Hearth and Home Vol. 11 The Angel’s Share

Foundations

M

iracles,

Happy and blessed New Moon in Capricorn! This is a moon for business and strategy, plotting and planning. It falls at the beginning of the New Year when everyone is all about planning anyway. Our visions of sugar plums have been replaced by bullet journaling, filofaxes, the magic that is JetPens, and of course the Sacred Arts Book of Hours.

I love planning and planners. I always have. My Venus is in Virgo which means that organization is like catnip for me. I especially love working with astrology and planning by starlight. Years ago, when I was pregnant with Jasper, our oldest, one of my colleagues asked me how I was doing everything that I did. I was over 6 months pregnant and my business was exploding with both one-on-one work and teaching. My response? A ruthlessly organized and followed calendar. Plotting everything out and physically making time for each thing on my calendar – and then actually following through with it – allowed me to grow my business while also fostering the growth of a baby.

At the end of 2017, when I knew I was pregnant with our second child and had a book deal (and therefore a book to write) in my hot little hand, I realized that I needed to take planning to a whole new level. You name it, and not only did I have it on my calendar, I had auto-scheduled it in my email server and on social media. Every “t“ was crossed and every “i” was dotted, and everything had been triple checked by myself and my team.

Whew. Does it sound exhausting? Planning actually doesn’t have to be. It is very clear to me that I could not have done everything that I did in 2018 if I had not allowed some very well made plans to shape and inspire my work. Yes, inspire! Planning has given me the time and space that I needed to write my book and be with my little guys, the time I took to make and plot them was time incredibly well spent.

For those of us who never feel like we have the time or space to do what our heart longs for – actually being able to have the time and space is sometimes all you need to catch the scent of the wild animal we call magic. As sacred artists, then, I think it’s high time we give the art and practice of planning it’s proper place…as a much needed sacred art in the 21st century.

After one of the most exciting years for me both personally and professionally, does it surprise you to hear that my New Year’s Resolution is to slow down in the right way and not plan things in detail? On the one hand, this is hilarious…I have a book coming out this year. I will be traveling some to promote it, teaching classes, and I have a whole bunch of new exciting things to share with you all. Plus, Heath will turn one this year. Those of you who know young children know that this means he will start walking and talking. And if Jasper at one was any indication, that means that all of the silverware in my household has to go up on the counters – especially the knives – and all the outlets have to be plugged up VERY securely. So…slow down? Ha!

But I am. In the right way, and this is key. And for me, part of that means – gulp! – not planning everything down to the tiniest detail. There are several reasons for this. This article gave one good one that has to do with productivity and the endless, ceaseless, calls to be more productive (whatever that means) and how they are a bit, or a lot, tyrannical.

Plans are sneaky. You create them, and you feel in charge. But they have a way of turning that around – so that you are tempted to stay on task and keep to the plan even when that doesn’t feel right, even when that isn’t really in alignment with what you are focused on or what your community is asking for. This did not happen to me. In the middle of one of my busiest periods last year I heard a clear call to offer up a certain kind of magic – a healing kind – to the community. It involved consecrating crystals over a full moon cycle and sending out readings to those who needed them and I had ZERO time for it, but I did it because I heard the call. And when I learned that there were some people in our community healing from heartbreak and cancer and physical abuse…well, it made sense and affirmed what I have always known which is that my Holy Helpers know better than I do. So I listened and responded.

But it was hard, harder than it should have been, because my plans had gone from creating more space, freedom, and time, to locking me into routines and commitments that did not allow much room for spontaneity and the magic of the unexpected. Making room for the unexpected is something I am devoted to – I think in our world and maybe in all worlds, we have to be. The unexpected illness, playdate, gallery opening, writing opportunity, teaching engagement, friend from out of town who bought a surprise plane ticket and showed up, job loss, financial hit – the unexpected is the thread shot through with the glitter and the grit that makes the warp and weft of our lives so very interesting and precious. In whiskey making there is a term to explain the 2% loss of liquid that occurs during the ageing process (usually occurring in wooden barrels), it is known as the Angel’s Share – this is the offering up of whiskey that is made to the angels (or if you talk to old whiskey makers from old parts of the world, the faeries). It is not perceived as a loss but rather an offering.

