Tenderness, The Breaker of Curses

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

To be cursed is to be dried up, devoid of moisture and suppleness, brittle and lacking the essential ingredient of life: fresh, circulating water. The most harmful afflictions of body, mind, spirit, and soul are those that seek to take away, ignore, and otherwise exploit our ability to be tender towards ourselves and towards one another. The remedy for this affliction may take many different forms, but always includes blessing what is tender within you.

In many different cultures, the evil eye is understood primarily as a “drying” condition, one in which your money dries up, your health dries up, your fertility and verve for life also dry up. In opposition, to be blessed is to be moist, supple, full of flowing water, clean, bathed, and tender like new shoots of grass, tender like fresh green wood sprouting forth from a tree, tender like the water filled skin of a newborn baby nestled up safely in your arms.  Losing one’s tenderness, therefore, is tantamount to losing one’s life.

The loss of tenderness and thus of life is not difficult to achieve. Let yourself be taken over by anger, envy, jealousy, hatred, and fear, and you will know how easy it is to do. You can observe for yourself the negative consequences of being taken over by these emotions, how they cause a withering and a contraction in your life and relationships.  But even so, we may come to doubt the need for tenderness. Why be tender in a world and in a time that seems so often to only reward the tougherthannails? How does one cultivate tenderness in the face of violence, bloodshed, and injustice? What is tenderness other than one more vulnerability, easily overcome by those who are “stronger”? How do we stay tender in times such as these and how do we bless our tender places?

We bless our tender places by calling in the waters. We call in the waters so that we might cry good and salty tears, make nourishing soup, wash the dust off our clothes, and irrigate the seeds we have planted. So that we may drink of the waters and bathe in them, washing ourselves clean, literally renewing ourselves. We call in the waters from within, reaching deep and accessing the sacred well that may be blocked or polluted, but is simply waiting to be set free, waiting to be cleansed so that it can run, rush, and spring forth from the solid ground of your very life.

Tenderness – and the circulating life waters corresponding to it – points to the deepest parts of our resilient nature. Resilience is a power, and it is what makes for much needed hardiness of life and soul. Sometimes it seems that there is no water to call in, no source of nourishment, of lifecelebrating and lifeprotecting magic. But finding the water, finding the sources of life and nourishment, is not an easy task. Especially not when you look around and all you see is hard, sunbaked rock, packed gravel, and too much asphalt.

I have lived most of my life in desert regions, and so I know from firsthand experience the water that is there, hundreds of feet under the ground and flowing in madly rushing rivers or collected in fathomless lakes. You don’t see it, but it is there. When the territory around looks most inhospitable to tenderness, then you know that you are in exactly the right spot to fill yourself up with all that gives life, all that keeps you supple, all that keeps you tender. You may have to dig for it, you might have to learn to collect it drop by drop from precious rainfalls, you may end up going on a pilgrimage to find it; but it is there, waiting to be called upon.

To bless tenderness is also to protect it. Click to Tweet

In desert areas that are hot, arid, and dry, the culture is one of toughness, and even the plants with their prickles and thorns seem to just be waiting for their chance to chew you up and spit you out. If you neglected to look closely, you would be forgiven for thinking that toughness and hardness is all that matters. But soulful seekers DO look closer, and what we find are that the plants with the best boundaries are the same that have the most tender, water-filled skins. They give us the blessing way. Find the water, find the sources of life, and when you do, keep them safe; build a good boundary around them. Don’t just let anyone access your tenderness, choose actively and with discernment who and when and where receives the privilege of your softness.

To bless our tender places is to ask for and gladly accept help. In many cultures there are Gods and Holy Helpers who bring the waters of life, bring the rains, bring the thunderclouds that roll in with their big noise, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and reminding you that you are very much alive, creating with every breath you take, holding an infinite cosmos within your very body. We are not islands meant to do it all on our own. We have two-legged and four-legged, winged, clawed, fanged, and finned relatives who are here and ready and willing to help point us in all the right directions; so we look to them and we listen.

Finally, tenderness is meant to be shared. Like water, it requires a solid vessel, the boundary of the cacti, to keep it stored up safely; but once we are filled up with it we cannot help but overflow. The overflow happens in many ways through tears and laughter and deep kisses and long touches, through creative work and vibrant dance, and the sweet sound of the saxophone or drums under the stars. These are all medicines, results from the blessing and safe keeping of your tenderness, that literally spill forth and out into the world much like water, nourishing much like water, and restoring so many that are on the brink of death back into life.

