You are not the cardboard cut-out of the “worst thing you ever did.” Your silhouette extends infinitely, your flesh the expression of the desire to stand your ground in mid air, and finally jump. Breathe in & feel in your body your strength of being, even if you are exhausted. Feel the bravery that has carried you to now. The weight lifts knowing you did what you could with what you knew, and you continue forward in wonder. Feel how brutally tender it is to be human. Breathe out any shame that has settled in to your system, transmuting the heaviness with compassionate presence. Some of those experiences you label as “mistakes,” have been catalysts for tremendous growth that stretched you in unimaginable ways. You have taken responsibility for your role, release the rest. Honor the transformations and abandon the fear of “getting it wrong” by making the commitment stop abandoning yourself. Hold yourself as gently as you would a small creature, uncertain and groundless. You are here because you are awakening to something vital, the path unfolding with your own becoming. How closely can you nestle into the anxiety when it rises? Can you walk through the unknown and nurture the primal forces surging through you with a slow, steady softness? Could these currents you resist be the same ones that call you home to yourself? Your body does not lie, and sometimes it speaks so loudly it hurts. Can you get still enough to listen, and act from there? Beyond the comfort of knowing is the wisdom of feeling. My commitment, right alongside you: To hold myself tenderly with unconditional love and compassion. To never abandon myself again, by living in truth to myself through every season, knowing that this is my anchor through it all. To love what is hardest to love, bless what is hardest to bless, feel what is hardest to feel. To hold my heart as sacred and to follow the light within as I move through deeper waters, the golden thread guiding me through this wild darkness with courageous kindness, trusting in flight.
Side note: Sometimes I will look back over things I have written and there is this strange sense of remembering an aspect of self that emerged, and then dissipated, or maybe transformed. The process of writing takes me into hidden realms of psyche, heart, and soul, and sometimes I will drudge something up, express it, and it will call to me later, to be seen and held again, maybe in a new way. The first line of this piece above was a part of a poem I wrote called Lunation…looking back at that poem, I felt like I wanted to expand on that feeling, because it hit me, and it felt so relevant to this moment, here. The living, breathing poem, the pulsing of life through our fragments, the call to reconnect and complete…the wholeness of it all becoming more visible with every step forward and reflection back.
One of my favorite tools for unblocking the flow of creativity and releasing pent up energy is active imagination. Active imagination is a technique developed by Carl Jung, used to bridge the subconscious and conscious mind in order to integrate, understand, and heal all layers of the self. At its core, I see it as a shamanic practice of healing. If we can immerse ourselves in that nebulous space between dreaming and waking, we can process emotions and energy that we may not be consciously aware of, yet still experience in our bodies and minds, below the surface of conscious awareness. One way to do this is through stream of consciousness writing, or free writing, which opens the inner chambers and unleashes that which lies within, waiting to rise to the surface. The act of pen to paper, foot to dance floor, or brush to canvas, without the involvement of the ego’s cries of “What does this mean? Am I doing it right? Am I wrong for feeling or thinking this? Does this make any sense?” is a way of activating those deeper aspects of the self that yearn to be acknowledged and set free. I wrote the poem below during a time when I was processing a heartbreak that shook me to my core. One day I was perusing old photos of my Grandfather’s cousin, Madge Bellamy, a beautiful and talented silent film and stage actress. I found myself sinking in to her experience, entering a sort of meditation, envisioning her life through my own lens: a woman, an artist, whose life was imbued with a certain wild glow, as otherworldly as she was human, traversing light and shadow, beauty and struggle. I started writing without thinking, simply letting the words spill onto the page. I imagined that she was addressing me in a letter, speaking of her own heartbreak, and the spark and grace she embodied that carried her through. What unfolded revealed a well of bottled up energy within my own psyche, and what was at first a puddle of words and images and emotions became this poem: an imagining, a healing.
And in honor of the real woman, Madge herself, without my own romantic projections, her words at age 87, “I’ve avoided all my life the romantic stuff which novels and movies are about. Never went in for that mush. Of course, I’ve missed what most people would call the ultimate human experience. But then, I’ve remained my own person, which at my age is a very satisfying state.”
For Emily, Love, Madge
Arouse them, my darling
Arouse them, but don’t please them.
One day a star will collapse at its core
after billions of years of trying,
and you’ll see that sometimes, love,
it’s wiser to blow up,
and then slink quietly out the back
before they notice what’s missing.
