Major Arcana II: The High Priestess

The High Priestess from Pagan Otherworlds deck by Uusi Design Studio
Gatekeepers, guardians, travelers between realms: unbind the stones from your feet and sing your life into the deepest part of the river. Listen, listen, listen, as Spirit speaks. You are not separate from any of it.
Your beauty moves in all the changing ways, without knowing who you will be on some other side, which is really always just right here, a black-winged moment, and you, inside it. Your will can’t hold transformation the way it wishes it could. You can only let it take you. If you trust nothing else, trust this. You and your beauty, changing, here and in every in-between.

The High Priestess is a gatekeeper to Mystery, who calls for us to access our intuition and innate wisdom from the depths of our psyche. She is the keeper of ancient knowledge passed down through the ages, who reminds us that surrender is sacred. She sees all as a wise observer, all-knowing yet neutral, a cosmic queen who walks the earth, moving like water between realms. She is visible when she wishes to be, and cloaks herself in the same breath if her intuition calls for it. The High Priestess honors the liminal, the ephemeral, and the empty spaces yet to be filled. She speaks to us of our ever-burning inner flame, kept safe within a temple whose walls hold the records of all that is, was, and will be. She calls us to settle into the unknowing, and let there be space to open into. The High Priestess is an archetype that portrays one aspect of the Divine Feminine, a term that I relate to as the yin essence, the fertile void, the unknown, and the connectivity of all things. Varying expressions of the Divine Feminine blossom and wither from one source of wholeness, as she is a container vast enough for all to exist within her.

A powerful way to explore different expressions of feminine energy and the complex layers of yourself is to dive into archetypes, which is why I love tarot and its connection to mythology. Persephone is a goddess I connect with whose myth tells the story of a maiden (Innocent archetype) torn from her life in the sun with Demeter (Great Mother archetype) and taken against her will to the underworld. But Persephone is also the High Priestess, as expressed through the Dark Goddess archetype. Her story through the patriarchal lens emphasizes her victimhood, diminishing her power as a realm traveling goddess of the unconscious, bravely traversing the shadow realms. What isn’t so widely shared is that she chose to stay in the underworld, and brought back gifts to the light when she was ready to share them, reflected in the changing seasons. She honors our countless initiations and threshold crossings, and our own timing through which we move. She reminds us to move at our own pace, to stand sovereign in our own energy, to own our choices and our power completely. Artemis is another goddess whose energy speaks to both the Wild Woman and Dark Goddess archetypes. She is the one of the woods– embodied, emotive, unapologetic, intuitive, creative, brave, and unto herself, belonging to the moon, the earth and the wild things. Exploring these expressions of the feminine connects me to my soul’s yearning to embody the fullness of me, to arrive here and claim my voice as the witch. The wild one. The deeply feeling healer. The empathic and psychic one. The writer. The creator. The shadow dweller. The light worker. Guardian and guide between worlds.

Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration

What happens when I full on surrender to the present moment? How does accepting myself where I am allow me to actually begin changing? How do my own internal shifts effect change in the world around me?

What happens when I start to get more into my body? How does it feel to find stillness? How does it feel to move my body from that point of stillness? Note the sensations, emotions, and thoughts present.

Who will I be on the other side of another transformation? What will I have to leave behind?

What happens when I show up in the world with all the shadows and light that I know I am? What do I need on a physical and emotional level in order to feel grounded and safe? How am I meeting my own needs in these ways? How am I honoring my own growth and tending to my needs at this point in the process?

How does staying with myself and loving myself through my entire growing process strengthen me? What does trusting myself feel like physically? Does it feel calm, even if I don’t exactly “like” the information I am getting? How can I get myself to a place of calm in order to intuit from a more observational viewpoint? How does observing and witnessing my own experience help me respond, rather than react?

How can I cope with my own insecurities around being truly seen by truly seeing myself? What do I need to feel, accept and love about what I see when I explore myself honestly, so I can be with what is and transmute what I am ready to change? In what ways do I choose to be in alignment with my true needs, rather than in resentment because I am not honoring myself or listening to my intuition?

Will I be able to show up in my fullness without the fear of being “too much?” or  “enough?” What does the cultural programming of “enoughness” look like? How does it affect the choices I make? I willing to disappoint others, rock the boat, and be uncomfortable in order to stay true to myself?

