Magical Missive: Nailed It!

Alchemy and Magic

M

iracles,

While much of magic is concerned with change and transformation there are also times in life where what we are seeking after is less change, less movement, but rather stability and certainty; times when we want to nail it! In these cases we can turn to a special family of rituals that center around the act of nailing or pinning something down, fixing it to a point of stillness and (semi) permanence. My favorite example of this from childhood is Peter Pan’s need to fix his shadow back to himself, that is a storybook case of nailing something down.

Outside of fairy tales, when we encounter a situation, like a great new job or a piece of land we feel called to protect, that we want to stabilize and keep fixed to ourselves, then we are ready to enact this kind of magic. As Sacred Artists and soulful seekers though we always begin our outer magical work with some inner questions both to help us gain clarity about what we are actually trying to accomplish and to enable us to write the best petition for our ritual work once we are ready to move forward with it. Before nailing or pinning anything down it is important to get clear on what it is exactly that you want to nail down and why. For instance, you may want to nail down a piece of land that has been in your family for many generations that one of your siblings wishes to sell. If your intention is to nail down the piece of property and then live on it and/or maintain it in perpetuity then all is well, but if your intention is to nail down the property and then sell a few years down the road at a higher rate then be aware that once you have nailed down something it is deeply connected to you and selling, getting rid of, or exchanging the nailed down item for something else may be quite complicated. This is because when we magically work to nail something down we are actually expressing through ritual a deep and abiding commitment to whatever it is we want to stabilize and secure. That commitment works both ways – if done properly the nailed down item will be stabilized and secured and/but you will also be on the hook and responsible for it going forward. For this reason it makes sense to only nail down things that you really can consistently show up for and be committed to.

What can be nailed down:

Land – in the oldest rites for nailing or pinning down something – rites which we can find world over in various forms – land, and later, homes, are usually the first items that are secured. A piece of land may be nailed down so that it remains in a specific community or family line forever. A home may be nailed down so that it remains connected to a specific piece of land, individual person, entire community, or specific family line. Because in so many cultures even today obtaining “ownership” or stewardship over a piece of land is a mark of success and viewed as the beginning of a new and better life, the act of nailing down a piece of land and/or any dwellings upon it is still quite popular. During the housing crisis in America I saw a spike in my own practice of people asking to have their land or property nailed down so that it would not go into foreclosure or so that, if it had, they could get it back.

Jobs – Like land and homes, many of us have an ideal job and once we attain it we may choose to stabilize the situation by nailing it down. This is usually performed with high earning jobs or dream jobs. It is not advisable for jobs where there is room for promotion and advancement because when you nail down a job you nail down that specific job and position, often making later advancement more difficult for yourself. In certain cases the intention may be not only to nail down the job but also to nail down the moment when the individual is at the height of their earning potential, so if you love your job and know that you are making as much money as you can possibly make from it then you might consider nailing it down.

Relationships – There are some relationships that can very much benefit from being nailed down. Typically these are not romantic in nature but beneficial in some specific way, such as a mentor/mentee relationship or a relationship between a source of spiritual support (like a minister or priestess) and an individual who is unstable and trying to become more stable, such as an addict. Another situation where I have seen relationships positively nailed down is between individuals who are chronically ill or differently abled and a medical team that they have a great rapport with. The risk that nailing down a relationship runs is that the relationship becomes stagnant, outdated, and is then difficult to move on from when the time is right. For this reason while nailing down relationships that need to be fixed and stable is tempting, I always prefer (and advise) that people work with something less coercive (like a sugar jar).

Health – Good health can be nailed down as can a certain level of fitness, youth, or even an ideal weight. Again, think carefully and feel into the situation before taking action. If you are one of those people constantly seeking to improve your health, appearance, or waistline (I’m looking at you Virgo) then nailing down a specific moment in time will frustrate you as it becomes difficult to improve upon it. If, however, you have just come out of cancer treatment and received the good news that you are cancer free then you may well want to nail down that moment.

