The Ways of Life and Death in Stories and Soulful Seeking

Sacred Arts

M

iracles,

People turn to the Sacred Arts when they are ready to get real. What I see over and over again is that those drawn to the Sacred Arts and the stories that have carried them down through time do not come from any one specific area of life. I could not do a marketing profile or customer avatar for them if I tried. Of course this makes sense – the Sacred Arts have been practiced and developed by all sorts of different people through all times, so in a very real way they belong, and they call to, all of us.

But whether it is a college professor, a doctor, a lawyer, or a potion brewing witch that I am speaking to, here is what I have seen and heard: the return to the Sacred Arts comes about because each individual is ready for an experience that is more real. The sense that we are sleeping through life as surely as the Miller’s Daughter slept through the transformation of straw into gold is no longer acceptable. We have been jolted awake and the world of weak fantasy no longer has a hold on us.

Frequently what jolts us into wakefulness is a vision of beauty, the breath of Enchantment on our cheek, a plain, every day, occasion that turns into something no less than a straight up miracle. But sometimes the things that jolt us awake are painful, traumatic, and the causes of great and deep suffering. Stories work with both sets of experience as well as the mundane moments when the Otherworld just shows up unannounced in the form of a Fairy Queen washing clothes or a cat that talks.

Stories that deal with pain and suffering are actually much more common than we think. Many of our best beloved stories have bloody parts that were deleted by later adapters and collectors in order to “protect” children. In some of the oldest versions of Cinderella, for instance, the evil step sisters have their heels and toes sliced off in order to squeeze into those damn glass slippers. (Of course, in the oldest version of Cinderella the slippers are not glass at all but warm, fur-covered moccasins – how far we have drifted from that older than old telling). In the Tale of the Handless Maiden, a perfectly sweet and innocent young girl’s hands are chopped off by the Devil, and Handsel and Gretel are two young children who find themselves starved, neglected, abandoned, and then almost cannibalized in turn.

So many of our stories deal with pain and suffering because they are experiences that we all have, and, as I said earlier, they are experiences that season us so that we are ready to wake up and get down to business. Among my clients and students, few experiences carry the power of wakefulness that Death does. This is what the sister stories of Medea (from Ancient Greece) and La Llorona (from Indigenous Mexico) speak about. They tell us about Death and the many ways it comes in and makes itself at home in your kitchen and at your table. They speak to us of the destruction that occurs when oaths and vows are broken. And, more than that, they challenge us to find a different way, tell a different story, and make a different ending.

The Sacred Arts speak to Death and contain many rituals for the moments of Death that we all experience, as well as ceremonies and healings when Death approaches and for the aftermath Death leaves behind. Soulful seekers understand that Death is part of a natural cycle of Life and as such we honor it and create magic to help us relate to it in ways that are healthy, whole, and holy.

Our next guest teacher introduction is something of an expert on Death. Martha Jo Atkins. Dr. Atkins founded the Children’s Bereavement Center in San Antonio, Texas. She has, in her own words, always had an affinity, curiosity, and comfort around dying. She is also a magical woman who understands the needs to create meaningful ritual and ceremony around the roles that Death plays in our lives. Listen in to a clip of our conversation and learn more.

Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Stories that Sound ~ Blessed be our ability to listen

Lunar Letter

M

iracles

Most of you know that I love stories, myths, faerie tales, and folklore. I work with them as the primary source material from which the Sacred Arts spring and can best be taught and practiced.

Most of you know that I love stories, myths, faerie tales, and folklore. I work with them as the primary source material from which the Sacred Arts spring and can best be taught and practiced.

Many of the stories I focus on are faerie tales, because they are stories surprisingly and refreshingly made for all the risky, unsafe tough stuff of life. There’s some real medicine in those stories. And so many of these stories are well-known and well-loved, often with a twist or flourish that sets them apart from the “usual” ways of telling.

But the most important stories are all around us. These are stories that happen to us on a daily basis, stories that can – when seen by the right light and told in the just right way – show us not only the blessing, but also the best way to apply it to our life.

