Hearth and Home Vol. 16 Battery Sufficiently Charged

Uncategorized

M

iracles, sufficiently

Happy New Moon in Virgo!

I wake up early, a handful of hours before everyone else so that I can think and write, pray and drink coffee in the darkness and the quiet.

One of the first things I do is plug in my phone, which is usually on its last leg after the previous day’s phone calls, text messages, email checking, and news perusing. After I complete my morning rituals, I am greeted by the above message: “battery sufficiently charged.”

I especially like the modifying adverb sufficiently in this notification. This adverb is an early morning reminder that things don’t have to be perfect, they can be sufficient – and that sufficiency has its own beautiful perfection. Things can be, as I wrote in the book, just right.

Our time in New Mexico was sufficient, and we felt the push-pull that one feels on a longer vacation of wanting to stay longer, but also being ready to return home, even with the stifling heat and the crazy that is the few days leading up to the first day of school.

This year was a milestone for both boys. Jasper started the 2nd grade and Heath, our 14 month old, started going to his little day-school twice a week for half days.

David and I received a pleasant little surprise on the first day of Jasper’s school, which turned out to be Heath’s first day too. What started as a trip to Heath’s school to get paperwork, ended with the happy little one year old trundling off to the water pools with his teacher.

Monday turned out to be his scheduled day for fun, so we were in business. We looked at each other, much as, I imagine, parents do when they send their last child off to college or to work or to travel and are faced with an empty house, but we burst out laughing, feeling at the same time a little bereft and shocked, but totally elated.

A whole year and change have gone by since we introduced him to the world. Our life is back (sort of!) We went (floated in the sky, it felt like) to breakfast and had adult conversations that were not interrupted by feeding babies or wiping away spilled water, or hearing the latest knock-knock jokes. We went to breakfast to be together and hold hands and talk about…the kids. We totally talked about the kids! Of course, we did!

The new-found space of having both of the little ones in school was timed perfectly. I am knee-deep in writing, planning a magical retreat in Italy that I am SO excited for, and preparing for all of the astro magic of 2020 – get a sneak peek here.

David is editing and being an engaged dad to our little boys, making art and filling our home with music and doing a million other things too. And we are relishing the hours we have together.

There could always be more…more time, more space, more energy, but chasing after more is also so very exhausting. It feels better to actually enjoy where we are right now, to know and feel that right here is enough, sufficient, and just right.

So this Hearth and Home is for those of you who always feel behind or not quite up to par, or like your best efforts still come in somewhere around the middle of the heap: see if there isn’t something about your efforts that is sufficient, and that you are enough, exactly as you are, right here, and right now.

xo,
Bri

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

But They’ll Say I’m Crazy

Foundations

M

iracles,

Blessed Full Moon in Virgo – the sign of sovereignty as well as physical and mental health. It is no coincidence that these qualities go together. Sovereignty is a certain kind of self-sufficiency. Without physical and mental well-being, self-sufficiency is diminished. In more extreme cases, the self-sufficiency that goes with sovereignty is altogether undermined. Physical and mental well-being are difficult topics to approach, not only for Sacred Artists but most people, because they strike at the roots of who we are and how we live, here and now.

When it comes to physical health there are the normal types of resistance. Perhaps the largest one is that it’s expensive. But even more, finding a good doctor – one who is not only competent, but who you feel really knows you, and can work with you – is actually hard. Finding a good alternative health practitioner is even harder. It takes time, and it takes energy. In magical work, there are a number of situations where the first piece of advice to a would-be client is that they need to go see a trained medical practitioner, a doctor….stat. They may need to have their blood pressure assessed, their cholesterol checked; they may need a healthier sleep regimen, or they may need to look into effective alternative treatments to over-prescribed drugs. None of these things sound remotely magical and yet – believe me – they make a HUGE difference in the magic we make and in the magic we seek out. Perhaps the greatest secret to magic (ready?) is that it lives where we would least expect it, and it is on the side of optimization, of taking care what you have already and bringing out its deepest hidden potential, tapping into the power currents that already lay sleeping inside of every part of our ordinary lives. In the middle of the mess is the shining one. So if you want more magic in your life, the starting point is clear: begin with a strong dose of self-care.

