Your spine grows longer against the edge, replacing bone with river rock, eyes with constellations and feet with roots. When it becomes too wide to reach across the churning waters, and it is only you and your old tales wrapped in decaying 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. Dance through the labyrinth of a beginning, or maybe it’s an ending, which is just another name for something new. Mysterious child of the divine, fire-breathing creature of the wind, dressed in the waters that were your original home, let yourself be altered at the altar of your own heart—allow the body to know itself as earth and stars, to move itself into whatever shape it desires to take—this stretching is you growing. Your wings are wide, even when the muscles’ memory of whiplash settles into constriction, holding their ground until your unbroken song comes through.
As you are uprooted by the unexpected, you are welcomed by the infinite. Keep moving through—transformation cleanses stagnancy in the mutable river, as you find yourself embraced by your own skin, prickling as the divine guides you to your edges so you can find your center. Lay battle worn 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, sharpening your brilliance, treading softly as you deepen in the fertile darkness. Your hands will learn what it feels like to grip lightly to the thread that guides you to the room with windows thrown open, where the sun is always aglow.
“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.
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.
“Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.” Barbara Marciniak
The Magician is the second card in the Major Arcana, arriving on the scene after The Fool embarks on his journey. He is an alchemist, who is all about personal power, imagination, and manifestation. You have probably heard the phrase, “As above, so below,” but, what does that mean? The Magician acknowledges that the outer world is a reflection of the inner world. As a bridge, or conduit, of universal energy, he recognizes that being in balance on all levels is the key to creating experiences that serve the highest good of all. He knows he is not separate from the great expanse of all that exists, ebbing and flowing with the cycles of the earth and the cosmos. The journey with this archetype is about a commitment to knowing ourselves and creating what we desire within the natural unfolding, by focusing on working with our own life force. The Magician honors our vision and individual expression as a vital piece in our collective evolution.
A master of the process of manifestation, The Magician reminds us that things can change and come to fruition when we shift internally, aligning our innermost beliefs with clear intentions, and taking action in a state of trust. Healing deep layers of beliefs around lack of worthiness and capability will be a part of this process. This happens in the body and psyche in a feeling (energetic) state, not a thinking state. Positive thinking alone doesn’t change reality if inner work hasn’t taken place. If you can acknowledge where you have tender spots — such as those aspects of yourself that are fearful, resist receiving love, or have the compulsion to lay blame — you can hold them in gentleness, respect them as parts of yourself that serve as protectors, and set them free with unconditional love and compassion, so fresh energy that is in resonance with the experience you desire can exist.
Inner work is alchemy in action—the continual movement and transformation of energy from one form to another. This process is an exploration of where you need to call your power back and focus on your own energy. You will begin to know your wholeness through feeling, loving and integrating all aspects of yourself. Profound shifts can occur very quickly sometimes, but healing takes time, and you will revisit different layers of the same patterns so you can continue to grow, love what is hard to love, and clear stagnant energy to nurture creativity and a deeper sense of aliveness and connection to your own soul.
The Magician knows that embodying change comes down to knowing how to interpret and move energy using his own awareness. A little chakra talk — the Magician activates the will at the center of the belly (the solar plexus) to manifest his soul’s visions in this world. This requires the root and sacral chakras be grounded in order to create from stability and well being — rather than by trying to control outer circumstances to quell inner turmoil. He knows the magic of a loving heart, and his throat chakra is open, trusting, and communicates clearly, claiming space as a creative being and an essential part of the whole. As the crown chakra receives higher wisdom and frequencies, the third eye must be clear and neutral, giving him the ability to see things for what they are, so change can truly happen. The empowered Magician believes imagination is not a frivolity, but a necessity; he takes full responsibility for the energy he brings to any space, and trusts that when he is in alignment, things fall away and into place without forcefulness. Learning and practicing energy management is essential to his self mastery. Understanding his motivation behind why he wants to create something is essential. (Notes: Links below for further exploration on the chakra system, meditation, and the philosophy of magic; Also I use the pronoun “he” for the sake of ease; The Magician represents a masculine expression, but all archetypes are representations that exist beyond gender.)
