #findthehelpers (these posts are about people and animals who help in one way or another). One of the reasons I left social media earlier in the year was because I grew so frustrated with the communal hand-wringing that seems to always happen when tragedy strikes, followed by (what feels to my sensitive soul at least) business as usual in the next few days. This latest tragedy was accompanied by the tragic chorus, but I was also hearing from people who told me that the things I had shared (mind you, I didn’t DO anything, I just SHARED some things) gave them hope when everything felt hopeless. One woman told me that the thread allowed her to overcome her anxiety enough to take a shower and wash her hair. A dad told me that after reading some of the posts in the thread he was able to get it together enough to talk to his son about school shootings. Someone else said that the posts reminded them that there really were good people in the world still and this knowledge allowed them to move through their depression enough to buy groceries and cook dinner. These may seem like extreme examples, but I saw the same theme repeated again and again. And they made me realize something. When I decided to return to social media, I knew I wanted to be a force of positivity and a voice for what is possible. I started looking for helpers – all kinds of helpers who are helping in all kinds of ways, even without really knowing why. When the latest school shooting happened, I understood why. It was because one of the things we are told after these all too common tragedies is that we need to “look for the helpers”. That’s what Fred Rogers advised. I realized I wanted to have a medicine cabinet for our community full of stories of helping so that when the tragedy strikes, we have a place where we can find the stories that might just give us enough juice to make it to the shower or to work, or to the grocery store, or to school. This whole story is to illustrate what the power of sharing can really do. It can restore our hope and keep us tender, both of which are probably the hardest things to come by nowadays.

As we enter into the holiday season we will be told, cajoled, and commanded in every possible tone and tune to “share”. In both of these cases, the idea of sharing loses something, loses a lot. It becomes flat. It’s a have-to, not a want-to – a duty, an obligation, a responsibility. Buy the presents, get them wrapped, give money to the Santa with the bell on the curb because I’m a good person and that’s what good people do. I think that kind of sharing sucks. I actually think that kind of sharing is a travesty against real sharing and discourages it more than anything else. So I am going to say: if that’s how you share then maybe you should just give yourself permission to stop and not share anymore! True story: you don’t have to share.

But…if you are interested in pleasure, dare I say hedonism, then you probably want to share, like a lot. Share what you love, what brings color and depth, scope and breadth to your life. It is the most pleasurable activity because everyone benefits – the person who shares and those who receive the sharing. Like prayer, sharing can be done in a million different ways and like magic, our lives are not quite complete without the pure pleasure of sharing what matters most.

I know this was supposed to be a Hearth and Home so here is a quick check-in: Jasper dressed up as the Phantom of the Opera for Halloween and played the piano in front of his entire school. Heath was a baby dragon and those of you who have met him in person know that this was perfect. Dia de Los Muertos in town and at home was beautiful, quiet, still, and powerful. Making Magic is still going strong and I’m about to celebrate its 6 month birthday (if you loved it, please share that!). David and I just completed the Whole30 which is a whole newsletter in itself and we are feeling pretty strong and sassy. You too can #findthehelpers and see all of the ways that #magichappens on my Facebook feed. Star Stories is officially wrapped and soon will be sent to their owners (each one has to get a final proofread) and then I am diving into the next book.
Oh, and another book I contributed to, The Karma of Cats, is out and has a trailer featuring me reading part of the essay I wrote – so I am sharing that (a fitting ending to this letter) and wishing you all a blessed week!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Creating Ceremony Lesson Two: And Now You Wait…

Ceremony and Ritual

M

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.

Books Are Our Friends

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

Happy Full Moon in Scorpio!

I have been deep in the Scorpio vibe over the past two weeks as I have been finishing up the manuscript for my forthcoming book Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary. I am SO pleased to announce that the manuscript is now finished and soon to be headed off to the publisher!

So many of you have been with me on this journey, checking in, offering support, and the kindest words of encouragement and I am so thankful and deeply appreciative of every single one of you for showing up and being there.

At some point, when I am not dog tired, I will write at length about how the last leg of this phase of the project has gone and what I learned along the way, but right now I am headed out to enjoy the glorious weather and to make some sweet offerings of thanks and gratitude at my altar in honor of my Holy Helpers.

The above picture is a snapshot of *some* of the books that have been included in the recommended reading section of my book. When I was running a bookstore with my best friend in San Francisco her husband asked us one time to describe the kinds of books we wanted to carry in our store. We are both pretty articulate ladies (my son says we talk A LOT) but we flailed about for words. Finally we settled on blurting out in exasperation: these books are our friends!!!

I still feel that way today. The best books are more than words on paper, they are friends. And I am lucky to have so many, my wish is that you do too.

Now get out there and relish this deep and magical moon!

In love and blessings always,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Blessed be the animals that are our friends.

Daily Blessings

Blessed be the animals that are our friends.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.