windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (peace goddess)
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This lunar month, I'm studying the essence of White as part of my year with [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices. The work puts me into an interesting position because I know, before I've even gotten to the heart of the month's work, that White is one of those colors that calls me, that I serve already through Isis. I know that the balance between Black (and my work with Death) and with White (and my work with Isis) are central to my spiritual place. I know that so much of my Libran energy is about balancing those two essences, those two Truths, those two footholds in the world. I'm not sure where it will go but I've got the moon to discover that.

I don't know much about White as the author of Temple of the Twelve perceived/sculpted Her. I know within the story the main theme seemed to be innocence or purity reclaimed. In a WitchVox article she wrote about the Colors, [livejournal.com profile] elfinecstasy suggested those who serve White may "see grace, and angels, and...perhaps see [themselves] as crystalline at [their] center". The accompanying workbook to the first volume of the series suggests that those serving White might be judges, mediators, or philosophers. So I'd had a couple very logical, thought-filled days with White but none of it felt alive to me or flipped that insight switch of mine. How did this relate to me? What could I pull from the material that hadn't been said? That's the part of my spiritual process that just takes time and attention and a little bit of serendipity. Things have to percolate with me.

~*~

Three little snippets, parts of the stew... )

So that's where I've been. I was driving in the car and thinking about water and needing to Windex the inside of Graeme's window, smudged by little fingers, and Isis' voice clear as day said,

Do not close the Book of your Life. Only Death can do that.

Every day, a new white page. Every day, the chance to Create something. Every day, open to change everything about myself.

"I AM" is not static and yet, so often, I treat it as if it is. It's like I'm ready to write the back copy on my Life's Book. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a witch and priestess. I am afraid of drowning. I am out of shape. I am unhappy with some things in my life. I am inspired to do more to connect in my community. I am the victim of x, y, and z. I am certain of these things: _____________________. I am lonely. I am tired. I am disorganized.

That only applies if I keel over and die right here. In ten minutes, ten days, ten years--all of those strong I AM statements could have changed. I do not get to close the Book of my Life. I do not get to title it, come up with chapter headings, or even choose the photo for the front. I certainly don't get the job of summarizing what it says on the back. It is a fluid process and everyday is a new day to Create. I could choose to reclaim my innocence, renounce my fears, restructure my lifestyle, rename my beliefs. I could do anything with this perfect, unblemished, White page of new day before me.

There's no obligation to drag my "I AM"s with me. I don't have to be pigeon-holed into a life because it is what I know best. I don't have to write on the old pages--I get a new one every day (every moment, if I wanted). Fresh chances and a wide-open horizon of White.

I can never close the book. I don't know how it will end. I might wish or expect certain outcomes but I could have everything turn upside down today. Tomorrow, I start writing again through my actions, my intentions, and my connections. I toss the thread or wield the scissors. I Create or I Destroy.

White asks me to create myself anew each day. I am never too far down the path or hopeless, stained, scarred, irredeemable. I just flip to a new page and begin, anew, unblemished.

I AM is sacred, yes, but it can change at any moment. What new I AMs will I create today?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
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On my last day working with Yellow, I still don't have resolution to my housing limbo. I don't know if we'll have to move or not. I've realized that's part of the lesson--that inner sunshine, that safety net of daily practice, outreach, and gratitude must operate independently from my circumstances. I can't be grateful because things are going swimmingly or because hard times have passed--I have to continue to be grateful during those storms and trials. Yellow is about where I go when things turn hard and how my mind perceives the events in my life.

Everywhere I've looked this month, I've seen yellow flowers. I've bought them for myself at my local grocer and seen a variety of cheerfully bright wildflowers winking at me all over town. They're at the beach, where I've played with my son, and they're cultivated carefully in the bank parking lot, and they're tucked into the woodlands along our daily drives and walks. The blossoms in my own life, with Yellow, are blooming gently as well. We finally joined our local Unitarian Universalist church for services and found a community that welcomes my pagan beliefs and nurtures my drive for philanthropic work, belonging, and my need to be needed. It serves my husband and my son equally well. It's a strong thread in my safety net of sunshine. The homeschooling group I've joined is a great mom-resource for me and my new swap community here on LiveJournal is off to a warm and wonderful start. I'm a lifelong loner so this is fairly new territory for me to be so social and interconnected with others.

The final sermon of my U.U.-infused Yellow Month was about abundant thinking. Do we feel the warmth of our abundance every day or the chilling darkness of scarcity? Are we content and secure or do we feel that we've slipped behind in a race for resources? Do we cheer the successes and joys of those around us or do we harbor resentment and jealousy that they got something good and we did not? Are we trusting community to hold us or are we fighting an endless battle of survival alone? Do we live with hearts open or shielded and shelled? That frantic scarcity mindset, the basic belief that there is not enough to go around and so each individual (and maybe their loved ones) must compete against everyone and everything else to get theirs, to survive, has so damaged our communal and tribal lines. It divides people and divides groups. There are "us" and "them" divisions all over the place. With perceived lack, there isn't enough water, food, jobs, money, security, happiness, rights, attention, fame, beauty, talent, nor even salvation enough to go around. We think some will have it and others will not and we scramble, we scrabble, we compete--we ration, we hoard, we grasp. And it's killing us from spirit on out to physical reality.

There is enough to go around if we start to consider the difference between "enough for me" and "enough for we". There is enough abundance in the world if I can live without locking the bomb shelter doors behind me, if I can 'relax the reflex of grab', 'to love and not to hold'. The first step, beyond gratitude and the peaceful mindset of abundance and contentment, is to reconnect with community. What I've failed in is that I'm living as an island when I could be a strong and supportive, supported part of that vast tapestry of humanity. I can trust community to hold me when I need it and I can provide support when it is needed of me. When did the idea of becoming an individual become so central to the society I live in? When was it that neighbors could no longer pop next door for a borrowed cup of sugar, a shared treehouse, a communal lawn mower? When did it become so shameful to not be able to stand on your own two feet, alone, when all along what everyone has needed is the give and take, contributions and honest needs, of a community acting together? Together, if we expect abundance and trust there is enough and give and share and see what we have instead of what we lack, couldn't we thrive instead of just survive?

I came into the month feeling no bit of Yellow in my core. I couldn't relate to it. I've realized, though, that I couldn't relate because it is inherent to me. I haven't had to struggle and work with Yellow lessons. It is one of my super-powers and perhaps the one, more than anything, that has made me who I am.

The question is--what radical, life-changing things could I do with it?

Wendell Berry's poem, The Wisdom to Survive, was read during the service. I share it here. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Grow)
It didn't take long after my first post on Yellow to start to get some traction with the concept of the color, to have an insight that got my feet firmly planted beneath me for the month. I went back to Temple of the Twelve and read the section where Caroline worked with Lady Yellow. She observed the embodied color for quite some time as she did rather cheerful, nurturing, outdoorsy sorts of things. She was active and involved in all sorts of things. Then, unexpectedly, Caroline was hurtled into the abyss of depression and helplessness and hopelessness. That's when I 'got it'.