It takes immense courage and devotion to meet the self, in all its facets, and it often takes much more time to create something than we would like it to. It takes focus just as much as surrender. It also requires remembering that you are whole just as you are, and nothing “out there” will fill you up without this knowing. There is also nothing within you that is not deserving of your full love. With heartfelt, mindful presence, you can feel gratitude for that which is here already.
Remember that the Law of Attraction is worth understanding at its deeper levels, and it gets really whitewashed and glamorized in the “new age” biz; from this shallow and often harmful depiction, the reality of systemic oppression of people of color, women, those who are non able-bodied, neuro-diverse, gay, transgender, etc, is denied, and the experiences of people who are shamed in our society remain unacknowledged. To understand creating your own reality from a deeper perspective, it requires taking into account that the structures our world has functioned upon do not offer an even playing field, and not everyone has equal access to tools that will support their healing and thriving. If someone is continually traumatized by violence, racism, sexism, hatred or poverty, and has little access to support and healing, their ability to “vibrate higher” is limited, and the system can continue to incarcerate, criminalize, and silence them. When society tells you what your worth is based on who you are or what are able to do, and systems are in place to keep you down and make you unsafe, there is a host of problems that are difficult to “manifest” your way out of. Other details seldom explained are that sometimes you manifest just what you wanted, but it no longer fits with where you are in life. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes what you manifest doesn’t look like how you thought it would, but if you trust the feeling of it, roll with it. And sometimes you manifest things that you desire, but are neither prepared to contain nor sustain them. Going slowly, and respecting your own rhythm and divine timing, will ensure that you manifest in a way that truly nurtures you and sets you free in all the ways you want to feel free, along with the collective. Our consciousness can shift very quickly, but changes within the body and societal structures take awhile. Avoid getting into shame or thoughts of “something must be wrong with me” when life gets hard, and no amount of inner work seems to be changing the outer experience. Sometimes it is NOT you at all, it is the world you live in and those who are running oppressive energy and beliefs. The perspective of your higher self reminds you that there is always evolution occurring, often beyond the comprehension of your earthly self. Blaming and shaming yourself or others for not being “right” or “in alignment” only causes further harm. Allow yourself to have your experience, and others to have theirs, even when it is challenging and there are no easy answers or quick fixes. Notice how miracles show up that you could never have expected, as you direct your focus to the now and practice acceptance and non judgment. Let the energy move through self expression. Stay with, and love through. Be a light for the world and listen to those who have been oppressed, and all those pieces of within that have been silenced.
My favorite way to enter into a state of altered awareness in which I can work with my energy to release and “call in” is through meditation. It could be a moving meditation like walking silently in nature, dancing, qi gong, breath work; getting into a creative zone; receiving bodywork and energy work; doing a sound meditation like drumming or singing; or laying down listening to a guided meditation with visualizations, or just simply being with the present moment— anything that allows me to be fully with myself and in my own energy. Find what works for you, as that is where true magic happens. The marvelous thing is that you get to adjust your own vibration to create change in the environment. Shifting your perception, and thus your experience, is always possible.
Once you feel clear, spacious, and balanced, get still, and allow yourself to feel your desire in your body; expand on this feeling, let it flow through, and let it settle in. Your experience is sculpted from here. In addition to the above practices, I call upon my higher self, and ask my guides and angels to help me clear away anything that is hindering the flow of my life-force across time and space. I ask any pieces of myself that I have given away to come home. I ask that anything less than love and truth be dissolved, and that the clear light of love heal me and all beings. I ask that universal life-force energy move freely through me, anchoring light, so I can be a channel of goodness in the world.
Then, I let it all go. It is all a beautiful experiment, and mostly a practice in love and trust. Stay in awe. Stay grounded, neutral, and trust the timing and the process. Go make magic!
Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration
If the core of reality and who you are is formless awareness, and all the stuff of your daily human experience “accessories,” then you can imagine that magic is not unlike redecorating the set of the movie that is your life. Center into your energy. Visualize what is. Clear your energy. Feel into your dreams. Visualize them. Write about what you would like to create in this current act of your life. Write about how you would love to see your life in 2, 5, or 10 years. You can also create imagery through collage, painting, or drawing on a vision board. Have fun with it. Your dreams don’t have to be grand to be meaningful to you and the world. What you are pulled towards means something. What interests you means something. Envision. Explore. Shift. Actualize.
