Go back to your own primal ground of being. Go back to bone deep knowing. Conjure up the dregs of patterns you thought were dead, and let them give you a way to find radiance within you have never known before. Layer by layer, squeeze by squeeze, breath by blessed breath, destroying softly to reimagine fiercely. Opening to what is growing that you do not yet know, but will soon remember. We return to familiar places in new ways to reconfigure the blueprint. It can be enough to start with trimming the withered parts without uprooting entirely. But there is a time to uproot, unwind, unravel. What feels most real in this breath? Slowly now. Inhale grace, exhale force. What feels true now? A sacred process cannot be pushed past its present rhythm. Death brings life brings death, and sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re dying or being born. Just keep going.
Go back to the beginning, which will ask of you a descent into the many layered depths. Keep eyes open for the snake, whose shape from above looks like a dragon, like the one alchemists spoke of, who eats his own tail, whose wholeness is inherent in his existence. The end is the beginning is the end. We are the keepers of all that is and ever will be. It is the task of embodiment to shed what is outgrown from our cells, so we may create what is to come. The healing of the planet and humanity will always be an inside job. We were made for it. Just keep going.
Go back to the beginning, which may also be the end of another beginning, somewhere down the line. Go back to the vast field of listening, where you can hear the sound of unknowing, how grasping gives way to merging. May you know the gift in every part of your path. May you know your unchanging light as the gift. May you know your shifting shadow as the gift. May you hold all that you are in love and reverance. May you grieve how you need to and may you howl with laughter. May you feel the weight of the choice you made to be here. May you feel the lightness of all that is possible now that you are.
Calling ourselves beloved, may we move the way love would have us move.
May we move the way the sacred heart, keeper of holy fire, would have us move. The indefatigable dance, dissolving and restructuring, untangling and re-weaving, connecting pin points of light across the vast darkness to create new constellations from the inside out.
May we move the way our soft, wild underbellies would have us move, heavy-laden, eyes glowing, slow, and low to the ground. The unbearable ache of unnameable feelings rushing through us, beautiful rumblings that seek to change us entirely while having us touch that which always remains.
May we move the way the threads of our divine would have us move, a playful wind through the highest leaves, offering the possibility of re-imagining, infinite variations, & adventures through freshly revealed passageways. The way we remember, the way love would have us remember.
May we know the relief of lightening the burden of silence, of spilling the heart across a morning-lit table or an evening-darkened doorway. How surrender becomes the realest thing. How we laugh at how tightly we held on, as if love would escape us.
May we know each day a steady-handed choosing, even in the quivering aliveness of connection and reflection, of letting go of all expectations, perfect pictures and preconceptions, so we can fully & completely have it…the way love would have us have it.
For me, soul is where spirit and body merge, the place where we can explore our multidimensionality, the many layers of our experience. Strength is the card in the Major Arcana where our animal bodies meet our spiritual selves. I want to share with you some simple methods for reconnecting to your body, your energy, and in turn, your soul, so you can feel safe and strong enough to journey into your deeper layers. While our spirits are whole and complete, our bodies take more time to catch up. “Catching up,” or merging spirit and body, is what we are here doing, and it takes time. When our bodies are grounded, more of our own energy can occupy our space, and we are available to listen and tend to our sensations and needs, instead of being bombarded with outside energy, or operating from a system that needs more soothing than stimulation. You know the feeling of being overwhelmed, when you just can’t get your space and you want to throw your hands up and say, “enough!” We have all been there, especially as sensitive beings. When our systems are overloaded with stress, we go out of body or we shut down; while helpful in the moment, over time it creates issues around having access to body awareness and cues that tell us we need to set a boundary, or leave an unsafe situation. It can also disconnect us from access to our feelings of pleasure, joy, desire, and love. Our deepest knowing lives inside of our bodies, and if we are disconnected, we remain apart from the magic of truly trusting ourselves. We also become more susceptible to outside energies that can knock us from our center, our place of inner strength. It becomes harder to access higher wisdom from a place of wholeness, where the facets of us that need healing have been met, loved, held, and integrated. Disconnect happens through cultural messaging, as well as through trauma. We have all the wisdom within you already, it is simply a matter of committing to uncovering it and honoring it. When we can acknowledge the pieces of ourselves calling out for our attention, we can begin a new relationship with those aspects of ourselves that are longing to be held and expressed, so we can live mindfully, rather than having our unconscious bits take over and cause a ruckus in order for us to be able to see what it is we need to be paying attention to and respecting within. We try to tame the wildness within us by turning away from these pieces of ourselves, because it can be scary to meet these raw and unruly pieces; until we realize these parts of us are the treasure, the ones who will require us to step out of expectations and into our true desires, intuitive nature, and personal power. From a grounded place, we can allow space for our creative nature, emotions, and untamable wildness without trying to control, suppress, or stamp out our shadow or our light. When we do so we encourage everyone around us to step into their truth courageously and compassionately as well. This is the practice of presence and dynamic aliveness. This is the practice of learning that strength does not mean force or control, but rather being with ourselves closely, and listening kindly to what is here for us to be with and love through. At its core, strength is about self trust, which will allow trust to exist in our relationships to all that is.
