Hearth and Home Vol. 21: Being Seen

Alchemy and Magic

H

appy New Moon in Leo!

I’ve been feeling that Leo vibe this year, more than usual. Necessity, the old proverb goes, is the mother of invention. Challenges to our social habits have forced so many of us to look to images in a fresh way as means of communication, in ways perhaps more pronounced than other years.

My grandfather was a Leo and when I think about the best qualities of the amazing, stellar, lion, I always think about him. Right now, I’m thinking about him a lot.

He showed up fully himself wherever he was. He loved a good party, loved the spotlight, loved drama and excitement. When there wasn’t any drama to be had, he was happy to create it himself!

For me, Leo is all about showing up and letting yourself be seen. If we can’t show up in person, we are forced to find and create other ways to show up. This year I have taken that literally, and I am sharing a lot more on Insta. If you don’t follow me there, you should!

The power of videos and visual storytelling was brought home to me earlier this month when Jasper, our 9 year old, tried out for the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio. This year, auditions couldn’t be held in the usual way, and so every performer needed to make a video – with no pauses or cuts – introducing themselves and performing scales plus 3 different prepared pieces of music.

It was a lot for a 9 year old cello player. On the first day of taping, we had to get the giggles out, but on the second day, he rocked it, and soon after we learned he had been accepted!

What will the city-wide Youth Orchestra look like this year? Who knows! But kids who love music showed up and played their hearts out. In one form or another, the show will go on, and I am fully confident they are going to learn oh-so-much on their journey together. Also, major props to my beloved husband David for making the video happen and for handling ALL music practices at our house…it is a lot of work, and he brings so much excellence to it just holding that space for Jasper.

I have even more exciting visual news. My publishing team and I have decided on a cover for my upcoming book Star Child: Joyful Parenting Through Astrology and I CANNOT WAIT to share it with you all – soon, soon!

Our family has settled into a solid routine. Since school is beginning virtually, we will be able to maintain it, more or less. Jasper is excited to launch into 3rd grade and Heath is delighted to be home and speeding through the neighborhood on his Strider balance bike. He collects little treasures on his walks and delights in harvesting tomatoes and trying to sit on the (very patient) dog.

The boys go for long walks and bring home all kinds of magical goodies. They found the bird’s nest (pictured above for me) and arranged items in it for me too. I love that they put an eye milagro in the nest. It was as if they knew mommy has been contemplating vision and visibility.

I’ve been busy making fall plans for the gardens and for courses and classes I want to teach, including a free call on the upcoming Mercury Retrograde (I’ll probably talk about the Mars retrograde a little bit too) and a brand new offering steeped in magic and story that I am thrilled to share with all of you.

Many of you especially loved receiving a prompt in last month’s Hearth and Home, so here is one for this month:

What am I seeing right now and how am I letting myself be seen?

(The Leos in your life approve of this question, promise!)

As always, from our family to yours, we wish you a beautiful and magical month full of goodness!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 20: Just Add Water

Lunar Letter

I

t is hard to believe that I have not sent out a Hearth and Home since December of last year!

There have, of course, been Things Happening. First, for me, was the completion of the manuscript for my second book, Star Child.

I spent January, February, March, April, and May writing, polishing, and writing some more. My original due date was May 1st but due to the Coronavirus and myself and my husband suddenly finding ourselves thrust in the roles of homeschool teachers like so many other parents around the country, I received an extension and finally got the beast in the second week of May.

I am really excited about this book which explores how we can joyfully parent with Astrology as a guide – I think the past months have shown how much it is needed and I cannot wait to share more about it with you all!

At the beginning of March, I was in my beloved New Mexico, celebrating Jasper’s 9th (9!!!) birthday and eating dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with some dear friends.

By the time we drove back to Texas, everything was on lockdown, Spring Break turned into a semester of homeschooling and an appalling number of people grew sick and died from the virus.

Jasper’s school went online and Heath’s, our 2 year old, day school closed altogether for the semester. We found ourselves like everyone else adapting to a new rhythm and facing new questions and concerns, especially when it came to our children.

In our household, one of the things we learned early on was that the boys needed to get outside and move around and stretch their bodies first thing in the morning.

Our schedule morphed from making breakfast, packing up backpacks, ensuring teeth were brushed, diapers were clean, and clothes were on before loading up into the truck to get dropped off at school to herding everyone outside, applying lots of sunscreen and bug spray and making sure bike helmets were securely fastened. During our morning walks, we would chat about the schedule for the day and, after making the block we would return to the house and water the gardens.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I descend from a long line of farmers and gardeners, that I love plants, and that I grow many of the plants that I work with magically. I noticed though, as this past Spring found me more outside than I had been in a long time, that I had allowed gardening to take a back seat and in particular I had neglected the task of watering – one that I have always loved and enjoyed. Now, while I generally have a tough love philosophy with most of my plant allies (you kind of have to in South Central Texas), I was amazed and a little disappointed that I had somehow become too consistently “busy” to water the garden. The boys turned watering into a grand adventure and unsurprisingly I started seeing growth from plants I had forgotten I had even planted!

We are now in the dead heat of Summer so we have to wake up extra early to water, go for a walk, take care of the chickens, and all of the other animals we share our land with, but we do it and I do it because what I have learned, what I have remembered over the past few months, is that water is magic. Even though we are in the middle of 108 degrees July days our gardens are verdant and beautiful and nourished.

