Creating Ceremony: We are all Cinderella

Ceremony and Ritual

M

iracles,

The Season of Spinning Gold is upon us and I am getting very excited at the prospect of swinging open the doors to this most magical of courses once more!

Ok, so those of you who have taken online courses know how this works. Typically people do a series of emails marketing their course and convincing you why it is THE THING that will change your life, you get bombarded with, like, 18 emails a day and so it goes.

I’ve never done that and I have no plans to do it this year either because…GROSS.

I did want to up the ante on our own season of Spinning Gold and give you something that will really yield tangible benefits for you whether you take the course or not.

So I decided that I would just give it away for free.

I am not going to ask you to sign up for Spinning Gold in order to change your life, I am going to teach you how to change your life over the next week for FREE. I know that is a bold claim but stay with me.

I blame it on Cinderella. Well, I blame it on the realization that we are ALL Cinderella.

I was thinking about the story the other day and I realized that it centers around the question that I have been asked the most both this year and last year.

How do I change?

The question shows up in so many forms:
How do I change my lover?
How do I change my marriage?
How do I change my health?
How do I change my money situation?
How do I change my story?

But it boils down to: how do I change? How do I make it better?

Now there are lots of practical answers to these questions – steps you can take, tricks you can try, and programs you can buy.

But really, in my experience, if you want to create change then you have to do know how to do one thing.

Create Ceremony.

Think about the story of Cinderella. She is down on her luck. The sun is setting, the ball is starting, her sisters are brats, and her stepmother is wicked. She needs change – not like a little nip here and a little tweak there, the girl needs deep, radically transforming change. So what does she do? She creates ceremony, she makes magic. We know how the story ends and as I have written before, happily ever after is for everybody.

Now of course the problem is that many of us grew up without access to the language and forms of creating ceremony.

It is not hard to do at all, but you do have to know where to start and if you understand the basic framework that all ceremonies have then it becomes much easier to do.

So, that’s what we are going to learn about over the course of the next week: how to create ceremony.

I’m going to give you the five-step process that I work with and that is called on by people all over the world when it comes to creating ceremony.

I’m going to break it down for you and because we are all fairy tale lovers here, we are going to work with the story of Cinderella as our guide.

The steps we will explore are:

  • Banishing
  • Communion
  • Prayer and Petition Making
  • Action
  • Conclusion and Clean Up

I have never taught this process before and I am really excited to make it available for you here and now. I want this to be interactive teaching, so as you are going through each lesson, feel free to pop over to my blog, Canto, and leave a comment so that I can respond to you directly.

Look for the first email in your inbox tomorrow!

And, in the meantime, if you want to check out the different versions of Cinderella check out this wonderful site.

Also, often people use the words “ritual” and “ceremony” interchangeably. This is not really correct. For our purposes a ritual is a single sacred act whereas a ceremony is composed of many sacred acts – so each ceremony contains many rituals.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 15 From Walking to Dancing

Foundations

M

iracles, phase

The biggest news without a doubt this Hearth and Home is that Heath – our just-turned one year old – has started to walk! He has been a super fast crawler for a while, but the second week of July saw that crawl turn into a full-fledged walk.

Not a few tentative few steps either, oh no. He went for a full-on saunter clear across the room, making his way over the electrical socket much to the chagrin of his parents. The walk was accompanied by as much arm waving and giggling as you would expect.

Walking is, of course, a huge milestone in the life of a baby (and his parents) and it is one way of marking the end of one phase and the beginning of another. I remember when Jasper started walking. All of a sudden all of the drawers were being opened all of the time, and all sharp implements had to go high up on the kitchen counters out of reach of tiny probing hands. I know what I’ll be doing when we return home after our New Mexico sojourn!

You could say “New Phases” has actually been the theme for our whole family over the last few weeks. Jasper has entered into a new artistic phase, not only reaching new heights in his piano, but also discovering a love of dance.

Whether he’s putting together a series of original compositions for an album, preparing four pieces for a Royal Conservatory of Music exam in the Fall, or dancing ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, theater or modern, or even learning how to draw Manga, this little boy is full of exciting new discoveries. He also loves getting ready for his flag football season and using his tennis racket both to hit actual tennis balls and to wage battle against a host of unseen but no doubt definitely threatening invisible forces.

David and I have entered into a new phase as well. Life has gotten incredibly busy (even more so) since the book came out. The letters I have received from readers who love Making Magic have touched me so deeply, and I am yet again so appreciative and in awe of our beautiful community.

You all are amazing. As we turn our attention now to the launch of Spinning Gold, we find ourselves inundated with new possibilities and projects including new travel, teaching, and writing opportunities.

Though I am the “face” of our business, David is my partner in every aspect of it and we make our decisions together. Right now we are exercising keen-eyed discernment so that we can say Yes to the opportunities that we believe will truly nourish our community and our family while also saying a firm no to the ones that, at this point in time anyway, will not.