Practices for Reconnecting to Your Inner Strength
Boundaries mean saying “no” as much as they mean saying “yes.” It means being in complete ownership of your time, energy, and resources, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Creating boundaries entails having discernment around what is truly valuable to you, and that requires re-evaluation regularly as you grow and change. It means creating space for what you want to feel and experience, first by deciding what you need to let go of in order to do that. A willingness must exist to do the courageous work of living your life on your own terms, in a way that nourishes your ability to show up for yourself, and replenish your reserves so you can show up for others. Make more room for what fills you up, and release what drains you. Sometimes this means letting go of relationships, or simply stepping back. Communication makes boundaries more solid and clear, as well as compassionate. We don’t need to be overly protective or defensive of our space, when we are fully inside of it and owning it as ours; but a certain level of integration of past trauma and healing of the nervous system is important in order to feel like we are in charge of our experience. Grounding practices are vital for being able to own our space, heal, strengthen ourselves, and sense subtleties within our bodies that are vital to our well being. We are in charge of how we meet our bodies, our hearts, our minds, our souls, and each other. Find your space first in the quiet moments you make for only you. You will notice your impulses to quit, reject, and give up are much more calm, and drastic changes or abrupt shifts are less nourishing than finding how you can weave these changes slowly, creating a new way of seeing and being; your choices will follow the tone you set. The tone begins with what you allow in your space, and making clear what you are no longer available for, so what you are available for can find its way into your daily life. Boundaries can be as simple as saying, “This is what I am available for and desiring to engage in. This is what I am unavailable for and unwilling to engage in.”
Make a date with yourself in nature. Even if you live in a city, gravitate towards the plants growing there, keep an eye out for flowers and trees that entice you. You can find a quiet spot in a park, or if you live near wild places, take a hike on a trail or walk along the shore of the ocean. Maybe there is something that has been on your heart or mind, something calling for you to look at in a new way. Or maybe it just feels good to empty the mind and move the body. When you feel the urge, stop at a place that feels inviting. Get yourself still enough to just listen and notice. Ground yourself into the present moment with your breath, maybe some movement. Feel the earth as your body, and your body as the earth. You can bring a journal after some time spent grounding, and write what comes up for you. But you can also just notice. Be a witness to your immediate experience. See how what you notice (animals walking by, the feeling of fear, the feeling of bliss) is a reflection of your internal state. See how this quiet noticing, sitting still after moving your body, is a way of discovering deeper emotions and thoughts alive in you. Witness nature moving around you, watch how you move within nature, and notice how you feel taking up space as a tiny, vital piece of this vast world. Maybe something you see in nature has a message for you. Ask a tree or a plant what it has to say about it’s experience…you might hear just what you needed to hear (because after all, you are the one listening!)
If you don’t feel like getting outside, you can create a ritual for yourself indoors to tune in. Make it work for you, keep it simple. There is no wrong way to create a ritual, it is as simple as being with yourself, and you can get creative. You can light candle, burn some sage or palo santo, put on some music, or create an altar with some of your favorite stones and images that evoke a feeling you wish to honor. The purpose of ritual is to acknowledge something sacred and personal, to recognize a threshold has been crossed, or a journey that is beginning or ending. It is grounding and centering, and keeps the sacred alive in the “ordinary.” I love to create altars as a simple ritual of reverence to the sacred in the ordinary. Altars are a way to a sense of home wherever you are, a reminder of your power to create safe spaces for yourself. Any space can be transformed into an altar, and anything of meaning to you can become a part of this creative dedication. See the altar as a living prayer, a liminal space bridging seen and unseen worlds. I place little offerings of love to the mystery, to spirit, to the unfolding self, to the earth, to the cosmos, to those who have gone on before me, to icons of divinity or humanity– any piece of inspiration along the journey. I may write something to call in or release and place it on the altar with intention, or I may collaborate with another person or a group of people, a creation honoring the collective vision. The altar exists in the space between stillness and movement, between knowing and un-knowing, where I give deliberate attention to the moment.
