Pluto as a Holy Helper

Ceremony and Ritual

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is story begins, as so many creation do, with a game of chance – the drawing of lots. Jupiter received the realms of heaven and earth, Neptune claimed the Ocean’s depths and Pluto, Pluto received the realm beneath all that is hidden and unseen, all that belongs to the Dead.

Here then is his first teaching: he rules through service, not mastery. His fealty is to the dead and the fallen, his realm their place of safety and sanctuary. Call on him then when you would speak to your own beloved dead, he will aid you in coming to know your ancestors.

He serves what others fear, what the living cannot know or seem, and so we can ask for his favor when we are attempting to understand the unseen and the unknown. He reveals the hidden ways and hidden wealth.

Miners and those who love and work with minerals, metals and gems should know him, for they all fall under his custodianship. At the height of his influence he was understood to be so powerful that even saying his name was too much. Leave an offering of honeycomb under the cover of night and head back to your family.

He is best known as the abductor and rapist of Persephone but the oldest tales weave a different story – there was a forbidden love there, one that demanded its participants to partake of both worlds – that of the living and that of the Dead.

We must know when and make space for him if we are to inhabit our full power and potential for transformation. For it is only when we know of death that we are truly able to appreciate life.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Jupiter in Pisces ~ The Last Shall Come First

Ceremony and Ritual

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n 2021, Jupiter spends much of its time in the final sign of the Zodiac, Pisces, the sign of the Cosmic Fish. Jupiter first moves into Pisces on May 13th, 2021, and then retrogrades out of the sign on July 29th, 2021. He then re-enters Pisces on December 28th, 2021, and remains in Pisces through May 10th, 2022.

Though Jupiter is most usually associated with Sagittarius and the 9th house, this planet is actually considered the ancient ruler of Pisces and the 12th house and was strongly affiliated with both until the discovery of Neptune; this means that Jupiter is quite at home in Pisces and is, in a way, returning to its native ground. It is important to understand that while Jupiter, long considered one of the most beneficial of planets, is in its happy place of Pisces that does not mean that everything will be rosy and perfect during this transit. In fact, looking at the world solely through rose-colored glasses is one of the actions that can create problems during this period. Personally and for my clients, I have found that Jupiter’s influence has about a year of lag time between where it currently is in the sky and the effects we feel on terra firma. In other words, though Jupiter will be in Pisces for a good part of 2021 and 2022 the effects of his presence there may not be felt on a personal level until late 2022 and 2023. (This is one reason why so many people have hard years during their Jupiter Returns but then find the next year to be much easier).
All of this said, Jupiter in Pisces gives us some wonderful opportunities and it is a blessed time for those with Sun, Moon, or Ascendants in Pisces or those who have strong Jupiter or Neptune placements in their natal chart. The theme of this transit to me is the idea that the last will come first. When Jupiter was in Aquarius it helped foster the overturning of old, outdated systems, attitudes, and cultures. Now in Pisces, Jupiter ushers in healing and magnifies the roles of those who serve, help, aid, and assist as well as those who are humble in manner and means.

Recall that Jupiter is the planet of generous expansion – it is the only planet in our solar system that sends out more energy than it receives. This means that when Jupiter enters Pisces it will emphasize some of the most essential characteristics represented by this sign including making art and music, restoring romance, learning from history, connecting to our Ancestors, developing our intuitive gifts, working with our dreams, healing wounds on all levels, taking spiritual pursuits seriously, working positively with death and dying, and being of service in whatever ways are needed.

At the same time remember that Jupiter is also the planet that magnifies any given area of our life. This means that any habits, patterns, or tendencies that are not so desirable can also be emphasized and called out during this time. When Jupiter is in Pisces some of those problematic qualities can include our tendencies to engage in lies and deception, including self-deception, substance abuse, addictive tendencies, fixations on victimhood/martyrdom, hypochondria, depression, intense mood swings, loneliness, and unhelpful escapism. As always, the way to balance out these elements is to emphasize the positive opportunities that Jupiter blesses during this transit.

Remember that this is a period where we all feel more sensitive and thin-skinned. Amping up your protection work, practicing excellent self-care in whatever way that looks like for you, and asking for help are all essential activities during this period.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Neptune Retrograde

Foundations

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In the ancient world there are moments in some of the better known stories and plays when the rivers begin to run backward. The seasoned reader knows that whenever that occurs something profound, and usually quite challenging, is about to happen. The event may be sudden but most often it is more gradual. The one sure thing is that once the rivers are running backward things are going to change and they won’t go back to the way things were before – they can’t. To my mind, this is an excellent illustration of what happens when the planet and holy helper Neptune goes retrograde.

First we must note that it is not uncommon for Neptune to spend as much or even more time retrograde as it spends moving directly. As one of the outermost planets its orbit is incredibly long and it takes its time moving through the sky – one of the aspects of this celestial helper we will return to in a moment. Neptune experiences a retrograde every year and that retrograde lasts between 6 and 7 months.

As I have written elsewhere, retrogrades of the outer planets are generally not believed to affect individuals as much as they are understood to give shape to global events. However, my personal and professional findings indicate something slightly different. What I have found is that we are all affected by outer planet retrogrades in different ways. There are those who can experience one outer planet retrograde and not even know that anything is happening. Those same people can experience another outer planet retrograde and be deeply affected by it. This speaks to something I have termed planet-sensitivities. We are especially sensitive to a planet when it is strongly aspected in our charts. So for instance, the planets that rule your Sun and Moon signs as well as your Ascendant, are all planets to watch. The planets that have strong aspects in your chart are also planets to pay attention to.

This means that when it comes to working with Neptune’s retrograde we have to look at both the global and potential personal effects.

Neptune is a planet strongly associated with the qualities of healing, spirituality, unconditional love, art and beauty, fantasy, romance, and the past. There is an otherworldly quality to Neptune (accentuated by the fact that the planet is retrograde for so long) that makes those born under its influence seem especially beautiful, magical, alluring, elusive, and also not quite of this world. The greatest challenge we find with the Neptunian flow is that of practical thinking and sound foundations. The visionary capacity we all possess is expanded by Neptune to a great degree but this is not the planet to remind us to put a foundation on those castles we have been building in the sky.