Example: I believe I am a creature of unbridled joy in every cell of my being. I intend to create joy from the inside out and experience joy wherever I find myself. I will engage in activities that bring me joy. I will move this energy to shift any perceptions, which helps me make changes where I feel a lack of joy in my everyday life. I trust in my capacity for joy. I trust in the divine to support me. I let go of expectations and receive miracles, feeling my way through. I am grateful for the joy that is here now. I follow signs and synchronicity and revel in the joy that brings. I get curious about joy.
Once you begin to write, draw, or collage your visions, do you notice if any resistance is coming up? What needs identifying, accepting, loving, and releasing so you can shift into a wider field of possibility? Can you notice how the resistance is showing you something important about what you may need to explore more? Do you notice how exploring these sticky places creates space for new visions and ideas to come in?
How deeply can you surrender to the natural unfolding of your life, beyond your own expectations? What does it mean to be a co-creator, bridging human and divine will? Write about what destiny means to you.
In what ways can you engage with your experience as a piece of living art? What adjustments do you want to make to your moving masterpiece?
How does engaging in creative pursuits open you to more energy and inspiration to work with? How do you deal with a lack of inspiration, and get those creative juices flowing again? Do you notice how “doing nothing” increases receptivity to inspiration?
My creative practice is simple: make space, pay attention, and go for it. I get into the moment to quiet the over-thinking mind who wonders whether the expression “is good enough,” or “makes sense,” instead letting what wants to be, just be– what I call releasing our winged things from their cages. Create now, refine later. Even just gently noticing, or scribbling notes, can be like planting seeds that will grow in their own time. Follow inspiration over judgment (you simply cannot get creativity wrong, what a relief!)
If you are divinity or consciousness experiencing itself through the lens of your particular human embodiment, how will you use this awareness to create a variety of experiences that bring you and the world around you more beauty, joy, truth, freedom for all?
The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy of Personal Transformation by Dennis William Hauck
Bringers of the Dawn, Teachings of the Pleiadians by Barbara Marciniak
“Each time you meet an old emotional pattern with presence, your awakening to truth can deepen. There’s less identification with the self in the story and more ability to rest in the awareness that is witnessing what’s happening. You become more able to abide in compassion, to remember and trust your true home. Rather than cycling repetitively through old conditioning, you are actually spiraling toward freedom.” Tara Brach
“As above, so below; as below so above.” The Kybalion, Principle of Correspondence
“Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen
The Major Arcana in the Tarot is a series of 22 cards that follows The Fool’s Journey, or as Joseph Campbell called it, The Hero’s Journey. Each of the cards in The Major Arcana depicts a symbolic expression of the human experience, called an archetype. Engaging with the energy of each archetype helps us connect to soul and be present in our own evolution.
The Star is the 17th card in the Major Arcana, coming to us as the soothing light and transcendent energy after a passage of darkness — illumination in a time of far-reaching transformation. The Star pours celestial medicine down upon our tired souls. We drink deeply of her generous offerings, bathed in blessings that purify, cleanse, and soothe — a peaceful salve on our wounds as we kneel by the riverbank, dawn breaking on the horizon after a dark night of the soul. There is a sigh of relief, as we open our eyes and see that nothing is as it once was; we have been transformed and thus the world sparkles a little differently around us.
Like a newborn child with ancient memories, our skin is new but we are tender, our inner scars echoing stories of the difficult journey. Wobbly-legged and bright eyed, we are given a chance to begin again, to wake up to the wonder of a new beginning. Our task is to stay open and receptive to the abundant gifts and blessings offered to us now. The Star tells us we have known the groundlessness of profound change– what it means to doubt ourselves, to feel lost in caverns of uncertainty, to not know what it feels like to trust ourselves or others. When we have lost faith in the unfolding of our lives, and wondered what the purpose is in the struggle, the Star reminds us that we have been forged in the fires and are being offered reprieve on the other side. The light has returned.