By far the biggest resistance I encounter around physical health check-ups is that they expose things that we would rather keep hidden away, unseen, undisclosed, and undiagnosed. I understand. There is no one who would rather curl up with her cats and children and be left to her own devices than me. And yet, it is also true that our relationship to the unseen translates across the board. Meaning that you cannot be in right relationship with the aspects of the unseen and the liminal that are spiritual if you are ignoring the unseen parts of your home, your family, or your own physical body. They are all of a piece. This is not to say that our ability to make magic and live enchanted lives is over if we have physical limitations. If that were the case there would be no magic to speak of! Rather, it is to say that it is the relationship we have with those limits, with the things we would rather not look at, that determines in large part what kind of enchantment we can experience every day.

And, as true as this is for our physical bodies, it is even more true for our mental health. For this is where the relationship between soulful seekers and health becomes particularly dicey – in the mental arena. Why? Because so many of the things we do and so many of the experiences we have can be and have been, branded as crazy pure and simple. For all of the advances that we have made when it comes to mental health, for all of the research that shows us that “healthy” behaviors, thoughts, and emotions are not so much divided from unhealthy ones by a sharp line but rather are found on opposing ends of a large and vast spectrum, the fear of being branded crazy, insane, and a kook runs widely and deeply through our community.

Chances are you have had special experiences that no one talks about openly, that you yourself don’t even know how to talk about openly. You feel alone, but you are not alone. Countless people have, around the world, and throughout human history, experienced things that today we do not talk about for fear of being branded “weird”. Often these experiences come unannounced at night during sleep, or when we are grieving, or when we fall in love, or in many other moments during waking hours. All of these moments touch upon the sacred, but our present habit of mind discounts and forgets them – sees past them, turns the other way.

I sometimes refer to my work as “normalizing” the so-called weird experiences we all have. What we take to be normal and what is in truth normal are out of whack, need to be brought back into alignment or right relationship. Because the experience of the sacred is a common human experience, perhaps another way to describe what I do in the Sacred Arts is about “communalizing” these experiences. I’m not a mental health professional, but I don’t have to be in order to know that most people feel connected to the dead in one way or another; most people have had experiences where they simply know things are so, most people have felt themselves move between the worlds at one point or another.

These are all common examples of Sacred Arts practices that we do not talk about and we do not teach our children about because we don’t want to be seen as crazy. And so, another generation of Sacred Arts knowledge is lost, and we have to cast ever further back into our lineage to find the people and teachings that spoke about these things openly and frankly. Our old ones usually will. They have nothing to lose in a society that often equates the aging process with going soft in the head. Our children will speak openly because they have not yet learned to censor themselves or conform to the current trend of societal norms. But in between the old ones and the children is a great swath of people who simply pretend that a good chunk of their experience actually never happens. That is until they talk to someone like me. Then the gloves come off and the sharing gets real and I am able to say, ah yes, so you have experienced this too? The relief at knowing that we are not alone, that we are not “crazy”, is so absolute that it is not surprising to find people moved to tears.

However, this begs the question about mental illness and really all illness, all imperfections. They aren’t really the kinds of things that you either have or you don’t in most cases. Mental disequilibrium, for instance, is something any of us can slip into and out of, from time to time. So what about those of us who have normal, magical and liminal experiences AND suffer from anxiety or depression or schizophrenia or limited range of motion or cancer or chronic pain or some other limitation – then what? Can we not make magic? Should we simply accept that some people can have enchanted lives but not everyone? Not us? If you believe the magazines and the Instagram accounts, what we often see is that magic is equated to perfection. So there is a message: in order to make magic, you have to be perfect. There are other messages too: in order to make magic you have to be rich or you have to be poor, you have to be a certain color, you need to be a lady or a dude…we have all seen the categories that are more noticeable for all that they exclude as opposed to those that they include.

It is thoughts like these that make me love, love, LOVE, my friend and student, Esmé Wang’s new book, the Collected Schizophrenias. Esmé is known and beloved to some in our community and to others, her name might be brand new. She is an award-winning fiction writer who also happens to suffer from a chronic illness and schizophrenia. Esmé is lovely. She is always beautifully put together. She went to Yale. She has great taste in luscious red lipsticks. She loves her dog and her husband. She writes beautiful, true, words and she teaches people around the world how to work with their limitations. She also suffers from one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses out there. Esmé doesn’t get to worry about whether she is called crazy or not – that’s already happened. What Esmé does get to do and what she does beautifully every single day is getting to decide how to live with ALL of the parts of herself, including the stuff she would rather not see or deal with or think about. Over the years I have watched her show up, make use of the Sacred Arts, and stand in her own sovereignty. She is one of the sanest, most talented, and most dedicated people I know. I was honored that Esmé included a chapter about our work together in her book (the final chapter, entitled Beyond the Hedge), but I am more excited about the book as a whole because it does what the best books do – it tries to understand something complicated – in this case, mental illness – from the inside out. That is a worthy task, one that can benefit our entire world and one that is especially of good use to our community of soulful seekers. I think Esmé’s book has teachings for all of us who have ever deceived ourselves about our experiences on the shaky grounds of “but they’ll say I’m crazy.” Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Maybe that too is a part of real sovereignty.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 7: Refusing to Bounce Back

Lunar Letter

M

iracles,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much love and Happy New Moon magic-making!

