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.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Low Risk Securities

Foundations

M

iracles,  securities

The final area of our lives to pay special attention to while Mercury is retrograde in Cancer deals with privacy and security. This is not a good time to install a security system but it is a great time to do research on what security system is best for your needs and the needs of your home. Think and feel into what makes you feel secure and then do research and at the end of the RX period invest in those products. Mercury RX in Cancer can often reveal to us the areas where we are not as secure or where we need more support so pay attention to omens and information that you receive during this time.

Likewise, Cancer is one of the signs affiliated with money so make sure that you are watching your finances during this time. We are especially vulnerable to attacks and break-ins during this astrology so exercising extra vigilance and deciding intentionally what you want to make available and what you want to have locked down and classified as “for your eyes only” is a very good move with this astrology. Valuable should be insured and all insurance policies should be up to date.

Magically doing protection work is an excellent idea at this time, especially around your home and those who dwell within.  securities securities 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: What Nourishes?

Foundations

M

iracles, nourishes

While there is definitely a focus on personal relationships during Mercury retrograde in Cancer, that is not the only area of life touched by this astro-event. Cancer is the sign of home and family, even the sign of Moms and Mothering but it is also the sign the presides over the ways that we relate to food and nourish ourselves.

That means that this is a wonderful time to reassess our habits around food, cooking, and eating. Again, recent events already have had us preparing to do this. Long lines at grocery stores and the unavailability of certain items have meant that many people who before 2020 did not know how to boil water can now whip up a decent three course meal. Veggie gardens and backyard chickens are in many ways the new black for 2020 but this Mercury RX period intensifies our ability to really dig into the theme of nourishment.

We can do this by thinking about our kitchen (and actually organizing your kitchen and making a list of what tools you do and do not need) is a great way to begin the process. Consider putting a shrine up in the kitchen to your favorite Ancestor who loved to cook or to a Holy Helper like St. Pasqual – the patron Saint of cooking! Then, dig into what really leaves you feeling good and nourished as far as food goes. You can even experiment with making magical recipes!

Are there foods that you have been eating that do not leave you feeling your best? Identify them and take the needed steps to remove them from your diet. If you have not identified any foods that don’t agree with you, don’t be surprised if during this period you discover that there are some. Are there foods that you love that you consistently forget to include? Make room for those as well.

This can be a wonderful time to take a cooking class, buy a new recipe book, or dive into the food of a particular region that you have not yet experimented with. This can be an excellent time to plant a garden if you don’t have one or learn about various community CSA’s that allow you to support local farmers.

Though the focus is on food and wine allow yourself to expand your considerations to ALL of the things that leave you feeling nourished.  nourishes nourishes

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mercury Retrograde in Cancer: Home Bodies

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles, cancer

When we think of Mercury Retrograde we typically think of computers frying, travel delays, and losing our car keys.

We don’t tend to think as much about being at home during Mercury Retrograde because Mercury is not a hearth and home kind of planet – he is a traveler, trickster, and magician on the move.

But when Mercury retrogrades through Cancer those things all change and our hearth, home, and home life become THE focus.

This year this retrograde takes on a special poignancy as many of us have been forced to stick to home and our family members in unusual ways. This retrograde period gives us a chance to show our homes appreciation in the form of scheduling or committing to minor and major repairs.

While this is a good time to get started on repairs, the actual Mercury Retrograde period is not a good time to buy equipment so if you know that you need a new hot water heater, microwave or dishwasher you might decide to purchase those things before the retrograde period begins.

It is a great time to redecorate or begin planning a redecoration scheme. Redesign or remodeling are also supported at this time but often remodeling projects are also delayed given the Mercury retrograde movement. As we all have been at home more we have noticed that there are certain areas of our home that simply do not feel organized. Mercury RX in Cancer is the perfect time to make a list of the things that need to be reorganized and then start doing them. This can be a good time to look into refinancing a home.

Typically this is NOT a good time to try to buy or sell a home – you can make plans and have a review of what needs to be done to get your home ready to buy or sell but trying to make the transactions happen during this period is not advisable. In the same vein, this is not a good time to look for a new place to rent nor is it a good time to try to put a rental on the market.

This may be a period where you have a big realization about your home and your home life – you may find that you really love and appreciate something that beforehand you took for granted or you may discover that something that up until this point has not seemed like a big deal actually is a big deal. Take note: conversations with landlords, banks, and roommates can be especially fraught during this time, especially if you are seeking favor or cooperation of some kind. If you need to have a conversation like that better to have it before Mercury goes retrograde and that way you already have agreed upon terms once the RX period occurs.

This is an excellent retrograde to work with as we feel into what home really means for us – what we need from our homes and where we locate home. Ultimately this retrograde gives us a chance to get clear on and integrate what the new normal with respect to our homes is all about.

Whether that means that we are now working from home more, expecting to have our children home with us more frequently or calling on services like grocery delivery that allow us to go out less and stay in more, we are all experiencing a deeper relationship with the actual places that we live than we have in a very long time. Mercury Retrograde in Cancer supports this relationship and the insights that come out of it. One of the best times to do house blessing work!

Homelessness is going to be a problem that blooms over the next months. If you are blessed with a home and want to honor and acknowledge Mercury’s work on the homefront during this retrograde period consider making a donation to an organization that serves homeless populations where you live, it is a beautiful way to enchant your aid.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

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.

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.