Through these trials we have encountered the divine spark within that remains no matter what has been stripped away. Here we know the truth of our basic goodness, our light, and our beauty; we have touched the essence of who we are, that can never be taken from us. We carry a renewed sense of intuitive awareness, and a sense of calm that tells us all is meaningful. There is a richness in this place, an opportunity to open to a greater sense of connection to our true selves, to each other, an awareness of our integral role in the web that we weave together. The Star brings us into alignment with self-trust, self-esteem, and purpose. It carries a visionary energy that attunes us to otherworldly wisdom, ideas, and creative energy, the kind that pours through us like a fountain of inspiration. The Star encourages us to understand our worth, and to share generously our gifts with others, without fear of how we will be received. We are encouraged to stay open to miracles, and to know our divinity, shining from the innermost vaults of our being; we are empowered to trust in our highest hearts, to have faith in the magic that we are, and in the visions that call us and the collective into deep healing and renewal.
Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration
Unhealed parts of ourselves will hinder the clarity of our intuition. Our intuition is in its optimal state when we have lovingly called home our wounded fragments and are standing inside our wholeness. Can you explore what your intuition feels like in your body, when you are coming from a place of wholeness? What does it feel like when you are acting from a wound or a fragment? Can you identify your protective pieces? Offer compassion to yourself here, before reacting from here. Can you identify the neutral space of intuitive awareness? Act from here. Note that making snap judgments is not your intuition at play; judging others is a key to where you can go in and work on healing a wound; intuition feels like a calm, and neutral awareness.
As you continue to heal, and trust yourself more and more, your intuitive abilities will get stronger and more clear. How does self-nurturing and healing bring you into a deeper state of self trust?
How are you receiving the blessings that are being offered to you? Clearing and reprogramming old beliefs and patterns, held on subconscious, physical, and energetic levels, is important so you can fully show up and receive the beauty of a new beginning. After a time of profound change, it can be difficult to accept the peace, beauty, and love that is being offered. First of all, know that it is a process and one that takes time. Healing is about integration of all aspects of our experience, not banishing any part of it.
One tool for receptivity is asking your higher self what affirmations or shifts in thinking and feeling would help reframe your experience. (For example: I am safe, I am whole, I am loved, I am powerful, I belong, I am free, I am receptive, I trust myself, I love myself, I am excited for this newness unfolding, I surrender to the flow of life, I gracefully accept the love and blessings being offered, absorbing them graciously and lovingly into every cell of my being, etc.) Write your own affirmations and practice them daily along with committed self-care, as you let the new information settle into your system as fresh beliefs and perceptions. The light you consistently bring in and embody will illuminate and flush out old and unnecessary patterns as you grow and come into your new way of being. Bodywork, breathwork, energy work, rest, creativity, exercise, time in nature, time with friends, time alone, laughter, and tears can all be forms of self-care. Slow down and ask yourself what you need right now, and trust the answer. Ask your guides and angels for healing and support if that resonates with you. Also, reach out for professional help if you need it; healing needs a safe container and there are healers, therapists, and teachers with extensive experience and training who can assist you. Find those who are in integrity, well-trained, and who fit well with you. Cherish yourself as you would a small child, practice compassion and gentleness. Start where you are. We are dancing through new territory all the time, riding the waves. Sometimes it is slow, soft, sometimes it is intense and feral. It is all vital, and it is all ok. Your experience is valid. Take your time.
How can you commit to a practice of gratitude? What are you grateful for right now? What are you grateful for in the morning? Before bed? Can you be present with your struggles and be grateful for how they break you open, expanding your capacity to receive? How can you stay grateful for the simple things, even throughout the toughest trials? How does celebrating the little moments of love and beauty awaken you to your true self? How does a daily gratitude practice shift your perception of your reality?
Write about your experience with miracles. What miracles have restored your faith in a higher power, in your higher self, or in some divine orchestration? Or, do you see miracles in a different way? Do you witness the cycles of the earth and your own body as some miraculous and mysterious unfolding? How can you live so as to believe yourself to be a miracle, and every breath another opportunity to create and experience more miracles? How can you appreciate other people as miracles? How can you shift your daily routine or beliefs so as to expect miracles on a daily basis?