Here’s the thing about story. We usually think stories are “fiction”, and “non-fiction” is reserved for facts. But if you look into it, into the stories that really make an impact on your life, I’m willing to bet you’ll agree with me when I say that for the really powerful stories, the ones that make a difference in the way we live, the truer the better. They wouldn’t hit us if they didn’t have that ring of truth. The category that rigidly holds the separation between fiction and non-fiction? Um, not very useful, really, when you get down to brass tacks.

If stories do this, that can only mean there is something in life and experience that calls out for the telling. Every now and then – or even often! – life throws us a curve ball, a swerve, sometimes terrifying, sometimes wondrous, sometimes both – but always worth telling about, always worth remembering, always worth learning and growing from.

The stories I work with in teaching and crafting the Sacred Arts are stories that function like echo or depth-sounding in oceanography.

The greatest stories – and different ones will work for different people – penetrate our depths. They show us that we have untold depths first of all, and then they show us something needed about ourselves. They show us ourselves, or some aspect of ourselves we haven’t yet seen or felt. They make our bones vibrate and our hairs stand on end; we know them when we hear them or read them. They have the power to change us, not simply because they move us, but because they heighten, deepen and sharpen our awareness of ourselves and of life. They nourish our consciousness, which grows as a result – and this growth in consciousness is magic, possesses the actual power to begin unlocking and freeing our soul from those deepest most troublesome patterns, binds and wounds.

All of my work in the Sacred Arts, in a very real way, is about encouraging you to seek out those stories for yourself, the ones that “depth sound” your life.

And what I would love you to grasp, as this week takes us into the deeper than deep Scorpio full moon is this: the experiences and stories that depth-sound us, happen to you too, every single day. So it is that I say: blessed be our ability to listen, to truly listen, to what we see and experience and encounter; blessed be our ability to listen so that we might find our own stories that sound.

I would like to share with you one of mine own stories, one that depth-sounded my life, in exactly the moment I needed it. It is a true story, and is an origin story, showing me the way to the Sacred Arts standpoint from which I now work:

The night I saw the white horse, the moon was small and her light was dim. I had traveled with some of my family out to Fort Davis in West Texas, land at one time known only to the Great Spirit, the Comanche and Apache, and later few intrepid ranchers. And now those who had commandeered the top of a mountain did so under the unquestioned authority of science. And on this mountain, where perhaps one could watch a sunrise and know something of beauty, concrete had been poured and metal bolted down into the flesh of rock as glass-filled spaces where before there was only wind.

This was built in the name of science and for people like me who had poor vision from living in the city and rarely beholding a horizon. Built so that I might look through a lens and get a taste of the sacred and the vast that those who came before us knew as they knew their own breath or the blood dancing under their skin.

A dark moon is best for stargazing. But a small, dim moon will do. I looked through the lenses reflecting and refracting light into the galaxy with her milky thighs, and saw the scars on the moon. I beheld these things and wondered if the others around me—family and strangers—thought as I did that by beholding her scars and perfect light we might somehow better know our own.

The night grew darker and cold with a February wind blowing off the river and through the trees, singing a story of lowing cattle huddled together under the humid warmth of their breath, a story of a springtime full of wildflowers, tender green cactus and good pasture. We drove down the side of the mountain, quiet in wonder at ourselves, at our smallness, our hubris. The steep road twisted and turned until it spat us out onto the single main road running through what would have been another town, known more by the dead than the living, had it not been fueled by the stars.

Now the road was wide and black and the air was blacker still. Out here in God’s country, there are no streetlights; and the few houses we passed held darkened windows. It was late, and jobs being what they were, one got up with the sun and evidently went to bed with it too. And that is when I saw it.

At first I did not know what it was. A white blur in the middle of the broad black way. The powerful beams of the truck illuminated it, but the shape was so far away, that it could have been a woman drunk and crying, a spirit, perhaps even a concentrated and rapidly moving fog bank.

