Monthly Archives: February 2019

New Year New You 2018 – Week Eleven: Casting Out Doubt

I’m (once again) doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. It’s a good mix of practical, magical, and thought-based exercises to help accomplish specific and significant change in your own life. If it’s relevant to your interests, give it a try!
 
Instructions:We need to free ourselves from this horribly insidious, inner voice that wants us to never try, to never dare, to never dream, and to never step outside our little boxes. […] It doesn’t want you to change because change is hard and scary.
 

Dark Days Tarot - The Moon - Three swimmers dive over a dark lunar face, above a treeline and flying birds.

Dark Days Tarot – The Moon – Three swimmers dive over a dark lunar face, above a treeline and flying birds.


 
Tarot Card: The Moon
I picked The Moon because it has to do with “believing illusions”.
At this point, the old refrain of my Jerk Brain is… boring, honestly. It’s still very effective, but I know the words and the tune by heart, and it’s getting easier and easier to recognize it when it starts playing on my internal radio again.
I wrote a poem, more than a year ago now, for the New Moon in Scorpio. It was about how the deep, dark secrets we keep from ourselves – the ones we’re supposed to go deep-diving into the fathomless muck in the bottoms of our unconscious to find and drag into the light – aren’t about how we’re actually Very Bad People. Sometimes the secrets we keep from ourselves are that we’re lovable, worthy, and good.
My Jerk Brain, my “Horrible Voice”, keeps suggesting ways for everything to go horribly wrong. “Your marriage is going to fall apart because you have a new partner!”, “Your new relationship is going to fall apart because it’s long distance and you’re probably just making it up anyway!”, “Your making-ends-actually-meet job is going to disappear in forty more hours and you’ll be right back to scraping by just like the last [too many] years!”
And, okay, with the possible exception of that last one? I know that my Horrible Voice is lying. My marriage isn’t falling apart. My girlfriend is nuts about me. My wife and my girlfriend like each other. My metamours seem pretty great so far. Everything is going to be fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.
 
But riding herd on my Jerk Brain when it has so many weak/tender spots it can poke? Not easy. It’s like… I plug one hole, and the water starts rushing in somewhere else.
 
How I generally cast out doubt is by having magical baths and showers. Partly because they warm me up and relax me, since a lot of my Jerk Brain is basically just anxiety, sometimes exacerbated by being too cold. (Although I admit that I bought myself heavily-discounted “unicorn magic” scented candles – they basically smell like fruity, vanilla-sugar – for days when I want to remind myself that, “Why yes, I am in fact a Magical Marianas Trench Unicorn and my angsty mental state can just fuck off”).
This time, though, I’m also trying stuff like “mindfulness”. In the sense of “Okay, but is this actually reasonable? Or are you blowing things way out of proportion, outright making stuff up, or being kind of ridiculous here” in situations where the only person likely to be gaslighting me is myself.
That last one is, uh. It’s tiring – because I’m literally having these chats with myself every 3-5 minutes, some days. But it’s also being remarkably effective, so I think I’m going to keep it up.
 
Beyond those two things – the magical self-care and the mindfulness self-talk – I’m putting myself back on the “do a physical activity (briefly) every day” track – and sometimes more than once a day, if I catch myself getting stuck in the flight/fight/freeze part of the “stress cycle” and need to literally shake (shaaaaaaaaaaaake) it off. Because getting out in the fresh air and/or moving my body to some upbeat music really does seem to help my brain. I’ve also (just barely) started a second “gratitude practice”, over on Syrens, specifically to help with shame resilience around body pleasure and sexual connections, so that I can try to get out of my own way on that front.
Wish me luck on that one.

Full Moon – Ice Moon Crests

February 18th 2019 - Waxing Gibbous Moon against a Black Sky - My wife took this photo of the almost-full moon while visiting her girlfriend's cottage.

February 18th 2019 – Waxing Gibbous Moon against a Black Sky – My wife took this photo of the almost-full moon while visiting her girlfriend’s cottage.