Finances – One of my friends used to run a hedge fund on Wall Street and he told me that everyone should have a number, a financial, monetary number, that once reached is enough. Everyone’s number is different of course depending on what your needs actually are but everyone should have one. If you know your number then when you attain it you may want to nail it down, ensuring that you do not go past it or dip beneath it.

Identity – While in most cases a sense of semi-fluid and shifting identity is beneficial and keeps us from becoming overly fixed into a single way of being or too rigid, in some cases an individual really will benefit more from a definite and fixed sense of identity. This can be a very useful magical support for people who experience a regular loss of a sense of self due to external events that they only have limited control over or internal situations (such as mental disequilibrium) that they are actively working with and treating. For minority and disenfranchised groups there is a great deal of work to be done around reclaiming a healthy and proper sense of personal as well as group identity so when that work is done and an individual feels that they have really uncovered and reclaimed their true, essential self, they may want to nail that down as well.

Mastery – Skill building and development when practiced consistently can lead to mastery. While true masters are the first to tell us that they never stop learning, there are certain times when individuals may want to nail down a specific skill that they have mastered so that they have access to it going forward. The challenge with this is that it can keep you from expanding your knowledge and learning even more.

Accountability situations – a new exercise regime, nutrition plan, daily practice, or any kind of situation where you want to be disciplined and accountable is also game for being nailed down. Again, the limitation here is that if the system stops being supportive or needs to be changed in some way then it becomes much harder to do that.

Baneful situations – occasionally in our lives we experience malevolent energies, evil situations and/or people that need to be nailed down not so that they are stabilized but rather so that they are immobilized and cannot harm any longer. Some traditions refer to this as binding and it can be done as a literal binding but in situations like this we can also work with nails to great effect.

Tools for nailing down:

Old railroad spikes – these are the big spikes that are used to connect and nail down railroad tracks. They are worked with almost exclusively in nailing down pieces of property and/or physical dwellings. Railroad spikes are especially valued for this kind of magic because they are made of iron which is an incredibly magical material. You cannot pry them out of railroad tracks because that will make trains derail. You can pick them up along side of the tracks although technically that is illegal unless you have the permission of the railway company. You can also purchase them from some spiritual suppliers.

Old Iron Nails (usually square cut) – these are old fashioned nails used primarily in wood working that can still be found at a good hardware store, on the web, and in stock with certain spiritual suppliers. they are usually made of iron which as stated above is beloved for its magical, specifically protective qualities. Iron nails can be worked with in place of railroad spikes when the land or dwelling that needs to be nailed down is smaller or the nailing down needs to be more subtle.

Pins or Needles – Pins or needles can be worked with in nailing down items from all of the above categories with the exception of land or dwellings. Silver pins and needles are the best to work with but any kind can do in a pinch.

Coffin Nails – these are exactly what they sound like, nails that were used in the construction of a coffin. Coffin nails are worked with when a baneful situation is being addresses or when someone wants their ancestral lines to support them in their work.

Techniques for nailing down:

Land/home – When it comes to nailing down land and/or a physical dwelling the process is pretty straightforward. In the case of a physical dwelling you will need to note every corner of the dwelling – so many houses have four corners but some have more, depending on the shape and size of the house. You are looking at the outer corners of the home, the ones you can see when you walk around the building. In the case of a piece of land you need to note the exact shape of the lot and how many corners it has.

Once you know how many corners you are working with procure that number of railroad spikes or iron nails.

During sunrise go out and begin placing spikes in the ground at the corners you have noted. The spikes need to go into the ground and should be driven in all the way so that only their tops flush against the ground. This may take some preparation on your part as you may need to deal with materials like concrete or asphalt that cannot have spikes driven into them with ease. There is no workaround for this – if you want to nail down the property or dwelling the spike or nail needs to go directly into the ground.

