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.

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.

New Moon Blessing in honor of Leo

Lunar Letter

N

ew Moon Blessing for Leo

Come now and quicken to life bright spark, still now burning in the ashes and ruin and rubble of what was not to be.
Covered over, covered up, hidden from sight still you burn, giving off light, devouring excess and turning it, once more, into bright warmth, one of the oldest magics.

Call us to ourselves.
Call us together.
Call us to one another.

So that we might cook and feast and be nourished.
So that we might dance and laugh and make love, skin on skin under the moon on the coldest night.
So that we might tell stories to each other, looking through the flickering shadows you cast on the walls, and into each others’ eyes.
Witnessing how every soul is radiantly gorgeous in the light you shine forth, through the ruin and the rubble, seeing clearly.
We remember you bright spark, burning in all the shadowed places.
Warm us little sun star spark so that our blood dances, our hands speak, and our hearts beat out the sacred drum, giving beat and resonance as our voices lift up and are heard,
once more.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Thanksgiving Prayer

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles,

A little blessing to share with each of you, who I am so thankful to and for, that you might make use of it whenever you have need.

For the spaces in which we gather, thank you.
May all have a safe space in which to gather.

For the ones we gather with, our people, our creatures, our blessed and broken lands, thank you.
May all find friendship in many places.

For the food that we eat and the water that we drink, thank you.
May all have access to safe and wholesome nourishment.

For the harvest we call in, thank you.
May all have the opportunity to plant seeds, nurture growth, and taste the fruits of their labor.

For the many loves we celebrate and share, thank you.
May all have the capacity to give and receive love many times over.

For the very breath we breathe, thank you.
May all have the chance to live their best possible life.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now, ever, always.
Thank you.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Where do our prayers go?

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

As lovers of the sacred arts – people who dream magic and dance and weave, tell stories and sing together – we are lovers of something we feel is much broader, more luminous, higher or deeper, something more meaningful and more wholesome, than the affairs of a dusty and dim political world, a world so deeply scarred and fractured, as it sometimes seems, beyond repair. If we could live on the Isle of the Blessed, far away from the squalid disputes and the daily strife, how many of us would not choose to do so at once?  (Indeed sometimes you will find me preferring to live under a Magic Mushroom, with a good book of course.) But the scarred and fractured world is our world. It is the one world we have. And it requires our love – especially the love of those of us who are lovers of the sacred arts.

Who better to teach us about these matters than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  In his Letter From Birmingham Jail, which I encourage you to read, Dr. King articulates the four steps for any nonviolent political campaign. Those four steps are:

1.    Collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist
2.    Negotiation
3.    Self-purification
4.    Direct action

An essential part of self-purification is self-examination. If I am physically threatened during a campaign, will I hit back? Do I have the inner strength to stand my ground, and in standing my ground, most importantly am I prepared to turn the other cheek? If I can put myself to the test, and say in all seriousness “yes, I am prepared to turn the other cheek” then I am ready for the campaign. If I cannot honestly affirm this, I have still had work to do.

On the basis of what Dr. King argues in his Letter, I suspect that he understood prayer to play a significant role in the process of self-examination.

This is because prayer here is much more than a mere entreaty to obtain something. We put ourselves to the test. Prayer and blessing call us out. By praying, we are expressing a desire not to hide, but to lay our cards on the table, to get real, to be honest with ourselves and with others, and to get with it.

The upshot is that direct action occurs long before any picket line is created or protest signs are made.  Prayer in this sense has a direct action all of its own, in the truest sense of the word, it is an action that works directly on us.

In other words, prayer and blessing that is only externally directed is not prayer or blessing at all. There is no blessing way in that. When tragedy strikes the understandable reaction among people of all stripes – among religious people and even among people who do not identify as religious – is to pray for a better outcome, to pray for healing, pray for light (even though sometimes what is actually called for is healing darkness), pray for love (even though what might be more useful is clear-eyed discernment), to pray and then…do nothing, change nothing, learn nothing.

As the Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “the function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”  Prayers must go inwards too. They must put ourselves to the test, strike at the roots of who we are, what we think, what we say, how we treat one another and how we live.

In a world in which sometimes seems like a runaway train, these are the results – this is the action – that truly makes a difference.  May it be so!

And, for those of you who would like to get in on some group blessing, I am performing a FREE community altar for La Señora Guadalupe on her feast day, December 12th. Learn about her and send in a petition to be included in our family altar by going here.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Why Walking Away is Rarely the Answer

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

If you remember in the August Lunar Letter, we looked at what it takes to be a soulful seeker. In a word, we saw the need for an “eyes-wide open” faith, which stays alive to our deepest and our sharpest questioning. In response to this Letter, I received several thoughtful messages from you asking me to write/speak on a related topic: what should we do when soulful seeking becomes a divisive wedge in relationships? 

This is a question I receive quite often, in many different forms, and all of you who wrote to me are right. This is a problem that needs to be addressed in our sacred arts communities.

One person finds herself trying to explain why she would like to have an area of her home dedicated to candles, prayer and contemplation, or to divination practices, and her spouse looks at her as if she’s sprouted a second head. She can take only so much of this, and begins to wonder if she should divorce him.

Another person tries to tell his secular Jewish parents that he would actually like to attend the neighborhood synagogue regularly, not just during the high holidays, and they roll their eyes at him, and his relationship with them suffers. They always seem to do and say things that undermine him.

Someone else finds herself unable to explain to her Baptist grandmother the finer points of her astrological chart and becomes worried that at any moment said grandmother may begin talking about the Devil’s handy work. She used to spend long afternoons with her grandmother, but it is becoming more and more difficult to do so – and she is even wondering if it wouldn’t be better for everyone if she stops visiting all together.