For myself, I have found that once you have even the tiniest bit of success in the public, it becomes infinitely more important to have a clear vision of your real telos, your purpose, the thing that you are aiming towards. I’ll end this section with a reminder: if you have read Making Magic please get thee to Amazon and leave a review for the book – the more reviews = the more people that find the work!

More new phases: Our family as a whole has entered a new phase in the realm of entertainment. We don’t watch a lot of television, as my long-time readers know. But in the summertime, we let that house rule slip a little. This summer we have immersed ourselves in the wonderful, zany, psychedelic, a world of musicals. They are, in our opinion, the perfect antidote and medicine for inoculating us against the horrors that we encounter daily in the 24/7 news cycle.

I never really realized until this summer how almost every musical is dealing with themes like love in times of war, prejudice, racism, and tyranny of all kinds. The fact that they do it while singing and dancing…well, I think we could take a page or two from that book!

We rounded out the month with a book signing in Santa Fe, the ordering of backpacks and lunch boxes for school (children have very definite opinions. This should be an easy project but it is NOT), and the creation of a couple of custom pairs of Chaco sandals – which are and have been for years my favorite shoes.

The next two weeks will see hiking, coyote-led sing-a-longs, walking, and of course, dancing. May all you find what brings joy in these deep summer days too!

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Community Calls and Adios Social Media!

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

Happy Full Moon in Leo and (yay!) Sun in Aquarius!

These are both signs that are interested in community and connection. One of Leo’s talents is cultivating intimate, meaningful gatherings, and Aquarius is very concerned with overall community health and happiness. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. What are the best ways for me to stay in touch with, inspire, and be inspired by, our beautiful Sacred Arts community? These ponderings have led to some exciting decisions that I now want to share with all of you.

Recently, I made the decision to step away from social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) so that I can focus on what I love most: writing newsletters (like the one you’re reading right now), writing books (like this one), and working with the lovely people who hire me and enroll in my classes (like Spinning Gold).

My decision to leave social media was also motivated by a desire to live even more intentionally and purposefully. With a bustling business, a husband, and two small kids (including a 7 month old infant) at home, I want to be extra-intentional with how I’m spending my time. Would I prefer to spend thirty minutes posting things on Facebook—or spend those thirty minutes cuddling my baby and tickling his tiny toes and making him giggle? When I frame things in those terms, the decision feels simple! Baby wins over Facebook. Every time.

This doesn’t mean that I think social media is “bad” or “a waste of time.” Certainly not. Like any communication tool—a letter, an email, a blog post—social media can be used to connect, educate, inspire, and do wonderful things. That being said, if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with social media lately, if you’ve been feeling tired of it, wanting to re-evaluate how you use it, or perhaps even wanting to take a break from it, I wrote a few articles that might interest you…

Here is a ritual for making social media feel “magical” again. Remember the early days of the Internet, when we all felt such wonder and awe? But now, many of us feel overwhelmed and burned by all the nonstop chatter and noisy demands. In this article, I share a ritual for helping you take strides toward bringing some magic back into your digital life by fostering clarity and intentionality.

Or maybe you too want to “break up” with social media? If so, I have a ritual for doing exactly that.

Something I hear about from many of my clients and students is the possibility of obsessing over someone else’s social media account. This is a case of social media jealousy and yep, there’s a ritual for that!

I hope those articles give you some interesting things to contemplate—and perhaps some new things to try.

You can choose to stay active on social media, or cut back, or drop out, and all of those choices are equally beautiful in their own ways. Whatever is best for you, is just right.

xo,

P.S. Curious about my decision to drop off social media? Got some follow-up questions you’d love to ask? Feel free to attend the virtual coffee chat that I’m hosting on Wednesday, January 30th at 10:00 am cdt and ask anything! This get together is a chance for us to chat about… anything and everything. I welcome questions about social media or questions about business, writing, creativity, rituals, ceremonies, my new book, or anything else. Click this link when it’s time for the virtual coffee chat to begin!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Magical Missive: Gathering Prayers – How to Make a Prayer Bundle, Mojo Bag, or Charm Packet

Alchemy and Magic

M

y first prayer bundle was so simple that it would not be until many years later that I understood what it really was.

This prayer bundle had a single ingredient: the first lock of hair ever cut from my head. The bundle itself was made out of scotch tape, by which I mean that the hair from my head had been sandwiched between two pieces of scotch packing tape. This prayer bundle, then, looked like a little unassuming packet, with a piece of hair caught inside it. Just from the looks of it, you would never know the kind of power it had.

This little packet was carried in the wallet of my maternal grandfather faithfully every day until he suffered a major stroke in 2005.