As you nail in each spike recite your petition or prayer. You can pray straight from your heart or you can use the following petition:

Blessed Ones in whom I live, move, and breathe. From you all emerges and unto you it shall return. Aid and assist me as I work in nailing down {name whatever you are nailing down} so that it is safe, secure, stable, and bound to me as I am bound to it ever more. May it be so/amen.

Move in a clockwise manner until all nails have been nailed into the ground.

Within the now nailed perimeter find a healthy tree and make an offering of fresh water to the tree, thanking the land spirits for working with you.

At this point, cultivate calmness and then go into a light trance and ask the land spirits if there is anything they need from you to keep the land/property safe. They may ask for something specific. If they do and if you agree to provide it to them then you can leave a bit of the offering on each of the nail heads. For instance, if the spirits of the land ask for tobacco you can leave a pinch on each nail head, if they ask for water you might pour a bit over each nail head.

Activate the protection and permanence of the nails by sprinkling some of your urine on each nail. This may sound gross but it is an old school and still widely practiced (believe me here) way of marking a specific territory as yours.

Note: in my experience and the experience of my clients you will have the best working relationship with a piece of nailed down land or property if you go into that relationship with the attitude that you are a caretaker or tender as opposed to owner.

 

Everything else – In all of the other cases the nailing down process is slightly different. You will need a picture of yourself and then something on a piece of paper that represents whatever you wish to nail down. So for instance, if you want to nail down a job then you need a current picture of yourself and the job title. You will do this work at the base of a healthy and vital tree.

Write your full legal name over your picture three times.

Align your picture with the paper that has the image or words describing whatever you are nailing down on it so that your picture faces inward towards the image or words describing your target. (Pro tip: use a bit of honey to stick the two pieces of paper together so that there is sweetness).

If you have personal concerns you want to work with for this such as hair or nails then you would place them in between the two pieces of paper.

Place the papers on the ground in front of the tree. Once you are ready, pray out loud or use the petition given above.

If you are working with an iron nail then drive one single iron nail through the center of the papers until the nail is all the way into the ground.

If you are working with pins or needles drive one down in each of the four corners of the papers and then a fifth in the center of the paper until they are all the way down in the ground.

Cover up the paper packet with dirt. You may work with graveyard dirt from an ancestor if you would like to include your ancestors in on the work.

Cover up the area so that the papers are well and truly buried in the ground. Thank the tree and make an offering of fresh water to it. Cultivate calmness and then go into a light trance to find out if there is anything else the land spirits might need or ask of you before you depart.

Baneful Situations – If you are nailing down a baneful situation or toxic person then the intention is to restrict and immobilize said situation or individual so your petitions and prayers will be modified to reflect that. This is where you would employ coffin nails if you wish to call on the aid of the Beloved Dead to assist and support you in incapacitating the predator/predatory situation. In this case you would not work with an image of yourself (or any of the victims of the individual/situation), rather you would work with an image or written description of the situation and you would take the paper to a graveyard.

For work like this I was taught to seek out the aid of a departed spirit who was a solider in their living life – a good soldier or in some cases an honest law enforcement officer. If you have ancestors in your family line who were either then you can work directly with them, if not then you will need to do some research and feel into the various spirits at the graveyard to determine who is willing to work with you and what they might want in return.

Once you have done that work you can take the paper to the grave of the spirit you are working with.

If you have personal concerns fold them up into the paper, then place it on the ground approximately where the departed person’s feet would be – this placement is symbolic of your spirit helper bringing the individual or situation you are seeking to immobilize “to heel”.

Drive a coffin nail into each corner of the paper and then one into the center of the paper until the nails are flush against the ground.

Cover over the paper with extra dirt from the graveside.

Leave an offering of fresh water, plastic or fresh flowers, and coins to thank and pay the spirit for helping you in your endeavor and if anything else was promised to the spirit, then make sure you pay it. After this kind of work it is always a good idea to follow up with a spiritual bath.