Making time for creative expression is so valuable. It doesn’t have to be big or grand or even beautiful. It is just about making the space for something to be expressed through you. It is about being moved. You can gather together magazines, glue, paper, colored pencils, or paint, and make a collage. Collage is a wonderful way to explore the subconscious. It can be very interesting to see what images draw your attention, and then to start noticing a theme coming up as the images collect. Freely painting or drawing without an intentional outcome is also a way to move into the flow without the critical mind determined on “outcome” getting in the way. Dancing to your favorite music is another way to move beyond what “makes sense,” and into pure sensuality. Drumming is also a potent way for me to come into presence with the rhythm of my body and energy; letting myself be moved by the beat that comes through is grounding and enlivening. More sensuality, less sense will bring you more here, and less somewhere else. Getting out of the logical mind and into the body and emotions really helps move energy, emotions, releasing perfectionism, stagnation, and soothing the nervous system. Stagnant energy can result in bottled up emotions, which can result in aches, pains, inflammation, and general funkiness. On that note, maybe being creative, going on a walk, cleaning your space, or making time for a self-created ritual feels like too much right now. How about just getting some bodywork? Lying down, breathing, and receiving is an amazing way to reconnect to yourself. Or maybe being alone and quiet doesn’t sound helpful, and you just need to talk to someone and let it all out. None of this has to be complicated. Inner strengthening is all about listening to your deepest needs. Keep it simple. Keep it present. Keep it you.
Having a meditation practice focusing on grounding reconnects us to the earth to replenishes vital life force. Sinking into this stillness and being with what is, will naturally clear away energy that is draining you. I like to think of it as bringing me back to me; after all, we are made of the same components of the planet! Grounding through meditation will help keep you balanced, with greater grace and fluidity. In order to unwind and release, we first have to anchor.
Once you connect with your body, and the flow of energy between you and the earth, you really don’t need to worry about “doing” anything except being present. It is about connecting you to your body, your basic goodness and well being, and creating spaciousness in your experience. Allow what comes up to come up; focus on you in the present moment. Trust that with practice it will become easier and you will see changes happen externally when you can come back to yourself again and again. You can do this anywhere, at anytime. It is the simplest and most profound practice of energy management, and often overlooked as so much of what we are taught is about “getting somewhere else” to get what we need.
My favorite way to ground through meditation is in nature. Whether you live in a city or in the countryside, find a spot that feels inviting. Sit on the ground, perhaps with your back against a tree, or a rock that hugs the curves of your body. Take a few deep breaths from your belly; inhaling in through the nose for 4 seconds, out through the mouth for 8 seconds. Or gently breathe from the belly, letting it rise and fall with the inhale and exhale. Feel that all that you need is right here, right now.
Imagine opening your root chakra, at the base of your spine; feel a golden thread, dropping all the way to the center of the earth (or imagine it however feels right to you.) As you anchor in, receive the energy of the earth. Feel your body as the earth, the earth as your body; feel the interplay of energy. Feel how held and supported you are. If you want, you can imagine the cord, or thread, spreading out as wide as your hips. Feel the fullness radiating down your legs, through the bottoms of your feet. Open the energy centers at the bottom of your feet, connecting down down down to the center of the earth. You can also visualize your body as a tree, or a rock, or the ocean, and feel what that is like. Feel the earth energy running up through your entire body, through every cell, muscle, bone, organ. Feel yourself being nourished. Feel you coming back to you. Stay in touch with your breath, but don’t worry about how you’re breathing, just be with it.
You can also visualize the energy moving through your auric field, the space that belongs to you, all around you like a beautiful globe that protects you and nurtures you. I also call in colors that feel healing and nourishing. Gold, violet, and emerald are my go-to colors that fill me with unconditional love and strength.
Make grounding a daily practice, whether that is through time in nature, ritual, movement, body care, creativity, visualization, or breath, or whatever feels essential for you. You are in charge of your space, and your intentional practices will greatly strengthen your body and energetic field over time, making your boundaries clear, your vitality bright, and the way you move through the world graceful and connected.
“You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — over and over announcing your place in the family of things.”
Strength is one of my favorite Major Arcana cards in the Tarot, because it calls for us to anchor in love and embody our truest selves. The Strength card is a reminder that when we know the our power, it cannot be bought, sold, given, or taken away from us. The healing of humanity and the planet is dependent on dismantling and recreating the systems that have taught us that our power lies everywhere but inside of us. True strength requires the risk of arriving at the door of our own heart and recognizing it as the heart of the world. We will see how our lives weave into every life, understanding the greater risk of ignoring the deepening pull of owning who we truly are. We are living in times of great upheaval, calling for us to be fully present in our bodies and connected to our souls, so we can move as gracefully as possible through the changes afoot. Strength reminds us that transformation is an inside job, and that we are courageous, resilient, and creative enough to do it. We cannot force change, but we can become it. We are seeing old structures fall within and around us, bearing witness to the unearthing of old beliefs, identities, and ways of being that thrive on the “power-over” dynamic that has wounded us all. When we are grounded in our strength, we move with more ease and confidence through our lives, no matter what outer circumstances are; we understand that there is enough, and that we are abundant beings with immense potential to create and share from the heart. There is a gentleness in this card that brings us back to love and connection. We live in a society that encourages a disconnection from nature, our bodies, our hearts, our needs, our desires, and from each other. In order to learn how to own our power and direct it in ways that are nourishing, uplifting, and life-affirming, we must first understand that we carry in our bones and our energy fields the imprints of a culture that is based on an imbalance of power. We are fully capable of clearing the old to make way for the new, beginning from within. In fact, we were made for these times.