Full Moon in Libra: Open Horizons

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

I am often asked about power. What is it? Who has it? How can we get it? Why do we give it away? Is it even something that can be given away? Why do people take it? What does right relationship with it look and feel like? And, most poignantly of all, what if I don’t have any?

Power gets a lot of air time. More than one excellent coach or teacher talks about standing in your power, claiming your power, and naming your powers. Superpowers have migrated from the comic book stands and pages of graphic novels into self-development circles, and I even teach a year-long course that looks at how stories and sacred arts put us into touch with our native powers. Power certainly gets around.

And yet, for all of that, it is still a very confusing topic that often feels raw and tender and alien, as if power is a special substance that belongs to someone else but not really to you or to me. There seems to be an epidemic feeling of powerlessness in our personal and collective lives.

For this month’s full moon in Libra, we look at the power of open horizons. For many of us, at some point in life – or even at most points in life – the horizon does not feel open and the way does not feel clear. We each carry a lineage, a lineage heavy with feelings, thoughts and experiences that tell us that the way is closed – that is, that we cannot do it, no matter how hard we try and no matter how good we are, and that it is not going to work out in the end. Or, that even if it does work out in the end, it isn’t really going to make a difference anyway.

 These are not abstract ideas. They are stories about real people and lived experiences handed down parent to child, grandparent to grandchild, aunt to niece and nephew, cousin to cousin, brother to sister. They are the stories, many of them sad, many of them hopeless, many of them fatalistic, that form the warp and weft of our lives. They are the material and habits of mind and thinking that suck the wind out of your sails and the power right out of your blood.

And that is just the inheritance many of us receive. It does not touch upon the counterproductive – or even just plain bad – philosophies, ideas and relationships that we fall into and buy into all on our own!

Our first impulse may be to try to throw off all of these things weighing us down, to move forward without looking back. But the very curious thing we find is that the special power and meaning of open horizons unfolds within a deep relationship with its opposite.  We tend to think the opposite of an open horizon has something to do with stifling limitations.  But this is only one kind of opposite, the one that contradicts. There is another, and that is the one that complements or completes.  Usually we stop with the contradictory and don’t go on to consider the other side.  But the true complementary opposite of the open horizon is not that terribly powerless feeling of being limited, but is, rather, feeling at home in the world.

Let’s call it ‘homefulness’ for now – a full feeling of actually, for real, being at home. What is that really like? Now under some conditions the dwelling places we call by name “home” lack this feeling; but the feeling of true homefulness, of being at home, I think you will agree, is far from a painfully limiting indolence, or a trap, but is much closer to a joyful flourishing.  Think of one of those big beautiful trees you see around on occasion.

To bless the open horizons of our life, therefore, is also to bless our being truly at home in the world in some way, shape or form.

Now the real secret is that deep in the heart of our heavy lineages, the ones that stand in the way, somewhere this true sense of home resides. What is implied by the thickets of misunderstandings and bad ideas and bad actions – the ones that alienate us and others? It is, in truth, the very possibility of home, of feeling completely, utterly, wholly at home.

If you want to start at the beginning, and hone in on what creates an open horizon in the first place – if you want to discover the actual open horizon in your life – look to the feeling of being at home. Where is your true sense of being at home, of belonging?  Where do you actually locate it? If you can find that for yourself, then not very far away from this you will soon discover the freedom and potential that comes with an open horizon, the journeys yet to be traveled and those great discoveries yet to be made by you.

There is, moreover, a small magical act than can clear the road and open the way. It is a power, one that I consider native ground for every single one of us and it is this: our choice.

You get to choose. You get to choose your approach, your attitude, your priorities. You get to make a different choice if the ones you have been making are not working.

You can choose to tell the same sad stories or to tell a different set of stories, ones that work as good medicine strengthening heart, soul, mind, and body all together. If you do not have any happy stories in your family then look harder. If you still cannot find them then guess what? You can choose to create them, to write them, you can choose to live them.

Also too, you get to choose the teachings and the teachers and the learning that inform and color your own life. What ideas give you strength to stand and act with wisdom and courage and love? What teachings or teachers do not?

You get to choose what experiences you learn from and what experiences you choose to give value to and you also get to choose what experiences do not have the depth or weight to bear down upon you any longer. In short, you get to choose what you want to keep and what you would like to finally set down.

It has been said that our choices make us who we are and I find that to be true. But more than that, our choices reveal to us who we want to be, and our choices influence those around us too. If you are looking for a spiritual practice you could stop now: the choices you make every day and the way you live them is the practice that we have all signed up for.

Now to be clear: making a different choice does not mean that everything will always work out well in the end, or that you can avoid and escape the tough stuff that you are about to run headlong into. It is a power and like any real power it must be nourished, refined, and cultivated.

But that is the magic of an open horizon. The magic begins with the thrilling kiss of the unknown, and can lead to great mystery and wild adventure, or it can lead you to your true home, or to a little church in the mountains where just the right prayer can be prayed. The road is open and you get to choose how you want to travel it; how you want to show up in the world today, tomorrow, and every day after.

Divination Question for Full Moon in Libra

The power of choice and the open horizon that it creates is an especially appropriate theme for the Libra full moon since one of the great teachings of Libra with her balances and blindfolds is that our choices matte and that also, we make them every single day. So under the light of Luna in Libra, consider a situation that has been sticky and tricky for you. Then, with the divination tool you love best, try asking this question:

What would happen if I made a different choice?

Lunar love to each and every one of you!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.