When Neptune retrogrades we collectively and globally have the opportunity to:

Review any fantasy-making that we have been engaged in and determine whether those fantasies can be turned into reality or whether they need to be banished altogether. Here we should think about collective fantasies that countries and nations are working with. Some endeavors may be called “fantastic” to deprive them of momentum and support while other agreements really are based on make-believe fantasy that needs to be sharply addressed and brought into line with reality.

Reflect on history, the mistakes, and the learnings from the past. Neptune’s retrograde can both encourage this reflection and also make it more difficult to glean the most useful insights from history. This is also a period of time when we may find our leaders or the leaders of other countries re-writing history to make it more acceptable or palatable.

Reconsider our attitudes towards healing. This includes mandates around health care and the status provided to health care providers, as well as access to basic necessities that promote health and healing worldwide. This period of time can also provide a useful review for new health and healing technologies and often the missing pieces that make such new methods possible are found during Neptune retrogrades.

Reengage global awareness around water and water rights. Water is the element of this planet and so issues around water and access to water are often first and foremost when we go into Neptune retrograde periods. Learning where your individual water comes from is a great start.

Refuse to dull our senses. Neptune’s influence can encourage more than one kind of fantasy making. Refusing to engage in fantasies that are harmful or going nowhere, refusing to let drugs, alcohol, or other poisons take precedent over what we collectively know to be good and healthy and useful, is a powerful move to make during Neptune Retrograde. We can also see the temptation to go in the opposite direction wax in strength during these periods. Staying sober, especially during these times, is the sound choice.

Re-investigate the stories that sound suspect. Neptune can bring the gifts of fiction into everyone’s life in positive and not so positive ways. Stories that sound suspect, dodgy, or have bad sources should be examined closely during these retrograde periods as their fault lines are most likely to show.

On a more personal level, when Neptune retrogrades we find that we are best able to:

Recommit to any artistic endeavor that is ready to be completed and shared with the world. This can also be a more general recommitting to your own personal creativity and the role that art plays in your life.

Re-examine any fantasies or delusions that are siphoning life force and vitality from you and giving nothing of real value back in return. (Obviously, if and when you identify them, you then banish them!) Pay special attention to the areas of love and money as Neptune retrogrades can really aggravate those two arenas.

Reflect on our own history, including our ancestors and our lineage, for valuable teachings. This is also an ideal time to do healing work on behalf of Ancestors and lineage.

Reconcile any deceptions we have been told or told ourselves with what is actually true. Neptune retrograde is an ideal time to “come clean”.

Recognize our capacity to be both healers and healed, and to work from a place of deep, abiding, and unconditional love.

Remember and work with our dreams and the wisdom they contain.

Neptune retrogrades are long periods of time, incredibly well-suited to sincere reflection. Work with this period of each year in a conscious and proactive manner in order to go deep and move the things that need to be moved with incredible swiftness. Neptune is not a speedy planet as we saw above, but it is deep and thorough, and the endeavors we take on under its auspices are endeavors that stay with us throughout our lives.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Neptune as a Holy Helper

Learning and Community

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iracles, Neptune

He is known as the Earth Shaker, a lover of horses, of waves, and of depths, his original name most likely hails from the Sanskrit root “dawon” meaning, one who flows. It is easy to write off Neptune or his Greek equivalent Poisedon as vain and vainglorious Gods who care little to nothing for the affairs of mankind but to do so would be a grave mistake.

With his trident Neptune can cause the earth in of her greatness to literally shake and tremble, causing earthquakes and tidal waves and great flooding. Sometimes disruption is necessary, and when it is, he is a Holy Helper to call on. As the creator of Earthquakes he is also a Holy Helper to call on for protection from shifting and moving ground as well as big waters and flooding.

His trident could cause destruction, yes, but also could call up fresh or salty water from the earth’s layers to spring up and through even the most parched lands. And so he is an ally for anyone who is trying to bring more moisture, suppleness or fertility into their lives, anyone who finds that their life is too dry, too desiccated, lacking creative flow and depth would do well to call on him.

He is also strongly associated with horses, animals known for their sensitivity and their power, but also strongly associated in the ancient world with the art of healing. We may call on him whenever we are working with horses, but also whenever we need to have the qualities in our own lives that we associate with horses – power, attention, sensitivity, great endurance, and keen intelligence. His favor may be sought in matters of healing – both by those who heal and by those who are in need of healing, for water and healing have been associated with one another for age upon age.

The newer stories say he pulled the wrong lot and was given domain over the depths but the older stories tell of him choosing to make the vast deep his home…and so he can aid us in feeling at home there as well. He is a God of both sea and freshwater, not picking one over the other. For all dealings concerning water – from finding it, to purifying it, to working with it or harnessing its power his favor must be sought out. Beloved by fisherman and those who work with the Sea, he may also be called upon by those who are invested in protecting the sea and all of the life it holds, and by those who are working for equitable water rights around the world. As the seas warm and rise he is a particularly good Holy Helper to get to know. Neptune is the one who holds our hand when we go deep – into our physical world and into our psychic terrain. For this reason he is also associated with dreams and the Zodiac sign over which the planet named in his honor – Pisces – rules, are known to be the dreamers and the ones who are most able to speak to and with dreams.

He is the protector or challenger of every voyager who must cross water. Making an offering to him before setting off on a water-heavy adventure is always a good idea. One of his sons is said to be the founder of Atlantis, the sacred isle that destroyed itself with the very technology that allowed it to be so very advanced. The ancient Greeks spoke of Atlantis as ancient meaning that Neptune has seen it all unfold this way many times before. For this reason, it is deeply associated with history and specifically our ability to learn from our history. So we may call upon his aid whenever we need to reflect – globally or individually – on what history has taught us and what it will continue to teach us.

