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COLD (Part Two)
I dropped the socks off at the drop-in center on Bank St.
You guys, they made a huge big deal out of it.
Which felt awkward as heck, but also: Maybe bring them some socks?
Cornerstone, on Booth St, needs socks too, and menstrual stuff, and pretty things like nail polish, if you’ve got some available.
This was the card for December 4th. The day I dropped off the socks and pressure-canned the pumpkin soup. (I made way more soup than I needed to, so… I have extra soup?) It’s a card about nurturing and a card about building family.
Where do you feel you have enough to share? Where do you feel that you don’t? Are there ways you can change that? Where do you need to get comfortable asking for help and support? What is your relationship to giving and receiving care? What is your relationship to the concept of “family”. Are you dealing with Hard Feels about your family of origin right now? How do you build family, yourself? How, and to whom, do you open your home? Who welcomes you into theirs?
I wrote a whole Thing about this over on Syrens, and I find that I relate uncomfortably to Brenee Brown’s writing about the power dynamics involved in being the “helper” vs being the “helpee” and being uncomfortable with needing things (whether that’s emotional support, human connection, or something more immediate like food or shelter). Years of low and unstable income (and, y’know, body pain) may have gotten me a lot more comfortable with accepting offers of immediate/physical help (and marginally less averse to asking for it when I need it), but I still have a hard time Using My Words when it comes to asking for reassurance or attention or affection. Part of this hearkens all the way back to a childhood of being “too sensitive”, but a fair bit of it connects to Adventures In Polyamoury, and being rewarded for being “the stable girlfriend” who didn’t need quite so much emotional support and hand-holding with regards to non-monogamy (that doesn’t mean I needed none, mind you) and/or who could provide some stability for partners who were having a hard time for years at a stretch. So my relationship to giving care is (a) I get a lot out of it, including being rewarded in my relationships, but also (b) I sometimes feel pretty resentful about it, too. My relationship to receiving care is… (a) I really wanna! but also (b) I feel like I’m being too demanding/needy/childish and that the people around me tend to be worse off than me, so I’m being kind of a selfish ass for wanting people who have body-pain and mental health stuff and all the rest of it to look after me.
It’s kind of a mess.
This is a card about tradition. About your place in a lineage. About rules and codes and expectations. About power structures.
A lot of what I might talk about here actually fits better with the concept of “Shadows”, which I’ll be talking about starting on the 15th, but it’s relevant to this card so here we are. Like The Magician, this is a card that asks you “Where do your politically-supported privileges lie and who, relative to them, is metaphorically (and frequently literally) left out in the cold? How can you help to change that?”
As an able-bodied, white, cis lady, in Canada, this means offering my support to disabled people, trans people and racialized – particularly indigenous – people in concrete ways. This can mean offering my spare room to a trans kid who needs a place to stay. It can mean getting out my tape measure and helping to create an accessibility document for an event I’m attending. It can mean showing up on parliament hill to support the kids from Grassy Narrows. And, yeah, it can also mean throwing money when you’ve got some to throw.
This is kind of the religious counterpart to the Emperor, though I’ve seen it depicted as everything from a dominatrix to a charismatic speaker to an Ancestor with the head of a deer. In every instance, this is a card about being a guide (or finding one. Maybe it says something about me that I automatically gravitate to “you are supposed to be/offer this” rather than “seek this out in others”, but the card goes both ways).
Also, this being a religious blog, it’s nice to be able to talk pretty explicitly about the religious elements of both this card and what it may be suggesting that you do/consider/seek. So:
What guides you? Who guides you? How do you seek out their counsel and, importantly, how (and when and if) do you follow through on their advice?