Yet another person finds herself making excuses and covering up when talking to intellectual friends who are skeptical of spiritual matters. She worries she’ll lose her friends.

Someone else no longer can talk to family, has becomes estranged, because she feels they stand on the other side of a vast unbridgeable canyon.

In order to belong, we can often feel we need to cover over our eccentricities. But if we do that, in some way it feels like we are betraying ourselves. If – on the other hand – we try to proclaim our differences proudly, then we risk destroying our relationships and isolating ourselves in unsupportable ways.

This is a tough one, people! And it is a very, very old conflict. One of the toughest things is that every relationship is different.  That means that there’s no silver-bullet, one size fits all, solution.  But the good news is that you’re not alone.

So what should we do? To approach this problem, let’s begin by identifying a trend. We see more and more commonly in our sacred arts communities today something like the following solution to the problem:

You come first. Do what is right for you no matter what the consequences. When conflicts arise the choice is clear: keep the spiritual teachings and practices and leave the relationship – even if it is your beloved, your parent, your sibling or child. 

Now let’s buck the trend and see what happens.  Try this on for size:

Relationship is first. Do what is right for you in the deepest and truest sense. When conflicts arise the choice is clear: if your spiritual teachings destroy your relationships – if they do not teach you how to approach relationships with greater wisdom and understanding – go back to the drawing board, seek wisdom, and ask, what is right relationship here, what does it look and feel like?  

Why might this alternative approach interest us as soulful seekers?  For one thing because the greatest mystical and sacro-magical teachings the world over emphasize one thing more than almost any other: right relationship.

Right relationship with the mysteries and powers of a magnificent cosmos.

Right relationship with our dear neighbors and loved ones (not to mention with strangers.)

Right relationship with ourselves.

There are times when certain relationships do indeed need to come to an end, or at the very least be re-assessed. And it is true that in some cases weaving spiritual practices into our daily lives can appear to create conflict.

But if certain relationships need to end, could it be because of – and not despite – the real need we all have (all of us, without exception!) for good and genuine relationships in our lives? If conflicts appear to be stirred up by practices, could it be that they were already there in the first place, but that somehow we were not acknowledging them properly?

The single greatest problem with the simplistic “you-centered” remedy is that relationships can never be avoided. Try as we might to make ourselves numero uno, we find ourselves again and again having to live and work with people.  Stubborn, intractable people!

Instead of trying to escape from this conflict without success, we might do well to consider the alternative. What if the very people who best push our buttons – the ones we love the most – and the very deepest conflicts in our lives, are our best teachers, the ones who grant us an perfect opportunity to seek greater understanding and wisdom, therefore to do soulful work? Just as we would never wish away our friends and best teachers, so we might do well to cease trying to escape from, or rid ourselves, of these conflicts at the roots of our life as human beings and as soulful seekers.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?  After all, one of the most valuable things we can learn from divination practices such as the Tarot as well as so many other sacred arts such as the storytelling tradition of faerie tales is not how to flee from conflicts, not how to put “ourselves first” no matter what, in order to soothe away conflicts temporarily. We learn, rather, how to fight well! We learn how to embrace the unknown and get out of conflicts and difficult times with more grace and wisdom, more wholeness and holiness, than we had before we went in. That is, we learn true sovereignty, and how to enter into a deeper more objective and vital engagement with relationships, facing conflicts with compassion, understanding and greater insight…and, above all else, a “can do” attitude characterized by inspired and wise action.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

A Ritual for Mothers of Lost Children

Ceremony and Ritual

M

other’s Day for all of the Hallmark-esque marketing and posturing, does celebrate a vital and often looked over presence — that of the Mother, Mom, Momma, Ma. For many women, the holiday marks a special day when they get to take a break and relax, and it gives their children and partners a chance to honor them in extra special ways. These are all very good things. However, a group that is often looked over not just on Mother’s Day but in general, is the group of women and men who have lost children.

One can be a mother of lost children regardless of gender, and the stories span the spectrum…from children who are missing, who have died in all numbers of ways, who are present in body but disconnected from hearth and kin. One can be a mother of lost children too if one wished to have children but was unable for so many reasons not to conceive or carry to term. Some mothers of lost children had to walk away from their child, not wanting to but not having, or seeing, any other choice. Other mothers of lost children made a conscious decision not to bring children into the world…but the decision was not simple or easy and it is not ever forgotten. Many mothers of lost children live in a hellish limbo, in countries around the world torn to pieces by war and poverty, by avarice and cruelty – in many cases these mothers watched as their children were forcibly removed, or worse, in front of their very eyes.

We tend to disregard or look beyond these mothers of lost children generally, for how does one speak, sit, listen to, comfort someone who has faced this greatest of all losses? It often feels too much to bear and that one’s lack of experience will show all too plainly — that we will do or say, think or act in the wrong way. Maybe so. Our attempts to comfort, to heal, and to bless are not always elegant, they can be clumsy for sure, but simply to decide to act in kindness towards someone, especially someone who has known such loss, is an act of healing in and of itself.

So for those of you who wish to celebrate Mother’s Day this year I have a ritual for you. It does not involve candles, incantations, or a beautifully decorated altar. You need only three things: a phone, the name of someone you know who is a mother of a lost child, and a phone number.

The ritual is simple: call up this person and let them know that you love them, let them know that you see them, talk with them on this day about whatever they want to talk about. Take a few minutes to do this. If appropriate let them know how they have been a mother to you or to ones you love. Thank them. Love them. Bless them in the ways you can. It matters more than you think and it makes a difference more than you know.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.