Hearth and Home Vol. 13 Opening Prayer

Prayer and Blessing

M

iracles,

My seven-year-old is now an eight-year-old. It happened in the wee morning hours of Friday, March 1st and has been feted all weekend, as it will be throughout the month of March. I typically honor this moment, marking the birth of my first born child, with a blessing of sorts. Two years ago it was this one. Today I am sharing my Opening Prayer.

The Opening Prayer is a blessing I wrote ages ago. It is known by my students and clients because it is the blessing I work with to open the space before we begin to learn or work together. But it is an opening prayer in more than just one sense. It is a prayer created to open us up…to our experiences, our inner knowing, and to each other. A prayer to allow us to be open and at the same time to hold fast to the things that are most important, refusing to be knocked off course. For me, motherhood has been all about opening up. It begins with the body because to deliver a child into the world you must be physically open, no two ways about it. And then it moves from there like so many ripples in a pond…my heart is more open, my mind is more open, my time, my schedule, my checkbook, my sense of possibility, my arms, my hands, my borders, and my doors – all more open than ever before. And it all started at this time, eight years ago.

It is so easy in this day and age to be closed. Ironically, in a time when we are supposed to be more connected than ever, it is now more than ever when I see us closing ourselves off – to one another, to whatever is right in front of our faces, to hearing different ideas or opinions, to dreaming boldly about the future. We build walls and erect fortresses of solitude and silence with our heads down, bent over an illuminated screen of one kind or another. We thirst for connection – for the stranger to acknowledge us with bright eyes and a smile, for our parents to ask us how our day was, for our children to tell us their stories, for our lovers to take the time to really hear what is on our hearts and for us to do the same for them. We don’t want to be closed off…not to each other, not to the extraordinary, but if not closely watched this is exactly what happens. I say: watch closely, hold on to your dear ones, prioritize love and pleasure and tenderness, dare to be open. May this prayer be of good use to you in the endeavor.

Blessed Ones, thank you for this day.
Thank you for the Earth beneath our feet,
And for the Sky above our heads.
Thank you for the breath running through our bodies,
And the blood running through our veins.
We ask that you give us eyes to see,
Ears to hear,
And hearts that know the right path to follow with wisdom and discernment.
May it be so by all your holy names.
Amen.

xo,
Bri

Soulful Seekers Spotlight:

These little cutie pies (and sons of one of community member Jennifer L.) need some dough to go and compete worldwide in robotics. Donate here.
Remember Esmé’s book that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago? It debuted #3 on the New York Times bestseller list! The best way to say congratulations? Buy a copy…or two.

PS: I am starting a new community section in these newsletters (see above), the Soulful Seekers Spotlight. Do you have something awesome happening that you want to share? A challenge that you need a little bit of help with? A situation you would like to receive prayers and blessings for? Send it in here.

PPS: Next week I am hosting a second video chat and we are talking Money Magic + Tax Prep Mojo. This is the second one of these that I have done. Make sure you are subscribed to the Resources list  to get all the info!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Prayer for the Solar Eclipse

Lunar Letter

M

ay we shine.

And as we shine, we know that we journey, one foot in front of the other, carving out the regular cycle of our stories, the circular motion of cell and breath and life, and that during this journey there will be interruptions.

We trip and we fall as we wander our course, sure as the Sun and Moon also trip over themselves in their giddy rush to meet one another once more, falling into each other’s limned embrace.

And as we rise up with our skinned knees and elbows we might, if we are brave, we might, if we are something close to wise, say “thank you” – hearing within the interruption a call to attention and awareness, discovering grace in the fall.

Seeing too the patterns to which we have clung and agreed and perpetuated knowingly or not, and taking the moment of rising to decide if we still wish to walk in this particular way on this particular path, knowing that the choice resides within, as does the answer.

And as we choose, righting ourselves once more, traveling our path with greater purpose, we no longer fear the falling, the missing of the mark, or the wandering off the course and into the wild and star-filled woods. Rather, we welcome the moments of panic and loss, recalling the freedoms that they hold alongside our own true commitments, knowing that they bring us ever closer to the embrace of our own deepest Beloved.

And so, burnished by shadow and bruised by our falling, we shine ever brighter.

Image credit: The above image comes from the book Sun and Moon, which I first heard about from the fabulous Arts and Culture blog, Brainpickings. Sun and Moon is published by indie publisher Tara Books, dedicated to giving voice to marginalized art and literature, and featuring the work of ten Indian folk and tribal artists illustrating ancient stories about Sun and Moon.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon in Aries: Blessed Be The Hell Raisers

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

The Sun is in Aries and so is today’s New Moon. I’m blessed with many Rams in my family and today we are celebrating the birthday of one of my favorites – my Dad! I rarely think of myself as a rebel, but I come out of a family that is full of them…outlaws, underdogs, and yes, hell raisers. That’s one reason why they have a special place in my heart. Another is that I believe the hell raisers are often angels in full disguise; I’ve seen golden pinions shining through more than one scarred bomber jacket and scarred back.

Maybe you have too.

When I sat down to write the prayer for this month’s new moon I knew it was time to honor them; that the hell raisers needed their own special blessing. And so…

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The ones who raise fists and eyes to a wide open sky in anger and rage and all their tattered hope.
The vixens who dare to walk the room with their too short skirts and their too high heels and their too red lips.
The Doers and the Gotta Get It Done-ers who cannot, for the life of them, just sit still.
The impatient ones who are not going to wait, or be reasonable or be calm, who will fight no matter what.
With their rebel yells, their black leather, their ivory skulls and red roses worn like so many pearls and rubies beyond price.
Trying their damnedest, in all of the ways that they are told they can’t or shouldn’t or must not, to literally raise hell back up to the heavens with their ravens’, their smokers’ illicit cries – proclaiming that we too are part of the story and our secret love affair is with justice.