Working with spikes, nails, pins, and needles is often considered more coercive magic, there is an edge to it, a forcefulness that some do not appreciate or approve of. I can understand the hesitation but I love this kind of magic precisely because it makes us get really clear about what our intentions are and why we are doing what we are doing. There are moments and places and times where we need to be more solid, fixed, stable, and sure-footed, where we need to know that we are both protected and stabilized, this is the magic that speaks to those needs. It is old, simple, deeply practical, and accessible to all. So don’t be afraid to go out and nail it!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 7: Refusing to Bounce Back

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love and Happy New Moon magic-making!

What are you refusing to bounce back from?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Families of blood and choice

Lineage and Legacy

D

uring this season of remembering and honoring our ancestors and the Beloved Dead, and in the festivals that come after for many of us – the holiday season proper – it is unavoidable to think about family, and for many of us, those thoughts are not happy ones, and they are not simple. It can be a time of loneliness and despair, rather than cheer and solace; or it can be a mixed bag of both in such a way that leaves us profoundly confused.  If the unfolding season leaves so many people despondent, confused or alone with respect to family, that is because family really is a confusing and complicated thing. So many of us simply do not have families to turn to. Or if we do have families, so many others have relationships straining to the breaking point. Or others may even have no relationship: for how can a relationship be cultivated between people who stand on different sides of what seems to be a great unbridgeable chasm?

No wonder that, as soon as the times of coming together begin, so many of us withdraw, out of genuine need for protection, simply because when it came to family, we did not seem to luck out.

We have a saying in my family: we say “in-laws and outlaws” when lovingly referring to the extended family. You try to find a way to laugh, because sometimes that’s the only thing you can do, short of moaning. I’ve got some salty stories to tell about the generations way back, let me tell you, and I bet I’m not the only one. I’ve lost count of so many people who have a history of cruelty and violence in their family, a history that forces them to keep their distance at all costs. How do we honor such truths, and how do we tell such stories?  Aren’t they better left unsaid and forgotten?

A Sacred Arts perspective on the whole problem of family begins with the community of the living and the dead, the past, present and future. It begins from the vantage point of the whole, which for us is like gazing at the radiant sky and earth on clear and starry night. What might we learn if we start here? No matter what form family takes, no matter what it looks like at present, everyone has a family, and that means everyone has stories worth telling and listening to. Stories are healing, and so that means that we don’t have to go very far to let the healing begin.

The dead are all-too-easily forgotten – even the ones that deserve to be remembered. Out of sight, out of mind. So when we think of family, we tend to let only what we see and touch orient us. But if we start with the whole, family is not necessarily made up of people we can always touch and see with our eyes, nor are they necessarily related by blood. Not only in space, but even far away in time do they dwell. The living and the dead make up our family.  What this means for us is that there is a tremendous wellspring of strength from which to draw, starting with this enlarged sense of family.

One of the delightful older stories (it comes from the writings of Plato) has family and friends meet in the afterlife for what looks like a festival. Before moving on to the next phase of their journey, they pass their time strolling about together at leisure sharing stories with one another about their experiences.  Can you imagine getting all your people together to share stories? What an interesting and raucous time that would be – it would be a story in itself. If family is a mess, it is a divine sort of mess.

We wish our family could be the ones that care for us, laugh and cry with us, and love us always and no matter what. We wish all of our ancestors are the ones who stand behind us with their hands placed ever so gently upon our back and shoulders urging us forward, encouraging us to dream bigger and go farther than ever.