In his oldest stories he is the husband, the lover, the devotee of the Earth herself, and we cannot help but reflect on how the sea ever and always kisses the land. Wherever the Earth finds herself in need of a protector, defender, or servant, Neptune may be called upon, for he bears the waters that bless the rich dark soil and allows all growth to happen. His depths mirror our own and in his waves we can find strands of our own story reflected over and over again.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Pisces the Fish

Divination and Dreams

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quarius took us into the depths and introduced us to the monster Typhon. Now that story continues but this time it is not Pan who turns into a fish but two completely different characters.

Pisces is the 12th and final sign in the zodiacal wheel, attuned to the element of Water and is a mutable sign ruled by Neptune. The Sun is in Pisces from February 18 through March 20. Mutable signs speak to our ability to be flexible, accommodating, receptive, and extend out towards others. Mutable signs also speak to transition periods and it is during the sign of Pisces that we begin to transition from deep Winter into early Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and late Summer into early Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

Fish as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

Joy to the world
All the boys and girls,
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me ~ chorus from Joy to the World by Three Dog Night

Joy to the Fishes, indeed, for it is in the otherworld of the oceans that life on our planet came to exist. In the evolution of creatures, it is the Fish that links us to primordial times, like the cord that ties together the two Fishes of Pisces. It is also fitting that the Fishes represent the end of the zodiacal wheel and where it connects back to the beginning – a never-ending loop, always in the present, and always connected to the archetypal legacies of the heavens.

When we consider creatures that have been around, in some form, as long as the Fishes, we must also think of the Birds. Birds can fly through the air and navigate space in a way that we are not built to understand. Like Birds, Fish “fly” through the water, also living in a realm that we are not built to understand.

Acknowledge the world of a Fish for a moment – living in this liquid space, feeling the changes in pressure as it swims toward the surface or dives deep, sensing the currents like the wind. It takes a completely different, very specialized kind of body to exist in this watery world.

The word “fish” is a very broad term, so what exactly are we talking about here. Fish are technically defined as “gill-bearing aquatic creatures with a skull and primary nerve cord that lack limbs with digits.” They are cold blooded animals, meaning their body temperature is regulated by outside sources and very little internal heat is generated. They have a four-chambered heart (like humans) that pumps blood in a single loop through the body (unlike humans). Fish are found in all aquatic environments – saltwater, freshwater, brackish, etc.

Just as Birds are designed with wings and feathers to be aerodynamic, Fish are covered with scales to allow for hydrodynamic movement. Other creatures also have scales, like Snakes, but Reptile scales are born from the surface of the skin, the epidermis, and Fish scales come from the dermis layer, much deeper within. You can think of a Fish’s scales as you would the development of your hair and teeth. For the Fish, scales provide protection for their physical body, as well as facilitating smooth movement in the water. Fish’s fins (i.e. their “limbs”) function much in the same way as a Bird’s wings, allowing it to propel and direct its movement. The scales of Fish’s body ask us to consider our own forms of emotional and spiritual protection and to examine how deeply they are rooted.

An amazing aspect of Fish is its ability to breathe oxygen underwater. Yes, Fish breathe oxygen, like humans, they just get it in a different way. The gills of Fish are made up of filaments and capillaries that create a huge surface area to extract oxygen from the water molecules. The act of swimming, moving through space, forces water through their gills and keeps the process going. Fish can also “flap” their fins to push water across their gills while remaining still, a kind of hovering, which brings us to how Fish sleep. They don’t have eyelids so it appears that Fish is always awake, always moving, however, we know that this is not true. Through observation, we know that Fish do take time to rest and enter into a form of stasis. How long and how often depends on the particular Fish. Keeping the water moving across their gills is an involuntary act; like our own heartbeat, they don’t have to remember to do it. In this way, Fish asks us to consider our unconscious behaviors and habits. Fish is there to guide us through times of internal exploration and reminds us of the importance of self-care and rest, no matter how it may appear to others.

Most Fish exhibit male or female reproductive characteristics, although there are exceptions, their courting rituals are not quite the same as other Animals; in fact, the sexual life of a Fish is not particularly exciting. They typically reproduce when the female releases eggs and the male releases sperm into the water and hope they mix. Any courting, by male or female, is displayed for the purpose of drawing the potential mate near the area of the water they deposited their respective sex cells and pray that the other wants to deposit their own. The (hopefully) fertilized eggs are left to their own devices to develop, be born, and fend for themselves. Fish are not nurturing parents; they don’t stay around waiting for the babies to hatch and generally cannot identify their own offspring. This sexual and parental behavior, or lack thereof, speaks to the tendency of Fish to seem detached, far-away, or spacey. As we will see, Fish are not prone to forming individual attachments, but rather function at the extremes – in large groups or as solitary creatures.

Living in the otherworldly realm of water gives Fish some unique sensory abilities. They generally have a good sense of vision and smell, but they don’t hear like other creatures. Rather than hearing in the traditional sense, Fish have a sensory structure connected to their skin, called the lateral line, that works in a similar manner as the inner ear of humans. The lateral line provides spatial awareness and orientation and allows them to detect vibrations in the movement and currents of the water. The function of the lateral line directs their feeding and hunting practices and affects social behaviors. In order to swim, Fish also possess specialized sensory organs that regulate buoyancy and detect water pressure. There are tens of thousands of different types of fish, so it’s no surprise that some have developed other unique senses that serve their specific lifestyles, such as the detection of electrical impulses and different types of light. Awareness of how Fish senses the world teaches us about finding and accepting our own unique way of understanding and interpreting our environment. Fish asks us to be open, receptive, and non-judgmental of our individuality.

