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.
“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 small children this makes sense. We are made to exist in relationship; 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, and by knowing our inherent worthiness. As women, 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 whether that means 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. The new paradigm, and one I have worked for in my own life, is one of community, collaboration, self-care, slowing down, reconnecting to the body, the earth, emotions, and creative energy. We are healing thousands of years of patriarchal programming that creates an environment where competitive, dominant, and conquering behavior is the way to finding power. Paradoxically, we are taught to repress ourselves and stay small and quiet. We can see the harmful effects of this paradigm in racism, sexism, rape 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 women; and in order to be powerful women, we have to compete with each other. Men 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. 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 you keep outside yourself. Turning to the heat of our own hearth and inner sanctuary, we will remember who we are. To express the light of our hearts, we must continually turn inward and offer love to those pieces still in hiding— allowing them to be however they need to be. Compassion deepens self trust, and is vital as we come into stronger resonance with the magic of our life force. Without devotion to the inner anchor, we remain complicit in the systems and programming that do not honor individual power and expression, even if they appear to. Strength does not seek domination but rather to be expressed with such fullness that it empowers everyone around them to be free to express the fullness of their being. We can practice graceful engagement with the parts of us that are scary, that need tenderness, and that hold the light of our passions.
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
Gatekeepers, guardians, travelers between realms: unbind the stones from your feet and sing your life into the deepest part of the river. Listen, listen, listen, as Spirit speaks. You are not separate from any of it.
Your beauty moves in all the changing ways, without knowing who you will be on some other side, which is really always just right here, a black-winged moment, and you, inside it. Your will can’t hold transformation the way it wishes it could. You can only let it take you. If you trust nothing else, trust this. You and your beauty, changing, here and in every in-between.
The High Priestess is a gatekeeper to Mystery, who calls for us to access our intuition and innate wisdom from the depths of our psyche. She is the keeper of ancient knowledge passed down through the ages, who reminds us that surrender is sacred. She sees all as a wise observer, all-knowing yet neutral, a cosmic queen who walks the earth, moving like water between realms. She is visible when she wishes to be, and cloaks herself in the same breath if her intuition calls for it. The High Priestess honors the liminal, the ephemeral, and the empty spaces yet to be filled. She speaks to us of our ever-burning inner flame, kept safe within a temple whose walls hold the records of all that is, was, and will be. She calls us to settle into the unknowing, and let there be space to open into. The High Priestess is an archetype that portrays one aspect of the Divine Feminine, a term that I relate to as the yin essence, the fertile void, the unknown, and the connectivity of all things. Varying expressions of the Divine Feminine blossom and wither from one source of wholeness, as she is a container vast enough for all to exist within her.
A powerful way to explore different expressions of feminine energy and the complex layers of yourself is to dive into archetypes, which is why I love tarot and its connection to mythology. Persephone is a goddess I connect with whose myth tells the story of a maiden (Innocent archetype) torn from her life in the sun with Demeter (Great Mother archetype) and taken against her will to the underworld. But Persephone is also the High Priestess, as expressed through the Dark Goddess archetype. Her story through the patriarchal lens emphasizes her victimhood, diminishing her power as a realm traveling goddess of the unconscious, bravely traversing the shadow realms. What isn’t so widely shared is that she chose to stay in the underworld, and brought back gifts to the light when she was ready to share them, reflected in the changing seasons. She honors our countless initiations and threshold crossings, and our own timing through which we move. She reminds us to move at our own pace, to stand sovereign in our own energy, to own our choices and our power completely. Artemis is another goddess whose energy speaks to both the Wild Woman and Dark Goddess archetypes. She is the one of the woods– embodied, emotive, unapologetic, intuitive, creative, brave, and unto herself, belonging to the moon, the earth and the wild things. Exploring these expressions of the feminine connects me to my soul’s yearning to embody the fullness of me, to arrive here and claim my voice as the witch. The wild one. The deeply feeling healer. The empathic and psychic one. The writer. The creator. The shadow dweller. The light worker. Guardian and guide between worlds.
Ideas for Journaling and Self Exploration
What happens when I full on surrender to the present moment? How does accepting myself where I am allow me to actually begin changing? How do my own internal shifts effect change in the world around me?
What happens when I start to get more into my body? How does it feel to find stillness? How does it feel to move my body from that point of stillness? Note the sensations, emotions, and thoughts present.
Who will I be on the other side of another transformation? What will I have to leave behind?
What happens when I show up in the world with all the shadows and light that I know I am? What do I need on a physical and emotional level in order to feel grounded and safe? How am I meeting my own needs in these ways? How am I honoring my own growth and tending to my needs at this point in the process?
How does staying with myself and loving myself through my entire growing process strengthen me? What does trusting myself feel like physically? Does it feel calm, even if I don’t exactly “like” the information I am getting? How can I get myself to a place of calm in order to intuit from a more observational viewpoint? How does observing and witnessing my own experience help me respond, rather than react?