But we know perfectly well that families do not always do all of this for us. Families are composite, unfinished projects. They are not a single species, not a single static form, but rather an entire living, dynamic ecosystem, a forest or field teeming with life, with blessing and joy, with hurt and suffering, and – most assuredly – with the unexpected.
From a Sacred Arts perspective, the unexpected is the realm – and the discipline – of magic. And so family is too, those people who are so familiar to us, too close to us or even too far, those people whom so often we’d rather forget. What is most unexpected is that this enlarged sense of family – with all of its conflicts still intact – in fact carries us, supports us, sustains us in a surprising way.
From the vantage point of the Sacred Arts, the broken places in our lineage, our story, and our understanding are the same places that have been so deeply blessed. They are places from which the deepest graces flow unimpeded.
If we know how to listen and to look with open mind and heart, these family conflicts point the way to our own good, and they carry us, guide us, through difficult terrain.
The single greatest thing that family conflicts reveal is the mystery of our self-sufficiency and freedom: We are dependent creatures. In order to be truly free, we must be able to accept our real need of others.
What is the character or nature of this need? Our experiences with family can help us, in no other way, understand and accept the meaning of that need.
To be carried by what arises within the reality of family is not to say that we are not capable of standing on our own. It is, rather, to reclaim those darkest problems for ourselves, in a way that is life-giving, constructive and healing. We are carried by family in the same way the earth helps us stand on our own two feet, supports us as we move in freedom. We are carried in the way a camel helps us sit and move over great distances. This is the way families of blood and choice carry us.
The call of the season, starting at the time of this super full moon in Aries, is to look to what carries you truly. Look to the stories and the sights, the scents and the sounds that carry you day in and day out; there’s your family. Look to the ways that you in turn show up to carry others. Who are they? Whether they live next door, or a thousand miles away, it makes no difference; they too are your family. Where is care given and where is care received? Look to those places and you will find them among the living and among the dead – your people, your tribe, your family.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon Notes: Aquarius Edition

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

Blessed New Moon in Aquarius. Big thanks to all of you who celebrated Candlemas and Imbolg with me this year. Your prayers, intentions, petitions, and blessings to and for Brighid created a beautiful and potent altar of joy and devotion. As many of you know, St. Brighid/Goddess Brighid is honored for many things, among them the returning and strengthening light. Though spring may feel far away for many of us, Her presence reminds us that underneath the cold and frozen ground there is motion, warmth, and life – remember that it is this way for us too. I find that often at this point in the year we start feeling a bit dull and frayed around the edges – tired of Winter, not yet seeing Spring, and ready for something…new. And yet, within and underneath that dull and frayed surface there is so much and such continual life.

Aquarius is one of the signs that truly celebrates life, always showing up to ask: what’s new, what’s next, what’s possible, what seems impossible and how do we make that happen? This New Moon at 19 degrees Aquarius happens at 8:39 AM central time on February 8th. It is a wonderful time to ask: How do I honor new relationships and how do I renew old relationships?

As you think about this question and your own relationships, you may become aware that some relationships are in need not just of new life but of healing. Or, as you consider what is new and next and possible for you right here and right now you might find that there are certain wounds that are finally ready to be dealt with. In this spirit we are focusing on health and healing of body, heart, mind, and soul in our next Here Be Dragons Ceremony. Join here for $10.

For those who love their devotional candles, the next candle lighting will be on March 11th. Orders should be received no later than March 10th at 12 noon central time.

Remember, you can get accurate information and inspiring prompts tied to all of the major celestial events this year on the Astro RX 2016 page right here.

 

Adventures in Soulful Seeking

Love seems to be on everyone’s mind at this time of the year. Here are my favorite (and most popular) posts on love, relationships, and desire:

For those of you wondering about reconciling with a past lover – it is often possible, but the first step is much closer to home.

Care is an integral part of love. And where does care begin? With yourself of course.

Along those lines, here is the very popular Blessing for the Body – a very deep Valentine’s Day or any day ceremony.

My favorite bit of love and romance alchemy? The making of a sweet and sublime honey jar.

If you are dreading Valentine’s Day and the whole “romance in the air” then I’ve got you covered.

And if you are more interested in what you will nibble on this month (as opposed to who you will nibble with) check out my Vday truffle recipes.

Finally, my personal favorite love post.