I had this image of that abyss, that bottomless, lightless trap of despair that anyone could trip into in life and over mine, a safety net of woven, golden-yellow sunshine. I could hover over the pit, get a really good look of it, but the qualities of Yellow were protecting me from ever falling in. This protective net, I could see, was something I weave continuously as part of my daily practice. The strong threads of bright sunshine are spun from daily gratitude, taking care of my needs, making connections with positive people, doing work that feels important to me, finding humor in trying circumstances, choosing to Love instead of to Fear, getting outside into fresh breezes, soul-scouring sunshine, and renewing rainstorms. When I'm struggling emotionally or spiritually, I take time out to watch old movies, call my friends, write in my journal, eat natural/nutritious foods, exercise, get more sleep, take bubble baths. That helps tremendously but I know that the things I do on all the days when the abyss isn't threatening me are what really protect me from hurtling down into it on the days when it does. That safety net has to be there, in full repair, long before I ever need it.

I don't think much about Yellow, nor did I feel it was a color I resonated with, because I don't have a lack of it. It isn't something I have big swings with. It is always there to support me because of the small things I do each day. I was raised in a family where the net was important and everyone knew how to protect and produce their own through their efforts, their thoughts, and the company they kept.

The month, through seeming coincidence, has become wildly all about community for me and building new, supportive, positive community ties. I was accepted, after quite an application process, into a small group of homeschoolers in my area that have children my son's age. (Our first meeting was a tremendous success and I look forward to having all these new mom-friends in my life.) My husband and I finally attended local Unitarian Universalist church's service in our new hometown and found a sanctuary for our beliefs, our family, our desire to contribute and belong that supports my pagan faith. And finally, after years of being away from mail swaps, I created a new community [livejournal.com profile] starblessedswap that I'm filled with enthusiasm, hope, and plans for. It all feels wonderful, light and love, and connected and doubly so now that I'm visually, viscerally aware of what it is doing in my life, weaving tight that safety net of sunshine.

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Here I am, with my son, weaving part of that net by running through the sprinklers, shrieking, on a hot summer day. :)

I hope the rest of you are finding the month's lessons fulfilling. <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (silver cloak)
I first spent a month working with Silver in August/September of last year. Like this month, I wrote very little about my progress. It was a big shift then as astrology roared into my life and transformed from a long-held hobby into a portal to Everything. I found my niche, a spiritual place where my unique abilities, perceptions, and communicative abilities blazed into this light, this Sight, that changed me forever. I couldn't encapsulate that experience adequately on a journal. It was an initiation, a Mystery experience that felt impossible to explain or share. I came out the other side of that first Silver Moon with my whole brain rewired. I saw things differently. Something awoke with absolute purity and certainty and Light within me. My magick, as a witch, flared up and threaded into everything and I could see it. I found my way to the Divine, to plug in instead of just to visit.

This month, the lesson from Silver has been related to those first lessons about finding my personal magick, my own strengths, what I'm built to do well. Silver has pointed out the simplest, most powerful magick of all--the magick of perception. The silver token I started the month out with on my altar, the meditation focus, reads, "Problems are messages. I am listening." Problems are not sea walls to hurl myself and my magick against in order to fix or undo them. Problems are not inconveniences or detours on my mostly-serene spiritual path. Problems are messages. I remember when I first got that token, drawn to the serene image of a meditating figure under a field of stars but unsettled by the message on the back. Did I really want to invoke problems into my life? Do I really want to stand up and volunteer to be clotheslined by the Universe's oft-joked-of 'Clue By Four'? But I bought it then, despite my discomfort, and I included it as one of the central pieces of my Silver altar this month.

This month has had a lot of messages. It has been a month of painful misunderstandings, poor health, and many, many, many, many stressful minor emergencies. I started the month laughing and shaking my head and feeling like I was really in for it. (I was.) What I'm leaving the month with, though, is the unshakable certainty that problems aren't just messages--they are calls to greatness. They're opportunities to practice the magick of perception.

Through a month of repetitive mishap, I've come to appreciate what I have that much more. My sense of humor turns spectacular falls into pratfalls and the most terrifying moments of my day into entertaining stories to retell after the crisis is past. I'm scrambling to cope and adjust and do what needs doing, but I'm also aware at a calm inner level that these are minor life issues that do not touch the core of who I am or the heart of what's important.

I remember coming up with a personal motto awhile back. It was, In Gratitude--Peace and Plenty and this month has only engraved the message a little deeper into the soul of my spiritual and magickal practice.

An unbelievable amount of spellwork becomes unnecessary when I make a simple shift in perspective, in perception, from one of FEAR/scarcity/bitterness/regret/anger/impatience into one of LOVE/gratitude/joy/acceptance/compassion/patience. The need for action drops away and my life, my experience of it, becomes this tremendous self-restoring reservoir of peace, clarity, and magick.

I don't need to create magick. I am living a magickal life. I am made of magick. I need to work towards what I want, appreciate what I have, allow for things to change and surprise me, and remember to let go and breathe.

There is no more efficacious, instantaneous magick than stepping back and taking a second, more loving look at circumstances. Gratitude can transform anything. Problems are messages. I am listening. Problems are sometimes jokes, too. It's okay for me to laugh.


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~*~

As a side note from the month, my three year old son and I were playing a game where I'd name one thing and he'd name the opposite. High/Low. Bright/Dark. Near/Far. Happy/Sad. I asked him what the opposite of "Scared" was and he said, "Good".

I suggested some alternatives but he was adamant. The opposite of scared is good. I've heard people interviewed for acts of heroism and they always seem to say they were scared, of course, but they turned it off and did what they felt was Right. They did what they could, they did what they must, they just had to despite the fear. Maybe Graeme is right--maybe when we choose to act out of Good we vanquish Fear's hold over us.

What have I to fear in my life if I choose to do good? If I choose to be grateful? If I choose to believe I have what I need?

It's magick. Far more powerful, more long-lasting, and more life-changing than any spell I could cook up in more traditional ways.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
I've just gotten back from South Florida, my subtropical heart home, where I spent a week reconnecting with my Mom. It was none of the things I thought it would be. Instead of me pulling her into my reality, she pulled me back into hers--evenings of junk foods and the never-ending, mind-numbing chatter of her television. I had a few successes--getting her to watch an episode of Whale Wars and spending a few hours unboxing and decluttering her dining room and then hauling a substantial donation to Goodwill on her behalf, but really it didn't feel like I made so much as a ripple in the sameness of her existence. I thought she'd play with Graeme but her idea of time spent together was to change the channel to a child-friendly show and to bring out foods for him to eat while he watched them. It was down-letting. I'd envisioned and even planned for an entirely different visit. I had hand-written notes about places to remember to go and opening hours and days and they went unvisited. But really, this isn't about my Mom, but about me within the context of my Black month with [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices.