The behaviors of Fish are extremely diverse. Similar to variations in our own personalities, some Fish are aggressive and some are passive, some are loners and some must live in groups, some are predators and some are prey, some are highly intelligent and some are dumb as rocks. Two social behaviors that almost all Fish participate in at some point in their life cycle are the acts of shoaling and schooling. Sometimes Fish will swim together in a loose grouping, where they are acting fairly independently of each other but are close enough to stay connected, called shoaling. Schooling is when a group of Fish swims together in the same direction and in a coordinated way. Both of these behaviors provide protection from predators, better luck finding food and a mate, and help them save energy while swimming together (much like Birds flying in formation to utilize air currents most effectively). The act of schooling is a mysterious sight to observe, as it requires a highly coordinated effort of synchronized movements between individuals that are not vocalizing to each other. This aspect of Fish asks us to consider how we are or are not connected to others; how we are or are not utilizing and participating in the community; where and when nurturing our connectedness serves our greater desires.

Most Fish partake in some form of migration, whether near or far, for the purpose of reproduction, spawning, or finding food. Some Fish make small migrations daily and some cover vast expanses on an annual basis. The interesting thing about Fish migration is that, like Birds, they use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate. This process is still not very well understood, but we know that they are connected to the earth even if they never touch the ground.

The Fishes of Pisces live in an unknowable world, sensitive to things many of us cannot fathom. These places of depth and mystery are where Pisces thrives. The Fishes of Pisces, and the cord that connects them, show us where the pull of our uniqueness meets the collective consciousness; how we can explore our internal landscape beneath the surface while not getting lost at sea; and help us discern when we need the support of the community and when we need solitude to function at our best.

Fish As Pisces: By Briana Saussy

piscesAs we turn our attention to Pisces it is a given that we will work closely with the element of Water and the fish nature of the final sign in the zodiac. However, there is more to Pisces than watery depths. In Babylon, part of the constellation was called the Lady of Heaven, one of many epithets for Ishtar who brought the gifts of culture including ritual, magic, agriculture, and writing to her people. This early understanding of Pisces is relevant because the sign’s association with the Lady of Heaven underscores its relationship to synthesis. The way that C.G. Jung spoke about Pisces is that, as the 12th sign of the zodiac, it has received the lessons and gifts of all of the other signs.

Wherever Pisces occurs in your chart is most likely an area where you are able to make deep and vast connections – often between things that at first glance might seem entirely disconnected.

Moving from Babylon we enter into the star stories of Ancient Greece where the constellation of Pisces was understood to be Aphrodite and Eros escaping from the monster Typhon (whom we encountered in Capricorn). To recap: Typhon is described in ancient sources as having the body of a man but having hundreds of snakes emerging from his head and in some cases his thighs and/or feet as well. The snakes were all poisonous vipers, of course, who not only could kill by striking but actually spit their venom out onto their victims. Typhon was said to be able to breathe fire and also possess wings that allowed for flight. He was incredibly strong and powerful and had God-like powers over various elements.

Whereas in the tale of Capricorn the drama around Typhon involves transformation and struggle, in the tale of Pisces the drama involves connection and escape. Here we have a powerful and primal source that seeks to vanquish both Love and Desire. In order to escape and not be devoured, Love and Desire must both go under the waves, under the waters, and into the depths.

This is exactly what Pisces does as well. Those born under this sign or those who have this sign prominently placed in their charts often choose to escape into the watery depths themselves. The depths may be the music that Pisces plays, the art Pisces makes, or the dreams that often feel more real than waking life to Pisces.

Like the preceding sign, Aquarius, Pisces can sometimes appear aloof or uninterested in what is “actually happening” but unlike Aquarius, Pisces does not appear this way because it is preoccupied with mental brilliance and what is possible; rather Pisces feels deeply and instinctively knows that in order for the forces of Love and Desire to live in the world and remain intact, submergence and escape from the world is sometimes necessary. With Pisces there is both a deepening and softening of the qualities of Love and Desire, just as Aphrodite and her child Eros dived down into the waves so must we.

piscesThe presence of Aphrodite and Eros also clues us in to some of the natural powers of Pisces – this sign influences our ability to be in harmony with ourselves and with others, to acknowledge and affirm our true desires, and to bring beauty into the world in every way possible. Escapism is an attribute that Pisces is often accused of engaging in and this is where the cord or lasso that binds Aphrodite and Eros together becomes so essential to the story.

In a practical manner, the cord connects both figures to each other so that they are not lost to one another. Love that lacks Desire is cold and empty while Desire without Love has no solid rootstock from which to grow. Eros is of course the child of Aphrodite so this also speaks to our connection to our legacy…when we go into the depths to do our work, to heal from whatever needs to be healed, to find more beauty and bring it up and into the world, we would do well to remember that we do this as a part of the legacy that we leave in the world rather than at the expense of it. The cord of connection also does not allow either figure to fully escape, fully be pulled down to the bottom of the sea; instead, its presence reminds both that they will and must emerge once more – hopefully far away from the force of destruction that threatens them.

Magically speaking cords and lassos are worked with to connect and to bind; specifically the work of binding an individual to the things, people, and values that matter most to them. This ability to fix ourselves to what matters most is one of the challenges we find in the sign of Pisces, but also the single act that best prevents us from becoming lost in our own oceanic depths. Pisces is often spoken of as the sign that feels more and more deeply than any other (Virgo and Scorpio beg to differ on that, though). The ocean is frequently called upon metaphor to convey the literal depth of feeling that this sign experiences. But one of the teachings of Pisces is that just because you feel something strongly, that does not make it necessarily true – knowing what really does matter most is the support that allows Pisces to emerge once more.

There is one more story associated with this constellation, my favorite kind, a fairy tale, and it speaks to one of the strongest impulses we find in the Fish. In my research, I saw that this story is attributed to the Germanic origin, but I have encountered versions from Mexico, India, Italy, Greece, Eastern Europe, various locales around the Arctic circle, Japan, and China – basically, anywhere you have a fishing economy you will have a version of this tale. It goes like this:

piscesOnce upon a time, there was a very poor fisherman who lived in a metal tub with his wife, for they were so poor that they did not even have money for a meager cottage. The fisherman was a kind and good man and his wife were always yelling at him and haranguing him. He did his best to make her happy while acknowledging that no matter what he did she would never be fully satisfied.