I long begged the sky
for a warm reprieve,
but diamonds are colder in space, my dear
than anyone ever told you.
The summer roses are dead,
and there’s no preciousness left anymore
to water my mouth.
The truth is as smokey as whiskey
and as smooth as the dust
on his letters,
the ones he wrote me like a ghost
long after I had stopped waiting by the window,
shining those pennies at dusk.
I took a fondness to the key
that opened the basement door,
where under the floorboards
I kept the stash of primal laughter,
the kind that felt so good
it turned my guts inside out,
the kind so sweet and slow,
it felt like the first bit of sun
warming early morning lace.
Late at night,
I still walk down the steps into darkness
and pull up the floorboards,
digging for hours,
giving myself a pretty little dirt manicure.
Oh honey I don’t have time anymore
for the nonsense of red polish,
and my lips are stained with stories I never told,
so I scratch and I claw and I howl
and I play my favorite records,
love notes burning
and embers crackling towards the ceiling,
like lovers tumbling together
into perfect illusion.
And on special occasions,
I pull that box of laughter out,
adorning myself in the jewels
of everything I can’t change
but can only cackle about.
I watch myself
as a little girl,
walking along old dirt paths
in thick Texas air,
fireflies dancing like nothing
had ever ripped out their wings.
Toes reach stagnant water,
a whirlpool erupts underfoot.
I go in with wings and prayers,
singing songs at the river
at the top of my lungs,
dirty white dress and ecstatic delusions:
A child just believes what she’s told.
I wanted to leave,
and I did, as much as I could,
angel of the stage and silent screen,
singing silly demons back to sleep.
Truth in her crown,
drunk and dancing,
came and rushed me away.
What ridiculous lines we try to walk.
Arouse them, my darling
Arouse them, but never please them.
Nothing will satisfy the vultures.
They have a job to do,
just give it to them.
We all have a role to perform,
and roadkill makes delicious fodder for
mad dogs and foolish, foolish girls.
I hung my feathers up in the doorway
and reveled in my power
on a stage I built myself,
where no lights
would ever be bright enough
and no man could ever be warm enough
(but oh, my face could sure light up a room!)
I was no foolish, foolish girl.
Stop crying, darling,
spill your emeralds on the ground,
bathe in the poison that rolls off
the false Queen’s wicked tongue,
it’s the antidote to sinking.
Pull yourself together.
The roses are dead,
and everything’s fine.
You said what you needed to say,
even if it was never enough,
you said it.
Sweet girl, you are wiser than you think.
You are stranger and you are stronger
than you let yourself believe.
Be joyful in the wild wood
at the edge of glory:
beautiful and breaking.
Wholeness is a story they tell you
so you keep on trying.
I never wanted to tame
the eager effervescence,
because love meant passion
and passion is a cousin of war.
Walk the tightrope honey,
that funny line that separates
the mad from the sane.
Anyway, what sane person
needs to prove themselves so badly,
they’ll up and steal my key
to the basement door?
It’s not theirs to take.
Some things are yours,
don’t forget it.
They’ll fool you into thinking they know
what you’ve got stored there,
under the floorboards.
But they will never really know.
Take that stash of frenzied laughter
Use every last breath,
bellow every guffaw
like a spitfire pixie,
Like the sullen organist
who played on Sundays,
whose wife left him for the grocery boy,
I just kept on playing.
I kept coming,
with boisterous music
the kind of tears that burn
No one can use my key
to open their door,
skeletons like their own closets best.
Say what you need to say, baby,
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 palm, the spark, the ether and the soil. Leave something behind in this ritual of burning. We will leave everything behind. Become the leaving and the returning, moving through the pathless wood, knowing lightness and burden, the giving up and the eternal longing. Swim blindly in fear and laugh until nothing is left, rising into your own unseen hands, the ones that hold the stars, with eyes for the invisible. Pull out your heart and let it rest on a sunlit stone, warm and beating, poised for the next reckoning. It was always here, the question in the waxing moon, who asks you only to be. Breathe the tidal seething under glassy surfaces, the intricate architecture of desire, knowing it always comes to this: Hold it tightly, and then relinquish everything. An offering.