Tenderness is no small thing. It is, in truth, a source of the greatest strength. It is not the weak spot or the pain point to be covered up, but rather a sign post, the tracks in the snow, that carry you forward to your own headwaters, no matter where it leads. So remember that anytime the flow feels blocked, anytime your skin feels shrunken and life feels too dry, relationships too brittle, and your broken places too yawning and jagged; remember when you feel raw and exposed, vulnerable, or too tender, remember what lessons tenderness has to teach you about your own hardiness, your own deeply resilient nature. It may be time to bless your most tender places and call forth the waters once more.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Want the best love spell? Do this.

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles: Valentine’s Day (one of my most favorite holidays ever!) is right around the corner. I am known for having a deft hand when it comes to love magic, in fact, my writing on the ins and outs of love magic has even been published in a book. So it isn’t really surprising that during this time of year there is one question I am asked again and again:

What is the strongest/best/most awesome love spell you know?

There are many ways to make beautiful ritual when it comes to love. But the best ritual act I know of?

Love yourself.

We are frequently told to love ourselves. As far as advice goes, it’s right up there with honoring our boundaries. However, we are not often told why. Why does self-love matter? Why should I bother with loving and taking care of myself, especially if my focus is to draw a new lover to me or keep the lover that I have happy and satisfied? As it turns out, a lot.

I advise my clients and students to love themselves because the first step in doing that is learning to pay attention, and that in turn makes us really excellent lovers. As important is this truth: we teach others to love us by the way we love ourselves.

 

Think about it: do you want someone to show up for you consistently?

If so, ask yourself this: am I showing up for myself?

 

Want someone to be generous with their time, their money, their attention?

How generous are you to yourself?

 

Desiring sweet words and deep romance?

How do you speak to yourself? What romantic thing have you done just for you and just because?

 

After thinking about these questions and their relations my favorite thing to do ritually is create a sugar jar, a magical microcosm dedicated and consecrated to you…being the best lover of yourself, ever.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to be the greatest lover ever

Lunar Letter

He prayeth well, who loveth well Both man and bird and beast — Samuel Taylor Coleridge from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

(Listen to this lunar letter by clicking here).

We yearn for one thing more than good health, wealth, power, or influence.  What we desire most of all is love. We want to make it, give it, and receive it. If our jobs are upside down and we find ourselves in a financial mess, it doesn’t matter as long as there is love. And when we feel the absence of love, everything else in our lives can be wonderful and amazing and that doesn’t matter either. Without love everything just seems flat, dull and lifeless.

What does it take to be a really good lover? Flat abs? Regular romps in the bedroom? A little blue pill? Lightning striking the first time you kiss or touch? No. What about the practical stuff: agreement on the fundamental questions, ability to communicate with one another effectively, mutual respect and admiration? Again, no.

To be the greatest lover ever there is only one thing you need to do:

Pay Attention.

It sounds really easy, right? Pay attention…I can do that, anyone can do that!  And this is true, anyone can do it, but all too often we don’t. Why? Because paying attention means looking beyond your beloved’s strained smile when they get home from work, seeing the stress around their eyes, and even though you have dinner to make and a dog that wants to go for a walk, stopping everything, taking their hands in your own and saying “tell me, my love, tell me what’s going on.”

Paying attention means putting down the phone, the computer, the baby and saying “honey, let’s go out to that new place you’ve wanted to try.” It means touching, holding, and kissing not the way you always have, but the way that your beloved needs you to — right now, today.

John Duns Scotus, a medieval theologian and philosopher, defined love in this way: I will that you are. To understand love in that way, as I will that you are, is to say that I love you — I want every single day for you, I want every moment for you, I love your existence in this world, I love your being in and of itself. To will that someone else is, is to pay attention and embrace all that they are, all that each of us is…our shiny parts, our dark places, our stories, our scars. Love that pays attention sees the miracle of the beloved’s existence every single day and is resolved to be responsive and alive to it.

Something more happens when we pay attention as well. We begin to fall in love over and over again. We fall in love with our beloveds, our partners, our spouses every single day. But more than that, we fall in love with the world…with the way that sunlight falls on this branch of ivy after an afternoon rainstorm, with the way that fat purple crocuses surge up, up, up to the light through the ice and snow, we fall in love with the sound of a hawk’s cry on the cold north wind, and with the squawking of fat baby blue jays filling their bellies with blackberries. And so it is that it doesn’t matter whether you are in a love “relationship” or not.  We are all lovers. There is something or someone that you hold precious, something or someone that is your very own beloved, something or someone that is no less than a daily miracle.

This lunar letter was  brought to you by the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the devotion of Jim Henson, and this album of Cantos de Amor by the Gipsy Kings.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Venus in Retrograde

Divination and Dreams

Birth_of_venus

D

ear Miracles: So… Venus, the planet ruling love, romance, sex, and relationships of all kinds is ready to go retrograde.