And, because receiving is nothing without giving, here are some of the things I am loving right now:

Theresa Reed’s new blog series on astrology, Star School, is seriously awesome.

The lovely Pamita of Parlour of Wonders has a nice give away when you sign up for her newsletter.

Téa Silvestre of Story Bistro is our next guest on Talking Shop this month – be sure to tune in and learn all about beautiful, soul-filled, approached to marketing. You can also snag the most recent Talking Shop show (during which we talked to the amazing Chris Zydel and got the inside scoop on creativity) right here.

Bari Tessler’s amazing program The Art of Money is starting – I know Bari, love her work, and highly recommend this program – as usual I receive no kickbacks and I am not an affiliate, just a true believer!

 

Words and Wonderings

I have a bunch of reading suggestions for you all – which is appropriate given the fact that Aquarius LOVES books, information, reading and learning (as any good Air sign does).

David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Paul Kantner. Abe Vigoda. Glen Frey. These are just a few of the celebrities that passed beyond the veil in January 2016. As a result, especially from Bowie and Rickman’s death there was a huge outpouring of public grief on social media and of course the subsequent rebukes for those who made their feelings known. This Atlantic article looks at the public outpouring of grief throughout history and considers how it is working in our culture today. Of course for soulful seekers and those working with the sacred arts we recognize that there are ancestors of spirit as well as ancestors of flesh and blood and we honor our beloved dead, ALL of our beloved dead, accordingly.

And, if your heart is feeling a bit raw and bruised from all of the loss, then why don’t you spend some time with the daily blessing collection?

I am so excited about this: the world’s oldest temple is being restored!

Longtime readers of mine know that I adore Terri Windling’s blog. Her December post on Sacred Ground is of especial interest to our community, check it out.

It has been a good month for the happy marriage of high fashion and fairytales.

Actually, it has been a good month for fairy tale writings, period. Eyebrows raised when this article claiming that fairy tales are much older than we originally thought arrived. Some of us had the immediate response of “well, yes of course they are”, while others were not so sure. If you want to take the article a bit deeper, here is the research methodology that was employed. Wrap it all up with a final article on the ways in which these stories pre-date Christianity.

Some of these topics came up in a recent conversation we had in the Spinning Gold forum and I mentioned what my own approach to fairytales is…I work to understand the stories as they understand themselves. This is a point both my informal and formal education agrees on and it has served me well – may it do the same for you!

And one more (my personal favorite) on fairy tales by Philip Pullman, author of the Golden Compass books among others on the challenge of re-telling Grimm’s fairy tales. I have experienced much of what Pullman points out in my own re-telling of beloved stories for Spinning Gold – a highly challenging and highly rewarding endeavor.

This is what we are noshing on at my house right now, sans the MSG. Yum!

I’ll leave you with this final thought from Bruno Bettelheim’s wonderful book on fairy tales, healing children, and much more, The Uses of Enchantment:

“If we hope to live not just from moment to moment, but in true consciousness of our existence, then our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives.”

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Want a magical fix that works forever? Then do this.

Ceremony and Ritual

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ear Miracles,

Many within the sacred arts community turn to ritual and ceremony whenever difficulties are experienced. We also work with ritual and ceremony in other contexts as well – to mark seasons and important days or festivals for our holy ones, to celebrate successes and victories, to simply give thanks and gratitude.  In all cases, we ask ourselves what kind of magic and miracle-making, what kind of ritual or ceremony, might adequately address the situation?

Not one thing is wrong with this approach, and I firmly believe that marking our difficulties and our successes with ritual is a wise thing to do. But we often miss one initial step that, although small, is of great use. It is the step of directing our magic making, our ritual intention, inward first.