I'd planned to go to the beach for the full moon. That beach, with the dark shapes of great sea turtles pulling themselves out of the waves to nest, is my spiritual homeland. I became a witch on those beaches--over sixteen years ago. I pictured the moonrise out of the waters, the silvery road it would paint over the midnight waves, and the Black month ritual and experience that I could have there. That was my image of myself for this month. It didn't work that way, though. That night was the only night I had left free to see my oldest, best friend in the world. He took me out to dinner at a vegan restaurant I love and I ate too much food in the joy of the easy availability of it all. So stuffed and bloated we went back home and as the moon rose unseen in an overcast sky, we were sitting around the living room of my Mom's house playing with my toddler son. He was imagining that we were all in a rocket ship set for the moon. We had great adventures as he unspooled the story from some wacky part of his young brain. The moon was inhabited, it seems, and there was an underground cookie factory and rainbow striped kangaroos with pockets instead of a pouch and our rocket was commandeered by monkeys leaving us at the mercy of a rocket-ship salesman who wanted 10,000 cookies in exchange for one rather miniature rocket but was convinced to settle for 5. That's the reality of my night. It did not match up to how I'd envisioned it--not one bit--and yet the lesson from Black was there all the same. The lesson was more Truthfully there than would have been at my perfectly timed beach/moon/magick/meditation event.

Truth is what IS. It is peace and certainty and the mental stillness of mindfully being in the present. The rest, the scrambling to be and act and meet certain self-requirements, the mental voices that keep talking and talking and talking are all scripts.

I've been thinking a lot about mental scripts--the self-deceptions that rest within them--and how they keep me from living Black's Truth. I read a book this month about a wealthy family in Atlanta who sold their dream home and downsized. They used half the money they earned from the sale to buy a new, smaller home. The other half, they decided as a family to donate to the Hunger Project in Ghana to help villagers build schools and medical facilities within their communities. For me, The Power of Half's best gift to me was the wealth of quotes I found myself copying down from the pages as I read. There were inspiring words from Martin Luther King, Jr and Mother Teresa and dozens of others. But one comment, from the author himself, was exactly what I needed to hear during my black month. He says,

"It's a funny thing about collecting stuff that takes on its own inertia, a resistance to change. The need for bigger, nicer, more, becomes a force unto itself. Scientists define inertia as a force that keeps a body in motion moving in the same direction. Psychologists describe the situation as 'an unconsciously chosen life script that narrows your choices'--in other words, being stuck. Either way, inertia/momentum/autopilot--call it what you like--is an incredibly powerful force to reverse."


Those words screamed out at me. An unconsciously chosen life script that narrows your choices. Inertia. This is about more than the things I own. How often do I not act or not evolve or not bail myself out of less-than-ideal circumstances because my mental scripts tell me that I can't, I shouldn't, or some such other claptrap? Stuck in a rut of my OWN MIND'S MAKING. Not Truth. Not the Divine. But squirrely, deceptive mental scripts. Scripts that narrow my choices and diminish my power. Scripts that not only convince me that I need to buy mascara and nail polish and lose weight despite the junk food I'm simultaneously saying is my right but also scripts that convince me, in the most insidiously malevolent ways, to not fight at all. The voice of complacency and routine and hopelessness. The voice that tells me that I'm not who I should be and could use more work than I'm capable of to get there. The voice that says I should gloss over who I am, at least a little, to be more lovable...to be more okay. There is ME, unvarnished and Truthful, and then there is the Me That I Would Have Me Be.
~*~

I've long been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books on her life growing up on the frontiers of America. They're magical and captivating. What's amazing to read, sometime, is a biography of the author. The facts of her life and the stories she chose to tell about it do not quite match up. There are places she's lived that she chose to forget. There are events, terrible events, in her family's life that were never mentioned. She tells stories of places she was too young living at to have memories of and introduces characters into her books that were not yet born. Reconciling the two, it is obvious that she took liberty in retelling her childhood. For reasons of her own, she chose to shape it into something a bit fictionalized. I can't know her reasoning. Maybe she polished it up and romanticized it a bit for her perceived audience. Maybe she removed some of the thorns that hurt her the worst. Maybe she chose to only tell what she thought people would want to hear and believe about her and her life. I can't know--but there is little Laura and there is the little Laura that Ms. Wilder recreated from the facts and scraps of her childhood and they are not exactly the same person. The Me and the Me That I Would Have Me Be.

~*~

In my history courses in college, we talked about the unreliability of diaries. The private journals of people used to be pretty useful as first-hand sources and truly, still are today. The huge grain of salt, though, was introduced when the first diary was published for broad public consumption. (And Gods, I wish I remember when it was...18th/19th century?). After that, there was a subtle shift in the writing behaviors of ordinary people. There became some small chance in their mind that someone may someday publish what they were confessing in private. Can you imagine? Going from the absolute assurance that only your chosen heir would have access to your personal papers after your death to the uncertainty that what you write could become something that every neighbor, acquaintance, and stranger could be reading in bound form in the future. It changed everything about the act of keeping a diary. I've only known this world of uncertainty. I write knowing that not only are a select few reading what I have to say here but that, in fact, they could easily broadcast it to the rest of the known world. That's our reality. There is Me and there is the Me That I Would Have Me Be. I, like Laura, sanitize my journal for the general public. What I say is as significant in my story as what I choose not to share. Everything is filtered through my scripts, my insecurities, my troubles and aspirations. There is Me and then the Me That I Would Have Me Be. They are so similar and yet, they are not the same. Only Lady Black can truly know me as I am. Only Truth knows my Truths. To be honest, there are times often enough when even *I* can't distinguish between the two.

~*~

With the Full Moon, and only two weeks to go in my Black Month's work, my challenge has expanded a bit. It started, at the New Moon, with the need for discernment in my life's choices. I needed to find a way out of my mental scripts so that I could see Truth. I needed to learn how to honestly value what was important in my life and what was only white noise. I needed to choose, consciously, to be mindful and awake. And now, I'm realizing, that the scripts are not only trying to shape my life into something materialistic and nonsensically unimportant but that they are also creating within me the stagnant rut of inertia. They are narrowing my life choices by making other avenues, other ways of living seem impossible. They have me spinning in a current that, if I choose not to swim for my life, will gently wile away the ever fleeting hours of my life. They are distorting the way I view myself and making Me, Truth Me, unacceptable to my own self-perceptions.

I will do another self-portrait in the last two weeks of the work here. It will be Me (not the Me That I Would Have Me Be). It will reflect not the flaws that I fear I have but the Truth of me. It will be raw, unedited, present, and unromanticized. I know that Laura's Truth would have been as beloved as Little House Laura and I know, intellectually, that the unvarnished Me is as relatable as the Rachel you've gotten to know through this journal. They are the Me and the Me That I Would Have Me Be.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
For the next year, I'm working with The Temple of the Twelve as part of the initiatory group [livejournal.com profile] sacred12novices. This month, as the first month, is dedicated to exploring the color Black and the many Mysteries and Truths she keeps. About a year ago, I had my first Black month and it was empowering and transformative. I'd expected a harsh reality check from Lady Black and instead got an emotionally restorative affirmation of my own divine nature. This time, though, it has been more of a tough love session.

At the new moon this month, I was challenged to see more Truth in my life and to learn greater discernment in my judgments and choices. I've been fielding all sorts of lessons and musings on the topic ever since and in them, I've realized just how prevalent self-deception is in our society. I live shrouded in the darkness of my self-created worlds without ever waking up to the reality of my impact and decisions. Once in awhile I've woken up with a start, mentally, with a flash of insight about what exists beyond the box of modern consumerism. Once in a long while I realize just how programmed I am. The awareness surfaces for a moment and then is swept away under the weight of the not-Me voices to come. I don't think I'm alone in that.