Now it happened that one day the fisherman went out onto the water and caught a large, beautiful fish. Imagine his surprise when he hauled the fish onto the deck of his little boat and the fish cried out in pain, “Oh, oh, oh, the hook it hurts me so!

The fisherman was appalled and immediately removed the hook from the fish and set it free back into the water. The fish then turned around and said to the fisherman, “You are a good and kind man to release me so and not eat me. In return for your mercy I shall grant you a wish, any wish you want, what shall it be?

The fisherman shook his head smiling and assured the fish that this was not necessary – he was happy to let the fish live its life in peace and was only sorry for any pain he may have caused it. The fish was even more delighted with this second selfless act and so told the fisherman that should he ever change his mind he could come back to the lake and call for the fish and the fish would come back and grant a wish.

Well, the fishermen went home and his wife threw the biggest fit you have ever seen. She screamed and cussed and yelled at the poor man who was such a fool and told him to go back to the water and ask the fish to give them a beautiful home with lots of money and plenty of fine things. The poor man was terribly embarrassed but he did as she asked and the fish emerged from the waters and granted the fisherman’s wish so that when he returned home he returned not to a metal tub but instead to a golden castle.

Thinking that this was the end of it, the fisherman settled down to enjoy life but his wife was not satisfied. She goaded him, nagged at him, and mocked him until he went back to the waters and asked the fish for a second wish. Imagine the fisherman’s surprise when the fish emerged with fewer scales and a small wound that seeped a bit of blood.

Upon inquiring what had harmed the fish, the fisherman learned that this was the cost of granting his wish, the fish had paid for it in literal flesh and blood. But the fish took great pains to assure him that it was fine, only a little wound and one that would heal quickly. Then the fish asked why the fisherman had returned and called for it. The fisherman hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that his wife was not satisfied and would like a second wish; this time she wanted to be Queen in their country. He hated to ask, surely he did not want to harm the fish, and yet if he did not his wife would be ever so angry.

The fish simply said, “It is done, go back to your home.” and then disappeared into the depths. The fishermen did go home and once there discovered that he and his wife were indeed King and Queen of their country.

And so he thought that it would surely end there – what else was there to want? Yet his wife was still not satisfied and crowed out to the heavens that her husband would have no rest or quarter until she was Queen of the UNIVERSE!!! Head hanging down and hat in hand, the fisherman went to the waters once more. He called for the fish and when it emerged he saw it was bleeding heavily from a much larger wound and that it had lost many of its beautiful silver scales.

He relayed his wife’s wish to the fish and the fish sighed in sorrow and then told the fisherman to go home. The fisherman did and upon his arrival found that he and his wife truly were the rulers of the entire universe.

As such he was able to see the waters where the fish lived, able to see the blood running like a red river from the fish’s body, able to watch as the last silver scales fell to the bottom of the sea and the fish finally died. And immediately upon its death, all of the gold and jewels, the crowns and scepters vanished and all that was left was a poor fisherman, his angry wife, and the metal tub which they called home.

As I said, this fairy tale speaks to several of the deepest aspects of Pisces and they are – a compulsion to redeem and save, a need to please people, and a willingness to sacrifice oneself. We see all three themes at work in the story: the fisherman saves the fish and also seems to want to redeem his wife in some manner, the fisherman is constantly trying to please his wife (and does not see how unworthy she is of such attention), and the fish itself gives up its life to make someone else happy. Pisces can develop a savior complex and must be reminded of the essential roles that self-care and standing up for what they believe in and they think is right, play in their lives.

Call on Pisces When:

  • You need to be more thoughtful, sensitive, and aware of other people’s feelings.
  • You are learning a new form of art such as music, painting, sculpture, dance, drawing or design.
  • You wish to learn from the past and put it into proper perspective.
  • You need to engage more fully with your dreams and nourish your dream life.
  • You want to make connections between various aspects of your life; you are ready to synthesize.
  • You are ready to develop your psychic abilities.
  • You need to infuse your work with more depth, beauty, and creativity.
  • You wish to help.
  • You want to cultivate a deeper relationship with beauty.
  • You need to come into right relationship with your deep feelings and emotions.
  • You wish for a deeper connection.
  • You are ready to be a force of redemption in the world.

Be Wary Of

  • Addictions of all kinds – Losing oneself in the depths is something to take figuratively and literally with this sign. Pisces and Scorpio are the two zodiac signs most strongly connected to addictions.
  • Escapism – Sometimes Pisces forgets to lasso itself to something or someone else and tries to escape the world completely. This can lead to (on the milder side) overlooking important, practical needs and (on the stronger side) moments of “breaking” from reality altogether.
  • Being too acquiescent – As a mutable sign, it is easy for Pisces to say YES! Whatever you want! While that can make the fish popular, as we saw in the story above, it is not always good for the fish – Pisces must learn the art of setting boundaries.
  • Overly high standards – Pisces has a vision of what can be, and usually, the visions are pretty terrific. When the “real world” and people in it fail to live up to that vision it can leave the fish feeling hollowed out and empty, so it is good to remember that reality is not a bad word.
  • Self-doubt – One of the old ways to describe the 12th house in the zodiac is the house of self-imprisonment; Pisces finds it easy to believe in almost anything…except themselves.

Questions to Ponder:

Pisces shows up in everyone’s chart – there is no such thing as “I don’t have Pisces” because it is a cluster of stars in the sky and it is always there. Wherever Pisces occurs in your chart these questions will help you get to know it better.

  • What aspects of my life need to be brought together, what is my overarching theme?
  • What beauty am I creating?
  • What do I serve?
  • How do I help?
  • What would happen if I asserted myself more strongly?
  • What depths do I long to sink into?
  • What are my dreams telling me?
  • How can I bring my visions of what is possible more fully into my waking life?
  • What is my lineage?

Active Imagination Journey:

Sit comfortably and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and listen to your breathing. Make each inhale and exhale a little fuller and deeper than the last.

Feel your body slowly relaxing; feel each muscle letting go, your head; your chest; your arms and hands; your stomach; your hips, legs, and feet; until all you are focused on is your breathing. Slowly in and slowly out.