When I think about 2020 I see a year that has been full of what rootworkers call Crossed Conditions. From the virus to the anger on the streets and on the screen to needless and unjust deaths this year has tested all of our mettle.

The oldest understanding of Crossed Conditions is that they are times where we are dried up, dried out, and devitalized. The remedy is an invitation to do the opposite, to add water, to call upon the things that nourish, sustain, and protect…the things that keep us tender. What those medicines are is different for each person but now as we have just passed the mid-point of the year, I encourage yourself a couple of questions – consider it a ritual for today’s New Moon in Cancer.

1. What in my life has gone un-watered for too long?
2. How can I restore it?

The answers will surprise you and the remedies are almost always simpler than we think. Watering as a morning ritual, an act of devotion to our land does not solve all of the problems. It doesn’t make the answers easier either. But it does remind me that amid the dried up times that seem perfectly poised to suck the essence right out of us, there is an ally, a Holy Helper and that sometimes all we need to do is just add water.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 15 From Walking to Dancing

Foundations

M

iracles, phase

The biggest news without a doubt this Hearth and Home is that Heath – our just-turned one year old – has started to walk! He has been a super fast crawler for a while, but the second week of July saw that crawl turn into a full-fledged walk.

Not a few tentative few steps either, oh no. He went for a full-on saunter clear across the room, making his way over the electrical socket much to the chagrin of his parents. The walk was accompanied by as much arm waving and giggling as you would expect.

Walking is, of course, a huge milestone in the life of a baby (and his parents) and it is one way of marking the end of one phase and the beginning of another. I remember when Jasper started walking. All of a sudden all of the drawers were being opened all of the time, and all sharp implements had to go high up on the kitchen counters out of reach of tiny probing hands. I know what I’ll be doing when we return home after our New Mexico sojourn!

You could say “New Phases” has actually been the theme for our whole family over the last few weeks. Jasper has entered into a new artistic phase, not only reaching new heights in his piano, but also discovering a love of dance.

Whether he’s putting together a series of original compositions for an album, preparing four pieces for a Royal Conservatory of Music exam in the Fall, or dancing ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, theater or modern, or even learning how to draw Manga, this little boy is full of exciting new discoveries. He also loves getting ready for his flag football season and using his tennis racket both to hit actual tennis balls and to wage battle against a host of unseen but no doubt definitely threatening invisible forces.

David and I have entered into a new phase as well. Life has gotten incredibly busy (even more so) since the book came out. The letters I have received from readers who love Making Magic have touched me so deeply, and I am yet again so appreciative and in awe of our beautiful community.

You all are amazing. As we turn our attention now to the launch of Spinning Gold, we find ourselves inundated with new possibilities and projects including new travel, teaching, and writing opportunities.

Though I am the “face” of our business, David is my partner in every aspect of it and we make our decisions together. Right now we are exercising keen-eyed discernment so that we can say Yes to the opportunities that we believe will truly nourish our community and our family while also saying a firm no to the ones that, at this point in time anyway, will not.

For myself, I have found that once you have even the tiniest bit of success in the public, it becomes infinitely more important to have a clear vision of your real telos, your purpose, the thing that you are aiming towards. I’ll end this section with a reminder: if you have read Making Magic please get thee to Amazon and leave a review for the book – the more reviews = the more people that find the work!

More new phases: Our family as a whole has entered a new phase in the realm of entertainment. We don’t watch a lot of television, as my long-time readers know. But in the summertime, we let that house rule slip a little. This summer we have immersed ourselves in the wonderful, zany, psychedelic, a world of musicals. They are, in our opinion, the perfect antidote and medicine for inoculating us against the horrors that we encounter daily in the 24/7 news cycle.

I never really realized until this summer how almost every musical is dealing with themes like love in times of war, prejudice, racism, and tyranny of all kinds. The fact that they do it while singing and dancing…well, I think we could take a page or two from that book!

We rounded out the month with a book signing in Santa Fe, the ordering of backpacks and lunch boxes for school (children have very definite opinions. This should be an easy project but it is NOT), and the creation of a couple of custom pairs of Chaco sandals – which are and have been for years my favorite shoes.

The next two weeks will see hiking, coyote-led sing-a-longs, walking, and of course, dancing. May all you find what brings joy in these deep summer days too!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 9 ~ Magic in the Air

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Happy New Moon in Scorpio. Today is a time of depth and magic making. Here is a blessing to get you started, it is a blessing for the Dead and very appropriate for this time of year.

We are padding softly into November as this month is much quieter than rowdy October and begins to really unfold into the late Autumn and Winter months that are some of my personal favorites.

On Halloween we dressed up (Jasper was a gladiator, Heath was a wizard, I was an owl, and David was a Mystic) and went trick or treating. We always have a Halloween party at our house that my family joins us for because trick or treating in my neighborhood is a ton of fun. My fave costume this year: little ones dressed up as Coco from the film. There was also a pretty fantastic family of Pikachu creatures.

Then, early on November 1st as I lit candles and incense at my ancestor altar and made the first round of offerings I sent in the final copy-edited version of my book manuscript. I really took my time on this last round of edits because after sending in the manuscript there is no more editing, it now goes into the next phase of production and any significant changes result in delaying the entire schedule. It felt very good to send in the manuscript while I was also honoring and listening to my ancestors, exactly right for a book about magic!

The last few weeks have also been full of the kindest words, compliments, and votes of confidence for this work of my heart in the form of some truly fantastic endorsements. I wrote earlier about endorsement gathering – how it is this process of both great humility and also fantastic surprises.