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 groundedness, a feeling of home. 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– 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, connecting in to the golden thread, bridging earthly and divine, my heart at the center…and every hollow, crevice, ledge, pair of lips, hands, and eyes become shrines, shining us through the darkness.
My affirmation for wonder: I embrace my truth and respect myself as a tidal creature who knows that my dedication to feeling deeply, with wonder and curiosity, is a key to liberation. When I witness and experience myself as love, awakening beyond all shadows, I feel that love as boundless, and I am free.
We hear a lot about hope, but is hoping helpful? What if there is nothing safe about being alive, at least in how we have come to understand “being safe.” In what ways do we keep ourselves entrained in patterns of belief and behavior that dim our light, out of alignment with our truth, because disappointing others or failing to “get it right” feels like too much of a risk? Like Terence Mckenna said, what if the real magic is “hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.” What if feeling safe is more about feeling held, a sensation we can nourish within ourselves, which then nurtures our receptivity to others, and to life. Those moments of constriction, where we feel stuck, where we wish it could be different, are opportunities to choose wonder and curiosity as ways to create (luscious!) spaciousness in our experience.
What would it feel like to become swept away in wonder, rather than pulled under by fear? How much more deeply could we explore the roots of our motivations, if we took a step back to slowly respond rather than quickly react? What if we courageously embraced all of ourselves, and each other, not just the lovely bits? What if we really listened to our bodies, to our hearts, when they communicated with us? What if we could be ok with finding balance and then losing it- returning again and again to that sweet, strange ebb and flow? What if we respected our pain as a teacher? What if we honored difficult relationships and situations as our teachers? What would happen if we could just be there for it. Breathe. Lean into it. Play around with it. Forget everything we think we know, feel into it, and connect with the inherent wisdom within. To be embodied is to be in awe, of the brokenness as much as the beauty, to nestle into the underbelly, a dynamic sort of surrendering—a dance—eye to eye with the movements of the unknowable, wholeheartedly present, creating a gorgeous openness that is unchained from mere hopefulness, anchored in truth.
Maybe our higher selves know something about the broader picture that isn’t initially clear to the monkey mind, but if we keep our fingers on the pulse long enough, we become it- the hawk’s eye view of life’s tidal surges and withdrawals, the frenzy and the stillness, the ever-flowing energy that moves through all. Slowing down to witness this current as it courses through us cultivates a deeper understanding of the rhythmic nature of the universe. We know that the muck will always come to the surface, and instead of frantically trying to pretend its not there, or despairing that things aren’t clear in the moment, we can just observe, without “hoping” that it could be any different than what it is. Ironically, that is where a shift can actually happen! We are fully capable of being with ourselves, feeling where the anger grips the stomach, or where the sadness consumes the chest. If we can understand just one thing, we must understand that it is ok to be exactly where we are; where we find ourselves is where we start from, and it is valuable because it is our experience. When these waves rise up, we can simply become curious about them. Curiosity with a dash of loving compassion quells judgment, both of self and others, opening us to the wonder and possibility in our sticky, sparkling humanness. Pema Chodron’s incredible work has taught me this, and reminded me of the wisdom we always carry within. Her books “The Places That Scare You” and “When Things Fall Apart” are essential reading, in my opinion, and have helped me through some very dark times. Tara Brach’s “Radical Acceptance” is also a goldmine for the tender soul.
If you forget everything else, remember this: You are your own source. It has always been enough. You deserve to know that love you long for, the one you’ve searched everywhere for, except maybe in the shadows of your furthest corners, where those fragments “that can’t possibly be loved” live under white sheets like abandoned ghosts gathering dust. Reveal to yourself what you have hidden. Hold every aching piece who believed staying in darkness could shield them from rejection. Offer yourself to the honey dripping, blossoming, luminous, true blue love, the kind that survives every season, moving through the mess of decay and the promise of tiny greens who push up earnestly through the dark, growing towards the myth of the sun whose warmth is now becoming real. It is safe to wake up from the dream that somebody’s coming to save you, to bust out of the illusion that there’s something to be saved from, or some elusive love, approval, or validation “out there” that’s going to fill the holes that can only be nurtured from the inside. Don’t trip on the untied shoelaces. Untangle yourself. Peel off the roles that have fit you like an old dirty sweater, hanging on by the thread of your agreement to remain attached to an identity that you now know is as mutable as water. Make the choice that is true for you now, not the choice you wish was true, or the one expected of you, but the one you have to make because damn that old sweater and tangled laces have really had their run, haven’t they? Your power thrives in your choice to release what’s been worn, and move forward, however slowly, in the direction of what feels true now. Its ok to be scared, but you can open the curtains and let the light in, it’s been waiting for you to believe in it.