See that you are walking on a sun-dappled path through a beautiful wood. It is a warm, pleasant afternoon, quiet and still and peaceful. You are carrying a small sack with you but its contents are not of concern. You know that what’s in the sack is important to you and that you must keep it with you. It is not too heavy and not too light and you stroll down the path with ease, breathing deeply. Notice your steps, your heartbeat, and your breath all in rhythm together.

The path begins to open up and you find yourself at the edge of the wood looking toward a smooth, glassy lake. There is a small island out in the center of the lake and you know that is where you must go. Make your way to the edge of the lake and step into the water; feel it gently lapping at your ankles. The water is temperate and calm and clear. Whether you are a good swimmer or not, you feel safe and comfortable moving deeper into the lake. You put the sack around you and begin to swim the short distance to the small island. You swim with the ease of a fish and you effortlessly make your way to the shore of the island.*

You emerge from the lake and walk up to a dry place on the shore of the island. Sit down and observe. Observe the span of the lake you just crossed and the forest on the other side. Observe the shore that you’re sitting on and the sights, smells, and sounds of the small island. Observe that you are separated from the mainland, separated from your day-to-day worries and troubles, separated from your aches and pains, separated from the minutia of tasks and chores. Observe that it is quiet and peaceful. Take a moment to let your mind be still.

Now consider the sack you brought with you. Inside is an object that represents the thing you feel most tethered to, whether good or bad. Open the sack and remove the object. Hold it in your hands without judgment. Feel its weight and shape and consider what it represents.

Take a moment to meditate on the purpose of the object. Is it something you want to be tethered to? Is it something you should be tethered to? Is it a representation of the thing that is most important to you? Or is it something you do not want to be tethered to? Is it a representation of something you need to let go of? Is the object necessary in your life? Is it something practical that helps you? Or is it something that is no longer needed?

As you sit with the object and contemplate its purpose and function in your life, look out across the lake. Remember the perspective you have, sitting on this small island, separate from the mainland and all your troubles, pains, and duties; separate from all the influences in your life telling you what to do. Remember that you are here to discern what to do with this object and the decision is yours and your alone.

If you decide that this object represents something you do not want to be tethered to, dig a hole on the shore and bury it, leaving it behind for the island to absorb. If you decide that this object represents something you do want to remain tethered to, return it to the sack. When you feel ready, you step back into the lake and feel it gently lapping at your ankles. The water is temperate and calm and clear. You feel safe and comfortable moving deeper into the water and begin to swim the short distance to return. You swim with the ease of a fish and you effortlessly make your way to the shore of the mainland.

As you step out of the water onto the land, give yourself a moment to look out across the lake to the island you came from. Express your gratitude for the ability to move your body through the water and for the clarity that the island provided you.

When you are ready, begin walking back on the sun-dappled path through the beautiful wood. It is a warm, pleasant afternoon, quiet and still and peaceful. Notice your steps, your heartbeat, and your breath all in rhythm together. Become aware of your presence in your physical body. Allow your mind to gently return to the present moment where you are sitting comfortably, listening to your breath.

When you feel ready, open your eyes.

*if you have phobias around water or swimming that keep you from visualizing this, imagine that there is a small, safe boat for you to get to and from the island.

Altar/Ritual: Making a Spirit Cord

This is an adaptation of a practice taken from Bri’s course on magic and fairy tales, Spinning Gold.

Ropes, spirit cords, ritual belts, and, as they are called in Currendera tradition, lassos, are sacred tools and ritual talismans that assist us as we meditate and engage with the Otherworld in very specific and helpful ways.

For many newcomers to magical work, it is an odd idea that something as innocuous as a piece of string, fabric, or leather could have the ability to serve as a physical catalyst for rapid and deep transformation, but it can.

The spirit cord or lasso has the ability to connect past, present, and future and can be worked within a ceremonial manner not only to connect your past, present, and future, but also to connect you to Ancestors who are no longer among the living, and Descendants (including creative, metaphorical, progeny) that will come into being in the future.

You may also work with your cord to connect to specific places, objects, and people. For instance, try looping one part of your cord around a plant and sitting with the end of the cord in your left hand. Consider the channel you create at that moment and be aware of the information that flows through it.

How to Make Your Spirit Cord

1.) Acquire three pieces of material. Choose materials that can be braided together such as yarn, rope, or thread. I recommend that you choose the same material for each of the three strands. This cord is something you can wear or wrap around you, so choose something comfortable that will feel good against your skin. You may want to choose one, two, or three colors for your cord. (My cord in three different colors, white, black and red. This is entirely up to you.)

In choosing colors, reflect on what different colors mean to you in particular. Red might mean power and protection, blood spilled in creative work? Black might mean to you a power that absorbs negativity. Blues for you might call forth healing waters. Yellows might evoke for you a field of wildflowers and something lighthearted or it might evoke something entirely different.

The point is to open up correspondences that connect with yourself. As you choose your colors, keep in mind the work or purpose of the cord, as we have said above: for daily practice, working with lineage and legacy; to strengthen and restrict, open up the channel to travel more easily between the worlds.

2.) Cut the cords to the length or height of your body. Give yourself about twelve inches (or about thirty centimeters) of extra material, since the cords will shorten as you braid.

3.) You will now have three lengths of material, and either one, two or three colors. Now you must assign deeper significance to each strand. Here is how you can do that:

Think about your life as a whole and in part, your aspirations, your desires, your frustrations, and obstacles. What facets of your life feel separated from one another?

Some common examples of different facets of life that can feel separated or related and joined together:

  • Work life
  • Spiritual practice
  • Love life
  • Creative life
  • Physical health
  • Eating food
  • Family life
  • Financial life
  • Self-image

Now choose three life facets for your cord, and assign one for each strand. Take as much time as you need to make your choices.

If this does not feel resonant to you, here are a couple of further options:

Some of us struggle with the separation between who we are inside and the face we show to others. If this describes your experience then dedicate one strand of your cord to your inner voice, one strand to your outer expression, and one strand for the two aspects coming into union with each other.