It has been so interesting to see who is too busy to endorse, who is willing and ready to show up and endorse, who makes time even though their schedules are crazy busy and who does not. I have learned much about various figures in our community that I have admired and looked up to and have been so floored by the kind words and support that have come from corners both expected and also unexpected.

On a side note: do you keep a running document of the times that people compliment you? If not, can I suggest that you do so? My publisher has me keeping a word document with all of the endorsements the book has received and when you are having a crap day or someone has said something unkind or thoughtless it is a really powerful exercise to look at the words of kindness and praise that have been lavished on your work. It is not about feeding or stroking your ego, it is about reminding yourself that the work you do makes a difference for people, makes lives just a little sweeter, just a little better. Do it. Make your list. Pin it to your wall. Add to it regularly.

The boys are doing beautifully. Jasper had a 1st grade bike race last Friday and, though he only learned to ride his bike two weeks ago (which is better than me as I have STILL not learned how to ride a bike!) he finished in the top seven. We have been working on homework together and I am teaching him something that I constantly remind myself of and tell my students too – “to make double-sure” that everything has been addressed. This is important in math, spelling, reading, and yep, magic too.

Heath is headed into 5 month old territory. Yuletide came a bit early for him as we found this amazing subscription box that has answered one of my most burning questions: where does one find toys for infants and what toys are appropriate? Love. This. So we are playing a lot and going on lots of little adventures. He is teething and so it is very much “hold him at your own risk” because you will be slimmed by his drool, but he is so ridiculously cute that no one cares!

Meanwhile, in between books and babies and seven year old boys, David and I are creating a new astrology course that will be really incredible (I can’t wait to share!). I wrote a Magical Missive on creating a prayer bundle (and you can find all of the other Magical Missives right here), there is a new Talking Shop Podcast up, and of course Mercury Retrograde is right around the corner so you all need to freshen up on What to do BEFORE Mercury goes Retrograde.

I wrote a review on Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s The Fool’s Journey Tarot Collection. Go to the post on Canto, leave a comment, and sign up for BPAL’s newsletter to have a chance at winning an ENTIRE SET of the Magician oils – yeah, they are all out of stock so this is pretty spectacular.

We have also been in mid-term madness over here – someone stole my Beto yard sign, can y’all believe it?! The results are now in and the dissecting is getting going in earnest. News, staying on top of it, but also not letting it totally stress us out and depress us, has been an ongoing subject of interest in our Sacred Arts community. My favorite source for news these days is the Skimm. It gives me exactly what it says: a skim of major events and then I can go deeper if I want. It is delivered in a smart voice that is also just a bit valley girl funny and for some reason that mix is really hitting the ticket for me right now.

In other news, did you know my friend Alexandra has a new book out? It is called So This Is The End and it is a love story with a twist – you have 24 hours of life left – what do you do with it? Y’all know I love questions like this!

And if you need more in the way of books, you can pre-order Theresa’s latest – Tarot for Troubled Times – right here.

Over at the Sacred Artists group we are going to spend this month talking about two of my favorite subjects: FOOD + MAGIC. Come join!

Oh! And last but not least – Jupiter is moving into its home-turf of Sagittarius today. I hosted a call about this that you can listen to here if you haven’t already and there is still time to sign up for Light the Way magic – you have until noon, central time to get in.

Blessings for a beautiful and brilliant November!

xo,

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 8 – Refilling the Cup

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Happy October!!! On the night of September 30th, as I was cleaning up from the Archangel Michael Feast Day, I glanced at my October calendar, and nearly started to hyperventilate. Oh. My. Goodness. We are now full-on in the season of magic, which means that I am full-on busy, add to that all of the school functions that happen in October, the birthdays (mine!!!) and anniversaries (also mine!!!) that also occur in October.

Looking at October, I began to feel what I can only describe as dread at all the busy-ness, which is NOT how I wanted to go into the month. So I stopped before panic mode truly set in, and I asked myself: OK, Bri – you know you have a lot going on this month, so what practices do you need to be really vigilant about in order to enjoy your favorite month of the year?

I thought about this question, and I felt into it just as I have my students do. I realized that I needed to commit to practices that really support me in feeling expansive when it comes to time and space. The month had not even started and I was feeling like I did not have either! For me, these practices are active imagination journeys – the kind we do in Spinning Gold and the kind I have taught in the Miracle Tree Sessions for several years now. They always begin with cultivating calmness, then my working place in the Otherworld always starts at the crossroads and I go from there. I was telling a friend of mine that the first part of the year, right up to this month, has felt like a huge out-breath. It has been so active. I have been so active. Writing a book, having a baby, traveling quite a bit over the summer, a full roster of students that I work with one on one…all really good things that I absolutely love and also all very outwardly active experiences.

Now that the skies are grayer and the weather will (maybe? hopefully!) start to cool down, I was struck so profoundly with the need to go inwards. For me that is more quiet time in my daily practice and prayers, planning with an eye to next year, and reading, reading, reading. I stayed away from reading books while I was writing my own because I needed to WRITE, but now I am making up for lost time and averaging about a book a day. Not even kidding. I’m reading fiction, non-fiction, and everything in between. I am spending time listening to podcasts and just soaking in inspiration and ideas and gorgeous words. This is better than any ten thousand dollar retreat – holding Heath, reading or listening to something interesting, then turning to my husband and talking with him about it. This, my friends, is pure gold in Briana-land.