Can I identify when a wounded aspect of me is operating and clouding my judgement? What aspects of me still remain as fragments awaiting full acceptance, unconditional love, and forgiveness? Can I acknowledge them, hold them, and release them with deep love so I can more fully occupy my own body and energy? Can I begin to notice when I am grasping outside of myself for validation to quell inner discomfort? In what ways can I validate myself? How does validating my own experience create more grace and ease in my life?

Affirmations

I belong on this wild, breathing earth. I am capable of holding this great responsibility. I am brave. I am powerful. I call all of my power back to me now. I am safe. I am grounded. I am connected. I am fully resourced and operate from my wholeness. I trust myself fully. I validate my own humanity. I feel my own divinity. I am loving. I am patient, gentle, and honest with myself through the journey, accepting my wholeness as I change. I honor my interconnectedness with all things. I practice responding rather than reacting by slowing down and asking myself what I truly need. I take time to feel what is present for me and I listen. I practice receptivity and openness when my protective pieces urge me to shut down, trusting and loving all facets as sacred. All I need to do is be here, and pay attention to what moves me. I am dissolving every belief and pattern of energy that does not belong to me, and that is no longer mine to carry. I am allowing myself to receive new information about all the ways of being that reflect my truest essence.

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I am continually diving into the way these archetypes are reflections of my being, feeling how they hold and nurture each other, how they are part of a greater cycle, and how they cycle through me in my own phases. Below is some more writing that came exploring these faces of the Divine Feminine.

I went to the water with my heaviness today. This is my secret spot I always go to alone. This water hasn’t flowed here in a very long time. The first water in a drought will conjure up all that has laid dormant, it will run muddy and carry with it tangled branches, and it is not conventionally beautiful or pristine. The first water will bring to your attention all that you wish you didn’t have to see. It will tell you stories you wish you didn’t have to hear. Chasing the light is easier than communing with the shadows. After a little while the clarity comes, the peace comes, if you submerge and surrender for long enough. After a little while you understand that the light doesn’t care to be chased, just respected as an integral piece of the spectrum, a warming ray of what is possible, of who you are at your core. I prayed into the water, washing my hands clean, asking for guidance. She told me to listen, and to trust what I hear. She reminded me that there isn’t a savior beyond our own understanding that we are part of an eternal river’s ebb and flow. There are layers to healing. There is no easy answer or endpoint, just the willingness to pay attention, to feel, and to trust the wisdom of our experience. The more powerful we become, the more we are asked to kneel closer to the earth, and let go, deeper and deeper. The more we allow energy to move through us without resistance, the more we get to experience moments of radiant fullness, connected to our place in the web, strong in our clear presence, humbled by all that is beyond our control. In this state of surrender, we feel empowered to choose our next step. Our hearts will not stop their work of breaking, but we will stop hoping for that anyway. Often the most we can do is honor the water’s wise path, sometimes bone dry, sometimes teeming with life. Listening, trusting, listening, trusting. I trust my body as an extension of the earth, my vision as an extension of her knowing. I trust her cycles and I trust my own. I listen to what calls me further in. I trust presence, the movement that spirals out from stillness. I listen to what I don’t understand. I become the river who always meets the sea.

We are not initiated once, but thousands of times. Many of our leavings and arrivals are barely noticeable, but we notice, and we are changed. We are led, continually, over thresholds we cannot plan for. Divine order changes its tune as we sing along. And the chords we strike, just by being, create cosmic waves. Barely perceptible or earth-shaking, our energetic signatures exist here as an essential part of our collective experience. As we empty the vessel of striving, we make space for what forces desire to come alive through us. It is simply a welcoming. An opening. A walking through. We are merging worlds, grooving gracefully and tumbling foolishly between the accepted and the unacceptable, learning to tone in resonance with Mystery, breaking contracts with which we no longer agree, weaving our stories one revelation and one question at a time. One toe always in the water, inviting the ceremony of entering. The soul is not static. Spirit shifts. Bodies soften and harden with the rivers and tides of time and emotion. The mind is as pliable as it is powerful. We are called to crack open wide, not for ultimate bliss but for ultimate presence, as we leave behind the comfort of knowing and enter the realm of soul that begins at the edge of the woods, at the precipice of comprehension. Transformation asks of us full devotion. It can be terrifying, to let go, yet it is the only thing that ever really happens, awakening in the center of silence. Even stillness changes shapes. But your hands know the heartbeat of everything. You will remember. And it will be beautiful.