What are you refusing to bounce back from?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Protected: Star Stories: September 2018

Ceremony and Ritual

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Star Stories: December Edition

Divination and Dreams

M

iracles,

Blessings of the Season! December is a tricky month astrologically speaking as we have a deepening that occurs when three planets move into Sea-goat Capricorn (and Millenials begin to experience their Saturn Returns) and Mercury goes Retro. Read on for the full picture!

The Sun
At the beginning of the month the sun is in positive, cheerful, and bright Sagittarius. This placement has given us a sense of possibility and optimism over the past several weeks. Mystical interests are at an all time high when the Sun is in Sagittarius as is our feeling of generosity and joy – perfect for the holiday season.
Ask: How can I make it brighter?

On December 12th the Sun conjuncts Mercury RX which means that you have a special opportunity to see into the choices of the past year and get information relating to them. You might also have people from your past approaching you on this day so look out for that.
Ask: What has 2017 taught me?

On December 21st we celebrate Winter Solstice and Yule as the Sun moves into Capricorn. There will be a Feast Day for the Radically Reverent celebrating this time but I don’t have it up quite yet – first we have to honor Guadalupe! This is the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of Winter. Solstice keeps us firmly grounded in the liminal and reminds us that on the darkest and coldest nights, we can be the lights that shine out and show others the way home.
Ask: What light am I ready to shine?

The Moon
December’s Full Moon at 11 degrees Gemini occurs on December 3rd at 9:47 AM
Ask: What do my friendships show me?

On December 10th we celebrate a Waning Quarter Moon at 18 degrees Virgo at 1:51 AM
Ask: What does the need for perfection prevent in my life?

December 18th sees a lovely, bright, New Moon at 26 degrees Sagittarius at 12:30 AM
Ask: What am I ready to set free?

On December 26th we celebrate a First Quarter Moon at 4 degrees Aries at 3:30 AM
Ask: What does right relationship to new beginnings look and feel like?

December 31st comes to a close with a moon in Gemini celebrating all that is liminal, betwixt, and between before we kick off the New Year with a luminous Full Moon in Cancer.
Ask: What am I ready to leave behind? What am I ready to carry forward?

Mercury
On December 3rd Mercury goes retrograde in Sagittarius and remains that way until December 22nd. Here are my tips on surviving a holiday retrograde period.
Ask: How do I engage with places, people, and ideas that are not immediately familiar to me? Do I wear exotic experiences or unlikely friendships like badges of honor? Do I hide from anything or anyone that is new and different or do I go seeking out after adventure?

Make a note that on Friday, December 22nd, Mercury RX is OVER!
Ask: What did the RX period teach me?

Venus:
On Friday December 1st Venus makes a sign change from the deep waters of Scorpio into the bright and cheerful optimism that is Sagittarius.
Ask: Who in my life is in need of a cheerleader? (And then show up to cheer them on!)

Mercury and Venus hook up with a sweet trine on December 15th. Here we all have the ability to sweet talk anyone into anything. At the best this trine gives you eloquence and the ability to articulate and express your ideas in a compelling, even seductive, manner. At worst, this trine encourages gullibility – so easy to believe the words when they are all so nice, and superficiality as well. Go for the former, not the latter.
Ask: What love do I want to express?

On Christmas Eve Venus follow the trail blazed by Saturn and the Sun and also moves into Capricorn. This sign change for the planet of love and beauty can bring depth, seriousness, and ambition to artistic endeavors and romantic relationships alike. Marriage proposals that occur on or around this time will have a sincerity and seriousness to them that bodes well for long term togetherness!
Ask: What love am I ready to get serious about?

Mars:
A potentially nasty Mars-Uranus opposition occurs on Friday December 1st after Venus moves into Sagittarius. This opposition has an explosive and often martial component. On a global level we should expect to hear about flare ups happening abroad and perhaps at home too. These signs together rule guns so gun violence might be something that we see as well. Those of you who hunt and everyone who is driving on this day should be extra careful.
Ask: What battles would I like to stop participating in?