So I’m reading, I’m cooking more, I’m making time and space to write, I’m playing with my three month old, I’m snuggling down with my seven year old and telling him a different version of Blue Beard or the Twelve Dancing Princesses or Iron Heinrich every night. I’m listening to my Holy Helpers. I feel the next wave of creative ideas and inspiration coming.  I can see the shadows that wave is casting – good, robust, luminous-on-the-inside shadows. I can taste its depths, and I am taking care of myself, re-filling my cup, so that when it is ready to crest I will be ready.

These realizations turned what was looking like a pretty scraggly cat of a month into something glossy and plump, wild, and wise. A time of year that I am actually going to linger through and savor and enjoy. My birthday is this month on October 13th and on that same day Heath turns four months old. He continues to be a really happy child, reminding me to RELAX and PLAY and have FUN. Our seven year old, Jasper, teaches me how to be patient and to live within my creativity. J is a deeply artistic child (I’ve shared some of his drawings before and those of you who have met him in real life know what I am talking about). He is the kind of child who does not do something creative, he lives it. By which I mean, he has to be reminded as all 7 year olds do, to put on shoes and brush teeth and feed fish, but he does not have to be asked to play the piano from hi heart or to sit down and draw or to build something out of Jenga blocks. He just does it, as naturally as you please. And sometimes it is funny and sometimes it is weird, and sometimes it is deeply divine and makes you feel like angels striding through your living room. That is living within our creativity. My 7 year old is an excellent teacher and I am trying to keep up with the lessons.

This is also the month when I celebrate being married to be the most incredible man – for twelve years now! David is the best husband, best dad, best partner is business and in life I could ever have been blessed with. He is without a doubt my person, my guy, my love. Both my birthday and our anniversary will be celebrated with good food and forays into the forests as soon as the weather cools down and the mosquitoes become a little less blood thirsty. As I dance into my 38th year I just feel so grateful. So grateful to our gorgeous community, so grateful that I get to wake up and do work that I love with people that I love every single day. So grateful that my beloved and I get to spend our days together, working, wrangling, and loving each other as we do. It is not always easy, this magical, enchanted life; but I would not trade it for anything, and I cannot pretend to be anything other than deeply blessed. So many of you who are reading this have helped make that possible in countless big and small ways. My gratitude to all of you is truly boundless. And I have so many fun things coming up in 2019 to help show that gratitude. I cannot wait to tell you all about them – soon, soon!

A bunch of you have asked about the book and what is happening with it now. So we are now in the copy-editing phase of the production. This is a different kind of editing than what we were engaged in before – if book production was compared to a manicure, then this part is the application of the clear, fast drying top coat. It is important because it brings yet another level of cohesion to the entire manuscript (and it has us all bowing down in devotion to the Chicago Manual of Style). We are now in the last leg of the book formation journey. Any small changes I want to make to the book have to be made by October 31st (yes I know, how perfect is that?).  After that day, any changes start to slow down the next leg of the book birthing process. So I am lingering over my book this month, spending a lot of time with it, taking it for walks, for long baths, going over every word and sentence, story and idea, because once it is out in the world on shelves and in hands, it is not mine any longer, it becomes yours, all of yours, and I want to give you something lovely and thought provoking and well-made.

I am also in the endorsement gathering phase. Getting endorsements is straight up going out into a neighborhood and knocking on a bunch of doors, and asking people who are known to be gifted in seeing and assessing and blessing if they will spare the time and the effort and take a moment to bless you, to bless your work. That’s what you are doing: you are asking for and gathering up blessings. It takes courage. Sometimes the answer is no. But often the answer is yes and the blessing received is so much more than the seeker could have ever imagined. There are more pieces around the book that I will be asking you about soon as I need your input and opinions.

I’ve also turned my attention to writing new material, starting with a long article about Witches that many of you emailed me about and generously shared your thoughts. I love those exchanges. It usually takes me a few days to get back to all of the emails but I love them. It means so much and it is such a blessing to be able to hear what you have to say, what my words encourage you to think about and speak out about in your own lives. That is, hands down, my favorite part of the internet, and we do not even have to do it through social media! I can just write something and send it out to y’all and y’all show up with brilliance every single time. How stellar is that?

So I wrote earlier about re-filling my cup, and here are some of the ways I have been doing it. I have been reading this and this and this. Listening to this. Playing with this and covering myself with these. And I have also made some things for you because I love making things for you. I wrote a little guide on how to incorporate astrology into your planning processes – I call it Planning by Starlight and you can snag it here – totally free: enjoy! I have a blessing for the New Moon in Libra right here for you. And I also want to remind you that I have a litany of blessings if you ever need to be washed over with blessings. Theresa and I have a new podcast episode up. There are also a bunch of articles on working with, honoring, and celebrating our Beloved Dead as we enter into Ancestor Season. And reminder, if you want to know what the latest offerings are, you need to sign up for this email list as I keep this one commercial free. And I wish this for you: a decadent, delicious, sweet as honey, October for you – a time that you are really able to enjoy and appreciate and dive into.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 7: Refusing to Bounce Back

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

Blessed and beautiful New Moon in va-va-voom Virgo! Here is a blessing I wrote for the occasion. It honors our hands – literal, metaphorical, and everything in between. Y’all know I love Virgos – my momma and my BFF are both Virgos and my Venus is in Virgo – so yes, planners, labels, and the Container Store are all catnip to me.