In other cases, we are searching for a through line connecting our experience of past, present, and future. In that case, you might dedicate one strand of your cord to the past, one to the present, and one to the future.

4.) Keeping the three facets you have selected strongly in your mind and inner intention, braid the three strands together. (If you’ve forgotten how to braid, or don’t know how to, no worries. You can find instructions on YouTube for examples of simple braiding tips. I would suggest, however, that you practice first on some other strands before working on your cord. It is important for your own work to cultivate and hold your intention as you braid the cord and obviously this cannot take place if you have one eye on the computer screen.)

After you finish, bless it with your own words and in your own way, and put it in a safe place for use later.

About my Co-Author:

sara-magnusonSara Magnuson was the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel, a purveyor of spiritual supplies and provider of various spiritual services that were in business from 2009-2019. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, ancestral, and based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon Notes – Sagittarius Edition

Lunar Letter

W

hoosh! That is the sound that I always hear when December begins. Though this year it was more crackle and pop because we have been enjoying weekly fires at our hearth.

Although December is one of my busiest months out of the year, I have gone into this month with a clear and solid intention to Slow Down and Enjoy. So far, so good! And lucky for us, the gorgeous New Moon in easy, breezy Sagittarius on December 11th supports exactly that vibe.

Sagittarius moons, whether New or Full, tend to bring out the inner free spirit in all of us. This is a wonderful time to plan a mid-winter adventure (and if you can do it outside all the better) or have a rousing philosophical/theological conversation with someone near and dear to you – after all, Sagittarius is the sign of philosophy and religion among other things or travel to a new and distant land or to a familiar face and friend.

There is a bit of Astro inspired tension brewing in the squaring off of dreamy, sensitive Neptune in Pisces and strict and stringent Saturn in Sagittarius. These two powerhouse planets have already had one exact square at the end of November and are headed into two more over the course of 2016.

Different astrologers talk about this tense face-off in different ways but the phrase I use is: Dreamtime (Neptune) meets real-time (Saturn). This is the best time to bring any dreams that are really speaking and calling you into clear and present physicality. Find what is of use in your meditations, visions, art-making, and dreaming and bring it into the waking world so that all may benefit. Saturn, if you work with its energy, will inspire you with the discipline and structures needed to accomplish this fear, and Neptune will call in the juicy inspiration that keeps you moving.

At the same time, IF you have been supporting any illusion or delusion that is keeping you back and not allowing for liberation, prepare for that to be blown to bits by this celestial event. You have time to align yourself with the changes ahead and the following questions to consider on this bright, dark, new moon might help:

Where do I hold myself back and why?

What story/event/encounter from my past am I stuck in and how might I release it?

What do I need to know about my deepest dream right now?

How can I bring my art more fully into my community, my local place, and my world?

What do I need to know about my relationship with time and time management?

As you consider these questions you may discover that as the year comes to a close you are ready to release one, or one hundred ideas, habits, notions, and beliefs that are not only no longer useful but maybe positively harmful. I find this is true for me and that I am always especially aware of it at the end of the year. That’s why several years ago I created a Banish and Burn community ceremony. This annual tradition is open for registration once again. Last year we have over 300 participants – won’t you join us in creating more space for deep grace? Register HERE.

Adventures in Soulful Seeking

I wrote a Litany for Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose Feast Day is on December 12th. I’m also hosting a free community altar open to all petitions, prayer requests, and blessings, go HERE to send in your words, thoughts, and heart deep desires. Here is a wee bit of the post:

“Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in Mexico City in 1531 to an indigenous man known to Spanish and English speakers as Juan Diego but known in his own tribal tongue as Cuauhtlatoatzin – which translates to something like “Talking Eagle”. Guadalupe is variously understood as the New World Blessed Virgin Mary, as a Catholic overlay of Tonantzin, the Nuahatl Goddess of life, fertility, and mothers, and as the patron Saint of Mexico. I understand her to be all of this and more. Having lived almost all of my life in “Guadalupe country” here is what I can tell you about Her.

Wherever there is a need for nurturing, mothering, calming, nourishment – there She is.
Wherever there is a need for healing, soothing, anointing and blessing – there She is.
Wherever new mothers, new fathers, and children of all ages need care and support – there She is.”

Read the full post HERE.

In other news, for those of you enrolled in an online class and wondering how to get the most out of said class without living your life online, I’ve got some tips for you.

In my family when we gather for Thanksgiving and Yule we always say a blessing before we break bread. Here is one that I wrote for Thanksgiving this year – feel free to use it yourself whenever you have need.

Speaking of prayer, November’s Full Moon letter asked a tough question: Where Do Our Prayers Go?

Out and About

‘Tis the season for awesome gift-giving, and I have some great recommendations for you:

First of all, the good things in life CAN be free. If you are receiving this letter you are already one of my beautiful subscribers, but did you know that you can encourage a friend to subscribe and they will receive a very special Wonderment reading from me? It is a little gift I give to all new subscribers and (so I’ve been told) delivers amazing clarity, insight, and inspiration exactly where they are most needed. Simply direct your people to my site and click on the “lunar letters” tab to subscribe. Share sacred arts and share the love.

Desiring something extra special? A year of candles lit each and every month on the Full Moon, followed by personal reports and plans of actions might be the perfect thing.
Snag that here (and save an extra $100 in the process – this is the only “sale” I ever do and it happens once a year, through the month of December).

Have an inquiring mind in your life who cannot get enough of all things sacred arts? Consider gifting then with one of my self-study courses on the sacred arts.

For the people in your life who love all creatures great and small, check out Sara Magnusson’s course Animalia. Spaces are very limited and Sara’s work is always superb. While hanging at her site, do yourself a favor and peruse the other delightful offerings at Candlesmoke Chapel, the shop she runs with her husband Joseph.

Then again, there may be a few on your list who are more interested in what’s happening in the heavens as opposed to down on earth. A gift certificate from the radiant Heidi Rose Robbins makes is an excellent choice.