Except even then there was direction, electricity, and purpose. This was a creature and it was headed straight for us. As it neared, I gasped out “horse!” and so it was.

A beautiful animal at least eighteen hands high and in the flash between black and headlight, it was pure white. It swerved, and with eyes rolling, it passe our vehicle and continued galloping down that road, carrying with it a legacy of power, exertion, and grace that came up from behind and stole away the breath.

Overhead was a different light. Not star nor moon, not the glow of the animal itself nor the two bright headlights, but a spotlight from a helicopter looking for the animal. The owner must have been distraught-the horse looked well-cared for and healthy: someone loved it. And perhaps whoever was looking for the animal was concerned about it too – its loss, and the fear that travels in the wake of loss like a knife laid against the thin skin of your chest.

I want to believe it was not simply leather-handed men and women worried that a rogue horse with such power and at a full gallop could cause a wreck, or a death, or could damage something or someone and result in the spending of money. I choose to believe that they cared for both creature and family-desiring to put their job-calloused hands to the work of touching, repairing, healing and reuniting. I wanted it too, for inside the glass and steel vehicle, so like the glass and concrete observatory on the mountain, I had felt the eye-rolling fear, the steaming breath smelling like clover once warmed under a gentle sun, now covered with dust. But I felt also the thrill.

Oh, to run!

To run straight for the other side of the knife we call fear, cutting a trail made of celestial dust and star-fire blazing forth, so that those with courage might follow it to something new and unknown. The white horse was running, and I wanted it to run into the night, into what stretches beyond broken people and fractured places, where it is dark, and whole, and wild.

Under the light of the magical Scorpio Moon, with your divination tool of choice consider asking:

What are my depth-sounding stories?
What would change if I did listen to it, or share it with others?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

10 Teachings I learned from Fairy Tales

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracle,

Fairy tales often bring to mind rosy-cheeked children, sunny preschool classrooms, and lavishly illustrated storybooks. It is no surprise, then, that fairy tales become but an aspect of the childishness we put away later on in life, never to pick up again.  They are made for the child’s world, while we have jobs to do and bills to pay.

But the truth is that fairy tales were created, told, and re-told by people very much like us – adults who led busy lives, engaged in hard, often physical work. They entertained themselves with tales produced not by commercial speculation, but by the timeless act of passing a story down from generation to generation, from hearth to hearth.

We like to pride ourselves on the unique complexity of our twenty-first century world, but who can claim with any seriousness that the world of yesteryear – the world that gave birth to story-telling traditions – was any less exposed to hard problems of love, life and death? We have only to consider the much higher infant mortality rates and deaths of women in child bearing in order to disabuse ourselves of that notion.  We too have to face life and death, for all of our technical ingenuity. Could it be that the old tales still have something to say on this most important real world matter?

Each fairy tale has many different versions depending on what part of the world it comes from but also many different flourishes given to it by each unique voice that tells the story anew. Fairy tales are also much more dark and frightening than their later written and redacted versions might suggest. In earlier versions of the story Cinderella, for example, the vicious stepsisters actually cut off their toes trying to fit into those glass slippers. In more than one version of Little Red Riding Hood the scarlet cloaked maiden is simply devoured by the wolf, never to be seen again.

Due to their fantastic, otherworldly nature, even when we take fairy tales more seriously or encounter them in re-worked forms meant for adults (the wonderful film Pan’s Labyrinth comes to mind), we still tend to think of them as escapist and not really saying anything relevant about “real life”.

Before proceeding, it is important to see that this viewpoint rests on an inadequate premise.  According to this premise, escaping, or taking time-off from “real life”, doesn’t have an important role to play in the way we confront the challenges of waking life. But we know from our own experience – and it is a fact established by much scientific research into the brain – that this is not the case. The greatest need of our time, in this age of ever-increasing anxiety, may not be to simply toughen up and face reality, so much as to find a means of escapism truly worthy of ourselves and the actual problems we face in the twenty-first century.