There is the voice of Truth, of Black, and then there is the (constant, chattering) voice of scripts. The scripts have come from my experiences, from the society around me, from friends and family, from strangers and critics, from overheard conversations, advertisements and the plots of books and television shows. The Truth, when it comes, upsets the balance of my life and so is frequently overruled with more scripts. (No, scratch that, always overruled as I never stay in those awake moments very long.)

So here's a couple of examples I've been thinking a lot about this month.


The Disease of Consumerism
Truth tells me that the Earth is overburdened by consumerism. There is a finite number of resources and everything on this earth that is created or manufactured or dreamed up in material form consumes some of those resources. For every one finished product, say a wooden chair or a marble chess set or a plastic ring of measuring spoons, ten times more resources are consumed then ever end up evident in the end product. I, as an American, am part of a society with no limits. I use too much water. I use too much electricity. I own too many things, made with too many precious pieces of the Earth's living body. I am personally responsible for too much pollution. If every human inhabitant on this planet aspired to the lifestyle that I feel is my right, our planet would die and everything upon it with Her. I am living an unsustainably indulgent lifestyle while others are dying, daily, from simple deprivation of food, water, warmth, and medical attention. That is Truth and it is ugly and shocking and upsetting. I know it. And yet, I cannot tell you how strong and frenzied and persistent the scripts are in my head that say, "I deserve to be happy. I deserve to treat myself. I deserve to have nice things. In fact, I *need* them." If I'm being honest, unflinchingly standing with Black, I don't. I am fortunate, blessed beyond measure, that I have all of my basic needs met. I am awash in abundance, not only within the world, but even within the high-life of modern American life. Someone, in fact a lot of someones, somewhere is paying or will eventually pay for the extravagance of my own choices. The resources of our planet are finite and when I take more than my share, I am costing someone else. The responsibility upon me, as one of the fortunate, is to share my abundances and to limit my consumption. The trouble is, with the scripts running, I forget these basic Black truths in favor of the advertisements for the latest sparkly eye shadow, another pair of shoes I don't need, or a crystal mined from god-knows-where with god-knows-what-destruction for my Earth-centered spiritual (material) lifestyle. I forget because it is radically inconvenient and makes me feel guilty and horrid to remember. That is my own self-deception...that this is okay.

The Monster of Overeating
I think the monster of overeating is really just a symptom of my own disease of consumerism--my 'affluenza'. I have access to every kind of high-fat, high-sugar, highly-processed food that trips all sorts of internal human body sensors that say, "Ahhh. That feels great. That kinda caloric boom will keep us alive for some time. Great job, provider!" Things that didn't even exist 50 years ago and the sort of food-high that humans encountered rarely, if ever, in their history are now so common-place that they've become a disaster for health and wellness. The statistics here in the United States are appalling and though I don't register officially as obese, I'm affected by the monster, too.

Truth: I eat too much and move too little. I am sabotaging my body, the quality and length of my life every single day. I'm throwing away the best and only gift the Universe has ever intended for me alone. My lifespan. My body to live it out in. I know it, it is plain fact, and yet I bury that inconvenient knowledge under insulating scripts.

The scripts say, "I'm hungry. I want it. I deserve it. It'll make me feel better. I need it to cope."

And the worst of it, for me, is knowing that my actions are not only affecting me and my family but also are rippling out with all sorts of (on my part) unintended consequences through the world. I went vegan for a reason, a whole host of reasons, but as a natural end-point of my spiritual belief system. It is a way for me to lessen, directly, the suffering that my consuming unleashes on the world. One way in hundreds, perhaps, but a very concrete way for me to live mindfully. I made that decision almost seven years ago and in that time I've fallen off the wagon, more than once, and started consuming dairy and egg products. I cannot envision a day that I'd ever eat animal flesh again but it is easy for my scripts to overwhelm the opposition and encourage me to forget all the reasons I steered away from cheese pizzas and ice cream and traditional dessert products to begin with. I've driven by veal calves chained in their little plastic doghouses and could almost hear the fever-pitched LA LA LA LA LA! I'm NOT LISTENING!! LA LA LA LA! ear in finger tactics that the scripts combated the sight with.

It is pretty horrifying to me to realize that I'm compromising what I believe to be morally right because the monster, that overconsuming monster, wants the fat and grease and calories and fullness and convenience and NOW!ness of non-vegan foods. I'm tempted and then the voices weigh in with all the reasons it is not only a good idea but a downright necessary indulgence. The voice of Truth gets buried in the chatter of the scripts.

~*~
So Instead of Giving Up, I Can....
Lady Black sees right through me, my self-deceptions, and shakes her head. I have justifications, I have excuses, I have many forms of defense but really--I'm sleepwalking through most of my life. I do things for reasons that aren't Truthful or mindful and then come up with scripts that support an image of me where that's okay. And this month, more than any, I've had the sobering and painful and embarrassing experience of being more keenly aware of these personal self-deceptions. It is enough to make me want to give up, go back to my self-made fantasy life, and find new ways to tune out the voice of Truth. But, this time, I'm trying not to. I'm trying to sit with the perfect Truth that I'm a divine light and precious beyond measure, yes, but that so is everyone and everything around me. I'm so big and I'm so small--a human body standing under the canopy of the night sky. I am nothing but I am part of everything and I have choices every day that I make that effect the world around me. I am flawed, yes, of course, but that means I can always do better.

1) I've been inspired to check out and read a few books (from my local library, though my knee-jerk reaction is *always* to buy things). Anyways, they've all crossed my path this month and tied into my thoughts on Black. They are:

The Power of Half: One Family's Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back by Hannah and Kevin Salwen

Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money by Geneen Roth

2) I've also been working on making small, mindful steps each day. We came home to a near-empty kitchen and will leave for Florida in only two days. Normally, I would have gone to the grocery store and stocked up. I'm suspicious of food that's sat in our fridge over the completely-arbitrary-time-frames I make up. I tend to toss leftovers and produce that looks even a tad bit imperfect. It is wasteful and silly. Also, I will let perfectly wonderful food rot in my fridge because I choose, instead of making it a priority to eat it, to buy more food that I like better or to go out to dinner or to just forget about it until it reaches that state of not-brand-new that triggers my urge to throw away.

Today, I pulled my crockpot out for the first time in six years in order to make something out of the bits and pieces we had laying around. I'm not sure what sort of soup we're in for tonight but it includes the half-a-jar of tomato sauce I'd left behind last week and would have ordinarily thrown away, half an onion, chickpeas, celery (which I'm no fan of), a handful of wrinkly grape tomatoes, two cloves of sprouting garlic, leftover steamed broccoli, veggie stock and some pasta odds and ends. It smells delightful and was surprisingly fun to scavenge together. It feels productive and ingenious and most importantly, mindful. A small victory but one in which I stayed AWAKE--not zooming along on my comfy scripted autopilot mode.

3) I came across a quote this month that has been fueling me and led to quite ambitious goals to declutter, thin out, and donate vast amounts of our clothes, toys, books, and other extraneous household items. It has been the voice of Black this month--compassionate, honest, and challenging.