On December 9th Mars heads into its native sign of Scorpio – a place it very much likes to be! Deep energy especially when it comes to engaging with the hidden, creating strong protection around yourself and your loved ones, and engaging passionately in all things are hallmarks of this combination. Mars in Scorpio can also bring out our more blunt, aggressive, unforgiving and stern aspects – so be aware of that given the holiday season and judge most mercifully as much as you can.
Ask: What mystery am I willing to fight for?

Jupiter:
Jupiter and Neptune trine it up on December 2nd. This is the day before Mercury goes RX and so many of you might be out and about trying to finish up your shopping tasks. If that’s you my advice is: be extra careful with your wallet because Jupiter + Neptune love to splurge! That said, this is a brilliant time to make, find, sell or buy art and/or spiritual supplies. Looking for some spiritual supplies for holiday gift giving? Here are my favorites to buy from.
Ask: What dream is ready to be enlarged?

Saturn:
Saturn and Mercury have a conjunction on December 6th right after Mercury has gone retrograde. This meet up is all about discipline and applying Saturn inspired determination to ticking items off of your TO DO list.
Ask: What task needs to be wrapped up or re-done?

On Tuesday, December 19th Saturn makes a sign change moving from Sagittarius into Capricorn where it will remain for the next three years. This is significant in many ways. Saturn loves to be in its native sign of Capricorn. Its brings a level of seriousness and responsibility into the mix. Regions and terrain that have been unregulated should expect to begin to get tamed (this includes virtual regions like the web and digital currency markets). Millennials will begin to experience their first Saturn Returns during this time. Law enforcement, military order, and protection will all be emphasized during this time but so will mastery, dedication to one’s craft, and fiscal responsibility.
Ask: What do I need to master most now?

On Christmas day Saturn saddles up along side Venus in a nice conjunction. It can make Christmas seem more serious and you might have some Grinches that you have to be on the look out for. BUT it can also inspire love and compassion in the places and for the people that you usually have an especially hard time with during the holidays. This aspect can also encourage doing good for those who have less.
Ask: Who really needs care right now?

Uranus:
On Sunday, December 10th, Uranus and Mercury trine up to each other. Keep your eyes on the public square as people who come to notice on during this trine tend be talented visionaries. For everyone this gives you an opportune to time to review what you have learned over the past year about your legacy.
Ask: What do I find when I review my choices about legacy?

A Uranus-Sun trine on Sunday, December 16th encourages excitement, vision, legacy building, and is also perfect astro weather for banishing what is no longer needed.
Ask: What am I ready to release?

Neptune
Neptune squares up with Venus on December 10th – this can create a hazy sense of where you are and what you are doing that you definitely want to be aware of. It’s a good day to relax and chill, not a good day to have a deep conversation about where you and your partner are romantically or a day for shopping. Make art as much as possible.
Ask: What creative vision or idea have I been ignoring?

Neptune and Mars get into a tangle of a trine on Thursday, December 28th. This is a great time to let your intuitive side flow (and perfect timing as it occurs during Omen Days). It will also energize your dream life and any healing work you have been dedicated to will feel as if it just received a power boost of energy and enthusiasm.
Ask: What am I ready (and willing) to see?

Pluto:
Pluto is nice and quiet in Capricorn, doing its deep seated work of utter and complete transformation.

From my familia to yours, may you have a bright, beautiful, blessed, safe, and fun holiday season!

Love and Stars,
Bri

PS: There are a few time-sensitive offerings available right now which you may want to know about:

Lunar Lights are open and registration closes on December 17th. This is my much beloved monthly candle service. Once a month on the Full Moon I dress, bless, and set a candle for you and your heartfelt prayer, wish, desire, and/or intention.

Your candles are allowed to burn without being disturbed and around the New Moon you receive a candle report detailing how the candle burned, what signs were seen, and what next steps you might want to consider.
Learn more + register here. After December 17th this service is gone for another year. The first lunar light setting of 2018 occurs ON January 1st for the Full Moon in Cancer!

The Banish and Burn end of year ceremony is out and available. Join us in releasing what needs to be released and walking forward fresh and clean into 2018! $13 gets you in with half of all proceeds going to the family of Aidan’s son. Learn more + register here.