Fairy tales lend a guiding light through this terrain. They provide an entertaining form of escapism, but they also possess profound life-lessons. They contain little embers of wisdom that are breathed to life once again every time we utter the words “Once upon a time…” And so, here’s a short list of some of the life-lessons I have taken from my love affair with fairy tales and the worlds that they create.

 

1.)   It’s OK to feel lost…

..for now.  Fairy tales never really begin until at least one main character and often several feel lost, disoriented, hopeless, and confused.

Seeing the hero or heroine get abandoned or forsaken, listening to their words as they circle back in the wild wood one only to pass the same landmarks one more time, tells us that adventure is about to happen, that big choices are on the horizon, and that instead of always looking outside for reassurance and direction it is now time to look inward and come into contact with our inner knowing.

Feeling lost is often one sign that an initiation is about to begin and that the individuals involved will not be the same after their story has unfolded. The modern therapeutic term is dissociation and describes the cognitive event of detaching from this time and this place so that one may experience “time out of mind” as C.S. Lewis puts it – time beyond time and a world that is decidedly Other. It is in this rupture that great  magic waits to be discovered.

So when we feel lost, overwhelmed, even abandoned by life, fairy tales instruct us to take a deep breath, get our bearings however we might, and begin again, one foot in front of the other. All is not lost, and many great discoveries are afoot.

 

2.)   Life begins in the woods.

Or in vast deserts, rocky wastelands that seem uninhabited. Or at sea in a digital universe, flooded with more information than we know what to do with.  It is a common trope in fairy tales for the main action to take place outside of the cities, towns, and villages and in the places commonly regarded as unknown, wild, and a little bit dangerous. So it is with us.

This does not mean that we must literally pick up and leave the city we love or the town we reside in. Rather, it encourages us to look for the wild places within our own lives – the talents, fears, delights, thoughts, and feelings that feel edgy and dangerous and vast. Working and living from our creative edge breathes great life into all that we do. It makes the words we speak truer, the songs we sing truer, and the lives we live deeper.

 

3.)  Appearances can be deceiving.

Sometimes people, animals, and even objects are not what they seem to be. Beasts turn into cursed princes, scary women living alone in chicken-footed houses keep the sacred fires of all creation, and sweet treats hold a truth that can lead to doom.

On the other hand, sometimes things are exactly as they appear and the trouble is that the hero or heroine doesn’t believe what they know to be true. Yes, that witch firing up the oven really does intend to devour you. Yes, the fact that your grandmother is looking rather wolfish this morning should send alarm bells coursing through your body. So we must learn to…

 

4.)  Try to see with more than just our eyes.

Because appearances only give us part of any story in fairy tales, we find that the key is to perceive reality with more than just our eyes. Fairy tales were developed in agrarian times when most everyone, certainly the people sharing stories with each other, were working on land and in the fields. Thus they speak to an original audience that would have been more easily able to “see” with all parts of the body.

This is a kind of seeing that calls upon all parts of ourselves.  We want to see with our hands, learning from them as they touch old wood or the soft downy hair of a child. We want to see with our feet as they carry us from place to place; to see with our nose as we catch the scents carried on the breeze from so many directions. And we want to see most of all with a clear, discerning mind, and an open, sacred heart.

 

5.) Bad things will happen. The question is: how will you respond?

Bad things will happen, often with no apparent reason or rhyme. There you are minding your business and oops! a new person comes into your life who would like nothing better than to see you suffer, lose out, miss your chance at love, luck, or fortune, and most of all be convinced that you cannot do it and it won’t ever get better.

Maybe it is isn’t a person at all, but an event out of your control that brings you to your knees. Or a minor irritation like a pea under a mattress that keeps you from resting, from seeing clearly, from responding with wisdom and wit. Bad things happen in fairy tales all the time. Blood and ash are the fuel that feed many of our most beloved tales. The secret is not that bad things will happen, but how we deal with bad things, how we engage with them, is what brings out our inner hero or our inner villain.