"The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry;
the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked;
the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot;
the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor;
the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.”
~St. Basil the Great
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (nightwalk)
The familiar track winds down, through the roots of the World Tree and deep into the earth's silent shadows. I cross a forest of gray-tones, following an ashy path towards a flickering silver-blue fire. It is heatless, an otherworldly feature of the Underworld and the frequent meeting place, in meditation, of Death and I.

No matter when I visit, the god is waiting for me. He always has time for visitors.

New Moon Meditation under the cut... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
Family friends and Graeme-fans have been well-supplied with stories of our day-to-day but readers of my journal looking for spiritual content lately have been poorly served. Today's new moon, however, marks the beginning of a 13-month commitment I've made to completing my Temple of the Twelve work and I will be making most, if not all, of that spiritual exploration public here.

So if you're growing tired with Rachel-the-Mom and tempted, like some, to remove me from your friends list, then I can at least promise a blend containing a lot more of Rachel-the-Seeker and Rachel-the-Witch. And those Graeme-fans and family, I'm sure, will still find their place here. ;)

Much Love,

Rachel
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (silver cloak)
My Silver Month with Temple of the Twelve has passed. Unlike Black and Pink, I don't want to share my processes. My magick is the magick of Scorpio--private, dark, transformational. It rises out of the Underworld and fills me up with cool, still waters.

Something dormant within me came alive through working with astrology. What was one hobby among many has become a passionate outlet for my unique abilities and intuitive insights. I am very good at what I do and it is a sacred form of service. It battles my sense of insignificance, the knowing that I do have a strong talent here, awakened. I have class and book ideas that I'm going to develop and I will be working with astrology the rest of my life. That is the fruit of my Silver Moon work. What I hope, more than anything, is that it will open a portal for others to step through to discover and reclaim their own brand of magick.

What sort of excellence and power lies dormant within your own skin?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
To those of you who bravely stepped forward and withstood the scorching spotlight of a natal chart interpretation at my hands, you'll see that I value fairness above all. :) So below, under the cut, is a study of my own astrological essence, written as much as possible from the perspective of an outside observer relying solely on astrological evidence. It's me--warts and all.

For those of you who haven't had one done, here's a sample of just what I do with about twenty hours of blood, sweat, and tears. :) :D

witch's stars



A Witch's Stars: The Astrological Essence of Rachel Melcher


Dear Rachel,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to study and comment upon your natal chart. It has been an honor. I came to astrology, reluctantly, through newspaper horoscopes. I hated the idea that there were only twelve kinds of people in the world and yet couldn't help but feel some sense of identifying with "my sign". True astrology, though, is so much more complex and interesting! So complex, in fact, that the geometry and details of someone's natal chart will not be duplicated for 25,000 years! You are essentially one-of-a-kind and the gifts from the Universe at your birth, your Witch's Stars, are not the same as anyone else's. You are uniquely suited to fill a need in the world, endowed with your own super-powers and set upon the path of your own spiritual evolution. Everything you started this life with is reflected in your natal chart and now the question is--what will you do with it? :)

My Astrological Report--Under the Cut )

natal_rachel
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (silver cloak)
Here's where we talked about this token exchange idea in greater detail, but this is the official sign-up for students in their Temple of the Twelve year to exchange tokens of achievement and recognition with each other. If you haven't read that original post already, please do for more clarification of our exchange intentions.

By signing up, you are agreeing to send one token of the color listed to another student no later than Tuesday, August 24th. Because of shipping times and study schedules, this will only be open to members of the United States. (If you're studying in another country and love the token exchange idea, I hope you'll start your own local group!)

To participate this month, please complete the following questions in the comment section below by Friday, July 13th. Partners will be assigned and emailed shipping information on Friday or Saturday. Please make sure, before you commit to signing up that your schedule and finances allows you to fulfill this special task in the 10 (or so) days allotted. :) Comments below are screened so nobody else can see your personal information.

Sign-Up:
1. Full Name:
2. Shipping Address:
3. Email Address:
4. What color token are you working to earn this month?
5. Do you have allergies or specific product restrictions? (Vegan, unscented, etc?)
6. If the author of Temple of the Twelve ([livejournal.com profile] elfinecstasy) felt called to send you an additional color token, may I share your mailing address with her?
7. Is there anything you'd like to share with your partner about your color journey this month?

I hope you'll let the Divine guide your hand as you find the perfect small token of your fellow student's achievements this month. It should be something small, of the color studied, and selected with heart. Only you will know what you're meant to send! :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink heart birds)
photo(40)

At the new moon, celebrating the end of my month with Pink, I went to take down my pink-themed altar and to clear the space for Silver's work. The area had gotten cluttered with found treasures and gifts that seemed to pour in to acknowledge my achievements and breakthroughs. From my mom, as a get-well gift, there was a pair of necklaces, one pink and one purple, from a charity in Africa that employs AIDS/HIV affected women in meticulously rolling beads from colorful magazine paper. The other, a small statue of a white-robed girl with her face buried in a bouquet of pink flowers. It is as if she knew, precisely, what I would need to affirm, the girl who bought herself flowers for the first time this month. In the mail yesterday, a card from a virtual stranger with an exquisite image of a pink lotus blossom. Chunks of pink stone, kicked underfoot in a Chicago alley, a multi-faceted bead found sparkling amongst the trash in a tree planter at the exact moment when I said to myself, mentally, "Wow, every breath is a moment to model love in the world, isn't it?" Winged seeds my son handed over, with great excitement, because they were faery wings and rosebuds dried from my bouquet, that enshrined a compassionate moment to myself.

Isis came to watch my progress, looking radiant and modern. Her hair, normally braided and weighted down with a crown, was flowing in waves of rainbow black over her shoulders. She'd traded her pleated linen for a gauzy, Grecian floating sleeveless pink gown, fixed with silver clips over her sun-brown shoulders. She's sitting, uncharacteristically domestic, with a large piece of fabric draped over her lap and a needle and embroidery thread in hand.

There's nothing to mourn, she said with a warm smile my way, you are leaving nothing behind. The thread she stitched with was silvery-pink and iridescent, making small bits of color in the fabric as she sat and sewed conversationally.

"Mama, are you Lady Pink?"

I can be.

"This has been such a hard month. I thought this would be one where I'd really shine and now with it ending, I feel like I've only started to get it, that I'm seeing Pink, really seeing those lessons, starting to transform about three weeks too late. It has been hard to decide whether I need to devote to another Pink Month. I could learn a lot more if I did."

Every month of your life has been a Pink Month. Why do you think that next month will suddenly be different just because you will be studying another color? The Silver will be Pink, the Blue will be Pink, every month you will grow more into yourself and you were always meant to be Pink. Your compassion, your desire to serve, your goodness and love will shine through everything you do and will color everything you learn. You lose nothing by growing in other areas. Each month, you will find the way to give it away, to make a gift of it for someone else. That is your Pink work.

I cried, unsure what to say to such kindness, such compliment, such reassuring guidance. She finished her stitching, knotting and snapping excess thread away.

"Thank you. I needed to hear that."

You are devoted to living your life as a Song to Isis, are you not? Have you never stopped to listen to yourself sing it to me? Can you be so deaf, Rachel, to the music you are making? Beloved girl. Sweet, beloved girl. Sing your heart out. Every day, you serve me well.