 

Major Arcana XVII: The Star

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The Star from The Enchanted Tarot deck by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber

 

 

“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.

 

 

Recommended Reading

 

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

 

Creating A Home Inside

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Home

 

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.

Nurture The Spark: Poetry in Public 

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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
called grace,
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,
disappearing
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
transparent wings-
sending them sliding
down the drain
with the remnants
of this strange day.
I merge with the reflections
of reluctant visitors
in dirty windows,
waiting,
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
without looking,
holding in his yellow fingers
a book,
full with sketches
of dreams
left abandoned
for another day,
like mannequins, naked,
in his window display,
their black eyes and frozen smiles
holding dust draped blossoms
that will never wilt,
unfurling always
into emptiness.
Under the solitary streetlamp
we bump shoulders,
all eyes on the ground,
a dutiful pillar illuminating
our meeting
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,
incandescent beats
and the tiny salvation
of strangers bearing witness
to each other’s
parallel dimensions,
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
left behind
from the rustle of sheets
and shells,
sharp and singing,
the echo of an empty home
built beneath the waves:
foundations of sand
can only shift.
This way,
alone feels whole,
because me in the water,
mine,
and you on the shoreline,
yours.
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
open infinitely
into lightness,
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
of knowing,
unraveling certainty,
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,
the spark
offered by the palm,
to the soil,
into ether.
Make room for the tiny deaths
in those quiet moments,
the ones no one can see
but you:
relishing
the relinquishing,
the rebirthing,
freedom measured
by your aliveness
in the release.

Nurture The Spark: Tarot Inspiration

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Tarot card above: Ace of Pentacles from The Cosmic Tarot

 

Using tarot to nurture the spark, inspire creative mojo, and break up those blocks:

Take a few deep breaths and center in to yourself. Shuffle your deck, draw a card, meditate on it, explore the imagery, experience the emotions or thoughts the card evokes, and start writing! Use the card’s traditional meaning, your intuitive interpretation, experience, and imagination to awaken your innate creative energy and allow it to move through you. You can free write or create something more structured…just start, and keep going, without judging or criticizing what comes through. Surprise yourself, let yourself have fun, free yourself up for discovering something new…the possibilities are endless when we get out of our own way and enter into that space of simplicity and wonder, giving the critical mind a rest. If emotional energy comes to the surface, hold it as a gift, let the waves move through, rising and falling, expanding and dissolving. If writing isn’t your thing, try using the tarot as inspiration for any type of creative expression. The act doesn’t matter as much as the feeling it evokes. Do that thing that calls you into curiosity…that thing that maybe freaks you out, or makes you question yourself, but feels so delicious, expansive, and NOW that you just have to do it! It doesn’t have to be “big” for it to move you. There is no way to do it wrong. Your life is your art. The spark is your connection, your soul, your light. Nurture it.

 

Inspired by the Ace of Pentacles:

I found it
long before I left,
but kept it buried,
eclipsed by doubt
and the desire
for anywhere but here.
Core collapse
informed limbs outstretched
to live the longing
from within,
and in the returning
the green growing star
finally made a nest
in muscle and bone,
burrowing deeper
with each subtle arch
and sway-
coming home to itself,
unearthing
the little seed,
the bright one,
the gift.

 

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Using tarot for journaling:

I highly encourage using tarot as a journaling tool, as I find it to be a rich, layered, and invaluable way to tune into those subconscious undercurrents, bringing elements to the surface that need to seen, felt, held and released if needed. Below is a free-write journaling piece I wrote recently. I pulled a couple cards, but wasn’t feeling totally clear on them, so I meandered outside. While standing there observing the garden, breathing, feeling it all, the meaning of the cards started to settle in, and it felt like a revelation of sorts…the key was, yet again, getting out of my own way, by getting into my body and being present with myself. When I started writing, I knew it wasn’t a masterpiece, but did it matter? Of course not. The point is feeling, being honest, and really there with yourself. Try not to edit or censor…let the words & energy flow, see what comes.