 

6.)   Be kind.

Be kind to everything, and I do mean everything. In many stories it is a child’s unhesitating kindness to a tree afraid of being chopped down, a cat that is hungry for some milk, or a gate that has not been oiled in years that ultimately saves the day, prevents certain death, and leads to happily ever after. Be kind. Even when it is hard, even and especially when you think no one will notice, kindness will carry you through. Of course in order to be kind you also have to see clearly (refer back to lesson number four).

 

7.)   Time doesn’t always work the way we think it does.

Fairy tale characters experience time in unique ways. In the folklore surrounding faeries we often hear of young men and women of great talent and beauty who are whisked away to faerie land for what seems like a day and night or three days and three nights, only to re-emerge in their villages and find that one hundred years have passed. It is a good teaching to keep in mind when we feel that we are always running late, always behind, never prompt enough, never timely enough. Time works in mysterious ways. Chances are you are exactly where you need to be.

 

8.)   Gold is not the goal.

Any time a character in a fairy tale does something purely motivated by gain, greed, and the desire for fortune things do not go well. Gold and riches often accompany the endings of fairy tales, but the real gold that is sought out has already been discovered by this point – the gold of inner character, inner strength, clear-eyed intelligence, and loving kindness. Characters who are only interested in the shiny coins wake up in the morning to find their palms filled with nothing but old, dead, leaves.

 

9.)   There is a hero in every child.

Original fairy tale versions are dark and stark. Though they were told by adults to adult and to child audiences, and of course they often feature children. Children who live in and undergo the most impossible, crushing, depraved circumstances and conditions. In fairy tales we are first given the truth that not all elements of childhood are sugar sweet, innocent, and good. We learn that bad things happen to good people, and that children are not always protected as they should be. And it is this way for us too. Never in my practice have I come across someone who does not carry several wounds from childhood. Those children, wounded though they are, live on inside of us. And what is more, when we read fairy tales, we learn that children are incredibly resilient, intelligent, adaptable, and most of all courageous. There is a hero in every child and there is a hero within you.

 

10.)   The most powerful magic always comes from an act of love.

An act of true love carries deep magic, whether it is the kiss that wakes a slumbering princess, the devotion that transforms a beast into something more, or the faithfulness of friends standing by their fallen companion no matter what. This magic is swift-acting, often curing immediately whatever hurts have been suffered up to this point. It is interested in justice and quickly works to right wrongs and deliver freedom wherever it has been withheld. Most of all, this magic is dedicated to and for life. So it is that we know our fairy tale heroes live happily ever after because they live with full on vitality and verve. As can we.

 

A few months ago, I came across an article in a peer reviewed scientific journal about a discovery made by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope: according to the team’s observations, massive lobes of energy tower tens of thousands of light-years over the center of the Milky Way galaxy. These lobes have been named Fermi bubbles, and no one yet knows how they have formed.  The bubbles could be formed by jets of energy streaming from the center of the galaxy; or they could be evidence of violent events in our galaxy.  But the mathematical model describing Fermi bubbles resembles a spindle with thread wrapped around a distaff. I was enchanted at the idea and immediately thought of all of the creators and fundamental powers throughout time who have been described as Weavers of one kind or another. I was surprised by the latest scientific discovery, but I suspect that Sleeping Beauty and her witch would not be.

And that is the greatest lesson I have learned from fairy tales. It is the knowing that the Otherworld is not a made up story but rather the seedbed that inspired and informed all stories, all journeys, all discoveries. Modern science can describe with precision that Otherworld; religion might teach you different ways to worship it; and psychology will remind you it lives within you as well as outside of you. But stories – the stories are what take us there.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

What “Happily Ever After” Really Means

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles,

You know the phrase “And they lived happily ever after”?

Has there ever been a phrase that has generated more doubt, cynicism, hopelessness – and yet through it all, more hope and desire – than this one? I think not.