I sat down to write this letter and could not believe that a month has passed since sending a missive out to you all. So much happens for families with school age children those last weeks of August and first weeks of September.We have to get ready for BACK TO SCHOOL with the parent meetings and the parent-teacher meetings, and the parent-teacher-child meetings. I always do a blessing for J whenever he heads back to the classroom and this year I incorporated this delightful oil into the ceremony. I am happy to report on behalf of my precious one that “First grade is awesome, I love it.”

On a more somber note, I have heard from so many of you over the course of the year that you would like to have some instructions or how-to on creating a ritual to protect your school age children in this crazy time when the simple act of going to school can feel so very unsafe. I hear the requests. I see the need. I am on it. When I have it finished, I will make it available here and obviously it will be free.

Amid all of the back to school action, Heath, turned two months and soon he will be three months old – I can hardly believe it, y’all. He is already starting to teethe, which is crazy to my mind, but there you go. He talks and smiles and is ridiculously cute, fun, and cuddly. He teaches me every day, reminding me to be fully present right here and right now.

One of his greatest teachings to me is how to be flexible. For instance, I have a daily journaling practice that I am committed to. Usually I journal first thing in the morning, but for the past few weeks that wasn’t working so well because the morning time is busy with getting J ready for school and then taking care of Heath and all of our creatures. By the time I got to the journaling part, I felt like I had no time, so my entries were rushed and crammed. I decided to switch it up and the relief I felt (and the expansiveness of the entries) was immediate. Babies teach you to pay attention to where you are and to calibrate and re-calibrate as much as you need to: assume nothing!

In the midst of life happening with the boys, two other amazing things happened. Spinning Gold was launched and I am stunned yet again at the gorgeous community of souls that has gathered around this work of my heart. One of my alumni students told me that this course and the practices in it are her spiritual anchors – how humbled I was to hear that! Another, new student, told me a story about how she had wanted to take this course four years ago when I first offered it and every year was not the right time, and finally, finally, this year WAS. I love stories like that. (If you are interested btw, you can still register here as I always do a soft close for this program).

We also just launched the 2019 Book of Hours – yes, because some of us really do start planning for next year in the fine month of September, and I created the Astro RX 2019 page where you can find a bunch of essential astro dates and the questions to consider during them.

And in the middle of all of that, I finished my work for my book! Yes!!! I am happy to announce that Making Magic has come through her micro-editing process and is now off to the copy editors. My editor Amy has been just a joy to work with. I feel very blessed on this count because I have heard many HORROR stories about editors and writers and book editing and that has not been my experience at all.

We authors are the ones with our names on the book cover, but believe me, a book is just like a child in the sense that it truly does take a village. Making Magic has been touched by so many gracious and gentle hands and I am deeply grateful for it. (Psst: to see some of Amy’s brilliant editing in play check out this wonderful book by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann).

Because we are running ahead of schedule with my book, I will get the copy-edited version to review in the last days of October which strikes me as perfect timing given the fact that it will be deep Ancestor season and so my Beloved Dead can assist me with the copy-editing process by looking over my shoulder (hopefully in approval!) Even more kismet – the day the book actually goes to print will be on my husband’s birthday, and believe when when I say that there would be no book without his editorial hawkishness, brilliant mind, and deeply loving heart.

Now that my book has gone off to its next layer of polishing, and I have survived the Back to School craze as well as the re-entry after being away from Texas for a month, I am settling back into my routine. I started spinning again (you know, the crazy exercise routine on a stationary bike) which felt SO good after being away for basically 5 months. My goal the first day was just to stay on the bike because it had been awhile and giving birth is a transformative experience for our physical bodies. I would not say that I have experienced it as physically traumatic (although I know many women do) but  definitely physically altering.

There is so much pressure to “bounce back”, by which people usually mean, fit into your old, pre-pregnancy pair of jeans. This, to my way of thinking, is nuts. It reminds me of what I tell clients who are seeking out magical help to heal a broken relationship. In many cases reconciliation CAN happen, but you aren’t going to go back to the relationship you had before – that’s done with. Having a child is the same. You may be able to fit into those pre-pregnancy jeans and you may not; but even if you can, it doesn’t mean for a second that you have “returned to normal” – as if being pregnant isn’t normal and staying the same jean size your whole life is…seriously, who comes up with these ideas?

The pressure to “bounce back” is not limited to pregnancy and birth by the way. I have had women tell me they heard it from friends and family after undergoing major surgeries, in some cases losing their ability to have children, losing a job or partner, or experiencing some other kind of deep grief. I don’t hear it from my male clients and students at all. Instead I hear from them that they are not allowed to show any change of vulnerability in the first place – in other words, they don’t need to “bounce back” because they are never to be knocked off track in the first place. So here is your PSA if you are dealing with any change, any grief, any hard time: You are not made of teflon, you are flesh, blood, bone, and breath. You are not made to bounce, period. (Unless you are in a trampoline in which case, bounce away friends). Refuse to bounce back – it is a revolutionary stance!

So, now that I am back into the new/old/new routine I also have time to start writing again! I had this moment earlier in the week when I remembered: I am a writer. Which means my work is to write. Which means I need to schedule time in my work day, everyday, to write. I know that probably sounds pretty obvious, but when you have a thriving Sacred Arts business as I do, two little children, a bevy of beautiful students, and you also make magic on behalf of yourself and others – fitting in something else can be tricky. Realizing that writing is an essential (and growing) part of my daily work was the shift in perspective that needed to occur. And it allows me to leave you with a teaser that I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the witch trend that is happening right now as well as the power of discomfort.