So I am doing the same thing with my plans for 2019 in the name of slowing down in the right way. This is where planning is lifted to a whole new level – from a compulsive activity to a genuine art. Plans will have to be made, charted and plotted. But there will also be spaces left clear and clean and unfilled. In the name of creativity, spontaneity, and the unexpected. I’m leaving spaces open so that I can hear what I need to hear, know what I need to know, and do what I need to do…for myself and my family and for our greater community. Think of it as an offering to the angels and the faeries, the glitter and the grit.

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 10 ~ Does Anyone Here Speak Sumerian?

Ceremony and Ritual

T

he Sumerian-inspired subject line of today’s Hearth and Home is brought to you by my seven year-old son, Jasper, who has been availing himself to my Sumerian dictionary. Yep, you heard that right: Sumerian. Like from ancient Sumer. Actually the text I have is more than a dictionary: if you want to, you can learn how to read Sumerian cuneiform, based on scholarly reconstruction of archeological findings. It’s a solid tome, and, you know, practical if you want to learn Sumerian. He has plans for this book, he is going to try to cram it into his bookshelf so that it magically becomes his, that’s right, the bookshelf in the picture – do you think there’s room?

Who in the world would want to learn Sumerian? NO ONE speaks or writes Sumerian anymore. It is truly a dead language, written and spoken. And yet this very fact is what makes languages like Sumerian so attractive to some people (and certain 7 year olds).

Y’all should have seen J as he tried to wrap his head around the fact that Sumerian is dead. The notion that a language could be dead is actually what brought cuneiform to life for him, lighting the whole thing up like a Christmas tree. Now there are scraps of paper with cuneiform marks all around the house. (One of the groupings of marks he copied, means “liberty”, according to scholars, and Sumerian is the earliest known written language with this concept.) So this ancient, dead language is now the coolest most relevant thing ever, and Jasper has decided he wants to become an ancient culture detective (as he calls it) and find out what really happened to the people who spoke Sumerian.

Oh, and also: he does not quite believe us about the whole “dead language thing” because he woke up last Saturday morning asking who in the household speaks Sumerian. He is pretty sure one of us is holding out on him. Maybe it’s the baby.

I love everything about this. I love the fact that my 7 year old chooses to spend his Saturday morning delving into a magical script from a faraway time and land. I love the fact that he is so sure someone really does speak Sumerian somewhere, and I love the fact that he might just be right…maybe somewhere someone does after all.

Jasper’s tenacity (around ancient languages and generally speaking) is a study in belief. The belief that he has access to this knowledge and that this is appropriate – that knowledge should not be jealously guarded under lock and key or held only be a few. The belief that if he practices at something long enough and diligently enough he can begin to make headway with it. And the belief that there is magic…in old books and ancient languages and everywhere around us if we know how to look. This has been the theme for our family this year, ever-present magic and the fact that while the extraordinary is most definitely part of the everyday, we still have the privilege – and challenge – of dealing with the everyday.

This month ‘the everyday’ beyond the usual work load looks like wrapping up presents and picking out gifts, decorating the tree, and sending out Christmas cards. I unashamedly and unabashedly love Christmas, Solstice, Yuletide, and the Omen Days that come after. I love it all. I love the sparkle and the color and the corny music. I love the excitement of the kids. I even love the pangs of sadness – the way that I miss by best girlfriend because when we lived in the same city we did our Christmas cards together. And the way that I miss my grandfather who loved this time of year above all others. I adore the stillness and the quiet of the cold air and the sparkling stars.

We often hear it said that the holidays are hard. And they certainly can be. But there seems to be an expectation that they should not be so hard…that everything should be happy and joyful and perfect. To my mind this expectation is rooted in the forgetfulness that the holidays are in fact HOLY days.

Genuine holy days are days pierced and crowned with the qualities of wholeness and healing, and holiness – truly beautiful and magical things. But these magical qualities are no more free of the hard and the tough than the phrase “happily ever after” is meant only for fairytales. Never in my experience has the magic of the truly holy turned away from the incredibly hard. Always it has made room for and embraced it.

This means of course that the genuinely hard times are never far from holy, wholeness and healing – even if it can feel like sometimes they are, even if the grace and freedom you seek feels a million miles away.