It was time for her to go. She stood up, arms laden with her sewing project.

"I didn't know you were a seamstress."

I am not. You are. All of you are.

The room tilted, she spun, the cloth that she was holding floated down and spread itself out against a wall where I could see it. It was a work-in-progress, no doubt, and bigger than I could even take in all at once. Close up, I could see it was made of stitched hearts, both miniscule and fairly large in a rainbow of colors and textures and heart-like shapes. And together, though not entirely filled in, I could see the suggestion of a gigantic heart made up of all those smaller, individual hearts taking form. There, in one space, was a small over-round heart in a silver-pink iridescent thread that I recognized--Isis' latest stitches.

This is the song of your life. Everyone has one, but few see it before they die. Sing the song that only you can sing. Love, for me. Believe, for me. Live, for me.

And she was gone and only a faint ghostly memory of that embroidered field was left. The brilliance, the light, the sparkle, the warmth that had poured out of it was dazzling even still. Had I stitched that miraculous, infinitely detailed image? Of course not, She said from some distant place behind my ear, you sew, always, for others.

And I saw it! I saw friends and family and loved ones and strangers and passers-by I smiled at taking their turn to sit at my Song, stitching hearts of gratitude, hearts of acknowledgment that said, "Thank you" and "You don't know how much what you did meant to me" and "You wished me a good day on the worst day" and "You made a difference in my life". I saw myself sitting to weave a few stitches of thread into others' Songs, marking the places where they treated me with kindness, gave me the advice I needed, bandaged a wound, cheered me with their presence, inspired me to believe in myself, met my eyes and encouraged me to keep going, held a door open for me when my arms were overloaded. My Song is recorded by others, added to with every kindness I do, every act of compassion, every word and action that positively impacts someone else's life here. It is the feedback, the acknowledgement, the record of my Life lived.

A Goddess sewed one of the hearts, a token of my work's loving impact on her immortal existence, and I begin to feel, again for the first time, that my case is not so hopeless after all.

I do the work of Pink in the world and it is beautiful.

photo(38)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (witch's circle)
As many of you know, on July 17th Glamourkin returned from a sixth month hiatus with more one-of-a-kind art pendants made from dilapidated books and bamboo. The shop, which has become a love song from collage muse [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden to her wife [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin, is only a handful of sales shy of the one thousand mark. Each pendant carries a little bit of magic and an empowering message, so that's really a lot of beautiful spellcraft winging out into the world.

I bought my first pendant on June 9th, 2008. It was a black and white illustration of a priestess with a crescent moon on her brow. The collaged text read, "her book of spells was love". I still remember the jolt when I spotted it in the crowd of pendants that was Glamourkin's first commercial release. It was my story. My hands, literally, shook as I waited for etsy.com to confirm that I'd successfully purchased it. It was as if Sarah saw down to the heart of me, saw everything I was and everything I most aspired to be, and poured it into that affirming pendant. It proclaimed a Truth about me and also challenged me to live up to that revealed Essence. Every last pendant, the past two years, has had a similar story. Now they all live together in a magical triple moon box, my box of spells, and each makes me better, more aware, more grateful, more daring, more something when I choose to put it on. Their magic grows.

In two years, I figured out, I've bought 26 items from Glamourkin, given and received them as gifts and still I have 35 Glamourkin pieces (pendants large and tiny as well as two necklaces) in that sacred box of mine. Thirty-five!

They say a lot about me--both what I believe and hold dear as well as what others see within me and choose to honor as a gift. Most of my favorites, I realized this month, are very much channeling the messages of Temple of the Twelve's Lady Pink. Love, compassion, care, service. Here they are:
IMG_0977

I have quite a few that suited my Black month's studies, too. It'll be interesting, as I go through the months and get to know the Colors, to see if my Glamourkins are predictive of what Colors I'm most in-tune with, what I'm most painted by, what Colors most claim me. What do you think? :D

Below the cut, images of the rest of my Glamourkin collection. )
What about you? Do you have a Glamourkin--or an entire collection of them? What have they taught you about yourself? What is it that catches your attention, that tells you which was meant to be yours?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink lotus candles)
1) I am slowly healing from surgery. Today marks my eighth day home from the hospital. The incision in my back hasn't finished closing yet, so I'm still stuck wearing big gauze bandages and taking sponge baths. Despite all our precautions, I caught a cold from Graeme as soon as I got home and all the congestion and all-night-long coughing is doing a number on healing that incision. On a few days, I was too active (walking up and down the stairs, mostly) and left feeling reinjured and miserable, so I've taken to a mostly bedridden state. I spend a few hours a day in a chair, but otherwise all of this writing comes from a prone position in bed with my laptop hauled on top of me. I haven't left the house in eight days. It is maddening. I've been prolific here on LiveJournal, catching up with all that Diana's Grove and Temple of the Twelve and other stuff I wanted to talk about, but really the highlight of my day is having the junk mail delivered to where I'm laying in bed. I'm not good at being patiently, helplessly incapacitated!

2) My mother-in-law is in town for the long weekend. She's delivering food and water to me and taking full care of Graeme while she's here. (Daniel has taken the opportunity to get some much needed work done.) I had no idea how much I'd need the help!

3) Today I got back into my astrology natal chart readings. Knowing now what next month's color is for Temple of the Twelve, I have no doubts that this has come blazing upon me so suddenly for a reason and that it will stick around and be solidified as a vital practice for me by the end of next month. If you are on the waiting list to have your chart done, I'm back on the queue and working my way towards you. :) If you've already received yours, I hope you'll encourage those left stranded and waiting by my surgery that it will be worth the delay. :D

4) While abed, I've devoured Tamora Pierce's Immortals series as well as Katharine Howe's The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I'd read more, but I just don't have much in the way of focused concentration. I've also watched some things, streaming, from Netflix. The hours of my days, and nights, pass sooooooo slowly. If you've posted to LJ this past week, thank you for providing part of my continued sanity! :)

5) I have every intention of keeping my Pink Altar up far beyond the month's scope for Temple of the Twelve. It fills me with delight, certainty, center, and Self. There's no doubt that I find great purpose in life, everyday, in "Pink" pursuits--kindness, compassion, gentle healing, acceptance. It is just so lovely and affirming and right, taking such pride of place in my home. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Have you both sent and received a token package in the mail this month?

Please let me know so that I can rest easy knowing everyone is covered. I sent mine ( and got word it was safely received) and received a package in return. :).

How about you?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink lotus candles)
photo(22)

Separating my experiences at Diana's Grove the weekend before my surgery, the hurt and healing of the surgery saga itself, the month of working on compassion and other "Pink" topics in Temple of the Twelve, and everything else that has been unsaid for so many weeks is impossible. It is such a tangle! Everywhere, lately, I've been discovering wise words about wounds and compassion in such a synchronous flood that it is impossible to ignore how important the lesson must be for me to learn. I'd love to be able to compartmentalize it into neat single-topic entries here and yet I can't cut it cleanly apart. So, eventually I'll talk about Diana's Grove and how some of those moments fold back into some of my surgery moments and my healing moments and my Temple of the Twelve moments. For now, though, as best as I can, I wanted to tell you what I learned about my third, and greatest, heart wound.