The Book of Hours is the planner for Soulful Seekers who want a different relationship to time. Snag it, download it, keep it on your device or print it out – contains all the essential astro info for 2018 and so much more! At $24 this is also an EXCELLENT last minute gift! Get it here.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Animalia Stellarum ~ Virgo

Ceremony and Ritual

V

irgo resonates with the element of Earth, and is a mutable sign. The Sun is in Virgo from August 22nd through September 22nd. Virgo is the 6th sign in the zodiacal wheel, marking the point of the late Summer moving into early Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and late Winter moving into early Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Represented by the Maiden, Virgo speaks to purity, cleanliness, devotion, clarity, physical health, work, and sovereignty.

The Maiden as Virgo

If you have been waiting for a star story that gives women the central role then read on, for the sign of Virgo is all about the ladies. Virgo literally means “Virgin” and is a constellation that has been associated with the feminine and various Goddesses since we started listening to stories about stars. “Virgin” of course is a matter of interpretation, while the word still is taken today as referring to a sexually untried, “pure” woman or girl, the much older and more apt definition of Virgo is “one who is sovereign,” meaning that here we have a woman who is not owned, sold, bought, or belonging to a man (or another woman for that matter) but rather belongs to herself and herself alone. She may or may not be sexually active, may be of any age, and may be involved in the fields of spirituality, commerce, agriculture, or arts and culture as she likes because again, she belongs to herself.

As such, the essence of the Virgin is one that belongs to all woman and men. We all have within us a feminine aspect that will not be owned or claimed by another, and the Maiden becomes both a phase of life, that thrilling time of transition between child and woman, and a cultivated attitude that, again, men, women, and all other genders have access to as well.

Sovereignty then, is one of the key features of this particular sign, and perhaps a better way of saying it is knowing how to have an ongoing relationship with Sovereignty and what it means to you to belong to yourself first and foremost. Two more qualities that come up immediately, and that Virgo is strongly associated with, are cleanliness and purity. While the ideas of cleanliness and purity have been taken out of their original meanings and applied to some truly horrific ideas (like so-called racial “purity” or ethnic cleansing), the root idea with both terms is that one can be left alone, unmolested, undisturbed, and uninterrupted. Another way to think about what it means to be clean and pure is found in the idea of wholeness.

These truths are reflected in the strong association between the constellation of Virgo and the great Goddesses of old. For this sign is exclusively associated with the some powerful Goddesses including the Sumerian Shala, Babylonian Ishtar, Greek Demeter and Persphone, and Roman Ceres and Proserpina. In each case these Goddesses were significant figures in their time and place that spoke to universal themes while especially emphasizing fertility and harvest, as is best indicated by the sheaf of wheat motif with which they are all pictured.

For the Sumerians, Shala was the Goddess of the Harvest and the Furrows, meaning that she was both Maiden, waiting to be impregnated with seed, and Mother, aligned with all that is fertile and ripe. The Babylonian Ishtar was a great Goddess associated with the gifts of agriculture, love, sex, fertility, and marriage but also war and queenship. She too was imaged as both a brave maiden and loving mother whose name was called on during the harvesting of cereal crops and grains.

This theme continues with the ancient Greek pair of Demeter and Persephone. Here we see that the Maiden/Mother roles have been split in two, literally, with Demeter functioning as the great grain Goddess and Mother of all agriculture (as well as the keeper of Sacred Law) and Persephone embodying the Maiden who experiences violation and, in turn, learns (at hands of helpers like Hekate) what Sovereignty really is all about.

The association with these ancient Goddesses speaks to several other qualities of Virgo. One is the impulse we feel under Virgo’s influence to practice our spirituality in a more intentional manner. Virgo encourages us to build altars, become part of a church congregation, and/or develop a daily practice that is full of meaningful devotions. All of these Goddesses had temples, priestesses, and acolytes and in a very real way Virgo calls up the inner Priestess within all of us.

In slightly different terms we can also see here the emphasis on health. Sovereignty itself was a Goddess at one point and, like the other Goddesses mentioned here, She had a strong relationship with the land. What we see in the stories of Virgo is a reminder that the health of our bodies is connected to the health of THE body of the earth. This sign, already associated with the element of earth, reminds us to tend to the literal ground beneath our feet and also to take care of our physical bodies. For this reason Virgo has long been associated with the medical professions.