How can I cope with my own insecurities around being truly seen by truly seeing myself? What do I need to feel, accept and love about what I see when I explore myself honestly, so I can be with what is and transmute what I am ready to change? In what ways do I choose to be in alignment with my true needs, rather than in resentment because I am not honoring myself or listening to my intuition?
Will I be able to show up in my fullness without the fear of being “too much?” or “enough?” What does the cultural programming of “enoughness” look like? How does it affect the choices I make? I willing to disappoint others, rock the boat, and be uncomfortable in order to stay true to myself?
Can I identify when a wounded aspect of me is operating and clouding my judgement? What aspects of me still remain as fragments awaiting full acceptance, unconditional love, and forgiveness? Can I acknowledge them, hold them, and release them with deep love so I can more fully occupy my own body and energy? Can I begin to notice when I am grasping outside of myself for validation to quell inner discomfort? In what ways can I validate myself? How does validating my own experience create more grace and ease in my life?
I belong on this wild, breathing earth. I am capable of holding this great responsibility. I am brave. I am powerful. I call all of my power back to me now. I am safe. I am grounded. I am connected. I am fully resourced and operate from my wholeness. I trust myself fully. I validate my own humanity. I feel my own divinity. I am loving. I am patient, gentle, and honest with myself through the journey, accepting my wholeness as I change. I honor my interconnectedness with all things. I practice responding rather than reacting by slowing down and asking myself what I truly need. I take time to feel what is present for me and I listen. I practice receptivity and openness when my protective pieces urge me to shut down, trusting and loving all facets as sacred. All I need to do is be here, and pay attention to what moves me. I am dissolving every belief and pattern of energy that does not belong to me, and that is no longer mine to carry. I am allowing myself to receive new information about all the ways of being that reflect my truest essence.
I am continually diving into the way these archetypes are reflections of my being, feeling how they hold and nurture each other, how they are part of a greater cycle, and how they cycle through me in my own phases. Below is some more writing that came exploring these faces of the Divine Feminine.
I went to the water with my heaviness today. This is my secret spot I always go to alone. This water hasn’t flowed here in a very long time. The first water in a drought will conjure up all that has laid dormant, it will run muddy and carry with it tangled branches, and it is not conventionally beautiful or pristine. The first water will bring to your attention all that you wish you didn’t have to see. It will tell you stories you wish you didn’t have to hear. Chasing the light is easier than communing with the shadows. After a little while the clarity comes, the peace comes, if you submerge and surrender for long enough. After a little while you understand that the light doesn’t care to be chased, just respected as an integral piece of the spectrum, a warming ray of what is possible, of who you are at your core. I prayed into the water, washing my hands clean, asking for guidance. She told me to listen, and to trust what I hear. She reminded me that there isn’t a savior beyond our own understanding that we are part of an eternal river’s ebb and flow. There are layers to healing. There is no easy answer or endpoint, just the willingness to pay attention, to feel, and to trust the wisdom of our experience. The more powerful we become, the more we are asked to kneel closer to the earth, and let go, deeper and deeper. The more we allow energy to move through us without resistance, the more we get to experience moments of radiant fullness, connected to our place in the web, strong in our clear presence, humbled by all that is beyond our control. In this state of surrender, we feel empowered to choose our next step. Our hearts will not stop their work of breaking, but we will stop hoping for that anyway. Often the most we can do is honor the water’s wise path, sometimes bone dry, sometimes teeming with life. Listening, trusting, listening, trusting. I trust my body as an extension of the earth, my vision as an extension of her knowing. I trust her cycles and I trust my own. I listen to what calls me further in. I trust presence, the movement that spirals out from stillness. I listen to what I don’t understand. I become the river who always meets the sea.
We are not initiated once, but thousands of times. Many of our leavings and arrivals are barely noticeable, but we notice, and we are changed. We are led, continually, over thresholds we cannot plan for. Divine order changes its tune as we sing along. And the chords we strike, just by being, create cosmic waves. Barely perceptible or earth-shaking, our energetic signatures exist here as an essential part of our collective experience. As we empty the vessel of striving, we make space for 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.
“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.
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.
informed limbs outstretched
to live the longing
and in the returning
the green growing star
finally made a nest
in muscle and bone,
with each subtle arch
coming home to itself,
the little seed,
the bright one,
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 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 theiy 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.