Years later, through study with teachers in various traditions and learning from my clients who also, blessedly and thankfully, come from many different traditions and walks of life, I was able to see my grandfather’s packet for what it was – not just way to keep a sentimental lock of hair, but a container for power and prayer. I discovered that charms and prayer bundles come in all shapes and sizes and in ways you could never imagine.

I understood that he carried his humble scotch tape packet for protection, for his and my protection, and also to remind himself about the significant life changes he made when I was born. We all need reminding of the pivotal moments of life. In these pivotal moments there dwells a magic force to help us live better lives. This charm packet helped him not only to remember it, but to raise that power of change for himself again and again in times he most needed it. For him it was the power of love, of second chances and a fresh start.

Prayer and blessing, while two of the most common and universally spoken languages in the Sacred Arts, are also languages that can often feel too abstract, too “un-grounded”, like air plants that are missing a true root system.

And this is why, for as long as there have been prayers and people to pray them, there have also been ways to make those prayers physical, to materialize them. This is an act I refer to as prayer gathering.

While there are many ways to gather prayers, the magical object that we are left with at the end of the gathering process is often a special container that holds our prayers and keeps them tied together fast so that they are strong and resilient. Different traditions have different ways of containing prayers, but one of the most common that is found in all of the corners and sides and angles of the world is a bag, pouch, packet of cloth or paper, or satchel of some kind. The names for these special prayer containers vary depending on time, people, and tradition. Some of the most common include: medicine bag, medicine bundle, prayer bag, prayer bundle, mojo bag, mojo hand, gris-gris, charm bag, fetish bag, fetch bag, charm packet, angel packet, magic pouch…and the list goes on.

Just as there are different names for these objects there are different ways of making them and working with them. In some cases, your prayer bundle might be made to be visibly worn, seen by all, a declaration, testimony or even challenge issued by the person wearing it. In other cases the prayer bundles are made to be hidden, worn discretely around the neck or waist or cross-wise upon the body. In some traditions, no one can touch your prayer bundle but you. In other traditions, family members can and often will bump up against each other’s prayer bundles. Some prayer bundles are not worn by people at all but hung on branches of trees or set out on the ground as offerings or burned or hung above the front door. Other prayer bundles are kept close to their person all the days of the life and when the person has died and their body is burned or buried the prayer bundle goes along with them. Some of these little bags are temporary – made for a specific purpose and then released through burial, burning, or disassembly. And in some cases a prayer bundle is not made for a person, but for a space, home, dwelling, sanctuary, or specific ceremony.

When we begin to make our own prayer bundles, the first thing we must realize is that we are working within the parameters of sacred vessel magic. Here magic is ritually contained in a sacred vessel and expressed through various physical objects placed in a container such as a jar, bowl, eggshell, or horn. The container for prayer bundles is of course the pouch or bag and is typically made of cotton, silk, flannel, or leather, and sometimes embellished with embroidery, bead work, sewn charms, or fringe.

When we work under the aegis of sacred vessel magic, we do well to consider this question: how does the situation I am working on need to be held? You can take that question as practically or figuratively as you want, but I do recommend thinking about it and journaling on it prior to creating your prayer bundle. The time and effort you spend reflecting on your life is never wasted. You can go back over your thoughts and writings and find the themes and intentions that will form part or the whole of your petition.

As we turn to making prayer bundles it is useful to understand that they are basically composed of three parts.

1. The vessel – this is the bag, pouch, locket, satchel, or cloth that is going to hold the magical contents. Considerations to keep in mind as you select the right material for this include: whether or not you plan to wear it and if you do plan to wear it, how and where you will wear it. Also consider how permanent or temporary this prayer bundle is meant to be as well as how you want to enliven it or discard of it.

2. Contents – these are the magical ingredients that you are going to include in the prayer bundle and they vary widely from tradition to tradition and also depending on what your purpose is. Typically speaking though the magical ingredients used in a prayer bundle include: botanical or zoological curios, personal concerns, coins or paper bills, petition papers, crystals/minerals, and images of saints, deities, or other holy helpers. Not all of these need to be included in a prayer bundle but they are the general categories to consider.

3. Seal for the bundle – this might be a string tie that is already included in the pouch, a piece of leather or thread that is used to knot up the bundle, flexible beading wire, wax, clay, glue, or as we saw with my grandfather, ordinary tape! The kind of seal you will choose to work with depends in large part on the kind of bundle you are creating as well as the contents within it.

Making your bundle:

Experience has taught me that when it comes to fashioning prayer bundles, unless you are creating very simple ones (such as offering bundles filled with cornmeal or tobacco), you will need to give yourself some time to assemble the materials you have chosen to work with. Maybe you have a well-stocked pantry but chances are you might need to order something in particular for your bundle so this is magic that can be created on the fly, but often rewards a little planning and forethought. Here is the process I follow.