Finally, we see in the stories of the various Goddesses that Virgo is the Maiden but also the Mother – that this sign occupies the space in between both of these qualities and encompasses them as well. Once upon a time the Maiden and Mother were not so very cut off from each other. This meant, practically, that as women aged they still had the energy of the Maiden readily accessible, and that for women who chose not to have children or were not able to have children, they were not excluded from the particular mysteries of Motherhood – the Goddesses reflected all to everyone not just a chosen few. As our stories became split and splintered so did the role of Maiden and Mother, hardening into two extremes instead of the flowing relationship they once possessed. Practically speaking we are all still finding ways to repair and heal from this particular rift, so it is quite fortunate that we need only look up into the sky at the stars of Virgo (the second largest constellation btw) to remind ourselves what wholeness actually looks like.

The Maiden as Animal: By Sara Magnuson

In discussing the human-animals of the zodiac in particular, we’ve established that the vastness of our minds is the main characteristic that sets humans apart from other animals. As the Earth Maiden, Virgo shows us the merging of our intellectual capacity and our instinctual/animalistic body. Virgo takes us out of the mind and moves downward into the body, acknowledging our physicality. Virgo is the initial connection between mind and form. The Maiden also exemplifies the ways we are similar to and aligned with other animals, rather than pointing out where we diverge.

All animals learn how to exist in their surroundings by observing (watching, listening, smelling), trying/experimenting, and then processing those experiences so that their body and mind will react appropriately in the future. It is in this way that Virgo shows us our similarities to other animals. Those born under the sign of Virgo are keenly observant and process newly-discovered information not just in the mind, but down into their earthy being. Virgos don’t just know something, they feel it in their body. Typically fast learners, once they have mastered a task it’s embedded in their muscles and bones and they quickly move through it with ease. A Virgo reading a book or listening to music is not just taking in the words or sounds, but sensing the narrated world or the vibrations of the melody as if they were in it, feeling it, creating it. The mind of Virgo is very sharp, but the influence of the element of Earth keeps them especially attuned and connected to their physical senses.

We have seen the virgin and maternal aspects of Virgo described above, as well as the ways in which she is seen as the Maiden and the Mother. The association with virginity gives an innocence to Virgo that can be mistaken for apathy or naiveté and betray the deep wisdom they have obtained with their apparent wide-eyed idealism. Such is the way of many animals – seemingly innocent and naive, yet full of knowledge. For example, a Squirrel may not appear to be a wise creature, as they are skittish and approach everything as if they’ve never seen it before; yet the Squirrel has an understanding of how to exist in its environment that is deeply rooted in its body and goes beyond pure intellectual reasoning. The Squirrel knows what to expect from familiar circumstances because of previous experience, but it is prepared and understands that each encounter can bring new variables. As the Squirrel moves slowly out of the bushes toward the open ground under my bird feeder, as it has done a thousand times before, it is still cautious and filled with trepidation. It is processing all that it already knows and taking in any new information, integrating it all together. It is this ongoing collecting of wisdom that gives Virgo a motherly quality juxtaposed with a surface level innocence.

The mental-physical integration of new facts and knowledge with previous experience allows Virgo to be practical, resourceful, patient, and methodical. This process can also cause Virgo to be worrisome, controlling, and even a bit OCD. Learning to bring intellectual thoughts into the physical form and trusting the mind-body connection can help with Virgo’s anxious or domineering tendencies. It is this same act of integrating, however, that gives Virgo the ability to learn and adapt and allows them to live well in community with others. Virgo encourages us to take our knowing into our physical form and listen, trust, and act from our entire self.

Call on The Maiden When…

  • You desire more sovereignty
  • You want to cultivate a sense of order and peace
  • You are ready to take your words and ideas seriously
  • You wish to deepen your sense of purpose through service
  • You need more devotion in your life
  • You desire order and structures that make sense
  • You need better boundaries
  • You are working on cultivating a sense of personal responsibility
  • You wish to have greater clarity around your work in the world
  • You would like to have insight into your physical health
  • You are ready harvest the fruits of your labors

Be Wary Of…

  • Rigidity – Virgo’s qualities of clarity and organization are wonderful to have on hand and available but Virgo can also become too rigid or fixed in its attitudes towards these things. Sometimes Virgo can send off the vibe that everything must be in its specific place or we simply cannot function. This makes for a clean house but also a home that is sometimes empty of spiritedness or fun. Virgo does best when it fully integrates the gifts of Leo and remembers that fun and messes also have a place in our lives.
  • Intolerance – As the Maiden, Virgo is fixated on purity and devotion but sometimes this attitude develops into a “my way is the only way” mind-set. Virgo can come off as intolerant of mistakes, messes, and ways of seeing or going about life that do not fit into their predetermined framework of “the way that things should be.”
  • Passive-Aggression – In direct opposition to Virgo’s ability to be rigid and intolerant (more than pretty much any other mutable sign, with the possible exception of Aquarius), there is also a flip side of Virgo being too easy-going and accommodating. Virgo loves to serve and sometimes in serving others can lose sight of herself. When this happens Virgo responds often in a passive-aggressive manner, not wishing to create significant conflict but also needing to express their deep dissatisfaction.