We learn to outsource our power from an early age, grasping outside of ourselves for a sense of validation, safety, and belonging; of course as children this makes sense. We are made to exist in relationship, it is a primal pull and irreplaceable aspect of our experience and healing. Problems arise when we do not have the tools for healing as we develop, and continue searching for self worth and security anywhere but within. The depth of our capacity to truly connect is impacted by how true we are being to ourselves, how safe we feel, and by knowing our inherent worthiness. As feminine creatures, we are trained to find our value in how pleasing we can be—whether that means repressing our true expression, desires, and sexuality in order to “keep the peace” or not appear threatening, or using our power in unhealthy ways, because we have learned that we must do whatever it takes to gain ground and get our needs met. But we do not have to play that game. In fact, we can no longer afford to. We are healing millenia of patriarchal programming that creates an environment where competitive and conquering behavior is the way to finding power and “safety.” Paradoxically, we are taught to silence ourselves, stay small and quiet, and not step out of line. We can see the harmful effects of this paradigm in racism, sexism, rape culture, cult culture, destruction and pollution of the planet, and unequal distribution of wealth. We are also inundated with media that sells to us that impossible standards of beauty, the message that we have to “do it all” in order to be powerful; and in order to do that, we have to compete with each other. Masculine creatures too are deeply wounded in the cultural messaging to disconnect from their emotional selves, perpetuating the seeking of power outside of themselves while devaluing a vital part of their humanity. The Strength card reminds you that your heart and creative spirit are unrepeatable, there is enough for us all, there is room for us to be who we are, and once you have touched your light, it can only grow. The new paradigm, and one I have worked for in my own life, is one of service, compassion, listening, slowing down, healthy boundaries, reconnecting to the body, the earth, emotions, and creative energy. We all need each other to be doing the inner healing work of returning to ourselves, and choosing to heal and find strength in our vulnerability.
True power is understanding that we have a choice to be and express from a place of wholeness, where all facets of ourselves are loved and given space to exist, and where we support each other’s growth. Acting from strength means our yes’s are full on yes’s and our no’s are clear as day. We also must realize that we are a part of a greater whole whose health and well being depends on everyone’s well being, with everyone granted access to the tools and resources they need to thrive. We are not bound to any way of being that is harmful to us, and when we feel rooted and strong enough in ourselves, we realize we have a choice as to what we participate in, becoming more aware of the places where we have given our power away. When we can begin to unravel the ways we are complicit in oppressive systems, we disentangle the whole mess. This is the work of generations, but it will always begin within each one of us, and we can choose to access our strength in healthy ways right now. Setting fire to any and all remnants of self betrayal. Setting fire to the memories still alive in our bodies of what humans have done to themselves and each other in order to survive. Setting fire to self judgement. Setting fire to self abandonment. True power does not take. True power does not harm. True power does not manipulate to gain. True power burns for what is real. True power burns for the pieces of ourselves still in hiding, in service to healing and love and justice for every being and inner fragment who never had a chance to thrive. True power burns for our softness and our freezing, our confusion and our clarity, our anger and our joy. True power burns for exposing untruths and setting the course for freedom of expression, a right to exist however we are. True power burns for choice. True power burns for nourishment, feeding the flames for what must go, so what is to come alive has room to grow. Anything less than that dissolves here now. May the ashes make a gorgeous bed for new dreams to take root for humanity.
Because of the disconnect in our culture, reconnecting with our wildness is a courageous and rebellious act of tuning in to the deepest parts of our beings and loving ourselves through the process. When we reject the pieces of ourselves that are seen as unacceptable by the social norms, we inevitably see those pieces “out there” and point fingers, blame, or seek to control. Reclaiming the pieces of ourselves we have been taught to feel shame for and fear—sadness, grief, anger, needing help—are keys to knowing our wholeness. Mindfulness and embodiment practices (which can be as simple as walking, journaling, meditation, and movement) are essential for connecting with our primal states of being. Engaging in our imagination and creativity also causes a glorious ruckus in the status quo because it tunes us into the complexity of who we are. Old systems don’t function too well with soulful people expressing themselves fully and supporting each other in their unique magic.
Once we have access to our deeper layers, can move through the world in full responsibility and compassion for our feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and actions. This presence with our bodies and emotions fosters clear-seeing and clear-knowing. Being gentle, kind, and loving with ourselves is key to being loving with others; not judging things as good or bad, right or wrong, and instead just being honest, aware, and open to shifting. Our strength is inside of our softness. Our strength is inside our willingness to hold the entirety of who we are, and commit to knowing, accepting, and loving ourselves and each other completely.