Let’s use a concrete example to illustrate this point. Say that I have a relationship with someone I care deeply about, but the connection has been on the fritz lately. We cross words with one another, rub each other the wrong way, and offend each other with each attempt to “make it better”.  I could decide to do some work to sweeten the relationship, so that we might be kinder to each other. Perhaps I create a sugar jar or I light a devotional candle for this purpose. Well and good. But before assembling my material magica, before thinking about what petition I want to write and what prayers I would like to say, I need to do one thing first. We are watching a lot of Star Wars in my house right now, so I am going to borrow the phrase from George Lucas – I need to search my heart.

Perhaps in this specific situation I have a long history of jealousy around this person.  Maybe I feel like they always get the breaks while I am always stuck with hard work. Maybe I really love them, but I – in some small or not so small way – resent them. Can I perform a ritual or ceremony to create peace and harmony in the relationship without dealing with those feelings of jealousy and resentment? Sure. Will the work be effective? It might be effective – but only for awhile and to a certain extent. Will the work have long lasting and deep results if I have not dealt with my own internal state first? Not a chance.

I often tell my students and clients to do some serious soul-searching and “get their soul house in order”. It is an idea I encountered in the writings of Confucius, whose claim is that before one goes about telling others how to order their homes, one should make sure that their own home is in order. Or, as that old saying goes, when you point a finger there are three fingers pointing back at you. It is easy and tempting to reserve our ritual and ceremonies, and really all of our sacred arts practices, for dealing with external situations only. In the Miracle Tree Sessions we work with this concept throughout the year and the magic that is made as a result has much greater depth and staying power. What would happen if we actually directed some of our concentration and devotion towards our own internal state of affairs? More clarity, deeper wisdom, and much less wasted time.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

When the Best Isn’t Good Enough + My Favorite Sacred Arts Practice

Learning and Community

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So often I am asked what is the best ceremony or ritual to do for a specific situation, the best root, herb, or plant to use for X, the best person to go to for a card reading, the best astrologer, the best business coach, the best book on a specific subject…and the list goes on.

It makes sense to want the best. In fact, when I see my clients and students asking for what or who is best in their given field it makes me happy. I know that what is underneath the desire for the best is a yearning for what has the capacity to truly deepen knowledge, inspire and speak to the soul, satisfy and honor our precious bodies, and deepen our spiritual practices.

But then something happens. We stand in front of what everyone says is the best piece of art, or open the covers of the best book, or we talk to a person who is supposed to be the best in a given area.  And…we walk walk away feeling flat. Feeling nothing.

Why is this?  Why do we all have the experience that,  well, sometimes “the best” isn’t good enough, it doesn’t go far enough?

I think the reason why is this: What really counts – in life, in practice, in work, in everything we seek to do under the sun – is wrapped up in diverse relationships. The way we hold “the best” – as somehow detachable and separate, one-size fits all – can actually eclipse or weaken the growth of those relationships.

Take ritual or ceremonies for instance. In over eighty percent of the situations I encounter some combination of cleansing and blessing ceremony is the right approach. But as we all know, there are literally thousands of different ways to cleanse and bless ourselves, one another, and the situations we find ourselves in. To ask what the best method is in this example is to miss one of the most vital aspects of the sacred arts, for there is no one, silver-bullet, cleansing ritual that always works for every single person every single time.

Instead ask this: what is the best for my situation, with respect to where I am and who I am, right now?

To answer that question we have to be able to do one thing well: pay attention. We have to be vigilantly alive to the particulars of our life.  We have to pay attention to what actually makes sense to us and what does not, to what resonates naturally as opposed to what feels forced; and, most of all, we have to pay attention to what right relationship looks and feels like in this specific instance. That is the road that will take us to what is really and truly the best.

And while there are many ways of paying attention and fostering right relationship, my favorite is a little practice I call cultivating calmness. You can get it for free as part of the first lesson in the Miracle Tree Sessions. It is a practice I go back to again and again, on a daily basis, and one that has served me well. I know it will do the same for you. Download the lesson HERE and may you have all the best things.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Why Walking Away is Rarely the Answer

Lunar Letter

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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.