In what ways do you care for your body? Your mind? Your spirit? Your heart? What does a daily commitment to self-care and self-love look like? How do you cherish yourself? How are you devoted to you?
Have any insights, ideas, or visions been coming to you? Are you noticing synchronicities, messages or patterns that keep showing up? Is there any resistance to trusting the intuitive messages you are receiving? What emotions or pieces of yourself need to be acknowledged, felt, loved, and integrated, so you can be an open channel of light, wisdom, and love? What you notice is important. What you feel is important. What comes up for you matters. Write down anything that comes to you that feels meaningful, without any care as to whether it makes sense. Or dance, sing, paint, cook, make love, make an altar, do free form yoga, garden, etc, to get into the flow. Let the insights, ideas and inspiration come through you, as if you are a vessel of magic (because you are!) See what happens when you let your creative energy move without judgement. See how trusting your intuition sharpens it. Stay curious and open to beauty and joy. Shine just as you are.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron
You don’t have to understand it to feel it. It’s enough to pause when the air changes direction just to touch your face, to simmer in the heat that brews in your belly and rises to meet wet cheeks, wrapped in the warmth of being, cooled by the chill of the question. Oak speaks with wind and sunlight, and you hear them say, beauty isn’t reserved for the palatable, the acceptable, the understandable. Every tangled twig, sharp edge, and determined arch bears a reminder of the bending and the reaching, toward water or light or earth, somewhere to belong between roots and sky, somewhere to set your arms down, somehow to know self in other. You must hold yourself close first in order to offer anything, anywhere. You might begin with the spilling of your heart on the hearth of an old, old friend, living or in ether, who offers no answers, just the space to be. Between the words that won’t come are the eyes with a saltwater shine, who dive straight inside the empty spaces to say, “I know how deep this all goes, straight back to the beginning, before everything, back to the love we come from, to where the ache comes from too, back to the place we will rest now, wordless, resolution-less, wonder-filled.”
And then we celebrate this pulse that carries us, the force that holds us close in even in the leaving, in between the laughing and the crying, over meals with flowers and candles who flicker like we do, ever in motion, burning, alive and fading. Gratitude is too small a word for the chance to have known the beauty of us being here, together. Then there is a postcard from a faraway friend that shows up just in time, because if you ever forget this bottomless spring of forever love we are made of, you will remember now that you never had to search it out. It was here, it has always been here, and when we are gone, it will be still.
This is it—your being here, your experiencing this, now, not as you had imagined it, but the raw reality of what-is-really-happening, moving through a moment that pulses with the colors of every moment, felt as only you can feel it, lived as only you can live it. And there, there’s that stillness to settle into, the stillness that is never truly still, the miracle of creating a home inside your own vision, a place to thrive on this wild earth, the awareness of the gift of this flesh deepening wherever you land. The only thing between your inner wise one and your inner wounded one are your loving hands, extended forth, introducing one to the other. They will recognize themselves in each other, and it will feel like coming home. Don’t deny either one the remembering, of where the other came from, and where from now on, they can go together, hand in hand, wisdom guiding pain into deeper acceptance, pain guiding wisdom into deeper waters. Your living light is expanding at your center, into the space and softness where you and the mystery breathe each other. And now all of creation is singing into the bottoms of your feet, the sound vibrating through the ends of your hair, about the radiance of becoming, about the purpose you set out for, and the purpose whose layers will unfold in their own time, in this continual coming home, this ever-opening state of revelation.
A message from Inanna, The Sphinx, Ix Chel, Justice, and the Queen of Wands
You belong in your becoming, you belong in your blooming, you belong in your dying. In the shadows, your clarity of purpose will be visible through light-filled eyes. Open to faith in the materializing and surrender to disintegration. The breaking down breaks you open in service of awareness and integration, obliterating outdated patterns and easing you into equilibrium. Your response to your experience in every moment becomes your life. Stay gentle inside your soft center, with all those pieces that don’t know yet how they will let go, or where they will go when they do. Maybe there is nowhere else to get to that isn’t here already. Maybe grace comes alive in the un-knowing. Remember when your knees buckled and you fell to the earth? That was when you called it in, arms open wide, because there was only one way to go at that point: the way of the miracle. Imagine you are a vessel of spirit, and that magic lives not only in those heavenly moments of wings-widespread, but in the messiness of loss, the reluctance to release, and the moment of freedom, as you offer yourself to the call, following the current that pulls you deeper and deeper in.