I imagine that I’ve opened my palm to find a sweet yellow bird laying there, wet and worried and wondering. I look down, unaware that it had been there the whole time, and through my resistance to feeling “what is,” my tight grip had cracked its protective barrier. With kindness and compassion, I open my hand, relaxing my muscles with my breath, giving room for blood to flow, for energy to circulate, allowing this tiny being to wiggle around and ruffle its feathers. When I release my hold, I allow space for flight, or rest, or just being- tension soothed by gentleness, love, presence, honesty and some good humor about it all. Maybe hope looks more like that—knowing our ability to shift how we respond to our experience, as an integral part of the tides, moving out and in, with a willingness to allow space, to accept the call into the unknown. Nothing will ever be what we expect it to be, and that just may be the relief we have hoped for. Lightness of being that comes from being fucking real. Yeah, that feels more like freedom. And freedom loves when we do what hasn’t been done. I trust myself the most when I surrender to now and fly heart first into the feeling, however uncomfortable, because that is real, real like a river who is always in flux, who just keeps moving, because it is compelled to, because knows it will somehow reach the sea.
Your spine grows longer against the edge, replacing bone with rock. When it becomes too wide to reach across, and it is only you and your old tales wrapped in leather and leaves, find your anchor, your golden thread. Take with you every singing cell and every emptiness you gave a name to. Morning star catches a ride in your hair & all burning thought is ashes now, sinking under the wings of birds. Let yourself dance through the labyrinth of the beginning, mysterious child of the divine, water-breathing creature of the wind, head thrown back, bones confused by an unfamiliar angle. Muscles used to whiplash are most at home in constriction, & hold their ground until the song comes through, uprooted by the unexpected. Keep moving through, this transformation will cleanse stagnant blood in the mutable river, stones and branches offering vital bruises, skin prickling: alive. You lay old swords down in the inexhaustible flame at your fingertips, forging the in-between way. Dullness has no place here—you are carried by the call into the unknown, treading softly in the darkness, hands gripping lightly, so lightly, to the thread that guides you home.
“Freedom means the power to act by soul guidance, not by the compulsions of desires and habits. Obeying the ego leads to bondage; obeying the soul brings liberation.” Paramahansa Yogananda
In my journey with the Tarot, I feel that The Devil speaks to us about liberation & connecting in to our personal power. My first instinct lately, when I look at the classic Rider Waite version of this card, is to ignore the chains and flames depicted, and focus on the aspect of this card that symbolizes the intoxication of moonlit attraction, playing in the garden of earthly delights, taking pleasure in indulging the intensity of carnal desire…but the shadow side of these physical attachments is becoming shackled to the unquenchable desires we search to satisfy in other people’s wells, in toxic substances, unhealthy relationship dynamics, obsessive thinking & worrying, or the numbing of pain & fear with any kind of escapism, just pick your poison, there’s plenty to choose from. There is also the element of this card that represents people who blatantly abuse their power at the expense of others as a means of control or manipulation. We seek freedom & transcendence but become entangled, confusing temporary escape with liberation. The Devil asks us to reclaim our intrinsic power.
The Devil card depicts The Lovers in bondage, they are standing together, but not in union; there is an imbalance in each individual regarding the in-drawing of the feminine energy and the out-pouring of the masculine; where the Lovers represents empowered union & the sharing of love, The Devil points to an imbalance of power, as in the dynamic of the codependent and the narcissist, where the codependent individual denies his or her own needs to obsessively meet those of a narcissist. The narcissist thus gains their supply of external power, and the codependent individual gains their supply of external power by feeling “needed,” & “valued” by the narcissist, both cut off from their internal well of strength, and essentially their spiritual and emotional freedom…this comparison between the Lovers & the Devil to me reads: Bond vs. Bondage. This aspect of The Devil card can also be exemplified in the psychological manipulation that occurs in religious cults to keep people bound to fear, which ultimately guides them to give their power up entirely & lose any sense of individual identity. When there is a lack of acknowledgment of the inherent connection to source/the all/god/divine/wholeness/the essential self within, there is a perceived separation that fosters the belief that we need to fill ourselves with something, anything, outside of ourselves to satisfy our inherent longing. Longing is the human condition, and it arises from our biological need to belong—to belong to ourselves, and to the collective. Belonging means survival at the most basic level, but there is also the spiritual component–we expand & grow through interpersonal connection. However, when this need for belonging overrides the individual’s own true path, trouble can arise. Vital lessons come to the surface when we are cut off from the “supply” we have come to depend on so we can satisfy some elusive longing. Crisis is usually what it takes to wake us up to our true selves, when we realize that power can only be cultivated from within, & any other method is playing with some destructive forces.