First I gather my materials and lay them out on an altar cloth, which for me most of the time, is either a white or red bandanna (yes I know, fancy!). I take some time with each object I am going to incorporate into my prayer bundle, beginning with the vessel itself. If you are going to augment or alter your prayer bundle in some way – if you are going to fix a charm to it or stamp it then in most cases you will want to go ahead and do that first. This is a ritual act so if you are sewing something to the bundle, beading, creating fringe, etc, you will want to do so in a prayerful frame of mind.

Once you are ready to begin working with each object cultivate calmness. Sit or stand so that you are able to breathe fully and then hold each item in your hands for a few moments. Spinning Gold students of mine who work with woven cords may place one end of the cord on the object and hold the other end of the cord in their hands for a deeper connection. Then, commune with the object. Introduce yourself to it. Tell it what you are hoping to accomplish. Ask if it is willing to assist you in your endeavor. Be aware that sometimes the answer will be no and if that is the case my advice is don’t force the issue. Ask the object what it wants to be called and how you can best take care of it. You will often find that specific objects in your prayer bundles need to be fed from time to time with various substances. Make notes as you go. As you can see this part of the process can take a bit of time, especially if you have more than three items you are adding to the prayer bundle, so it makes sense for this part to be day one of your prayer bundle magic-making.

After connecting to each part of the prayer bundle, gather up all of the materials on the cloth you have laid them out on and hold them in both hands, connecting to the prayer bundle as a whole. Follow the same process of cultivating calmness, discovering if your prayer bundle has a specific name, and learning how your prayer bundle might want to be fed.

Next, if you are including a paper petition in the prayer bundle go ahead and write it out. Anoint it in the corners and center with an anointing oil, saliva, tears, or blood, depending on the purpose of the prayer bundle. If you are including personal concerns like your hair or nails I recommend placing them in the center of the petition paper and then folding it so that they are contained within the paper.

Now it is time to place the objects inside of the bundle. This should be done in a light liminal state. If you are working with any hard objects like coins, crystals, pieces of metal, wood, or roots then you may want to anoint them with a sacred oil, saliva, tears or blood – again, depending on the purpose of the prayer bundle. Begin with the petition paper, next goes any hard, larger, objects, finally if you are adding any dried herbs or powders you can take a piece of paper, put them on it, create a funnel with it and funnel them into the prayer bundle.

Sealing your bundle:

Once you are sure that everything you wish to put into your prayer bundle has been placed within it, it is time to seal the bundle. There are many different traditions on how to do this, but a simple way I seal my bundle is to “breathe in a blessing” on the bundle and keep the purpose for the bundle firmly in my mind and heart as I do so. Then, as I breathe out I exhale that breath into the bundle itself and quickly seal it in whatever way I wish. This breath blesses the bundle with a bit of myself, affirming the connection between me, my purpose, and the sacred object.

Enlivening your bundle:

After the bundle has been sealed it is time to enliven it, to get its spirit stirring and working. Again, traditions vary but I was taught to first anoint the bundle with a bit of anointing oil or my saliva, then hold the bundle in my hands and speak over it, stating my purpose and asking for its aid in free form words. In my experience this part may start out a bit awkward but as it builds in power and purpose the words take on a rhythm and cadence all their own. Of course you can choose to write something out or recite something formally if that is more to your liking. The point is that with words, breath, and body movement – yes, you should be moving your body in some way as you enliven your prayer bundle, you start to wake up the energy in the little bundle and you will feel it flicker in your hands like a candle flame or a tiny bird. At that moment raise the bundle to your heart, to your lips, and finally to your head and conclude your blessing with an “amen” or “may it be so” or “it is done.”

Working with your bundle:

The ways that you will work with your prayer bundle really depend on what purpose the bundle was made for. If this is a long term charm that you plan on wearing then often just wearing the bundle is enough to actively engage with it. You can take that a step further by talking with your bundle – just as you would a lodestone or a plant – or bringing your bundle with you when you do active imagination work. In many cases these long term relationships lead to all kinds of interesting things. I have personally experienced and had clients and students confirm that their prayer bundles have warned them of oncoming danger, provided needed support during times of emotional crisis, and facilitated rapid physical healing – even in instances when those qualities were not originally part of the bundle’s purpose. If you are working with a long term prayer bundle then I find that it is a good idea to cense it in sacred smoke at least once a week and to anoint it with a ritual oil. If you make a habit of doing this on the same day and same time then you will find that the actions carry even more magical weight. Most importantly though, you need to talk to your prayer bundle and find out how it would like you to work with it.

Care and feeding your bundle:

As mentioned above, it is a good idea to feed your prayer bundle with sacred smoke and/or a ritual oil on a weekly basis. This keeps the bundle enlivened and well nourished and, more importantly, it gives you some time to sit and be with your magical talisman, so that your relationship with it can deepen. You will notice after years of working with your prayer bundle that it begins to get a little funky on the outside. This is especially true if it is made of cloth. So it is a good idea to designate one day a year (and perhaps more if you sweat a lot or do manual labor while wearing your bundle) for washing and restoring your prayer bundle. Follow these steps in order to do this.