I look for guidance from my gods and ancestors, primarily. And I mostly use tarot to talk to them, since my head is basically a concrete bunker and it’s hard to get a message through otherwise. But I also look for… not even messages, exactly. Just “information”. What animals are hanging out, drawing my attention, in the vicinity? What plants are growing where? What do they tend to be doing? What can I learn from what they’re up to? I may loathe cockroaches and NEVER want to share space with them again, but boy-howdy, do they ever do Family as a group that scatters for part of every day and then regroups again when it’s time to sleep. See also crows. See also the family of rats living in my neighbour’s shed. Maybe that skunk who came trotting out between my house and the next one over is a reminder that just because somebody’s pretty & fancy doesn’t mean they won’t raise a big stink about it if you cross their boundaries or threaten their people. Maybe I need to consider which boundaries need maintenance. Maybe I need to put some attention on where my extended family needs support and protection. What do dandelions and mullien have to tell me resilience? About wishes? About softness and hardiness not being mutually exclusive?
How do you lead/guide others by example? Are your actions in line with your values? Where and how can they line up better?
So this is a place where activist types – especially when we’re new at it – can get tripped up by trying to be paladins. You have to pick a couple of things that you’re good at and show up when those things are needed. Some people are good at writing op-eds and getting the word out. Some people are walking and stomping and chanting and street theatre. Some people are good at child care. Some people are good at Having Polite But Persistent Conversations with politicians and never letting their nerves or their screaming-and-throwing-things show on the outside. Some people are good at five-part harmony and writing musical calls-to-arms.
Me? I’m reliably and consistently good at cooking and emotional labour. So I do a lot of checking in with people, and I do a lot of sharing my groceries, showing up with a casserole when everything is hard, having people over for dinner when they’re stressed or cash-strapped, volunteering at the soup kitchen, showing people how to forage for free food, and similar.
I value food. I value sharing food as a way of building/strengthening community and family bonds, both laterally and inter-generationally. I value the feminized labour of cooking (and gathering, and harvesting, and gardening, and preserving) and feeding people. I value the way that putting together a care package with somebody’s specific dietary needs (and wants) in mind is a way to remind them that they are loved and cared for in their totality and that they don’t have to pretend to be able to digest gluten or tomatoes or whatever in order to be wanted.
On a different note, as someone’s who’s in the throes of NRE right now (it’s great, thanks for asking), I know that I want to be my best self for my shiny new girlfriend, which serves as a good reminder to show up and be my best self for my wife, my friends-and-family, and people who are generally around the place, too.
If I bring up how important it is to write poetry or do ritual (or both, in combination!)… am I making those things/actions a priority in my life?
If I’m paying attention to the D/s dynamic I have with my sweetheart, am I also showing up for the D/s dynamic I have with my wife?
If I know that singing and doing core-strengthening exercises are both good for me (for my body, for my brain, for my heart)… am I actually doing them with any degree of frequency and regularity?
(The answer, at the moment, is… slightly? But nowhere near as much as I should be. More work to do on that front).
How do I connect this card with Cold? This card that is about connection, about showing up for each other (and – if you’re the Next World deck – about self-care and showing up for yourself), about trust.
In my first post about Cold, I talked about how it’s not just the ambient temperature, but numbness and desensitization that needs to be addressed here. The Lovers is a card about vulnerability. About opening up to connection. About compassion and empathy and relating to people.
I’ve seen so much stuff on twitter (among other places) about approaching things – interactions, situations – in the coming year with an eye to “How can I increase the love in the world”. How can I keep this stressful, scary conversation “friendly and personal” so that it has a hope of changing someone’s mind? How can I approach volunteering at the soup kitchen and chatting up socially isolated people with solidarity, empathy, and respect rather than by participating in some kind of patronizing benefactor/charity-case dynamic with another human being? How can we, as people who all need care and support, look out for each other in ways that allow for a lot of mutuality so that nobody feels like a bitter, burnt-out martyr, and nobody feels like a helpless mess who can’t do anything themselves, in our relationships with each other?
And I think that’s how The Lovers relates to the themes I’m trying to address, or at least consider, through the lens of “Cold”.
It’s December 8th today. I’m technically into my second theme – Dark – but I’ll start to address that, and the accompanying tarot cards, in another couple of days.
For now, I need to bring the pressure-canner back to the tool library.