Outsourcing light only makes it darker, and wings burn too close to the sun we keep outside ourselves. Turning to the heat of our own hearth and inner sanctuary, we will remember who we are. This is how we strengthen the web of connection to each other. To express the light of our true hearts, we must continually turn inward and offer love to those pieces of ourselves who may still be in hiding, waiting for a sensation of safety until they come into view. The crux of heart-work is to listen to these fears, this grief, these human stories we carry in our cells, and to let them exist, so they can change form. We may watch aspects of self die, and watch others blossom— allowing these facets to be however they need to be is the crucial alchemical ingredient for transmutation.
Often the most powerful transformation is a shift in perception; there is much we cannot change, and contending with this requires feeling deeply, and holding ourselves and each other through this process of often brutal surrender. Surrender can feel like softness too; it can feel like vast empty space, and it can feel like a portal of infinite possibility. The practice of compassion during uncertainty deepens self trust, and is vital as we come into stronger resonance with the magic of our life force; we are creator beings, and we are beings who must face letting go. Without devotion to the inner anchor, we remain complicit in the systems that do not honor individual power and expression, nor do they honor the mystery, or feeling, or connection. Without access to tools and practices to strengthen inner connection, so that we can become intimate with our true desires and needs as we grow and change, our relationships to self, earth, and each other suffer.
Strength does not seek domination but rather to be expressed with such fullness that it empowers all beings to be free to express the fullness of who they are. We can practice graceful engagement with the parts of us we are afraid to meet and walk with; these are the ones of us that need tenderness, who hold the light of our passions, and our capacity to create new ways forward. Creating new ways forward is what we are here to do.
Stay tuned for Strength, Part Two: Practices for Reconnecting with Your Inner Strength, where I will share grounding exercises, creative exercises, and other ways to connect with your body, intuition and imagination in nature.
Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The Moon and The Virgin: Reflections on the Archetypal Feminine by Nor Hall
Sometimes we bury ancient feeling because it is too much to hold all at once. But if it isn’t nurtured like a seed, soaked with water from skyward eyes until it’s soft enough to unearth in layers, or trimmed, transplanted, and re-sprouted from snapped stems, ancient becomes present becomes future. When we own ourselves inside the emotional energy dancing through our systems, we can honor it before it becomes a ball of grief launched like anger or confusion in the wrong direction, away from the heart, before it becomes a story woven through every life down the line, until one day someone who has inherited our memories says, enough. It is time to set down the weight in our marrow, ask it what it needs us to know, and reimagine the ground we walk on. It’s time to know our own belonging here, to hold what has only ever longed for love. Changing isn’t the thing we’re after, it’s just what happens, when we’ve called our spirit home to its earthly form for long enough to know it’s rhythms, understanding there is only being with and loving through. Energy moves if we allow it. There are waves we haven’t tasted and winds we haven’t heard, keep noticing. We know when we know. If it’s not clear yet we keep listening. Muddiness settles without our hand in it. Clarity will come little by little or all at once and we will know, we will know, we will know. When we sit in stillness and let ourselves be moved, there is a sacred untangling in breath and belly. We can be there for the undoing. We can be there for the restructuring. We can be there for countless initiations, watching the space grow around us, making room to fill into, watching a new life materialize before our eyes, noticing the weathered hands of grace taking our own, and walking us slowly through another door. Surrender as a creative act of listening. Feeling as a creative act of aliveness. Changing as a creative act of embodiment. Stillness shows movement where to grow from. Movement helps stillness know its own ground.
An offering, a dedication, to continually breaking open, pausing at the reflection found at the end of a road, any road, spiraling into other, into sameness, into the unfolding of an uncertain map–the open palm, the spark, the ether and the soil. Leave something behind in this ritual of burning. You will leave everything behind. Belongings too heavy to carry become remnants, fragments lived and unlived, and your own belonging remains—to this earth, this body, this heart, each other. You will find freedom in touching nothingness, and find another you in the returning, moving through the pathless mountains, knowing lightness and burden, the giving up, the longing. The well of love is the other end of grief, filling nothingness with stories, and who would we be without them? Without someone to share them with, without someone to remind you how nothing lasts, but it lasts long enough to love. To keep letting go until nothing is left but the light that started it. You are the bright breath among blackened branches, reaching out to your own unseen hands, the ones that hold the stars, with eyes for the invisible. And you pull out your heart, again, and let it rest on a sunlit stone, warm and beating, poised for the next reckoning, or blessing, or silence. A heart who asks you only to be, who tells you it will be enough. You learn how to hold tightly for a time, because you don’t want to turn away from what you know while it becomes something else. Love will have you relinquish everything, at some point. Full bodied emptying before the filling, how fire moves from roots to trunk and exhales at the top, how lungs do in a clear-sky dream, when you take an inhale deep enough to turn green with hope. You will all push up through the wreckage and grow, and die, and be something important in between. It continues. And you are here for it, for a little bit. Lucky enough to be. Enough. You are the little seed who comes to life after the fire. All together on the hill, rising through the layered soil of memory, using it for rising, living, opening. An offering.