When we are in balance and connected to the essential self, aligned with our true hearts, and replenishing from within rather than grasping outward, we are empowered to bring light to the shackles, so that we may release that which keeps us in patterns of tension and holding. This “holding” is reflected as stagnation in our physical, emotional, & spiritual bodies, affecting the ways we operate in relationship to self & other. “Lucifer” essentially translates to bringer of the light after all, so when we pull The Devil, here lies a rich opportunity to use that light in service of the higher self, or to refuse and thus remain enmeshed with chains of distraction. I believe that this refusal to illuminate the shadow is the undercurrent of all power struggles. When we hold hands with our shadow, we rise into the understanding that this imprisonment is ultimately a matter which can be released with consciousness; it is a balance of relinquising control and acknowledging reality, “what is,” while at the same time taking the reigns of our personal experience. All that festers in the dark pool of denial directs the currents of our lives, creating the urge to blame, to point fingers—a failure to take personal responsibility for what lies within, & a disconnection from the true self.
I love joyfully experiencing the sensual pleasures of being embodied, and this is another aspect of the Devil. Engaging with our sexuality, tuning into our creative energy, self-expression, finding delight in all of our senses, imbibing a little now and then to fuel the fire & dance with the spark, playing around with the energy generated from the tension of temptation…and like anything, it’s all about how we move with that energy—when we use it with with presence, temperance, gratitude, & reverence, it is a healthy & fun human experience, but over indulgence, addiction, and attachment to material items and carnal satisfaction can quickly turn into a rickety carnival ride of flashing lights and hypnotic hits to the system that leave us essentially empty, always needing something more to fill the void. A good question to ask ourselves is, are we seeking immediate gratification or long term fulfillment? How does this action affect our well-being and the well-being of those around us? This engagement with the self simply requires presence with our true needs. I do not wish to tame the innate wildness, nor deny my desire for pleasure, I wanted to be on earth, in a body, and here I am! In fact, I think self judgement is one of the most profound pieces of bondage we seek to be liberated from; and we can see how our own judgment of self is reflected back to us as judgment from others.
Through a fair amount of trial and error (ahhh, ok, maybe more than a fair amount,) I have found what it feels like to anchor into my truth in the moment, to really feel what it is like to trust that I know what I need to do in order to take care of myself in all ways, even when confusion creeps in & I feel groundless. To get to that place of self trust meant breaking free from the bondage of the false belief that my own intuition, mind, body, heart, & soul were not sacred. The Devil calls to us and asks us to take responsibility for our inner life and its outward expression, be honest about our boundaries, wield the sword of discernment; radical self love and self respect require conscious detachment from people, situations, and choices that are draining to our vitality. This is not always process we can do entirely on your own, and sometimes outside help is required, though real & solid help will always be a facilitation of your own personal power, not a replacement with someone else’s beliefs & ideas. Boundaries are freeing; bondage does not serve us to that same end. Honor the way the water has moved through the riverbed, kissed smooth over a thousand years; witness the purpose of this structure, the way it holds the nebulous flow of movement within it.
Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration
What fear-based beliefs and attachments restrain me from embodying the freedom of the Fool– unfettered, boundless & joyful, within the framework of awareness & integrity?
What is my relationship to pleasure? Is there guilt around it? Do I want more of it? How can I cultivate joy & pleasure? What happens when I do not allow myself to experience that which brings me joy & pleasure? How do I feel when I allow myself a fully present and embodied experience of joy & pleasure?
How does judging myself or others for having needs keep me imprisoned? How honest can I be about my true desires? How can my desire set me free?