What is ripening now, just below your glassy surface, or just below the crackling surface of your beloved Mother Earth, nurturer of creation and conductor of destruction? If you are her wise seed pulsing with potential in the dark of the moon, how potently are you experiencing each sensation? What twinges and aches call your breath to deepen and your pace to slow? How free are the butterflies in your belly, and how warm is the fire in your chest? Are you allowing goosebumps and uncontrollable, inappropriate laughter, dancing, and tears? Are you welcoming stillness, quiet, and dreaming into nothingness? What are you letting yourself feel in the caves of your inner being? If you get quiet enough, can you feel what you have been denying? Can you feel your longing? The Sphinx, Egyptian guardian of Mystery, tells us there is no riddle to be solved that is separate from the self. Let the mind rest, allowing tendrils of emotion and vision to expand in your core, which is the core of the earth, and the roots that grow through your feet are the ancient roots. Let it die, let it grow. Decay enriches the soil of dreams.
You will be revealed here in beauty. Inanna, Sumerian goddess, tells you that each garment stripped in your descent into darkness has shown you the glimmering, groaning underbelly-self, whose tenderness expresses itself in all-the-ways, the-fearful-ways, the-angry-ways, the-beauty-torn-weeping-ways, the-love-worn-wise-ways, the-essential-ways. Ix Chel, Mayan deity, moon goddess of becoming, honors all phases as vital. She is the jaguar who sees past nightfall, sleek, piercing, knowing and silent until it is time. She is medicine woman, midwife, creatrix, and weaver. And the Queen of Wands comes again, another passionate, creative, confident, feline one, free and bursting forth with the radiant sun. They call for you to celebrate the return of the light, earth tilting just so, moon reflecting sun, each integral piece welcomed home. Thank your ancestors’ wisdom, all that has brought you here. Thank your shadows and receive your gifts from the depths. Thank your not-knowings. Thank your certainty. Thank your cycles. Set down what cannot be carried past this point. You will not abandon yourself or your beloveds, but you will respect your capacity, and bring only what is needed for the next leg of the journey.
As the scales find stillpoint, true inner power is understood and fully claimed. Drink the sweet, dark moonsugar. Feel the shifting structure of memory. Pyramids and treasure, star roots, scars, new skin, and the light of hope that blooms from blood and fear. Lightbeam eyes and puddle-jumping hearts. Communion across time and space. Past life convergence and relentless miracles. What can’t be explained. What mustn’t be repeated. Origins. Healing. Transience. Connection. Belonging. Longing. Need. Desire. Loving you. Loving me. Loving this fucking insane, suffering world, shadows lit up. Filling, emptying. Staying close to feeling. Admitting it. Accepting it. Breathing. Loving what can’t be unfelt or unseen. Somehow. Finding your way. Illumination is not for the faint of heart. But remember this: you are creating the pathway forward, dreaming in the brave-and-true, wholly-holy-ways, holding your humanness, holes and all.
Whether you have never written a poem down in its “traditional” form, or whether you write all day long, poetry lives in the determined sway of your hips as much as it lives in the way you notice morning’s first light falling across the windowsill. It is alive in your hesitance to throw away a broken vase that once held the roses of your grandmother’s garden, and in the way you question if that memory was a dream or waking life. It is the way your belly churns when you find yourself longing for something that has always been undefined, the way an untamed energy moves through you when the wind billows across the back of your neck, the way communing with a wild creature wakes up your own wilderness. You will find it in the way you surprise yourself with how good it feels to be alone, and how you now smile at the graceful undercurrents of a fucked up situation, the way you come to acceptance, like a clearing in a tangled wood. It is the way you open your heart and part your lips to feel, really feel, someone you love leaving, and the way you continue loving. It is the way you leave in order to return home to yourself. It is the way you see the market scene bustling before you, unknowingly entering another timeline where the same scene has played out for hundreds of years, the way the same eyes will continue to meet each other in different bodies, though only some can recall why they feel like they’ve been here before. Your poetry is how you gently touch those openings you can’t see yet, the ones you can feel: electric, pulsing, warm. It is the way you let go of the withering pieces, the way you live out the call of your own strangeness, the way you escape, the way you belong, the way you forget, and the way you remember.