When we hear the words happily ever after we typically meet them with an eye-roll, an exasperated shrug, an annoyed “pfft! Yeah, right.” The promise of happily ever after has been betrayed too many times for anyone in the modern world to really buy into it. If that isn’t the first reaction, then it is something closer to this: happily ever after sounds great, and maybe it can even really happen…but only for other people, and certainly not for me.

Every time we witnessed as children our parents fight, our teachers check out, and our friends be unfair – or as we witnessed much, much worse happen to our bodies, to our homes, neighborhoods and communities – the message was driven home: happily ever after is for suckers. The world seems so unhappy, and no adult certainly seems happy: who wants to be a sucker? Wake up and get real. And then, as we entered into adulthood and experienced the pressures of life for ourselves: making money, making love, making a home, a career, a name, a difference, we felt it again: happily ever after is a cruel lie made crueler by the fact that deep down it is what we most want or what some small piece of us believes is still possible. More than more money, sex, health or love – under all of those is our hope, our silent yearning and our absolute disbelief in the possibility of happily ever after .

happily ever after is an idea that reveals just how divided within ourselves we really are. Exactly for this reason, this phrase and its native ground in the fairy tale are useful tools, for they point to where the real work is for us, ultimately to the possibility of discovering a genuine and lasting wholeness.

I think a great illustration of this division is the popular conceit right now that you can choose to have a happy life or an interesting life but that you cannot have both. The notion is that a happy life is a stable, normal life, so for us in America it would look something like a stable marriage, 1.5 kids, and a white picket fence, a diversified stock portfolio – so they say. An interesting life, on the other hand, involves grand adventures, travel to exotic places, love affairs that end as passionately as they begin, great art and food and music. But you won’t have someone to come home to at the end of the day or if you are coming home to someone there will be lots of existential conflict and difficulty.

Those who encourage a worldview split between happiness and passionate interest claim that you cannot choose, cannot have both. When we look at the sources from which happily ever after springs, however, we discover that the idea is much richer than it sounds at first blush, and we might even find that a happy life and an interesting life are closer together we think.

Much like their best-known ending phrase, the fairy tales we grew up with as children had a reputation of being very sweet and just as unlikely. But much has been written and said to help us remember that this is not the native truth about fairy tales, that these stories are often much edgier, scarier, and bloodier than their more recent cleaned-up versions suggest. Or, to put it in a different way: the pressures of life, what we once called the necessities, are not overlooked in fairy tales but on the contrary are the fulcrum around which such stories turn.

Fairy tales do not seek to dispatch with difficulties; rather, they teach us how we might engage them more directly and more fruitfully. It is easy to hear in the phrase “and they lived happily ever after” or in many of the other effortless resolutions we find at the end of a fairy story, the attitude of hearkening back to some once upon a time, a golden age, as perfect as it is unreal. But that sensibility is alien in the stories themselves.  The tales are about the hardships we face in life, told and created by the people who live up close and personal to those same hardships, who often knew fear, hunger, danger, and powerlessness much more intimately than we do today.

So it is not honest to say that the idea of happily ever after is simply pie in the sky emerging from a more innocent time, place, and people. Perhaps then it was a phrase of escapism – in real life, stories did not end well and many hardships were not overcome.  But in our stories at least we could give our heroes and heroines the happy ending they deserve.

But what is escapism if not the movement from an idea that is real and knowable to an idea that is at once more real and contains more mystery? This is what J.R.R. Tolkien meant when he wrote that every airplane wishes to escape into being a bird and every cathedral secretly desires to become a grove of trees. So here too the argument that happily ever after is merely spun sugar escapism falls flat. The idea of happily ever after carries weight and pain exactly because we know that it or something like it really does exist and is possible.

Another argument is that because fairy and folk stories came from lower classes, happily ever after was inspired by economic mobility and the much easier lives of the wealthy nobility. Yet even a cursory glance at fairy tales reveals to us kings who lose their kingdoms, queens who cannot have babies, and royal children who are kidnapped, betrayed, and even killed.  Hard necessity is an equal opportunity player in fairy tales and folk stories.