1. Untie or unseal the prayer bundle. Empty out all of the contents of your prayer bundle. Separate any hard objects like larger roots, coins, crystals, minerals, etc to one side and any dried herbs, personal concerns, and petition papers to the other.

2. Turn your bag inside out and remove any remaining debris. At this point you have a choice to make: do you want to re-use the same bag or do you want to use a new bag? I re-use as much as possible personally. But you have choices. You can choose to re-use the bag as is. You might decide to wash the bag first, you may hand wash it or wash it in the washing machine – I have done both. Just pay attention to any specific cleaning instructions related to the material your bag is made from. You may turn your bag inside out and use it that way or you can cut your bag up and sew part of it into a new prayer bundle. You can also work with an entirely new prayer bundle and if you choose to do this then it is best to burn the old bag and scatter the ashes at a four way crossroads.

3. Take some time to attune to each of the hard items. Re-anoint them with saliva or ritual oil and make sure that they are still willing and able to work with you. If they are not then bury them in your yard or simply give them back to the earth by placing them at the base of a healthy tree.

4. Read over your petition, and keep it in mind as you create a new petition. When you are ready burn the old petition and scatter the ashes at a four way crossroads or bury them in your garden. Do the same with the old personal concerns as you will want to use fresh ones.

5. Sprinkle the old dried herbs and flowers on the ground around your home.

6. Re-make your prayer bundle following the above directions.

Ritually disposing of your bundle:

While some prayer bundles are meant to stay with you until the day you die, others are meant to be disposed of in various ways. Again, the method of ritual disposal depends in large part on the purpose of the bundle, but generally speaking you can offer up the bundle and let the elements and wild creatures take it – this is most usually done by hanging it from a tree. You may burn the bundle and either bury the ashes in your yard, at the base of a health tree, or scatter them at a crossroads. You may also sink your bundle into deep water or bury the bundle whole without burning it. Each method carries a distinct flavor and intention with it, so the best thing to do is think about why you made the bundle in the first place and go from there.

 

 

It is not without reason that prayer bundles and magical containers have been worked with throughout time by our ancestors. They hold and create boundaries for our prayers, wishes, and desires, often strengthening and concentrating them while give us a clear doorway into the Otherworld. May you enjoy making one for yourself!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 8 – Refilling the Cup

Learning and Community

M

iracles,

Happy October!!! On the night of September 30th, as I was cleaning up from the Archangel Michael Feast Day, I glanced at my October calendar, and nearly started to hyperventilate. Oh. My. Goodness. We are now full-on in the season of magic, which means that I am full-on busy, add to that all of the school functions that happen in October, the birthdays (mine!!!) and anniversaries (also mine!!!) that also occur in October.

Looking at October, I began to feel what I can only describe as dread at all the busy-ness, which is NOT how I wanted to go into the month. So I stopped before panic mode truly set in, and I asked myself: OK, Bri – you know you have a lot going on this month, so what practices do you need to be really vigilant about in order to enjoy your favorite month of the year?

I thought about this question, and I felt into it just as I have my students do. I realized that I needed to commit to practices that really support me in feeling expansive when it comes to time and space. The month had not even started and I was feeling like I did not have either! For me, these practices are active imagination journeys – the kind we do in Spinning Gold and the kind I have taught in the Miracle Tree Sessions for several years now. They always begin with cultivating calmness, then my working place in the Otherworld always starts at the crossroads and I go from there. I was telling a friend of mine that the first part of the year, right up to this month, has felt like a huge out-breath. It has been so active. I have been so active. Writing a book, having a baby, traveling quite a bit over the summer, a full roster of students that I work with one on one…all really good things that I absolutely love and also all very outwardly active experiences.

Now that the skies are grayer and the weather will (maybe? hopefully!) start to cool down, I was struck so profoundly with the need to go inwards. For me that is more quiet time in my daily practice and prayers, planning with an eye to next year, and reading, reading, reading. I stayed away from reading books while I was writing my own because I needed to WRITE, but now I am making up for lost time and averaging about a book a day. Not even kidding. I’m reading fiction, non-fiction, and everything in between. I am spending time listening to podcasts and just soaking in inspiration and ideas and gorgeous words. This is better than any ten thousand dollar retreat – holding Heath, reading or listening to something interesting, then turning to my husband and talking with him about it. This, my friends, is pure gold in Briana-land.

So I’m reading, I’m cooking more, I’m making time and space to write, I’m playing with my three month old, I’m snuggling down with my seven year old and telling him a different version of Blue Beard or the Twelve Dancing Princesses or Iron Heinrich every night. I’m listening to my Holy Helpers. I feel the next wave of creative ideas and inspiration coming.  I can see the shadows that wave is casting – good, robust, luminous-on-the-inside shadows. I can taste its depths, and I am taking care of myself, re-filling my cup, so that when it is ready to crest I will be ready.