I rewrote this after the fires came and made a ring of fire through and around our town, altering our psyches and landscapes both wild and domestic… it sent us into an alchemy still revealing itself…
I am the still earth at the bottom of the ocean. I am the currents of wind and water too vast to hold in one place. I am the fire of the beginning and the end, neutral seer at the core but always burning. I am cosmic and uncontainable, and I am human, humbled and held by some incomprehensible energy that brings me to my knees. Limited and limitness. I do not pretend to understand it. More knowing means more letting go. I am here to move and be moved. To choose and be chosen by. To offer that we are too small to explain it and too big to do so either. I am a vessel who lays bare her armored chest, standing naked and weeping for a world who forgot that saving itself doesn’t require drowning. But still, some will, because they were not given a chance to know safety in their own skin. Where we were told we were unsafe and untrustworthy in the depths of our physical, psychic, emotional lives, I am here to find my anchor there, to show us one way it can be done, a changing body on a changing earth, with a speck of stardust at her center that remains intact inside the wild shifting dark. I am here for you and your guttural commitment to fully exist, and trust in the strength of your devotion to really be here now, in the untamed field of listening. The gift of leaving the unnameable unnamed, of feeling the outer edges of a life in contraction before expansion. The tender beauty of relentless alchemy.
Gatekeepers, guardians, travelers between realms: unbind the stones from your feet and sing your life into the deepest part of the river. Listen, listen, listen, as Spirit speaks. You are not separate from any of it.
Your beauty moves in all the changing ways, without knowing who you will be on some other side, which is really always just right here, a black-winged moment, and you, inside it. Your will can’t hold transformation the way it wishes it could. You can only let it take you. If you trust nothing else, trust this. You and your beauty, changing, here and in every in-between.
The High Priestess is a gatekeeper to Mystery, who calls for us to access our intuition and innate wisdom from the depths of our psyche. She is the keeper of ancient knowledge passed down through the ages, who reminds us that surrender is sacred. She sees all as a wise observer, all-knowing yet neutral, a cosmic queen who walks the earth, moving like water between realms. She is visible when she wishes to be, and cloaks herself in the same breath if her intuition calls for it. The High Priestess honors the liminal, the ephemeral, and the empty spaces yet to be filled. She speaks to us of our ever-burning inner flame, kept safe within a temple whose walls hold the records of all that is, was, and will be. She calls us to settle into the unknowing, and let there be space to open into. The High Priestess is an archetype that portrays one aspect of the Divine Feminine, a term that I relate to as the yin essence, the fertile void, the unknown, and the connectivity of all things. Varying expressions of the Divine Feminine blossom and wither from one source of wholeness, as she is a container vast enough for all to exist within her.
A powerful way to explore different expressions of feminine energy and the complex layers of yourself is to dive into archetypes, which is why I love tarot and its connection to mythology. Persephone is a goddess I connect with whose myth tells the story of a maiden (Innocent archetype) torn from her life in the sun with Demeter (Great Mother archetype) and taken against her will to the underworld. But Persephone is also the High Priestess, as expressed through the Dark Goddess archetype. Her story through the patriarchal lens emphasizes her victimhood, diminishing her power as a realm traveling goddess of the unconscious, bravely traversing the shadow realms. What isn’t so widely shared is that she chose to stay in the underworld, and brought back gifts to the light when she was ready to share them, reflected in the changing seasons. She honors our countless initiations and threshold crossings, and our own timing through which we move. She reminds us to move at our own pace, to stand sovereign in our own energy, to own our choices and our power completely. Artemis is another goddess whose energy speaks to both the Wild Woman and Dark Goddess archetypes. She is the one of the woods– embodied, emotive, unapologetic, intuitive, creative, brave, and unto herself, belonging to the moon, the earth and the wild things. Exploring these expressions of the feminine connects me to my soul’s yearning to embody the fullness of me, to arrive here and claim my voice as the witch. The wild one. The deeply feeling healer. The empathic and psychic one. The writer. The creator. The shadow dweller. The light worker. Guardian and guide between worlds.
Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration
What happens when I full on surrender to the present moment? How does accepting myself where I am allow me to actually begin changing? How do my own internal shifts effect change in the world around me?
What happens when I start to get more into my body? How does it feel to find stillness? How does it feel to move my body from that point of stillness? Note the sensations, emotions, and thoughts present.
Who will I be on the other side of another transformation? What will I have to leave behind?
What happens when I show up in the world with all the shadows and light that I know I am? What do I need on a physical and emotional level in order to feel grounded and safe? How am I meeting my own needs in these ways? How am I honoring my own growth and tending to my needs at this point in the process?