Quick reminder: retrograde is when a planet appears to be going backwards in their elliptical orbit. The most famous retrogrades are the three periods of Mercury in retrograde that we experience every year; a Venusian retrograde is a different animal altogether.

Typically this is a time when deep romantic relationships are either made or broken — if there has been a someone in your life that you have been ambiguous about (or they you) then expect some rapid clarity and decisive action with respect to that situation over the next month. (It might be time to ask for a clear and definitive sign).

Often old lovers and exes may also show up…especially if there is unfinished business to deal with. Of course, all partnerships you have and deep emotional ties are fair game for review and re-assessment, two activities that are present in a retrograde no matter which planet is reversing their celestial tracks.

From a ritual perspective this can be a beautiful time to work on reconciliation, have deep talks with your object of affection, and made final decisions about whether you should stay or go in your current partnership. Because of the decisive element in this retrograde this can be a period of intense, and final, break-ups as well.

For married couples and those in deeply committed relationships, use this time to consider what is working and what might be improved in the coming year…and above all make time to be together in all ways that feel pleasurable and luscious.

Honey jars are a perfect way to celebrate a Venusian Retrograde but if an ex shows up where they are not wanted, don’t forget about banishing the ugh vibes!

 

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

A Blessing of the Body

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles: I am really honored that this blessing which I wrote years ago inspired Diana of the BunnyKissd blog to put it to one of her gorgeous photos. In the midst of your hectic Holiday it is our prayer that you too will take a moment to recall how blessed and beautiful you are!

 

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

10 Ways to Heal (and deal with) a Broken Heart

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles:

Being brokenhearted sucks.

Even with a broken heart, most of us know intuitively that we are better off, we’ll learn a powerful lesson, and we’ll know better next time. But in the deep night when our chest feels like it has a huge, gaping wound and our guts are tied in knots–all of that knowledge is a sorry source of comfort. Much of my work deals with love and romance and I have seen my share of broken hearts personally and professionally.

One of the worst things about being brokenhearted is feeling like there is NOTHING you can do to help yourself. But there is!

I offer you a hand-picked list of ten ideas to help light your way through that darkness:

 

1.) Sit with it and feel it.

Breneé Brown has two terrific TED talks on vulnerability and shame. Go listen to them. I’ll wait. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make and I’ve made it myself is to run away from feelings and thoughts that are not pleasant; feelings that might be a little scary or even a lot painful. Don’t run. Heartbreak will only follow you. Before you heal, you’ve got to deal.

 

2.) Stop the blame train.

If I hadn’t done that; if he had said this.” On a superficial level, does it matter who has the lion’s share of blame? Maybe.

On a soul level, does it matter?  No.

If you start hopping on the blame train try rephrasing it this way, “The next time I am going to focus more on,__________” or, “Right now I want to feel_________.” These are petitions that can actually help you.

 

3.) You are not an island.

Heartbreak is an underworld adventure for your soul.  In our times of heartbreak it may look on the surface like everything is fine while inside we feel dead like a zombie, checked out, departed, and alone. Your journey is yours but you are not an island. Our lives are constantly touching and rubbing against each other. Call on your friends and family for support.  Do not make every conversation with them an opportunity to figure out what went wrong or slam your ex.  They have lives, too.  Ask about them and what they’re dealing with.

 

4.) Invest in kindness to yourself and others.

Book a massage, get a heart-healing anointing oil, volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a kid learn to read. Heartbreak rides on the fear that you have nothing left to give. Oh yes, you do.

 

5.) Embrace Beauty

Read good poetry and/or make a space for something beautiful. Fresh flowers, the art museum, your local Waldorf School’s Gift shop. Beauty heals.

 

6.) Get pissed.

Feeling wronged? Swallowing anger makes us sick. Wallowing in anger is the basis for many Greek tragedies. The trick is to focus your anger. Make it a ritual.

Think: prescribed time, place, opening and closing and then create an activity to help you purge. Burning all your pictures of him, kick-boxing a bag with her face on it, putting an entire garden bed in, just letting yourself yell for half an hour. Let it out so you can let it go.

 

7.) Admit that it is not all OK

Understand that everything will not be all right for awhile. This is not a failing. This means that you are a living, thinking, breathing creature who gives a damn. Never feel bad for giving a damn.

 

8.) Revenge = no bueno.

Revenge is motivated by a desire for justice and fairness. The problem is that revenge also blocks out justice and fairness. You are better than that. Do something crafty, like making a salt jar instead.

 

9.) Treat it like trauma (because it is).

If you had a head injury you would be careful with yourself.  You would learn about what might heal and help you.  You would not expect too much too soon.  Heartbreak is a trauma. Treat it as such.  Learn about healing emotional trauma and also about spiritual cleansing.