These realizations turned what was looking like a pretty scraggly cat of a month into something glossy and plump, wild, and wise. A time of year that I am actually going to linger through and savor and enjoy. My birthday is this month on October 13th and on that same day Heath turns four months old. He continues to be a really happy child, reminding me to RELAX and PLAY and have FUN. Our seven year old, Jasper, teaches me how to be patient and to live within my creativity. J is a deeply artistic child (I’ve shared some of his drawings before and those of you who have met him in real life know what I am talking about). He is the kind of child who does not do something creative, he lives it. By which I mean, he has to be reminded as all 7 year olds do, to put on shoes and brush teeth and feed fish, but he does not have to be asked to play the piano from hi heart or to sit down and draw or to build something out of Jenga blocks. He just does it, as naturally as you please. And sometimes it is funny and sometimes it is weird, and sometimes it is deeply divine and makes you feel like angels striding through your living room. That is living within our creativity. My 7 year old is an excellent teacher and I am trying to keep up with the lessons.

This is also the month when I celebrate being married to be the most incredible man – for twelve years now! David is the best husband, best dad, best partner is business and in life I could ever have been blessed with. He is without a doubt my person, my guy, my love. Both my birthday and our anniversary will be celebrated with good food and forays into the forests as soon as the weather cools down and the mosquitoes become a little less blood thirsty. As I dance into my 38th year I just feel so grateful. So grateful to our gorgeous community, so grateful that I get to wake up and do work that I love with people that I love every single day. So grateful that my beloved and I get to spend our days together, working, wrangling, and loving each other as we do. It is not always easy, this magical, enchanted life; but I would not trade it for anything, and I cannot pretend to be anything other than deeply blessed. So many of you who are reading this have helped make that possible in countless big and small ways. My gratitude to all of you is truly boundless. And I have so many fun things coming up in 2019 to help show that gratitude. I cannot wait to tell you all about them – soon, soon!

A bunch of you have asked about the book and what is happening with it now. So we are now in the copy-editing phase of the production. This is a different kind of editing than what we were engaged in before – if book production was compared to a manicure, then this part is the application of the clear, fast drying top coat. It is important because it brings yet another level of cohesion to the entire manuscript (and it has us all bowing down in devotion to the Chicago Manual of Style). We are now in the last leg of the book formation journey. Any small changes I want to make to the book have to be made by October 31st (yes I know, how perfect is that?).  After that day, any changes start to slow down the next leg of the book birthing process. So I am lingering over my book this month, spending a lot of time with it, taking it for walks, for long baths, going over every word and sentence, story and idea, because once it is out in the world on shelves and in hands, it is not mine any longer, it becomes yours, all of yours, and I want to give you something lovely and thought provoking and well-made.

I am also in the endorsement gathering phase. Getting endorsements is straight up going out into a neighborhood and knocking on a bunch of doors, and asking people who are known to be gifted in seeing and assessing and blessing if they will spare the time and the effort and take a moment to bless you, to bless your work. That’s what you are doing: you are asking for and gathering up blessings. It takes courage. Sometimes the answer is no. But often the answer is yes and the blessing received is so much more than the seeker could have ever imagined. There are more pieces around the book that I will be asking you about soon as I need your input and opinions.

I’ve also turned my attention to writing new material, starting with a long article about Witches that many of you emailed me about and generously shared your thoughts. I love those exchanges. It usually takes me a few days to get back to all of the emails but I love them. It means so much and it is such a blessing to be able to hear what you have to say, what my words encourage you to think about and speak out about in your own lives. That is, hands down, my favorite part of the internet, and we do not even have to do it through social media! I can just write something and send it out to y’all and y’all show up with brilliance every single time. How stellar is that?

So I wrote earlier about re-filling my cup, and here are some of the ways I have been doing it. I have been reading this and this and this. Listening to this. Playing with this and covering myself with these. And I have also made some things for you because I love making things for you. I wrote a little guide on how to incorporate astrology into your planning processes – I call it Planning by Starlight and you can snag it here – totally free: enjoy! I have a blessing for the New Moon in Libra right here for you. And I also want to remind you that I have a litany of blessings if you ever need to be washed over with blessings. Theresa and I have a new podcast episode up. There are also a bunch of articles on working with, honoring, and celebrating our Beloved Dead as we enter into Ancestor Season. And reminder, if you want to know what the latest offerings are, you need to sign up for this email list as I keep this one commercial free. And I wish this for you: a decadent, delicious, sweet as honey, October for you – a time that you are really able to enjoy and appreciate and dive into.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Will the real witches please stand up?