I tell my students that what keeps us steady in the face of the hard is our daily practices. These practices change as we do. They morph, they transform. But if we commit to showing up with them, they in turn commit to us and give us a steady foundation from which to work, live, and simply be. These days my practice begins at 4am when I get up before anyone else to take care of all of our animals.

Then, when the weather is favorable, I go outside in my pajamas, with a thick blanket and wrapped up in a coat, and I lay down under the stars. It is dark and cold. The neighbors are mostly asleep (and my neighbors know that I am a bit touched and seem to be OK with that), the wind is usually blowing gently at 4:30am, I listen. I’m watching the stars in part because I am preparing to teach my most ambitious astrology course yet in the New Year. But I am also simply being with the sky and the earth and the air, saying an intentional hello to these elements that surround me all of the time. With so much happening, with so much busy activity, these few minutes of star and moon bathing seem to add hours on to my day.

My practice is also all of the daily stuff. Watching Heath as he begins to eat solid foods…zucchini is a yes, bananas are a yes, as is spinach; green peas he is not so sure about and green peas and rice will earn you a Paddington Bear-esque hard stare. Listening to Jasper play piano at his winter recitals and play basketball (he is learning to catch the rebounds) and loving the way his little brother smiles at him as if he is the very sun itself. My practice has also included the fun of snuggling with my love, diving into Grey’s Anatomy – yes we just started, and yes it is so fun – and figuring out how to bend time and space so that my lover has time to draw and sketch and create the gorgeous art that our homes and lives are filled with.

Business is a practice for me too. I love my work so the scheduling and the follow up emails and the readings, the lighting of lunar lights and the teachings – all part of the practice. First writing and then shepherding the book into this next phase has been a new set of practices I have become familiar with.

At the end of November I got to speak to the publicity and marketing team in charge of my book (we have decided that when we meet in person it shall be over margaritas) and we have devised a very sophisticated marketing strategy…would you like to know what it is?

Write a good book.
Tell your community about your book.
Create an actually useful and awesome bonus when people pre-order the book.
Whip up some fun ways for there to be more time and connection within the community without outsourcing everything to social media or a keyboard…so simple, yet pretty revolutionary stuff huh?

Amidst a sea of bad marketing advice this certainly feels revolutionary. And then there is my publisher and my team, and for us it all comes down to integrity…write what needs to be written, share what needs to be shared, make it worthwhile and let your community know. As Emeril says, “Bam!” I’ll be sharing loads more about the book in January so stay tuned for that but in the meantime I hope you do what the title advises and make some magic for yourself this season.

And on that note, I want to share one of my favorite little tricks for creating some sweet magic in your home. It is the holiday season and some of the tough stuff that we encounter happens in our own families, yes? We can all use a reminder to speak with more kindness and compassion, to listen with more mercy, and to check our snap judgements at the door. One of my favorite magical tricks to inspire this behavior is to fill the sugar canister with whole vanilla beans, one for each member of the family. As you place the pod into the canister, name it for the family member and bless them with the following blessing:

“May your season be full of love, warmth, and kindness for yourself and for all you come into contact with.”

Of course you can also utter a blessing straight from your heart.

When you bake with the sugar or add it to your tea or coffee, it will call to mind the sweetness that you have wished upon yourself and everyone in your family. Want another little home sweet home enchantment? I’ve got one right here. And for those of you who have asked me about the lunar lights for 2019 – they are open through today so get in on it! Beautiful blessings of this holy, hard, and yes, magical season.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Three Ways to Release the Old and Call in the New

Divination and Dreams

D

ear Miracles,

Winds blow across the land here where I live and the trees in our front yard are finally bare of branch. I can see various charms that I have hung up in their branches throughout 2015 – a scrap of ribbon here, a pine cone covered in birdseed and prayer there, a dried pomegranate left as an offering on Halloween, an old and twisted root tied up with yarn.

Over the next few days I will gather these little offerings given to the trees and taken out into the world by the winds. I will add them to a pile of petition papers and candle wax and a few other ceremonial items and then, as is our tradition, I will burn them in a sacred fire.

As they burn they will be joined by many of your own prayers and petitions — for all who are participating in 2015’s Banish and Burn ritual have sent in their own words and wishes of what needs to be released, let go of, and banished.

To banish something is not merely to get rid of it. To banish something is actually to honor it for the role(s) it has played in our lives and to release it, to let it go, so that it might be transformed by earth, air, fire, and water into something that is good and of use for others. This banishing, releasing and letting go is the first in a three step process that I work with every year as we move from the old year into the new.