Your poetry lives in the spaces where interconnectedness is revealed. It is the raw imagining, the blooming, the decay, the edge, the soft center, the torch that illuminates the unseen path. It is the soft sigh and the scream, the stillness and all that only moves. It is the dance that moves your tired limbs into a joyful frenzy, and the song that gives you goosebumps, relieving heavy lungs. It is uncontrollable laughter, and stepping into other dimensions between breaths. It is expansion, contraction, softening, and rigidity. It is the riding of the wave, and the observation only you can have. Your poetry is you noticing your place in it all, and how it shifts like the seasons. It is you showing yourself the way.
Here are a few recent poems I have written, impromptu and imperfect, voices from the place within where mystery and imagination brew and bubble. If our poetry is how we witness the world and our place in it, then we are constantly creating something extraordinary from the mundane. See how none of it is mundane. Feel the miracle of your aliveness. Scribble notes in that weathered little notebook while you wait in the doctor’s office; stop to sit on the rock you almost tripped over, below the great oak tree, and channel its message; or use the pause before the train comes to write down in your phone notes what has captured you. Perfection is an uneventful myth. Create in the spaces in between. Refinement can happen later. Noticing never gets boring, and you are a vibrant, living poem.
Poem at the Laundromat
This is not vitriol,
no, this is that thing
the one I answer to
when velvet buttons
undone by thoughts
in the curtained room
at 3 am remind me
there’s no turning back,
only turning into.
No this is not vitriol,
this is the underwater sting
at first light,
the one I open lace eyes to
when the shedding skin
comes to its final layer
and I slip between stones,
the same way you found me
(there will be no explanation,
just a taste in your mouth,
like metal and flowers.)
This is not vitriol,
no, this is the fluorescent light
on a Tuesday at 9 pm,
the one that burns
sending them sliding
down the drain
with the remnants
of this strange day.
I merge with the reflections
of reluctant visitors
in dirty windows,
the clothes they carry
on burdened backs
masking sacred hearts
never fully mended,
just washed clean.
Poem in the City
It’s past midnight
when the shopkeeper locks up
and walks away,
crossing the street
holding in his yellow fingers
full with sketches
for another day,
like mannequins, naked,
in his window display,
their black eyes and frozen smiles
holding dust draped blossoms
that will never wilt,
Under the solitary streetlamp
we bump shoulders,
all eyes on the ground,
a dutiful pillar illuminating
past the glass and the asphalt
and the lonely bodies curled
next to strange puddles,
where a second’s glance
becomes an intersection,
two lives breathing
into the space where
the unlived shines.
And then we are dancing,
and the tiny salvation
of strangers bearing witness
to each other’s
just before I turn left,
and in different directions
we both walk home.
Poem at the Ocean
The ocean came to the window tonight
and I let her in
with the moon on her back,
a bundle of silver and seaweed stories
pouring into the silence
and the impression
from the rustle of sheets
sharp and singing,
the echo of an empty home
built beneath the waves:
foundations of sand
can only shift.
alone feels whole,
because me in the water,
and you on the shoreline,
And I think of how
the remembering at dusk
shapes the forgetting
in the morning,
how mermaids and mortals
insist on returning here,
as predictable as the tides,
because water asks the questions
there are no answers to,
and I want to be wet
when I awaken.
Poem at the Cemetary
You can hold on to nothing here.
Let your still beating heart
and tender skin
as if it were a gift,
as if your one duty here
was to give Spirit
a chance to experience breath
through lungs and limbs,
dancing along the edge
expanding into every crack.
And when you die,
and they bury you,
the earth can sing your life
through what grows
from your bones
and your song
will never be lost,
offered by the palm,
to the soil,
Make room for the tiny deaths
in those quiet moments,
the ones no one can see
by your aliveness
in the release.