I also have plans to be more present at Canto – I have several product reviews I want to share with you all, and I am opening up the comments there so that all of you have a place to express yourselves and ask questions that is not owned by some technocratic monopoly. In fact, if you want to comment on this letter you can do so right here.

In the meantime I am reading this and this and enjoying both of them very much, and I just finished this and it was delightful.

Much love and Happy New Moon magic-making!

What are you refusing to bounce back from?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home, Vol. 2: “XO” – The Best Business Decision Ever

Foundations

M

iracles,

Since sending out the previous Hearth and Home letter, I have received a number of questions about my business, asking for advice or asking questions as specific as Who designs your art work? or Who takes care of your site?

Here’s another question: Who the hell does this girl think she is, doing business so totally on her terms?!

This was a question a colleague-friend of mine confessed to having when he visited my website. It ticked him off a bit that I was carving out my own path, and – you know what? – it inspired him to turn around and do the same thing for his work – to which I say: HELL. YES.

Another dear one wrote to tell me that they found my business inspiring and that my business choices were helping them find their own true voice. I cannot imagine a kinder compliment than that.

So, given all of these queries from many different directions, Mid-Feb to Mid-March has been an invitation to share a few of things I’ve learned about business and life.

Many of us are looking for a balance between work and life. When it comes to the notion of a work-life balance, what I can tell you from my own personal experience is this: when you run an intimate, micro, home-based and heart-and-hearth business, your work is your life and your life is your work. This means it can be difficult to tell which things are being balanced with what!

I think our idea of balance if we leave it unexamined, can often create more problems than it intends to solve. If balancing work and life means that everything is serene and beautiful – and is the sort of balancing act in which things come to a sublime stop – perfectly still, poised and tension-free – this is bound to induce headaches or worse, because tensions and imbalances are, frankly, unavoidable.

So we have to think about balance differently – like, say, balancing on a moving bicycle over rough terrain. Work-life balance for those of us who are micro-business owners is a changing, growing thing, and admits of tension.

By “tension” I mean that owning your own little business can be the most rewarding of endeavors, but if you aren’t prepared for it, this sort of job can drive people up to the wall!

It could be maddening if you’ve been used to good ‘clean work’ at the office, where boundaries are clear and marked out for you already – e.g. when you are supposed to show up at the office, and so on. Working for yourself, you’ve got to be comfortable creating and setting down firm and tough boundaries (e.g. work-flow deadlines), while at the same time you have to know what comes first, stay supple, flexible and adaptable enough to handle life.

The core vision of my business is a pulsing, powerful tree with roots sunk deep into the soil and a canopy that spreads far and wide, strung with stars, and providing shelter to all Soulful Seekers – wherever you come from and however, you show up.

It is this core vision that allows my service and works to thrive and to flourish and (most importantly) to serve thousands of people, while also sustaining my life and the life of my family. And it is that core vision that has allowed me to create a set of values and practices that have informed basic decisions that allow my business not just to be a vehicle, but actually a nourishing source, for my truest voice. So let me share some of those decisions with you.

Decision 1: “XO”

The single most important business decision that I have ever made?

The choice to begin signing my direct emails to clients and student in this way:

xo,
Bri

It is much more common for spiritual practitioners to sign their direct emails with something like “in blessing,” or “love and light”, etc. I do this too on occasion, but I became very clear years ago that I wanted clients, and later students, that I could send a hug and a kiss to, as I would with my friends and as I would with my family.

Decision 2: “No Client Avatar”

If you have ever invested in business coaching you know that often coaches and programs will have you begin by developing your ideal client avatar. That is, you work hard to identify the ideal kind of client you want to attract. Sometimes these profiles get really specific and include information like where the client lives, where they buy groceries, and how much money they bring in on an annual basis.

Try developing a client avatar for a Soulful Seeker though – I dare you! The truth is that we come from all walks of life, so many different zip codes and addresses, so many different kinds of professional experiences – it would be a terrible disservice to everyone to try to rigidly categorize varieties of individuals into one ‘type’.

My work stands or falls on the very real and very precious individuality of every person as a potential Sacred Artist. Being a Sacred Artist, as a creative artist is nothing if it does not flow from the irreducible you and your own experience of the world. Ever and always in my ‘philosophy’, there is room for all. So, no client avatar for me!

And yet, I did need to have a standard, a way of determining “is this person a right fit for both my business and the community that I am building around and through the business?” X and O were the answer. It cost nothing to implement. I just started signing emails the way I had always wanted to in the first place, and of course, my people LOVED it. And yes, there were a few who did not, they went away and hopefully found people and services that were just right for them – because I was not.

I want to do business with real people, and I want my community filled with people that I can hug and kiss in real life, I want warmth, friendship, and real conviviality. That kind of clarity can actually not be found in ideal client avatars and sophisticated marketing schemes – it can only be found by asking what really matters to you and to what you are trying to build and then taking the time to listen – not to an expert but to yourself.

Decision 3: “Build a Better Magnet”

For those of you who pay attention to marketing, you may have come across the terms “push marketing” and “pull marketing”. Push marketing is when someone is pushing their stuff at you either IRL or online. Pull marketing is what happens when a business is compelling enough to pull you in, interesting enough or necessary enough to have you seeking them out. Pull marketing is preferred for a whole bundle of reasons – personally my top reason for liking it better is that it allows each individual to make up their own mind about whether they want to engage with a given service or product and how deeply they wish to engage with the same – you know I’m a fan of sovereignty.