I don't count myself.

This month, my Pink Month with Temple of the Twelve, I accepted a few challenges. I agreed to dig for and uncover my three greatest heart wounds. I vowed to take steps to heal those wounds and to develop, in particular, a long-range strategy for the healing of the largest of these. I intended to act in a mindfully compassionate manner every day. I dared to stand my ground, at least, and stop running from love in all its forms as it made its way towards me. I would do (and record) one kind thing for someone else each day of the month. Tall order, all of that, from such a gentle color! :)

Following my surgery, I was doing some mid-moon musing on all the ways that this month has changed me and I have risen to the challenges Pink set before me. I've realized that I was shorting those around me by giving generously but carefully avoiding having to receive love/gifts/favors/encouragement/compliments/you name it in return. I wasn't allowing people to really connect with me, to know me beyond my surface layers. I've learned a lot about wounds--the way they stick around only because I feed them, the way that they can be honored by me and yet not sustained, and to appreciate their making as opportunities for compassionate growth within me. I've enjoyed the feeling of gifting myself with flowers for the sheer beauty and enjoyment of the act or surprising loved ones and strangers with tokens of appreciation and magick. I've affirmed for myself how inseparable my compassion and my service of priestessing are intertwined. There was one thing, though, that I had not done. I did not record my daily acts of kindness. Two days ago, I was quite certain, I would be repeating my Pink month in order to meet that obligation fairly.

It isn't that I didn't share a smile or a kind word, an encouraging note, a meal, or a gift with someone every day. Chances are good that I did. I left small "Believe" cards behind on bus benches and subway seats with random quotes about faith and accomplishment. I contributed uplifting, beloved books to the neighborhood free book exchange box. I called a rescue organization and did my best to aid a young pigeon in peril. I bought a meal and extra groceries for a neighborhood homeless man I've sailed past apologetically in the past. I poured my heart into the natal chart readings I did for people. I gave away gifts both small and large. I made a point to cheer all the people who crossed my path--nurses, cashiers, bus drivers. I wrote thank you notes in my hospital bed to the staff who delivered my food, checked my blood pressure, wheeled my bed from place to place. What I didn't do, though, was record any of it. I had failed in that obligation, completely, and would have to start over again next new moon.

On Lammas, all the things I had to mentally unpack wove together into one all-encompassing sense of insight. One part of that new knowledge is that my not-recording my good deeds is actually a symptom of my greatest heart wound--I do not count myself. I think that everyone around me is so beautiful, so heroic, so worthy of praise. I love the spark of the divine within their eyes and watch with sheer admiration the loving work their hands do in the world. They may not see their strength, their light, the difference their lives are making in the world--but I do. Me, though, I do not count myself. What I do is ordinary and flawed and always-too-little, so I do not count myself. When I achieve things that make my soul sing, they are soon forgotten. When I fall short of my expectations for myself, however, I remember those things forever.

At Diana's Grove, we were encouraged in ritual to string beads of challenge onto a string representing our life. Instead of counting our lives as a series of failures, we were pushed to rewrite those challenges into victories--even if that victory was merely surviving the hard time. I cannot tell you how much I wept. I see everyone for their victories, for their purest motives and most untarnished qualities, and myself I sketch in negative space. Here's where I fell, chose badly, stepped awry, took too long, wasted potential, wasted time, wasted space, did not do that which I knew was right. Here is where I screwed up my Pink Month's endeavours by not writing something down each day.

So slowly and finally, the messages are starting to sink in from the month. On Lammas, it all came together in one knowing--I am deserving of an equal share of compassion. It is a given that I am flawed, that I am challenged by this life and that I don't always respond in the way that I would wish. It is a given that I act sometimes out of fear instead of love, out of pain instead of wisdom. This is a given for everyone. This is not why I don't deserve compassion but rather why I require it. I must begin to count myself. I am as beautiful, as important and immortal and precious, as those who catch my eye and my heart and my admiration around me.

I must count myself, number my victories instead of my failures, and lend myself the compassion I need to truly thrive and grow and dare.
~*~

photo(33)
This month, I ran across two phenomenal pink items from a catalog of inspirational gifts for women. They made me weep with joy and soul-deep longing, so I bought them. There would be women aplenty in my life that I could gift them to. That is my way, when I see wonderful things, I want to give them to wonderful people. One, a small blank journal, reads on the cover, "She just had this way of brightening the day." The other, a portable folding picture frame, read on the outside cover, "She makes the world a better place." For Lammas, as an act of compassion to myself, I gave those gifts to myself. I will not redo my month of Pink, unless my New Moon time with Lady Pink convinces me otherwise, but part of my long-term task of healing my wound of not-counting-myself, I am keeping track in my little pink book my kindnesses of the day--for myself and for others. Into the picture frame, I slipped a photo of myself and a trimmed down card from the same "She..." line that reads, "She listened to her heart above all the other voices."

It feels too extravagantly, embarrassingly kind to myself and yet also, I know soul-deep, true. I have trouble holding onto the knowledge in the midst of all my self-criticism, but I am good and loving and compassionate and influential. The less I doubt myself, the more impossible, world-changing things I can achieve.

We are all necessary, irreplaceable, glorious lights in this life, finding the places where our unique abilities are cried out for, altering forevermore the lives of those we touch, shaping the world with our love and compassion--and I-Am-Counting-My-Self!

(I hope you will, too.)

photo(32)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink lotus candles)
My second wound is simple and yet profoundly limits my life. I do not want to look foolish and so I avoid trying things that I think I won't be good at or that I don't already know how to do. I allow myself no time for beginner's mistakes and learning curves. I, too often, choose not to take the risk because embarrassment and the potential for ridicule looms larger in my head than any potential benefits. That is no way to live. That's that squirrely intruder again, making past embarrassments seem monumental and potential future embarrassing moments even worse!

In the past, this afraid-to-look-ridiculous has kept me from:

-auditioning for solos, despite having a very good voice
-dancing where anyone could see me, outside of those show choir group performances
-playing table games at a casino with a real, live dealer
-teaching classes
-playing sports
-attempting art
-yoga
-going to the gym
-aerobics/fitness classes
-celebrating my birthday
-cultivating friendships; inviting people I don't know well to get together
-wearing skirts or other pretty and/or impractical clothing
-interviewing for better than minimum wage jobs
-inviting people into my home
-cooking for an audience
-answering the phone
-parading around naked
-wearing shorts that show off my uncommonly pale legs
-wearing sandals
-doing my hair or makeup
-going someone I might get lost
-parallel parking
-learning to drive a manual transmission car
-changing a tire/adding air to a tire
-practicing my foreign language skills in the hearing of others
-admit, where I fear strong debate or backlash, being a witch
-go to the spa
-go swimming
-(I'm going to come back, edit, and add more to the list as I think of any).