Lineage and Legacy

M

iracles,

If you have been paying even the barest attention to trends, you know that the word and concept of “Witch” is enjoying a surge of social media and commercial popularity. Why is this?

I contend that the role or archetype of Witch is not a goal in itself but rather a pointer to something deeper and vaster, and – in a sense – more universal. I contend that the something being pointed to is our magic. I have written at length about the importance of names, and this one, Witch, is one of the most important of all, so I want to take some time to really explore what is happening with Witch in popular culture right now.

Now, I live in (what I like to call) my magic mushroom doing my work, so these trends often go zipping right over my head. But with the recent Sephora dust-up, you couldn’t help to catch a glimpse of what’s happening out there.

You may have seen it. Sephora partnered up with San Francisco based beauty brand Pinrose and offered a stylish kit complete with scent – you can smell like a witch (what does a witch smell like?) – slated to be carried in stores everywhere – but then pulled due to accusations on the part of both witches and Native Americans that the witch-kit was an act of cultural appropriation. In an interesting turn, some Native American tribal representatives also accused (appropriately in my opinion) witches themselves of appropriation. The whole thing was a mess frankly – poorly conceived and poorly executed. Accusations that Sephora was trafficking in endangered White Sage were met by claims that Pinrose had employed Native American artisans to craft their smudge bundles (and who as a result of the dust up are now out of a job). Two words y’all: HOT. MESS.

I take the question of cultural appropriation seriously. In fact, one of my guest teachers for Spinning Gold this year, my good friend and head of Dartmouth College’s Native American Program, Sarah Palacios, and I met to talk about the problem of appropriation in the Sacred Arts because make no mistake – it IS a problem. We do need serious and clear thinking about human culture and our roles in making – or unmaking – culture.

But when it comes to Sephora’s mass-consumer product, a make-up ‘witch-kit’, it is in some ways not easy to know what we are dealing with here.

There’s an argument to be made that all mass-consumerism has been nothing but a corrosive agent to human culture and aspiration for as long as it has been around. In this light, Sephora’s ‘witch-kit’ is simply a tiny part of a much wider and more serious long-term, on-going exploitation of human culture. Getting rid of the witch-kit – making consumer culture cleaner and more culturally sensitive – doesn’t get rid of the underlying structural problem: it just makes it harder to see. A “kind” slave master is a slave master all the same. The rim of the poison cup may have honey on it, but it is poison nonetheless.

Secondly, trends are just that: trends. They come and go. Witchcraft – or some shadowy idea of it – has been part of kitsch consumer culture at least since the days of Wizard of Oz, the crooning Sinatra and the 1970s TV sit-com, Bewitched, and then more recently, Harry Potter.

But folks who used to make fun of “woo-woo” now begin their sentences with “not to get all woo but…” as they then proceed to do exactly that, get all, you know, woo on you (whatever the heck that means!). There are the popular writers who have never mentioned sacred arts or rituals in their work and now are making them a core part of their “marketing strategy”. There are the life and business coaches who are adopting “witch” or some variation thereof to their list of job titles. How much of this represents real learning? And how much of it is merely following the trend? Underneath all of it is there any sense and any respect for what Witch is really about? And what happens when the trend shifts, and blows in a different direction?

I would hope that many continue discovering their magic and a broader stream of Sacred Arts, but I suspect that all-too-many of the voices we hear “witchifying” everything will eventually turn to something else to ‘market’ themselves. Who knows? Maybe one day the trend will turn to adopting the inquisitorial “look”of crucifixes and monks, or the“look”of Puritan witch-hunters. Wouldn’t that be fun? Instead of lots of instagram ready pics accessorized with crystals we will accessorize with what? Burning coals? Pyres ready to be lit. A hangman’s noose?

If you have grown up in North America, and have participated in Halloween as a child, you’ve heard of witches. Witches are fun. You’ve ‘seen’ them too: in posters and images, movies, songs and costumes. You know, the green skin, hooked nose, broomstick wielding and black cat loving old biddy. You’ve of course heard all about the Salem witch trials and the witch hunts. Not so fun. And you hear the term witch-hunt appropriated in the political sphere today – even less fun.

The word itself has an old history, well before North America was first colonized by Europeans. The women and men called witches have always been associated with a dangerous power – even as large institutions (like the Church or later the Scientific Establishment) have claimed that they have no power, that their beliefs and life ways were built on mere fantasy. The women and men called witches have been, and in many places still are, harangued, accosted, harassed, and killed. Groups of people who experience such are not sought out and molested because they are seen as powerless, but precisely because they are seen as powerful, as dangerous. Persecution is always a tacit admission that the group persecuted has power. What is more, the sources of their power are not understood, easily rationalized, visible, and/or controllable.

So when we use a word like“witch”, we are – unconsciously – calling upon both a blood-stained history and at the same time kitschy commercial stereotypes that seem like harmless fun. Those are two strands of the lineage carried in the word Witch. Here is another: sovereignty; sovereignty for all.