The challenge, of course, is that in a sea of small and micro-businesses and then in an ocean of much larger, well funded, businesses, how does one set oneself apart in the first place so that people do feel pulled to whatever you offer? You cannot outsell or out advertise larger businesses so what do you do?

You build a better magnet.

One of the most consistent compliments that I receive on my business is that it is consistent. By which people mean that the look of my website, the tone of my writing, the way that I carry myself on social media, and the way that I show up in person all feel like they form a whole. They do not feel “sales-y” and they don’t feel like I am trying to market something. Rather, they feel compelling because they feel genuine, and they are. Magnets compel – that’s what they do, they attract and compel. Your business can do the same thing – no matter its size. And magnets are a great analogy because in magnet-land size does not equal strength. Compelling power is where the secret sauce lies.

So, how do you make a business compelling? All sorts of programs will try to sell you on systems trappings and marketing schemes and platforms. But, in my opinion, there is no better way to make a business compelling than to answer a set of fundamental questions about your core vision, and what you actually offer in terms of real content, something genuine and desirable.

Content should not be anything you make up, rather it should be rooted in real, lived, experience and knowledge – or (and this important!) it should not be something you feel you have to imitate.

This is where finding your voice (or even acknowledging that you have a voice) can be deeply helpful. You may really love someone’s work, and think “Hey I can do that!” and begin to imitate them, whether realizing it or not. It happens all the time.

This is natural, because, it is part of how we learn, and as we are inspired by other people’s work, our inspirations and new knowledge nourishes our own expanding visions. Here is where we need to be very careful: not because of copyright infringement (although that is a concern everyone should be wary of) – but the real concern is our own ability to be straight and honest with ourselves. Is this your own work? Is it coming from you? Do you really have a grasp of it? Do you really know what you don’t know? Have you done your homework? Have you paid your dues? Has it been tempered by experience? If you can be honest with yourself to work through these and other questions, the whole problem of imitation falls away.

And for those of you who see that you fall into the twin traps of either imitation or lack of inspiration – check your inboxes. I’ll put money down that you are subscribed to way too many email newsletters from way too many coaches and business advisors who are giving you way too many pieces of conflicting information. This is information overload, and it runs counter to the three things you really need to develop your own true voice: quiet, space, and the right amount of time.

Develop real content and real services that we ourselves are certain we have originated – and that actually works and actually helps. The core or seed I started with was what most resonated for me by a combination of lineage, training, and discovery. (I’m excited to see what you come up with!)

From the name of my company, Milagro Roots, which came to me in a dream, to the image of the Sacred Heart, which I had always loved, to the fact that I write long-form style — these are some of the elements that make me who I am. They are compelling to me and they are compelling to the people who are the right fit for what I have to offer.

I also had great coaching along the way from dearest friends – Roxana, my BFF, who at the beginning of my path, taught me the ropes of “best practices” and showed me how to focus on the one or two things that really matter; Fabeku who is a wise sounding board and as he says “suck-exorcist” for my business even today.

Even though I’m a Sacred Arts teacher and a writer, these practices grow from the most essential, the most necessary, characteristic of all: trusting and learning from your community. The truth is compelling always, telling real stories is compelling, pointing out easily missed opportunities is compelling. Doing any of these things to the best of your ability and your people will begin to notice, and appreciate, and show up…why? Because your magnet is strong.

Decision 4: Embracing Mistakes

Sometimes my website does strange things formatting wise, my clients or students miss an email or inform me that an email was never sent out. It would be a lie to say that my business runs like a well-oiled machine. And I like it that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I do loathe mistakes and I cringe whenever I find a typo in my work, but you know the thing is, I am not a well-oiled machine, my husband who is my COO is not a well-oiled machine, so why should my business be one? Where did such a bizarre expectation ever come from in the first place?

I’m glad that my students and clients can pop into my inbox and point out a mistake or remind me of a glitch – wouldn’t it be sad if we were just only professionals with each other all the time? Wouldn’t that be boring?! I embrace my mistakes and I learn from them. Done and done.

Decision 5: People Matter

Cassandra does all of the artwork for my site, she is also the site developer and the site manager. Nathan provides my hosting. Monica is my virtual assistant. Jessica is my bookkeeper and Danielle is my photographer. My husband, David, runs all of the operations.

It would have been easier and less expensive for me to pop up some generic visuals instead of having custom art created, less pricey to have to host through one of the big companies, and there is no real reason why someone needs to stick with one VA in this day of freelance everything.

But Cassandra knows my style, she knows what visually appeals both to me and to my community, she understands that beauty is deeply needed right here and right now, and her artwork is a medicine that reflects that. She is also a dear friend and we have collaborated together on multiple creative projects – I don’t want generic, I want the specific look and feel that Cass was able to tap into for me on day one.

Nathan is Nathan. That means that whenever I hit a glitch, or have hackers trying to invade the site, or find that the site is down, I just send a message to Nathan and he gets back to me immediately. (I wonder if he sleeps). He fixes whatever needs to be fixed AND he always teaches me how to do something as well. I don’t even have to talk to an automated voice and I don’t have to wait because Nathan is on it.

Monica is my VA. Several years ago we worked together and then she had a baby and left her VA lifestyle. Last spring I knew it was time to get another VA and so, on the off chance that she might say yes, I emailed Monica. Why? Because Monica knows me, she knows my business, and I know and love her. If you are interested in the magic that is Monica you can email her directly right here.