How does staying with myself and loving myself through my entire growing process strengthen me? What does trusting myself feel like physically? Does it feel calm, even if I don’t exactly “like” the information I am getting? How can I get myself to a place of calm in order to intuit from a more observational viewpoint? How does observing and witnessing my own experience help me respond, rather than react?
How can I cope with my own insecurities around being truly seen by truly seeing myself? What do I need to feel, accept and love about what I see when I explore myself honestly, so I can be with what is and transmute what I am ready to change? In what ways do I choose to be in alignment with my true needs, rather than in resentment because I am not honoring myself or listening to my intuition?
Will I be able to show up in my fullness without the fear of being “too much?” or “enough?” What does the cultural programming of “enoughness” look like? How does it affect the choices I make? I willing to disappoint others, rock the boat, and be uncomfortable in order to stay true to myself?
Can I identify when a wounded aspect of me is operating and clouding my judgement? What aspects of me still remain as fragments awaiting full acceptance, unconditional love, and forgiveness? Can I acknowledge them, hold them, and release them with deep love so I can more fully occupy my own body and energy? Can I begin to notice when I am grasping outside of myself for validation to quell inner discomfort? In what ways can I validate myself? How does validating my own experience create more grace and ease in my life?
I belong on this wild, breathing earth. I am capable of holding this great responsibility. I am brave. I am powerful. I call all of my power back to me now. I am safe. I am grounded. I am connected. I am fully resourced and operate from my wholeness. I trust myself fully. I validate my own humanity. I feel my own divinity. I am loving. I am patient, gentle, and honest with myself through the journey, accepting my wholeness as I change. I honor my interconnectedness with all things. I practice responding rather than reacting by slowing down and asking myself what I truly need. I take time to feel what is present for me and I listen. I practice receptivity and openness when my protective pieces urge me to shut down, trusting and loving all facets as sacred. All I need to do is be here, and pay attention to what moves me. I am dissolving every belief and pattern of energy that does not belong to me, and that is no longer mine to carry. I am allowing myself to receive new information about all the ways of being that reflect my truest essence.
I am continually diving into the way these archetypes are reflections of my being, feeling how they hold and nurture each other, how they are part of a greater cycle, and how they cycle through me in my own phases. Below is some more writing that came exploring these faces of the Divine Feminine.
I went to the water with my heaviness today. This is my secret spot I always go to alone. This water hasn’t flowed here in a very long time. The first water in a drought will conjure up all that has laid dormant, it will run muddy and carry with it tangled branches, and it is not conventionally beautiful or pristine. The first water will bring to your attention all that you wish you didn’t have to see. It will tell you stories you wish you didn’t have to hear. Chasing the light is easier than communing with the shadows. After a little while the clarity comes, the peace comes, if you submerge and surrender for long enough. After a little while you understand that the light doesn’t care to be chased, just respected as an integral piece of the spectrum, a warming ray of what is possible, of who you are at your core. I prayed into the water, washing my hands clean, asking for guidance. She told me to listen, and to trust what I hear. She reminded me that there isn’t a savior beyond our own understanding that we are part of an eternal river’s ebb and flow. There are layers to healing. There is no easy answer or endpoint, just the willingness to pay attention, to feel, and to trust the wisdom of our experience. The more powerful we become, the more we are asked to kneel closer to the earth, and let go, deeper and deeper. The more we allow energy to move through us without resistance, the more we get to experience moments of radiant fullness, connected to our place in the web, strong in our clear presence, humbled by all that is beyond our control. In this state of surrender, we feel empowered to choose our next step. Our hearts will not stop their work of breaking, but we will stop hoping for that anyway. Often the most we can do is honor the water’s wise path, sometimes bone dry, sometimes teeming with life. Listening, trusting, listening, trusting. I trust my body as an extension of the earth, my vision as an extension of her knowing. I trust her cycles and I trust my own. I listen to what calls me further in. I trust presence, the movement that spirals out from stillness. I listen to what I don’t understand. I become the river who always meets the sea.
We are not initiated once, but thousands of times. Many of our leavings and arrivals are barely noticeable, but we notice, and we are changed. We are led, continually, over thresholds we cannot plan for. Divine order changes its tune as we sing along. And the chords we strike, just by being, create cosmic waves. Barely perceptible or earth-shaking, our energetic signatures exist here as an essential part of our collective experience. As we empty the vessel of striving, we make space for desire to come alive through us. It is simply a welcoming. An opening. A walking through. We are merging worlds, grooving gracefully and tumbling foolishly between the accepted and the unacceptable, learning to tone in resonance with Mystery, breaking contracts with which we no longer agree, weaving our stories one revelation and one question at a time. One toe always in the water, inviting the ceremony of entering. The soul is not static. Spirit shifts. Bodies soften and harden with the rivers and tides of time and emotion. The mind is as pliable as it is powerful. We are called to crack open wide, not for ultimate bliss but for ultimate presence, as we leave behind the comfort of knowing and enter the realm of soul that begins at the edge of the woods, at the precipice of comprehension. Transformation asks of us full devotion. It can be terrifying, to let go, yet it is the only thing that ever really happens, awakening in the center of silence. Even stillness changes shapes. But your hands know the heartbeat of everything. You will remember. And it will be beautiful.