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The risk takers and the heroes, first responders and soldiers, who plunge ahead when everyone else cuts and runs.
The rash ones, remembering that “rash” is not that far from the old Hebrew “ruach” very breath of soul and essence.
The dancers who don’t care who might be looking, who dance for the sheer joy of electric movement from the heart to the toe, who dance for the dance itself and will not stop.

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The outlandish and the outlaws, who fit in nowhere, and so with nails and sharp teeth and more than enough wildness carved out and created their own, staring down all that is said to be impossible with a knowing glance that says, “sit back and watch.”
Bad and dangerous.
Criminal and Scandalous.
Ever pushing the envelope just a little bit farther.
Representing for all that is wild, all that is unruly.

Blessed be the hell raisers.

The secret missionaries and incognito bodhisattvas of ghetto and goulag, gangland and waste lands whose bright righteousness cannot help but shine out among the spikes and thorns, for it too, is a bit of a rebel and will not be contained.

In love and blessings,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Blessing for the Dead ~ New Moon in Scorpio

Lineage and Legacy

M

iracles,
This New Moon in Scorpio also marks the eve of Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, and Samhain – all festivals that honor our Beloved Dead and our Ancestors. Those of us who have family members, living or dead, who are Catholic, may be familiar with the prayer cycles known as the Offices of the Dead that are traditionally recited on November 1st, All Saints Day.

Throughout these prayers and vigils there is a refrain spoken thus: The Fear of Death Confounds Me. The common understanding is that this petition, repeated over and over again, is meant to bring comfort to all of us who are, on some level, terrified of death.

But the deeper teaching can be found staring straight at us from the words themselves. The fear of death confounds me, meaning, a fear of death is a strange, confounding even, fear to have.

But why it is confounding?  Does it not seem at first glance to be a perfectly normal and reasonable fear? We do not know what lies on the other side of the veil and we feel, keenly, the loss of those we love.

We do not know, but our ancestors do. You may know their names or you may not. You may have blood relatives to honor or you may not. It makes no difference.

Each of us have ancestors of blood and spirit who have gone beyond the veil, gone before us, and they know. Click to Tweet

They tell us in a thousand ways that this fear, this fear that we all carry truly is confounding. There is nothing here to be afraid of. They gently nudge us to set this fear down and get on with the good work of living well.

Today our blessing is a call and response prayer to and for our Dead but also to and for each of us. It is written in first person intentionally and is meant to be read over yourself.

Blessing the Dead ~

These days are of the Dead and so I ask for blessing as I stand with, commune with, and remember the Dead.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my feet so that they will always find their footing and carry me along the paths it is now time to travel.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my knees as I dance all night long with them, reminding me that the dance is always allowed in all worlds.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my core and center so that it continues to be a strong and sound center point amid all the motion.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my heart in her red and blue robes, beating the ancient drums in tempo with her own bright, beat.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my throat, whispering into my mouth the words that they wished most to say and could not, giving me the gift of true voice.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my ears so that I can hear their stories, hear all that is said and unsaid in thousands of bird song languages each of stunning beauty.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my mind so that I know them, in all of their cracks and crevices and imperfections I know them for who they truly are, and I love them.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead bless my memory, expanding out with their slightest touch they call upon me to remember the pieces of my own lineage back together, and in so doing sow within the good, black, dirt that their very bodies have nourished, the seeds for the legacy that is to come.

The fear of Death confounds me.
For the Dead are of me and I am of them, and there is no place for fear within this sacred hoop, only the love upon love upon love that has led to the miracle of my own blessed life.

If you would like to join in our free community altar for Honoring our Beloved Dead you can do that here (open through 12/29 at 12noon cdt).
For more on this special time of year, I highly recommend this post by Terri Windling. For more on Death in folk and fairy tales faces check out this article.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Two Questions to Ask Before a Ceremony

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles,

What I hope each of you take time to consider before any ritual, ceremony, and act of transformation:

What are the outer changes?

What are the inner changes?

Whether the ceremony is one that you have created, one that is quite old, one that is part of a community effort or one that is performed in solitude, these two questions hold, and, once answered, ensure that your participation within the ceremony is clear and direct.

In order to answer the first question you must recognize the stated goals of the ceremony. Is this a rite of gratitude and feasting that seeks to give thanks and honor? Is it a ceremony designed to increase personal wealth or power? Is it a prayer repeated at the same time each day to bring about a long awaited pregnancy or the return of a lover? What state are you hoping to change and how are you hoping to change it? You can also include commentary on what information will let you know that the sought after changes are in progress – or not.

The second question is much less considered and more important than the first – what are in the inner changes that must occur in order for the outer changes to be possible? Do you need to move from a state of focus on a project or effort into a state of reflection on what has been accomplished and gratitude for those accomplishments? If you are seeking personal wealth then taking the time to inventory what inner feelings, thoughts, and sensations either support or work against your goal is at least as much worth your time as gathering the right ceremonial supplies. What inner beliefs or ideas do you have about power that might keep you from having the best possible relationship to that power? In the case of a desired pregnancy or the return of a lover what needs to change within you to best support either outcome.

Transformation never happens on just the outer level. Often we get exactly what we need and more than we had though to ask for. Choose to be ready for results within as well as without.

A final question that can be asked after either of the first two is this: what practical actions can I take to support these changes? And then of course, once you have identified several such actions – take them.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Where do our prayers go?

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

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

Ceremony and Ritual

D

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.