Questions to Ponder for Virgo:

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

  • What does Sovereignty mean to me? What is my relationship to Sovereignty?
  • What am I devoted to and how do I express that devotion?
  • What is my body and physical health telling me about my overall approach to life?
  • What is the role of organization and cleanliness in my life?
  • Where do I love to serve others?
  • What does right relationship to work look and feel like?
  • Where do I need more clarity?
  • What am I ready to harvest?

Active Imagination Practice

When we talk and feel into intuition things can get very foggy and vague quickly. This is because intuition belongs to the Otherworld, the liminal world and it works according to the rules and customs of that world not our highly analytical, extremely audio-verbal waking experience. Thankfully there is one immediate and direct way to begin experiencing your intuitive guidance, and yes, we all have intuition, the path of this experience lies through and within your own blessed body.

Sit or stand where you are comfortable, close your eyes, and take a long deep breath.
Take several more long, deep breaths and with each inhale imagine the air filling your lungs and moving through your body down into your feet. On each exhale, push the air out through your core and imagine each muscle relaxing, from your toes to your head.
Affirm and acknowledge the presence of your shields and note if any areas or zones of the body need especial attention at this time.
Engage with the your breath again.

Ask in your mind and heart for your body to show you what YES feels like for you.
Pay attention specifically to what area of the body comes alive upon YES and what that life feels like: an opening, a heating up, a tingling, something completely different?
If when you first ask you feel that you do not receive a response in and through the physical body then, remaining engaged with the blessed body breath, allow yourself to remember a time in your life where you were asked a question, given an opportunity, or made a decision and the answer was YES.
Remember the specifics of the situation — the people involved, the time of day and season of year, the specific content. Then focus on the memory of your YES, what did it feel like in the body? Where did it happen in the body?

Once you can see, sense, touch, know, and feel your YES, then we turn our attention to NO.
Ask in your mind and heart for your body to show you what NO feels like for you.
Pay attention specifically to what area of the body comes alive upon NO and what that life feels like: an closing, a cooling, a tensing or contraction, something completely different?
If when you first ask you feel that you do not receive a response in and through the physical body then, remaining engaged with the blessed body breath, allow yourself to remember a time in your life where you were asked a question, given an opportunity, or made a decision and the answer was NO.
Remember the specifics of the situation — the people involved, the time of day and season of year, the specific content. Then focus on the memory of your NO, what did it feel like in the body? Where did it happen in the body?

Once you can see, sense, touch, know, and feel your NO, then we turn our attention to MAYBE.
Ask in your mind and heart for your body to show you what MAYBE feels like for you.
Pay attention specifically to what area of the body comes alive upon MAYBE and what that life feels like: a calming, a cooling or heating, a settling in and down, something completely different?
If when you first ask you feel that you do not receive a response in and through the physical body then, remaining engaged with the blessed body breath, allow yourself to remember a time in your life where you were asked a question, given an opportunity, or made a decision and the answer was MAYBE.
Remember the specifics of the situation — the people involved, the time of day and season of year, the specific content. Then focus on the memory of your MAYBE, what did it feel like in the body? Where did it happen in the body?

When you have completed this meditation, record your body’s responses. Make note of your physical and emotional feelings for each question. Reflect on how you can listen to your body in everyday life. If you don’t feel you have clear signals for yes, no, and maybe in your body after completing this exercise, revisit it weekly until the answers feel solid to you; be patient and know that your mind and body are meant to talk to each other.

Altar and Ritual

The Maiden, and the Goddesses of agriculture and harvest with whom she is associated, are most often depicted with a sheaf of wheat, so to honor her we must make bread!

The art of bread making (yes, it is most definitely an art) is ancient and brings us back to our common ancestral roots; for making bread is a very grounding experience. It is essentially a quite simple process of blending and waiting, but the physical act of combining the relatively few ingredients leads to the creation of something nourishing and wonderful!

For those of you that think making bread is too technical or delicate, it doesn’t have to be. Provided below as a simple and easy method of creating a “no-knead” bread that keeps the sacred process alive but does not require any baking experience. In this recipe we are also going to add some sacred herbs to create a most exquisitely magical bread.