 

I pulled Temperance from the Rider Waite Smith deck & Integration from the Osho deck…which are the same card essentially. So, ok. What a joyful synchronicity in this moment of feeling like my heart is poised for explosion, pulling in more than a few opposing directions. While the Aries new moon calls us in to our bodies, grounded for making confident decisions, I feel anything but confident, at least in confidence’s typical portrayal. I still feel the Pisces pull of my nebulous heart waters, though the land on the horizon is much clearer than the last couple months. How can I anchor in to myself here in these currents, moving forward in loving strides while holding the tension of opposites? Both cards offer the same message for me right now: Balance, Patience & Integration. I stepped out into garden in the rain to cry, because sometimes what the hell else can you do? And feeling, feeling, feeling it all is what I am good at, what my small self would prefer to numb or run from when it feels this big, & what I am giving permission & dedication to now. Feels like: How dying and blossoming  happen together, how roses existing on the same stem, within same root system, can be side by side in different points in their life cycle. How truth can exist within a container that holds seemingly disparate realities. How my anchor is my capacity for settling into the stillpoint, the center of the wheel in flux, without rushing to shut down or numb out to control what I simply cannot. To let it happen. To notice. Here, there’s no urgency, and I smile, because of everything that is blooming, everything I am capable of opening to, accepting, and loving so fully, that I can rejoice in this cleansing rain, bear witness to the totality of my experience, to see & feel the death & rebirth within and around me, feeling really fucking alive, skin prickled, blood flowing, movement in stillness.

For more expressions brought forth by my adventures with tarot + writing, check out my posts on Instagram @_emily_violet_ (posting more frequently there currently due to ease!) Encouraging you always to have FUN & DELIGHT in exploring, living and breathing curiosity, feeling FREE in your unique expression of the magic that is YOU, in all your facets, in all your layers. REAL is beautiful. It doesn’t have to be cute or pretty or shiny or acceptable. Your truth is your beauty, your ground, and your center. Keep going, keep sharing, keep shining, keep creating-just as you are. We need you, you need you.

To Let Love Exist

 

To let love exist. To let it live out its earthly life in the field where horses lay down, where tiny greens come up after a night of rain, gingerly greeting the belly of a beast who has come to its end. The light will dance on its mottled coat, muscles still soft, and we swear we can hear a heartbeat, but it is our own. Following the pulse through darkness, we stoke fires and sing songs, burning all night for the sailors who left in the storm. Ashes and decay enrich the soil of dreams, who grow like tangled vines towards the myth of the sun, whose warmth is now becoming real. We don’t know how we will change in the unfolding, we only know that we will. To let the earthquake of unfathomable beauty bring us to the ground, sculpting our flesh into something magic, into something we can finally love. To let love exist, to let our strange shapes grow into their own, abandoning understanding and blaming and comparing and falling into the trap of certainty. We are more alive than that. The gift is allowing ourselves the rise and fall of our chest, the squeezing between ribs, the warmth and the glow of a heart set free to the world, with no promise of hands who will truly hold it, except our own. Belonging to mystery, we learn to trust the roses that fall at our feet, a path merging into a light so true, we will come to remember it as ourselves. But even then, when these hearts overflow and spill onto the floor, we’ll let them stay there awhile, because the miraculous mess matches the drapes, and a little creature comfort is welcomed in times like these. To let love exist in its natural habitat, the boundless field. To hold the jewel in the wound. To hold it lightly. To hold it sacred.

Nurture The Spark: Active Imagination

 

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Madge Bellamy in a still from the 1922 film Lorna Doone

 

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
through ether
for years,
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,
like remembering,
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,
to shine,
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,
start laughing,
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.
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:
unchained, ugly,
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,
sweet child,
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
with you.
Use every last breath,
bellow every guffaw
like a spitfire pixie,
Untamable,
Unnamable.

Like the sullen organist
who played on Sundays,
whose wife left him for the grocery boy,
I just kept on playing.
I kept coming,
going,
raising hell
with boisterous music
and
I laughed
I dreamed
I wept,
the kind of tears that burn
like heaven.
No one can use my key
to open their door,
skeletons like their own closets best.
Say what you need to say, baby,
and go.

Offering

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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.

Simple Ritual: Every Space An Altar

Some of my treasured altars

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.

Creating Spaciousness With Wonder

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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.