 

The process itself echoes a process we see in ritual and ceremony throughout time beyond time:

First one must cleanse, release, let go, and rid themselves of what is no longer needed. Unhelpful and/or diminishing attitudes, beliefs, ideas, stalled out creative endeavors, relationships that keep trudging on in the same tired cycle, our inability to see as clearly as we might, to love as deeply as we can, to cultivate right relationship in all times and all places to the best of our abilities — these are some of the things we might let go.

Next, we set our homes in order. Many people take this literally – the New Year arrives and we clean out our homes, our cars, our closets, and our wallets. Floors, windowsills, and walls are washed so that our living spaces are not only physically clean, but spiritually cleansed too.

Another way we set our internal homes in order is through plotting out our year, making the first mark on the virgin page of that new planner or calendar, and getting our astrological dates lined up so that we have a good sense of what is happening and when it might happen.

Finally, we call in blessings along with the New Year. Our New Year’s resolutions are actually remnants of very ancient practices involving our ability to ask for what is most needed, desired, hoped and wished for and promising in turn to do our part to be blessed and a blessing in turn.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Make Space to Shine

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles: Happy New Year. I DO have a New Year’s Eve wish for you all… Make space to shine. I have heard a lot of intriguing ideas this New Years: there are the resolutions, anti-resolutions, and rituals floating out there in the ether to help you ring in 2012. And though I am a bit late in on the game, when I sat down and journaled and thought about what word or practice could be my mantra for 2012 I drew a blank.

It could be because my family was rocked with the news that late on 12/31 my paternal grandfather, fondly known as grandpa, passed away–ending a year in which we lost: a close family friend, aunt, grandmother, grandfather, and other grandfather. At the same time I was blessed with the most amazing child ever, my sister moved back home, my husband and I bought a house and turned it into a home, and business exploded (in a really good way). Gain. Loss. Life, death, and life again. Para Vida! To life! So much has happened in 2011 and I realized that before launching into 2012 I needed to recapitulate what 2011 meant for me. For me the phrase for 2011 was: be grateful.

Grateful for food brought to me for the first week after giving birth, for all of the help from all of the quarters so that I could continue my work and not simply survive but thrive. Be grateful that I had these amazing people in my life, that I got to speak with them, kiss them, laugh with them, and love them for as many years as I did. Grateful to my family that sees me through each and every day, to my husband who stands by my side as the most solid and loving support ever. Grateful to girlfriends who call me and leave me long, winding, love-filled giggly voicemails, or emails that say “I’ve had enough! I’m coming to see you and we are drinking margaritas!” Grateful to teachers, mentors, and creatives who inspire and intrigue. To advisors that teach me to craft my work and to allow it to craft me, to clients that teach me to give, give, give, and when you think you are tapped out give some more, give better, give brighter.

 

I am grateful. Thank you-each and every one of you.

 

And as I finished those thoughts I made ready to enter into 2012 with this one: make space to shine. It came to me, as so many thoughts do, in yoga class. I showed up with my mat and a baggy top because let me tell you–it has been awhile–and went into the first asana, creaking, bending, popping. Stayed there in the pose, stretching, breathing, sweating, and then finally-back to center. And what did I feel? Space…a little bit more space, a little bit more room for those tired and cramped muscles. And filling that space was light…whirling, swirling, hot energy that shouted with jubilant affirmation-I am here! I am a leg! I can walk and run, and hold a child on me, and twine myself around my beloved. I can do all of these things! Look just look! And so it hit me that my mantra for 2012 is: make space to shine.

 

For me this means:

  • not overbooking myself and giving each client I encounter PLENTY of room.
  • Creating routines that sustain me *and* my business and ditching anything that is “for the business” without taking my needs into account (read: regularly scheduled yoga classes are a GO!)
  • Forging alliances with friends/family members/and like-minded businesses that nourish me and my work.
  • Carving out time, like on the calendar, for finishing up some of the projects that have been simmering on the back burner and making room for new opportunities that send a tingle up my spine!
  • And in case you are interested, I started the process off really practically by cleaning out my closet and all of my clothes drawers–the difference is HUGE.

 

So…what resolutions, words, or practices are you bringing into 2012?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.