(If you already have your own favorite bread recipe and/or are experienced with making bread using other methods, feel free to follow what you know and try adding some sacred herbs.)

IMPORTANT – do not use a bread making machine! The purpose of this exercise is to create this nourishing, sacred bread with your own two hands.

This “no-knead” method is taken from the book, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. A highly recommended resource if you’d like to start making your own bread.

This recipe will make four 1-pound loaves that you will bake one at a time over several days.
You will need a 4-5 quart glass bowl or plastic container, a baking stone (pizza stone works great), and a boiler tray.

Ingredients:

– 3 cups lukewarm water
– 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated yeast (2 packets)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt
– 2 teaspoons total of dried herbs (4 teaspoons if fresh); use herbs that have a magical significance for you, but make sure they are edible and tasty!
– 6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour (do not pack when measuring)
– Cornmeal (for sprinkling on the baking stone)

Step One: Mix and Store the Dough

– Put the lukewarm water in the glass bowl and add the yeast and salt. Gently stir to dissolve, but it doesn’t have to be completely dissolved.
– Add the herbs to the water mixture.
– Add all of the flour at once.
– Mix with a wooden spoon if you want a good workout and/or doing it all by hand is especially important to you. It’s also perfectly ok to use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until it is uniformly moist without any dry patches.
– Cover loosely with a lid, cloth towel, or plastic wrap, but you do not want it to be air tight.
– Allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse or flatten on top (about 2 hours).
– You can technically use the dough at this point, but since the dough is quite wet it will be easier to handle after being refrigerated for at least three hours or even overnight.

Step Two: Shaping and Baking

– Sprinkle your work surface and the baking stone with a generous amount of cornmeal.
– Take out your refrigerated dough and lightly sprinkle the whole surface with flour.
– Pull up and cut off a grapefruit-sized piece of dough from the bowl.
– Add a little more flour as needed so the dough won’t stick to your hands.
– Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. The bottom of the loaf will start to appear to be a collection of bunched ends and the top will be very smooth. Be careful not to over-handle the ball and the whole process should take about a minute.
– Place the shaped ball on your work surface and allow to rest uncovered for 40 minutes.
– Place the baking stone in the oven on the middle rack and the boiler tray on a rack below.
– Preheat the oven, with the baking stone and boiler tray inside, to 450 degrees. Allow a full 20 minutes for preheating.
– Dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour and, using a serrated knife, slash a 1/4 inch deep cross, tic-tac-toe, or any other pattern into the top of the loaf.
– Place the loaf on the baking stone and pour 1 cup of hot water into the boiler tray. Be sure to do this relatively quickly so you can trap the steam in the oven.
– Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Avoid opening the oven to check on it for at least 30 minutes.
– When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or “sing.” Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.
– The remaining dough can be stored and used as needed for up to 14 days.

About my Co-Author:

Sara Magnuson is a crafter of spiritual supplies, a reader of cards, a diviner of animals, and the co-founder of Candlesmoke Chapel. Her personal practice is eclectic, animistic, and ancestral. The guidance she provides is based in the messages of Nature and its role in how we move through this world.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Ask and Answer Tarot Meanings: The Empress

Learning and Community

M

iracles, it is now time to encounter the Empress in our Ask and Answer Tarot Meanings series, the companion to my e-course on Tarot, 20 Question Tarot.

Remember: In the Ask and Answer Tarot series I am going to give you 6 questions that each Tarot card inspires you, the reader, to ask either yourself or the person you are reading for and 2 questions that will help you get to know the card a little bit better.

 

The Empress

Card Number: III

Ruling planet: Virgo

Element: Earth

Season: Late Summer/Early Autumn

 

Questions for the Empress:

These two questions will help you get to know the Empress a little bit better:

1.) Notice the Empress’ scepter – a long staff with a sphere at its tip. How does she wield this tool and what does it help her accomplish? What is the Empress’ relationship to Sovereignty?

2.) What does the Empress prevent you from doing for other people?

 

Questions from the Upright Empress:

When the Empress card appears upright in a reading, these three questions will help you reveal its message.

1.) What seeds have you sown that are now ready to be harvested?

2.) What successes are you ready to celebrate?

3.) Where are you able to be especially generous and loving?

 

Questions from the Reversed Empress:

When the Empress card appears reverse in a reading, these three questions will help you navigate its advice.

1.) Where are you being too lazy or self-indulgent?

2.) Where are you being too selfish?

3.) What seeds have you sown that ended up not bearing fruit and how might you start over?

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.