Speaking of gift certificates, my wonderful friend and co-conspirator Theresa Reed has gift certificates for her tarot readings and she is giving away all kinds of swag this month on her Facebook page.

Everyone likes a little sparkle from time to time, and if you are going to give jewelry why not give something that has truly been customized by someone with both talent and mojo. Check out Aidan’s work (I’m partial to the Sacred Heart for obvious reasons).

Have a friend who is into the tarot? Camelia Elias is offering a class that sounds fun and fabulous for all of those who want to make the cards their own.

If you have loved ones who love to smell good (and really, who doesn’t) then get thee to Shelley Henry’s beautiful site and shop her catalog of scents.

Another gifted herbalist and potion make, Jen Rue of Three Cats and a Broom has something in the store that is sure to delight.

And, if you know people who need help with their boundaries, Randi Buckley’s course on Healthy Boundaries for Kind People might be just what you are looking for.

Although Advent has technically started, you can still snag a seat in Deb Smouse’s Advent Series (I did it last year and truly enjoyed myself).

Words and Wonderings

Some of my favorite quotes over the last few weeks:

And for adults, the world of fantasy books return to us the great words of power that, in order to be tamed, have been excised from our adult vocabularies. These words are the pornography of innocence, words that adults no longer dare to use with other adults, and so we laugh at them and consign them to the nursery, fear masking as cynicism. These are the words that were forged in the earth, air, fire, and water of human existence. And the words are:
Good.
Evil.
Courage.
Honor.
Truth.
Hate.
Love.

–From Touch Magic by Jane Yolen

All human beings by nature stretch out towards knowing.” Aristotle, from the Metaphysics

Folklore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels.” – G. K. Chesterton from The Dragon’s Grandmother (You can read the entire piece here).

We all have the same kind of dragons in our psyche, just as we all have the same kind of hearts and lungs in our body.” –Ursula Le Guin

Really interesting article on Believing What Isn’t True by Richard Feynman. This might tick some folks in our community off, because Feynman, who is a scientist, calls out subjects like astrology and magic as prime examples of gullibility. However, I encourage each and every one of you to THINK for yourselves and that includes questioning certain suppositions found in the sacred arts AND in modern science too. Enjoy!

Feast your eyes on this gorgeous book art by early 20th century Czech artists.

Lovely and thought-provoking essay on the Heroine’s Journey by Theodora Gross – this will be of especial interest to all Spinning Gold students!

Was one source of early feminism found in various Native American tribes and their societal structures? This article makes exactly that claim.

I’ll be back closer to the full moon (which falls ON Christmas) but for now, we are all wishing you beautiful new moon blessings!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Daily Practice and Dancing Planets

Divination and Dreams

D

ear Miracles: As we usher in September I am preparing for my favorite season — Autumn — with the celebrations, the remembering of our ancestors, the magic making, and pumpkin everything! I find that September, at least after the first week when we get into the swing of school time rhythms, is a wonderful month to assess and remember where we are, what we are committed to, and what we are doing with ourselves in our sacred arts work.
To me the best place to begin this investigation is to look at our daily practices — what practices are speaking to us strongly, resonating more often than not, and what practices feel dull, lifeless, and no longer vital? Right now taking the time to ask these questions is especially appropriate because we have two potent retrogrades happening in the heavens — both Uranus and Neptune are retrograde. Uranus will be retrograde until Winter Solstice and Neptune is retrograde through November 16th.

Longtime readers know that I often say that the key to working with a retrograde rhythm is to remember to “re”. Re-member. Re-assess. Re-structure. Re-view, You get the idea. The specific planets that are in retrograde provide us with a focus for all of this “re” activity. So in the case of Neptune, the planet that is attuned most potently to memory, intuitive knowing, psychic skills, deep feeling, and powerful dreaming, we can look at our daily practices and ask about these elements. Are they absent or present? Is there a way that they can be better honored in our daily rites?

Uranus in some ways is a polar opposite of Netpune but they are both planetary forces adept at walking and working between the worlds. In the case of Uranus (whose name means “heaven” in Ancient Greek) the key idea is visionary. Whereas Neptune looks back, Uranus looks forward and asks, what is possible here, now, going forward? Mercury is often aligned with intellect and intellectual capacity as well as successful travel and skills of mediation. Some find it helpful to conceive of Uranus as Mercury writ large — so that our inner brilliance is called forth, travel takes on a deeper meaning, and we each have the opportunity to mediate between heaven and earth. When Uranus retrogrades we have the chance to look at our daily practice and ask: where is the brilliance here? What travels, what adventures am I open to at this time? What am I mediating on a daily basis? Are my ties to the celestial and terrestrial strong and sure? If not, what blessing way might help with that?

People often ask me what a daily practice looks like. Well first and foremost it is something you do DAILY. Not weekly, not monthly, not once a year when you feel like it/remember it, but daily. Because consistency is the key to deepening your sacro-magical work we want our daily practice to be accessible. If you only have ten minutes a day to dedicate to your sacred art then let’s make those ten minutes count! Everyone has a different way of creating their daily practice, but here are some key components I find helpful to keep in mind:

1.) Stillness and Silence. If there is only one thing you can do let it be this. To be still and to be quiet—even for a couple of minutes—it is like a power nap! It leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to go forward with clarity.

2.) Prayer/Blessing. Blessing our selves, our precious bodies, minds, and spirits, and blessing those we love allows us to commune with what we most revere. To expand upon this consider blessing the home in the morning when you awake and in the evening before bedtime.

3.) Communion. With your guides, your allies, the Divine, or your own inner knowing. Communion often looks like stillness and silence but it is different in feel and technique because communion is actually listening closely and carefully.

Two possible additions to make to these guidelines at this time, given the dance between Neptune and Uranus would be active imagination journeys (mediating between this world and the worlds beyond in honor of Uranus) and developing or re-developing an intuitive sacred art like tarot in honor of Neptune..

And now Miracles, it is your turn!Tell me what aspects of your daily practice are running strong and/or what snags have come up for you all.

Happy September and Happy Practice! 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.