One of my favorite tools for unblocking the flow of creativity and releasing pent up energy is active imagination. Active imagination is a technique developed by Carl Jung, used to bridge the subconscious and conscious mind in order to integrate, understand, and heal all layers of the self. At its core, I see it as a shamanic practice of healing. If we can immerse ourselves in that nebulous space between dreaming and waking, we can process emotions and energy that we may not be consciously aware of, yet still experience in our bodies and minds, below the surface of conscious awareness. One way to do this is through stream of consciousness writing, or free writing, which opens the inner chambers and unleashes that which lies within, waiting to rise to the surface. The act of pen to paper, foot to dance floor, or brush to canvas, without the involvement of the ego’s cries of “What does this mean? Am I doing it right? Am I wrong for feeling or thinking this? Does this make any sense?” is a way of activating those deeper aspects of the self that yearn to be acknowledged and set free. I wrote the poem below during a time when I was processing a heartbreak that shook me to my core. One day I was perusing old photos of my Grandfather’s cousin, Madge Bellamy, a beautiful and talented silent film and stage actress. I found myself sinking in to her experience, entering a sort of meditation, envisioning her life through my own lens: a woman, an artist, whose life was imbued with a certain wild glow, as otherworldly as she was human, traversing light and shadow, beauty and struggle. I started writing without thinking, simply letting the words spill onto the page. I imagined that she was addressing me in a letter, speaking of her own heartbreak, and the spark and grace she embodied that carried her through. What unfolded revealed a well of bottled up energy within my own psyche, and what was at first a puddle of words and images and emotions became this poem: an imagining, a healing.
And in honor of the real woman, Madge herself, without my own romantic projections, her words at age 87, “I’ve avoided all my life the romantic stuff which novels and movies are about. Never went in for that mush. Of course, I’ve missed what most people would call the ultimate human experience. But then, I’ve remained my own person, which at my age is a very satisfying state.”
For Emily, Love, Madge
Arouse them, my darling
Arouse them, but don’t please them.
One day a star will collapse at its core
after billions of years of trying,
and you’ll see that sometimes, love,
it’s wiser to blow up,
and then slink quietly out the back
before they notice what’s missing.
I long begged the sky
for a warm reprieve,
but diamonds are colder in space, my dear
than anyone ever told you.
The summer roses are dead,
and there’s no preciousness left anymore
to water my mouth.
The truth is as smokey as whiskey
and as smooth as the dust
on his letters,
the ones he wrote me like a ghost
long after I had stopped waiting by the window,
shining those pennies at dusk.
I took a fondness to the key
that opened the basement door,
where under the floorboards
I kept the stash of primal laughter,
the kind that felt so good
it turned my guts inside out,
the kind so sweet and slow,
it felt like the first bit of sun
warming early morning lace.
Late at night,
I still walk down the steps into darkness
and pull up the floorboards,
digging for hours,
giving myself a pretty little dirt manicure.
Oh honey I don’t have time anymore
for the nonsense of red polish,
and my lips are stained with stories I never told,
so I scratch and I claw and I howl
and I play my favorite records,
love notes burning
and embers crackling towards the ceiling,
like lovers tumbling together
into perfect illusion.
And on special occasions,
I pull that box of laughter out,
adorning myself in the jewels
of everything I can’t change
but can only cackle about.
I watch myself
as a little girl,
walking along old dirt paths
in thick Texas air,
fireflies dancing like nothing
had ever ripped out their wings.
Toes reach stagnant water,
a whirlpool erupts underfoot.
I go in with wings and prayers,
singing songs at the river
at the top of my lungs,
dirty white dress and ecstatic delusions:
A child just believes what she’s told.
I wanted to leave,
and I did, as much as I could,
angel of the stage and silent screen,
singing silly demons back to sleep.
Truth in her crown,
drunk and dancing,
came and rushed me away.
What ridiculous lines we try to walk.
Arouse them, my darling
Arouse them, but never please them.
Nothing will satisfy the vultures.
They have a job to do,
just give it to them.
We all have a role to perform,
and roadkill makes delicious fodder for
mad dogs and foolish, foolish girls.
I hung my feathers up in the doorway
and reveled in my power
on a stage I built myself,
where no lights
would ever be bright enough
and no man could ever be warm enough
(but oh, my face could sure light up a room!)
I was no foolish, foolish girl.
Stop crying, darling,
spill your emeralds on the ground,
bathe in the poison that rolls off
the false Queen’s wicked tongue,
it’s the antidote to sinking.
Pull yourself together.
The roses are dead,
and everything’s fine.
You said what you needed to say,
even if it was never enough,
you said it.
Sweet girl, you are wiser than you think.
You are stranger and you are stronger
than you let yourself believe.
Be joyful in the wild wood
at the edge of glory:
beautiful and breaking.
Wholeness is a story they tell you
so you keep on trying.
I never wanted to tame
the eager effervescence,
because love meant passion
and passion is a cousin of war.
Walk the tightrope honey,
that funny line that separates
the mad from the sane.
Anyway, what sane person
needs to prove themselves so badly,
they’ll up and steal my key
to the basement door?
It’s not theirs to take.
Some things are yours,
don’t forget it.
They’ll fool you into thinking they know
what you’ve got stored there,
under the floorboards.
But they will never really know.
Take that stash of frenzied laughter
Use every last breath,
bellow every guffaw
like a spitfire pixie,
Like the sullen organist
who played on Sundays,
whose wife left him for the grocery boy,
I just kept on playing.
I kept coming,
with boisterous music
the kind of tears that burn
No one can use my key
to open their door,
skeletons like their own closets best.
Say what you need to say, baby,