What does power mean to me? What would it look like to “be in my power?” What makes me feel powerful? What makes me feel powerless? How do I connect to my intrinsic power, the inner strength that is not dependent on any external validation or stimulation?
How can I set boundaries in a way that is empowering, seeing boundaries as an act of self love? How does a lack of boundaries become disempowering and draining of my life-force?
Practice cord cutting ritual or prayer to release fear, blame, resentment & other attachments that drain your precious energy. I call upon Archangel Michael and also the violet flame of transmutation to clear negativity or stagnant, draining vibrations. I ask Archangel Michael to clear away with fierce love anything that is draining my life force or hindering my light, past -present-future, known or unknown, throughout lifetimes, acrosss time and space. I ask that any piece of myself and my power I have given away come home; I ask that anything less than love be dissolved, and that the clear light of divine love heal me and all involved. Calling your power back with cord cutting & clearing are incredible tools to use, centered in love & compassion for the highest good of all.
What happens when I feel I am over-indulging in pleasure seeking activities? What habits and addictions keep me bound? What shifts in feeling, thinking and action need to happen for me to experience the freedom of true self love?
In what ways have I disconnected from my self? What is happening, either internally or externally, when I disconnect from my body, or heart? How do I reconnect with my body, how do I reconnect to my heart?
“Emotion is the chief source of all becoming-conscious. There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.” Carl G. Jung
You can trust that life will reveal itself. Your task is to allow yourself to expand into the revelation. When you come to the altar that sits at the edge of the wild wood, settle into your soft center and take the medicine that gestates inside mystery, merging the seen and unseen with your creative urges. Conjure magic, own your throne, and allow yourself to breathe more freely and deeply inside the truth of who you are. Align with the wisdom, depth, light and dark of your instinctual self. Trust in what is being born through you, and in all the crumbling that makes space for you to arrive to the feast in your fullness. Allow yourself to be touched by the destabilizing destruction that dances alongside immeasurable beauty. To touch the world you must let yourself be touched. Hold every facet of yourself in the glow of the sacred hearth, with gentle kindness and searing honesty, honoring the fear, the grief, the peace, and the pleasure that comes in awakening to your power. Even if you turn them away, you will see them again, mirrored in another shining face, stormy circumstance, or in the stillness of your own reflection. Denial of your radiant wholeness was never meant to work long term, as much as you may have hoped it would, suppressing truth until grace capsized your little boat on a moonless night. Remember how you learned to swim?
Use it all as fuel for expansion, and respect too, the need to contract, integrate, and gather your strength when that is asked of you. Celebrate that there is no turning back, only turning into. This is your vow to be an embodied, emboldened guide through darkness, a bearer of light born from pain, a guardian of soul, a vessel for spirit, a glowing cauldron of all-that-is, heart speaking clearly: “Every piece of you is free to exist here.” A courageous traveler into the realms-we-dare-not-speak-of, and a bringer of truth from the depths. A connector. A questioner. A mystery walker. A forest dweller. A shadow loving moonbeam lighting up a path that leads to some kind of liberation, through every twist and tangle. Follow a heart willing to be unbound by the need for validation, showing up more completely because you witness and hold yourself close first, nestled near the fire in the quiet dark, knowing that beauty lives not only in that heavenly moment of wings-widespread, but in the messiness of loss, the reluctance to let go, and the giving of yourself to the call. Inside this dance you find yourself a part of. Inside this offering.
Let love lead. Stay lit. Stay the course. Stay with what is real. Stay with the changes. Stay with the knowing. Stay with the not knowing. Stay with your courageous heart. Choose it. Trust it. Share from there. Serve from there. Move from there. Your life is your work. Keep Shining. Fling open the door that was never closed to begin with, and notice how the light filtering in through the cracks still pulses, asking you to be present, igniting the spark over and over again, singing you through the dark to the other side. All of you. Together.
I started this in January ’16, first inspired by a magical trip to the Pacific Northwest. But I came back to it in December ’16, deeply moved by a tarot and oracle reading I gave myself, where The Moon, Queen of Wands, The Sphinx and Medusa came to show my some deep layers of my being. The ever-growing complexity of the threads we weave. What will they become?