As I settle in and acclimate my system after any journey, it is important for me to commune with the language of the land in order to get grounded and fine tune my energetic alignment (just as essential as finding my favorite cheese shops and bakeries, of course!) This feels important especially when I travel alone, as it amplifies my awareness; connecting to the earth, our place of belonging wherever we are, is essential. The land here in The Netherlands is flat, and the water, contained by canals, creates a circuitry of calm; it is 10:00 at night now, and summer’s golden glow just left the tops of the trees. When I traveled here last year, I was coming from the Mediterranean, whose firefly-filled summer oozes a lush volcanic chaos; the ancient energy brought back pieces of my soul that had been hiding. I found an owl feather (the one shown above with today’s cards,) beneath a pine tree on the coast of Tuscany, overlooking the sea. I saw the feather at my feet right before I decided it was time to leave, and make my way north. I ended up in the same place I find myself now. I thought I should bring the feather with me on my journey back here, as I connect in with layers of my inner being that show up when I venture across eight time zones and an ocean.
Under a sycamore tree a few days ago, across the water from a medieval bridge whose gothic turrets inspire faerie tale visions, I was transported by a familiar scent on the wind. I remembered what a sycamore in a California canyon told me as I visioned beneath her a couple months back. She said to me, “sit in stillness and let yourself be moved.” I felt that was the gentlest way I had ever heard transformation explained (leave it to the wisdom of trees!) As I continued my walk through the cobblestone streets, past giant hydrangeas, swans gliding in the canals, and cats playing, I found a ceramic sign embedded in the ground, breathing the word “earth,” up to me.
Even as I move through this dreamy portal I am in now, I still carry the messiness that comes with being human—bliss, peace, sadness, questioning, wondering yet again, who I will be on the other side? And who am I now? What do I desire? How can I expand this joy I am feeling? How can I make it last? How can I be present without holding on? Am I worthy of all the incredible magic alive in my life? Is this real? Really? Yes, I tell myself, YES! And then I laugh to myself like a mad mystic. I breathe, root into the ground beneath my feet, and smile, “thank you.”
I ride the waves, and I trust the unearthing, the shedding; this is the process through which we live out our soul’s weaving. Trust the inhale, the exhale, and every in between. Trust the feet and open them to the radiant currents. Trust the inner compass, the golden thread, connecting the heart of the cosmos, the heart of the animal body, and the heart of the earth, sacred from every angle. Primal and ethereal threads are woven by the hands of Grace, skin weathered like human hands, if I see them through my human eyes, the most tender expression, still made of light.
We are always emboldened inside transformation’s unpredictable trajectory. Uncertainty is often our ground. With the earnest intention of full bodied, heart felt presence, we become. And we remember. Even in the forgetting we can be Fluid. Fortified. Anchored. Ethereal. Here.
Healing might happen in a doorway. It might happen in the middle of the ocean, alone with the morning star and no shore in sight. It might happen in a room full of people you love, where no words are needed because you have loved each other for lifetimes and there is nothing left to prove. It might come one morning, as an answer to a prayer you forgot you prayed, with a sweet lung-heavy ache for how long it took you to know the fullness of your magic.
Or maybe it never happens at all. Healing is not inevitable on the journey; you can fight your way through or give up completely. For some there is not enough time in this life to make things ok, whether by choice or circumstance, and no path is worse than another. Some are up against walls that won’t be busted through, and some won’t get the tools needed to repair their stranded boats. People can only do what they can. There is still beauty there.
So whatever you are “blessed” or “cursed” or compelled to choose or be chosen by, know that you can’t think your way into letting go, but that is all you will ever do. And you can’t hope for something better without doing something better, or without letting go completely of what “something better” even means, so you can just be here, unraveling knowledge for bone deep feeling. This is the wilderness of soul, becoming undone continually so you can know yourself completely— in devotion to a love whose task is to open you — in grief, in fear, in everything you don’t understand.
Healing will remind you of your spark while you’re neck-deep in mud, thick with doubt and the seeds that will carry you into the light of the front porch of God, who will answer the door even if you don’t believe in God, who will love you even when you don’t love yourself, who will hold you until you break into a song of tears that run like hot petals on your face, until you can see yourself through those eyes, as beloved.
At the core, there is only love and the map you chart. The one you chart, crumple, toss, and chart all over again, navigating mysteries and connecting constellations across the heart of this living planet. The earth is a good place to be. Remember this when you have forgotten. Make this known for you however you can.