My inhibitions would love for me to sidestep this issue entirely, but I know that I have some unearthed talents in all these things I've never attempted. Just imagine, I finally learned at age 31 how to hula hoop! It was fun and I might have looked laughable but who cares? (Okay, I care.) But if I get over the wound of insensitive people from my past making fun of me and tormenting me, then maybe it would start to not matter if people giggle when I don't quite get it right the first time. Maybe. I need to start doing things that feel emotionally risky to me. It is the only way to put those demons of self-doubt to rest. What's the worst that can happen, realistically?
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink heart birds)
photo(24)


Lots of rose quartz, the vintage floral saucer I received at the Midsummer Faerie Celebration from Sarah & Jenn, pink candles, rose buds from the bouquet I bought myself, a decorative pink egg-shaped sculpture (sometimes in life, change is necessary and sudden--the egg is meant to crack and so, perhaps, must I). A glittery spin-art that Graeme made me a couple weeks ago. A heart-in-hand plaque that reads, "To the world, you may be just one person but to one person, you may be the world." Red and pink stained glass butterfly, other stones and whatnot, pink fabric.

photo(23)

Lady Pink, help me to remember to be compassionate to myself so that I can be limitlessly compassionate to others. Help me forget my pain, my troubles, my fears by focusing on the ways that I am always capable of improving someone else's day. Show me where to give and open my heart to feeling worthy to receive.

Blessed, Blessed, Blessed Be. <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (perfect love)
Last month, we discussed this in greater detail, but this is the official sign-up for students in their Temple of the Twelve year to exchange tokens of achievement and recognition with each other. If you haven't read that already, please do for more clarification of our exchange intentions.

By signing up, you are agreeing to send one token of the color listed to another student no later than Saturday, July 24th. Because of shipping times and study schedules, this will only be open to members of the United States. (If you're studying in another country and love the token exchange idea, I hope you'll start your own local group!)

To participate this month, please complete the following questions in the comment section below by Wednesday, July 14th. Partners will be assigned and emailed shipping information on Thursday. Please make sure, before you commit to signing up that your schedule and finances allows you to fulfill this special task in the 10 days allotted. :) Comments below are screened so nobody else can see your personal information.

Sign-Up:
1. Full Name:
2. Shipping Address:
3. Email Address:
4. What color token are you working to earn this month?
5. Do you have allergies or specific product restrictions? (Vegan, unscented, etc?)
6. If the author of Temple of the Twelve ([livejournal.com profile] elfinecstasy) felt called to send you an additional color token, may I share your mailing address with her?
7. Is there anything you'd like to share with your partner about your color journey this month?

I hope you'll let the Divine guide your hand as you find the perfect small token of your fellow student's achievements this month. It should be something small, of the color studied, and selected with heart. Only you will know what you're meant to send! :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (scarab)
IMG_0701

For the last time, I've lit my black pillar candle, the one so cheaply made that it is only a whisper of black coating on an unabashedly white candle. Earlier this month, I knew it to be a metaphor for our embodied existence. It is so much more than that.

I've pulled out my collaged self-portrait, that archetypal image of the Goddess, of air and water and magickal heart. Making it, digging down through all my layers in order to accurately, honestly represent them, I expected to have to overcome shame at what I found. I knew I'd have to just bare it and steel myself for the response from friends and family and myself. Who would still love Me, the dark and the light, the public and the private, the hidden and the obvious together in one complex person? I had no idea.

I am that candle. I dug through the dark parts and you know what I found this month? My Soul. My whole, shining, good, Divine, immortal and evolving Soul. The heart of me is big, it is filled with the infinite possibilities of perfect love, true connection, and the potential for complete healing. I chose this embodied life to learn more, to grow more, and in so doing I pulled on a flawed mantle. I trip up on silly things and skin my knees. I worry about my flyaway hair and let insecurities lock me away from other people. I am human, imperfect, a work-in-progress and that's just the thinnest most inconsequential surface layer. If I dig, I don't get to darker places within myself--I scrape off the daily-life detritus that obscures my soul from view. I am as beautiful, as perfect, as shining and loving as everyone else is in their depths--for we're all bits of radiant godstuff poured into flawed temporary housing.

I have spent so much time worrying about the time I was wasting, anxious that my life didn't meet some arbitrary standards that I had set for it, shameful at how ineffectual and unimportant and invisible I felt. I have been so hounded by the looming sense of my eventual death that I've been paralyzed and self-hating. That's short-sighted one-life thinking.

At my birth, the moon was in Taurus. Physical things make me feel safe. It is a stubburn, fixed sign for me, at odds with the rest of my air and water chart. I feel safest when I've dug in. When I'm anxious, I ground my emotions with food and material accumulation. I abhor change. Well, what greater change can there be than death? New existence, new chance, new set-up. I value it spiritually and intellectually, but my little warm earth body wants to stay just this way, unmoving, forever. Without change, though, the egg never cracks, the seasons never shift, the seed never sprouts, and my soul cannot continue to evolve.

By doing nothing, by vacillating for years, I've been making a daily choice. I can choose, instead, to change and to allow my life to change and evolve along with me.

"It is free will that lets us choose what we eat, our cars, our clothes, our vacations...similarly, we can choose to increase our capacity to love or be compassionate; we can choose to perform the little acts of kindness that bring us internal satisfaction; we can choose generosity over selfishness, respect over prejudice. In every aspect of our lives we can choose to make the loving decision, and by doing so, our souls will evolve." ~Dr. Brian L. Weiss in Same Soul, Many Bodies

I am not on track to cure cancer or govern the nation, become Miss America or a fashion model or do any other exceptional and ambitious and societally applauded life undertakings I may have once dreamed of. That has poisoned my self-esteem for so long, measuring my accomplishments against that impossible yard stick. My soul doesn't need that to be bettered. None of it. My month working with the color Black in the Temple of the Twelve was bookended neatly by volunteer shifts at a neighborhood homeless shelter. Six hour shifts, without break, interviewing families and seniors teetering on the brink of complete financial disaster. I could have done it, tirelessly, for days. Both times, I came home with such a sense of completion and presence and inner satisfaction and divine glow that I felt, quite fully, that I could die a happy woman in those moments. I let my heart lead and I shined and watched others shine around me and I was in an almost otherworldly state of Perfect Love and communion. I was doing what I'd entered this world to do--to Be Love. What more than that could I possibly aspire to? It's all about love and I have that, naturally, in spades.

My gift isn't small after all--it has the biggest potential of all.

"All of your roads will end in death. Not all roads lead to life." ~Cynthea Jones (Diana's Grove Mystery School)

I will love to my best, most fearless ability. I choose to hold a candle in the dark so that others may catch a glimpse of their own divine soul. I trust that change, while not always easy or safe feeling, leads me to greater spiritual evolution and healing. I know that under this very thin veneer of flaws and uncertainty, that I am truly a "whole, shining, good, Divine, immortal and evolving Soul" and I will look for it sparkling in the eyes of those around me.

Lady Black sent me a token. It is a Glamourkin, the image of a castle tower on an utterly black night with light in just one window. The text, clipped from an old book and reassembled, reads "a candle burns, as bright as stars". We are the candles, little embodied bits of godstuff and starshine, immortal and growing and exactly where we are supposed to be on this learning path. Love shines in the darkest of nights and connects us, not only to each other, but to our own immortal, divine cores.

I read the words I collaged together as part of my self-portrait's heart one last time.
We all have a role mothering. Witch, help connect all our broken pieces together.

Hail and Farewell, Black.

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December 2015

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