Witches make magic. That’s what they are supposed to do (besides scare children in graveyards or seduce married men, I guess). The idea of magic appeals to so many of us right now because we are (if I may put it bluntly) so tired of the pall of fatalism and hopelessness hanging over everything, especially in politics. It is so tempting to feel like we are on a runaway train, headed to the brink of a precipice. Magic – when practiced correctly, we sense – leads to the discovery of hitherto unseen choices and possibilities – on our own terms. Magic, especially our own wild magic, poses a brilliant alternative to the fatalism, hopelessness, and victim hood that the air can feel so very thick with these days.

There are many theories: it could be that Witch is the new face of feminism, a millenial battlecry, about claiming or re-claiming our personal power – and evidently then exercising that power in whatever ways we see fit. Witch is about allure, rebellion, seduction, and independence – all at the same time.

Meanwhile, actual witches are doing their thing, you know, living life. They are picking up kids from soccer practice, learning how to dance flamenco, trying out a new recipe, asking the cute girl or boy out for the third date, working out, trying out a new flower essence, planting seeds, listening to dreams, living life in the best way they know how. And that is really the whole point of the thing isn’t it?

So when “witch-kits” are introduced into the mass market encouraging a huge outcry, what are people crying out against? Yes, they are angry that their way of life has been packaged for profit. Yes, they are responding to a sense that to try and package a spiritual path, any spiritual path, is, all good intentions aside, an attempt to diminish both the path and the people that travel it. And yes, they are responding to their way of life being presented in its most vapid, superficial, and superfluous form. They are rightly reacting to a perceived threat and theft of their power. But both our fascination with Witch and our resistance against trading on the term for profit strike at something deeper than power.

Power, at the end of the day, is not that interesting. There are the forces that you have power over and then there are the forces that have power over you. The pursuit of power is almost always one way: we want to increase our personal power and we want to decrease the ways in which we feel dis-empowered or without power. Rarely do we hear someone say that they want to learn from power, rarer still do we find people interested in precisely the places where things are quite beyond our power to control. In fact, in today’s world we have all tacitly said that there is nothing, really, beyond our power to control.

Big science and big money are working in tandem to rule over and control everything – even up to and including Death. And those of you who have read your Greek Tragedy, your European fairy tales, your African and Middle-Eastern folk tales, your Native American legends, or watched Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring trilogy know just how well seeking to have power over everything including Death goes. Why do all of the stories agree? They come from different people, different times, and different cultures – how can they agree? Because the authors and tellers of them all encounter exactly what we do – the lust for power leading to ever more lusting for power, leading ultimately to the exact opposite of what we are actually seeking, which is not power at all, but something far more precious and subtle: magic.

Magic may appeal to many people because of some kind of promise of power, but magic goes beyond power. Its roots are much deeper, the word itself is rooted in an ancient word for wisdom, its shadow and radiance much wider. Any true power has a hint of magic – the ability to transform ‘water into wine’, waste material into good soil, a still heart into one that beats out the crimson taboo of life once more. This transformational power, must be exercised with wisdom and discernment: we need to make sure we really know what is good and beneficial in our sense of things, as we attempt to call in the good and beneficial while repelling that which harms and diminishes. We all make mistakes – we just do. That is one way that our magic goes beyond mere power and leads into wisdom ways. It embraces the mistakes, it learns from them, it does NOT pretend that they never happened.

More than that, our wild magic takes us beyond the over-simplified power dynamics and points out what is really interesting and worth wondering about: the warp and weft of the things that are not up to us, that are out of our power and how we live our lives in light of those things. Witches, whatever else they do, make magic. And this is why we love them and fear them and seek them out – because they overtly traffic in something we sense belongs in reality to all of us; and the best witches I have met (and I have met quite a few) would nod in agreement and say: well of course it does, dearie. Your magic has been there all along, waiting for you to see it.

Yes, witches make magic. But so do others: Magicians, Sorcerers, Priestesses, Prophets – they all make magic too – they all carry a whiff of the Witch. What about creative artists and good lawmakers and good business people? Yes, they too make magic, they too have the power to wonder and transform and bless, and so perhaps they too carry something of the Witch within them, perhaps we all do.

The role and concept of Witch is worthy and worthwhile in and of herself; but/and in her mysterious and twisty-turn-filled way she points to that which we all hold – or what holds us – in common, which is magic. When we diminish her, package her, attempt to render her harmless, we diminish ourselves as well. For she is both a reminder and a promise of our own wild magic. She is one of the oldest of old ones who calls us home, firmly back into ourselves. It is for these reasons that Witch cannot be packaged. One might as try to package fire, or the spinning of the stars, or birdsong.

In love and blessings,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Protected: Star Stories: September 2018

Ceremony and Ritual

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.