The path of self love means learning what it feels like to hold hands with black holes, so we can know the difference between spaces that can be filled with music, and those that will swallow us alive. It is taking off the blindfold and setting fire to the manuscripts of old beliefs we have locked in our marrow, igniting ancient stories with a single flame. Self love is smiling as we watch each stained page curl the way our hands do when we grieve, morphing into grey petals that set sail like paper ships into the nighttime sea, living waters bearing witness to the first exhale after years of holding our breath—and then the way it feels to become the tides, filling our lungs again, salty and deep.
Self love is finally understanding there’s no need to catch every ember in our palms just to feel our skin, we will remember–it’s enough to let the burning light in every touch of sweetness & taste of terror fall around us, disappearing into our hair, illumination against the vast and wild darkness. Self love is slowly collecting the threads piled on the floor of the stoic fortress we constructed, just before it collapses, so we can sit at our loom in the ruins and weave a new prayer, leaving one side open, always open. Self love is giving it up and becoming bosom buddies with uncertainty. It is making love to the mystery, taking off the clothes we’ve worn threadbare, and letting the remnants take their course down the river at dawn. Self love is stepping past the shallows and singing our bodies into deepest part of the river, untying the chords that bind stones to our feet, learning to swim unhindered, naked, and loving it.
Self love is unearthing the bones we were sure we had buried so far down, we would never have to see them again. It’s cradling those bones in our arms and loving them because they belong to us, and then softly putting them to rest beneath the moon, full & aching. The web-weavers’ cabaret begins, and we light up the stage, glowing bright like a birthday cake baked for billions, tiny lights dancing in the smoldering summer sky. We release our winged things from their cages, untamable treasures calling for a reflection, so they may learn to see what lies within, until the inevitable shattering clears it all away– the way energy provokes energy in this deliberate movement across the ice bridge, our frozen songs melting into the dark opening between danger and beauty.
Self love is watering the earth with our blood, setting our arms down to clean the heart of tired longings and spastic wiring, freeing our hands to touch the seedlings as they push their way up towards the sun, through layers of history, alive with innocence, weary with knowing. The path of self love means walking alone with our heads down, sure that we’ve learned what it means to rely on nothing but ourselves, then looking up to see the faces of a thousand beloveds walking beside us, loving us into this foreign land. And then we know that self love means forgetting everything we thought we knew, as we rise into a vision of existence where every step forward is the right one, because we chose it, until finally we can fall on our knees at some entryway, bruised & blooming, in reverence to the sacred heart, home.
Inspired by one of my adventures in the mystical landscape of Joshua Tree, California.
Humans have holes. We try to fill them. When our compulsion to control outer circumstances to quell inner doubt doesn’t quite work, we wonder why nothing we planted took root and bloomed the way we dreamed it would, was it the sallow soil, our own failings, or something like divine intervention? We are reminded that there is no easy answer or quick fix that will soothe us deeply enough to make us forget the fundamental insecurity of our existence. But inside the Mystery we can tend to our hearts like a fertile garden, rooting into the dark questions, becoming fortified in the action of growing toward the light. Otherwise, we are lost in a fiery battlefield of misplaced power. We can break free of the story that someone else will swoop in like a faerie tale hero to do the work for us. We can break free of the need to know how our voice can possibly matter, and trusting that it does. We can break free of being complicit in our own oppression by staying silent and hoarding our gold. As the ground beneath us shakes and shivers, our willingness to stay open to our curious creative nature will expand possibilities unseen by those who believe they have the luxury of control and certainty. Sure, tides are predictable, but this storm is wild and if nothing else, it will reveal to us that which can never be taken away. We can harmonize with the depth and strength of our collective spirit, or drown denying the power of the ocean. We must settle into the land of un-knowing and let there be space for unraveling…reveling, even, at the gifts ripening below the surface, electric heartbeats quickening for the openings we can’t see, yet. We must leave a space for waves to crash against hollowness, softening sharp edges…filling, emptying, filling, emptying…breathing through the storm dance, the rhythmic seizing and sighing, then stillness. We must stay gentle with ourselves through the darkness, even when we want nothing more than to run, hide, consume, deny, or turn away. This is a courageous act of self love, and self love is true freedom. Our brilliance is in being. That is all we have to do. Remember.
I started this in January ’16, and came back to it in December ’16, inspired by a tarot reading I gave myself, which is part of a month long series of daily card pulls and journaling that has been opening me in some very rich ways. Here The Devil Reversed, The Queen of Wands Reversed, and the Four of Pentacles came to reveal some insight.