So then we are left with another fresh possibility. Perhaps the real meaning of the phrase “and they lived happily ever after” is not what we think it is. Is it possible that living happily ever after is not to live in absence of suffering, pain, loss, difficulty, and death?  Could it be that happiness is living with all of those experiences (as well as job, love, desire, hope, and beauty) in a certain way?

In this way what we witness in these old stories is not a utopia or an unrealizable ideal, but in fact the possibility of a living happiness. This living happiness becomes a promise only if we are willing to rise up and meet the challenge: how to find life gladdened, enlivened, enriched, empowered and enchanted, not because bad things never happen to good people, or times are never chaotic or devastating, but exactly and precisely because they do and they can be.

Now when I use the phrase “and they lived happily ever after” in the stories I tell, I pose it as a dare: when they least expected it, when it seemed most improbable, they discovered the source of a living happiness…will we?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Dream beneath the Dream

Lunar Letter

Shoes inscribed with sacred symbolsUnda Wata Man’s Shoes” by Tosha Grantham (Translation: “Shoes for Walking in a Parallel Universe”)

T

hese magical shoes would be worn by a sacred artist who is going into the liminal, walking between the worlds. This is often how it goes with our dreams too…there is the dream we know, the dream we easily perceive, and then there is the dream that is part of the “otherword”, the hidden realm where we need more than the five senses to apprehend — we need hearts and minds and hands willing to look harder, willing to dig deeper.

As many of my longtime readers know, I was raised within a magical family, but I had no intention of becoming a professional sacred artist. In fact, I was all about law, and throughout high school won award after award in speech and cross-examination debate. I had my entire future neatly mapped out: scholarship for pre-law at UT? Check. Followed by law school at a top tier school? Check. Followed by hours and hours spent immersed in constitutional law? Check, check and check.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am that things turned out otherwise.

It started when I got sick the winter between my junior and senior year. Very sick. Underweight and bed-ridden for pretty much my entire Winter break. It was clear to me then that while my mind had decided on the dream I was going to pursue, my body had other ideas, and one way or another I was going to have to listen. It was clear that even at the high school level the kind of intensity required by my chosen field was not going to work for me physically. I knew it would only get worse in college and then again as a full-fledged lawyer. So the question became…why do I really want to do these things? If this is my dream, I said to myself, then what is the dream beneath that dream?

Stories like mine are not uncommon, and I actually got off pretty light. More devastating is the young dancer who discovers she has a stress fracture in her spinal column and cannot dance professionally anymore, ever. Or the athlete who has pinned all her hopes for the future on a college scholarship that never quite comes through. The surgeon who is hit by a drunk driver and no longer has the extremely fine motor control his craft requires. These stories sound dramatic, but they happen every day to people just like you, just like me.

More common still is the person who is waiting for just the right job, opportunity, amount of money, level of skill or security to do what they have always really wanted to do. All too often we spend our lives waiting for a moment that never arrives because it never existed in the first place. There is no perfect time, there is no perfect moment. There is what you have and who you are, right now, today. That formula possesses all the magic you need to do what you really want to do, to be who you really want to be.  If, that is – and this is the tricky part – if, you are willing to ask…what is the dream beneath my dream?

So it is that the dancer dances for the beauty and grace of Dance — and there are many, many ways to be for the dance. The athlete is in it for Victory, and victory comes in many different forms. The surgeon? The surgeon heals — that is why they do what they do, and there are many ways to bring about healing. The girl who loved law and debate? She loves to help people by making complicated ideas simple and understandable, so she became a teacher.

And what about you? Under this full moon in Virgo — the sign that sings of devotion and excellence in craft and living — what is the dream beneath your dream? If you dream of a million dollars ask yourself why? If you dream of being self-employed and setting your own schedule, ask why? If you dream of the day when you don’t have this job, that lover, or this apartment ask…why? What is the dream beneath your dream – the real dream?  If we can name it, then we can call it into being, we can begin to live it, right now, today.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.