When David and I started working together a lot of people who know us gave us that sideways glance that said (very loudly) “are you sure??!!” It is always tricky when a couple decides to dive into working with each other, but we had done it before and we knew it was the right fit for our family. We also really love spending time together, working together, and we happen to excel at very different skill sets. David has his own projects as do I, but there is no one I could trust with the essence of both the community and business that we are building like I can my beloved.

Jessica is my bookkeeper. I hired her because I hate bookkeeping and I also am not the greatest at it. When we first decided to work with Jessica it was a significant expense for our business – one that started saving us money almost immediately. Jessica’s role in our business is two-fold – she does our accounting but she also is a tangible reminder that it is beyond worth it to invest in someone who has a needed skillset for your business that you either do not have or that you have zero interest in developing yourself – she reminds me how to care for myself, my right work, and our business.

Danielle Cohen has taken the beautiful photos you see on my website. There are many amazing photographers to work with but Danielle is who I work with consistently. I felt that having professional photos was such a luxury and not really that important for the longest time. Last May, when I met up with Danielle in Santa Fe and we had an hours-long photo shoot, I realized how essential having some good photos is – not for marketing or for social media – although they help – but for me, for reflection, for a visual testament to my role within my greater community.

One of the things that I consistently teach is that the Sacred Arts are custom jobs – they are unique to each person. That means that you have to see each person, each unique being, with clarity. We are not interchangeable people or parts.

People matter. This is a core belief of my business, it is something I talk about all of the time. What would it mean if I ran my business in the exact opposite way – as if people didn’t really matter that much? As if a “team” was just an interchangeable group? It would fly in the face of everything I stand for, and it would make the business far less compelling too.

Decision 6: Listening, Not Asking

As a tarot reader I know that what Henry Ford said is true “If I asked people what they wanted, I would have made a faster horse.” All of us have a hard time asking for what we really want because all of us have a hard time imagining what is really possible. Many businesses love to do surveys and get customer feedback and opinions. I too love hearing from my people but I do not send out surveys, I do not ask my people what they want. Instead, I listen to what they are already saying. That was why I started teaching online. When I first developed my business, I did not think that I would ever be teaching online, but I listened to my community and what I heard was: we need a teacher, so I stepped up. It really was that simple.

Decision 7: Giving Back

Many businesses talk about the donations they make to various not-for-profits, which I think is fantastic. This is one way to give back, and there are others. I like creating free ceremonies for everyone in my community, and I partnered with Theresa several years ago and we now have created quite a resource for mystical business owners through our Talking Shop podcast. These are little ways to give back, to keep paying the love and learning forward, each act can make a significant difference.

Decision 8: Core Principle

Finally, I think all businesses, but especially home-based, heart-based businesses need a core principle to live by. Knowing what comes first and what last is more than half of the whole. This is the guiding principle not of your business but of your relationship to your business. For my work, it is this: our business is here to support our life; our life is not here to support our business.

Now I love working, so this is not easy for me to say.
But what this means is that I will always put our lives first – my family’s lives, and this also means your lives. In other words, in my work, I take no interest in slick marketing schemes designed to boost profit, but the real thing: what is ethical, reliable, down-to-earth, consistent, and what possesses integrity. I will not trademark the term Sacred Arts or create a certification program – because the essential teaching I promote is that Sacred Arts belong to everyone and the work we do in our community boils down to deeper self-knowledge. You can’t certify that; you just pursue it and do it.

If I am not absolutely convinced that the substance of my teaching, writing, and services do not promote life, by encouraging the development of Sacred Arts in our real lives as it would make sense to each of us; if they don’t actually help real people, I am resolved to pitch it out, even if I know it will make more money.

That means that if I have to re-schedule an appointment because my son has a school event that I missed writing down, then I do it. My clients know that about me, I don’t hide it, and my community members not only get it, they appreciate it. Again, this is consistent with my practice that our spiritual practices should support our lives, not vice versa. Each person gets to decide what their rule is; and when you do, tough decisions all of a sudden become much easier to make.

Thus I will set aside time for family and friends in need, because I know that if I can’t show up here in a genuine way, then how can I expect to show up for you?

The upshot of the core principle as I’ve described it is that it means putting substance first. This is my north star.

These are highlights, not the whole picture, but some of the parts that I think are the most important when it comes to my business. Thanks to all of you who have been asking for inspiring me to jot them down!

Other highlights since the last letter came out include:

Getting the baby’s nursery ready! I FINALLY finished my registry, for those of you who are wading through the insane world of car seats and strollers let me just say that I feel your pain. I mean, I’ve translated ancient Greek texts and Sanskrit texts too – I would rather do either than shop for strollers.

Celebrating all of the Pisces that I know and love — my son, my husband, one of my best girlfriends, and beloved teacher – my first week of March is birthday fantastic!!!

Transferring the completed, hand-written manuscript of Making Magic onto the computer. The first step in this process is getting the rough draft in and trying not to wince too hard at the roughness of the draft. This will be followed by some hardcore honing and polishing. It’s a good thing I can type fast.

Receiving love notes, like the one above, from Jasper just out of the blue. Writing and reading are absolutely magical acts – never doubt it.

Wishing you so much love as we head into the Pisces New Moon on March 17th. Here is a blessing for that New Moon by the way.

xo,
Bri

Image credit: Jasper’s note to me!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.