 

10.) Accept help.

One time I went hunting with my uncle. It was right after Christmas, about 4:00 in the morning, very dark and very cold. My uncle does not hunt from a blind. He picks a spot and beds down with his dogs. As anyone who has seriously hunted for meat knows, most of hunting is waiting and watching. I saw lots of things in that cold, dark morning. Some were real and some were imagined.

This terrain is similar to what we travel when we experience heartbreak. Dark, a bit alien, unfamiliar but presences make themselves known to us sometimes because we are open in a unique way. Pay attention to what appears. If you need assistance in thinking about that contact a spiritual worker.

Heartbreak is hard, but in a broken heart there is room…for grace.

 

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Know (and be grateful for) your Limits

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles: This from Wendell Berry: “Unlimited Economic Growth. This is the pet idea of the Party of Hardheaded Realists. That unlimited growth can be accomplished with limited materials and limited intelligence, only shows the unlimited courage and self-confidence of these Great Minds. That unlimited economic growth implies unlimited consumption, which in turn implies unlimited pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth, only makes the prospect even more unlimited.” Wendell Berry from Sex, Economy, Freedom, & Community

My petition for today:

May we all be limited. May we know our limitations and be grateful for them, for they are the boundaries which keep us honest, impeccable, and full of integrity-in our work, our lives, our relationships, and our hearts.

True confession: Being a mom and running your own amazing company is hard work. Being a mom is hard. Running a company is hard. Doing both…hard! Also, awesome, beautiful, blessed-absolutely yes, but sometimes on the interweb I think the beauty can be overemphasized and the difficulties minimized. I am ridiculously blessed to be able to work from home, bring in great money, and be with my 18 month old joy and light, of that there is no question.

But it is also a challenge. Like when I look on various social networking sites and see that my colleagues can be so much more active-because their early mornings and late evenings are not monopolized by baby stuff, or when I know that I could grow my business even bigger, faster, more profitably if I did not have to allocate so much time a day to, you know, rearing a child. 

Snatching moments when they appear, noticing that many of the wonderful women who preach and teach about marketing, business savvy, and all the rest don’t have children, returning to blog posts after being interrupted for feeding, napping, diaper changing-whatever-and struggling to pick up the thread of thought like so many bristle blocks on the living room floor. Epiphanies happen on the walk to baby day at the library, in the pediatrician’s office, projects of power and prosperity are dreamed up while taking out the diaper trash and can’t be written down until the wee hours of morning when everyone is finally, hopefully, asleep.

But having a business, a child, a thriving family simply accentuates something that we all-men, women, moms or not have to deal with — limitations. My time is limited-having a baby just makes it more clear-but it was true before and it will be true once he is, God willing, all grown up. My energy is limited-again-always has been, always will be. What I know is that these limits are not something to be overcome, transcended, broken through-they are present in my life as reminders that there are natural limits all the time. No one eco-system can support all forms of life.  Trees, plants, animals, water sources-typically grow within a limited space with limited food supply and limited support-this is a healthy ethic. When they are unbounded or unlimited they choke out other species, the flood, they catch fire.

Growing monocultures like corn year after year, season after season is an example of unlimited growth-and you know what? It kills. It kills the soil, it kills diversity, it kills the life of a small farm and the small scale economy that is natural and needed for the farm to survive. Unlimited growth is seen in corporations-that pollute, deceive, and concern themselves only with the bottom line. Unlimited growth might mean I make more money, have more clients, get to spend time on this social media place or that-but it doesn’t make my life better-it doesn’t make me a better person, it certainly doesn’t make me a better mother, and I know its not good for business either.

We don’t like thinking about our limits. Listen to our political discourse and you know its true-unlimited money, unlimited health care, unlimited military spending, unlimited education, unlimited war mongering, unlimited jobs and on, and on-both sides—we like expansiveness, we have a can-do attitude, where there’s a will there’s a way and if that road is closed we will just make a new one. I think some of this is good-it comes out of our Democratic belief that circumstance should not be a limiting factor on who you can be and what you can achieve, all minority groups have benefited from it in part and we have collectively accomplished great things.

But when we look to nature we see limits-and we may find how richly life thrives when limits are embraced and accepted. We spend so much time wanting to grow, develop, progress, make more, do more, see more that we forget to stand strongly where we are right now in this moment, after all, it could be our last. That’s the ultimate limit-Death-and what a sorry day it will be if we ever overcome it-for its presence is what makes life blessed and precious-it is by knowing intimately our limits that we find true expansion, good work, shining presence.

So…

May we all be limited. May we know our limitations and be grateful for them, for they are the boundaries which keep us honest, impeccable, and full of integrity-in our work, our lives, our relationships, and our hearts.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.