 
Pisces season just started. The full moon shifts from Leo to Virgo tonight. I’ve been chewing on (not literally) the cards I drew at the new moon – the idea that I have a million options, if I just re-write the stories that I’m telling myself.
I’ve been reading Come As You Are to remind myself of how to build some detours around my worst ones, thinking of things I can do, ritually speaking, to help get unblocked. (I’m being kind of vague here, but I’m talking about sex-and-relationships stuff). It’s embarrassing how much of it is just how much of it is “What would reduce the stress in your life? Make that change”.
It’s singing the same tune as Liz Worth’s astrological advice, asking “What needs to get done today?” with an explicit eye to practical/physical things like “do the dishes” or “run errands”.
 
Today, I cleaned the stove, washed the pots and pans that had been languishing by the sink, and swept the floor.
Small things.
Things that I should have covered every single day, but rarely do.
I put away the Solstice decorations (finally – only 2 weeks later than planned).
I danced around the kitchen to a pop album (Fifth Harmony – yes, really) and did literal stair-climbing for all of five minutes. Which I realize isn’t “real cardio” but it’s more than I’d be doing otherwise, so I’m calling it a win.
A couple of things to make my house a nicer place to be hiding out inside of (because I so don’t want to go outside in winter, I just don’t) and a few things to make sure I’m moving my body in spite of that.
Tonight I’ll burn the last of the candle I lit on the 16th (my Dad’s death day – it’s been 19 years).
 
~*~
I used a Random Card Generator to pull three cards:
 
PAST - 5 of Pentacles - Wild Unknown Tarot - A wilted red rose against a black background

PAST – 5 of Pentacles – Wild Unknown Tarot – A wilted red rose against a black background


 
PRESENT - Seven of Cups - Wild Unknown Tarot - A card that can be read as night or day; snow-covered mountains or silhouetted crags; six full cups and one flipped over or six upturned cups and one still full; a crescent moon, or a bright sun to light the scene.

PRESENT – Seven of Cups – Wild Unknown Tarot – A card that can be read as night or day; snow-covered mountains or silhouetted crags; six full cups and one flipped over or six upturned cups and one still full; a crescent moon, or a bright sun to light the scene.


 
FUTURE - High Priestess - Wild Unknown Tarot - A Siberian tiger under a crescent moon, with a crystal orb before her.

FUTURE – High Priestess – Wild Unknown Tarot – A Siberian tiger under a crescent moon, with a crystal orb before her.


 
PAST: Feeling like an outsider. Scarcity thinking.
PRESENT: Overwhelm. Wishful thinking.
FUTURE: Intuition. Trust. Potential.
 
Well… One can only hope.
I know I’d like to leave my scarcity-thinking in the past, and that I’m feeling a certain amount of overwhelm these days (like, for the past couple of days, I’ve actually caught myself avoiding getting out of bed because I don’t want to go downstairs where it’s “noisy”).
Maybe I can leave a little bit more of my scarcity-thinking and overwhelm behind as this moon wains down again, and fill up that empty space with a little more trust in myself and in The Process.
 
~*~
 
Movement: I have actually been doing some! A little bit of weights or stairs or yoga (or all three, sometimes with added vocal warm-ups). That an a LOT of snow-shoveling. I’m a mix of embarrassed and concerned with how quickly I get out of breath when I’m doing something even slightly strenuous (like walking up hill). Ten minutes a day of barely-more-than-basic physical activity isn’t going to fix that. But it’ll get things to be better than they are now, which is something.
 
Attention: Have been looking into what stresses me out about my life (a number of things, some of-which I don’t have control over) and which of those things I can do something about. Looking, also, for cheep/free lit/music events in the neighbourhood that I can take myself out to.
 
Gratitude: I’m thankful for a long weekend had mostly to myself. Dates (plural!) with my girlfriend. My wife coming home from her girlfriend’s cottage so full of happiness (and knowing what she needs to do to give herself that happiness more often). Grapefruit all the way from Florida. Novels to re-read. Discount chocolate. A tea date with a friend set up for right around the next new moon. Ancestors I can talk to. Impending cuddles with said recently-returned wife. Grateful for people who love me. ❤
 
Inspiration: Come As You Are and the information there-in. Asking my girlfriend about some of her past ritual work. That big, gorgeous, super moon. Clear, bright days and puddles of sunshine that are warm through the window. Candle lit baths with colourful, heavily-scented bath bombs (the scent doesn’t cling to my skin, which is handy for leaving-the-house purposes). My friend/client’s first solo show about how life experiences (aging, trauma, dance/sport training, chronic illness/pain, pregnancy, and all sorts of other stuff) effect the body, and about bearing witness to those realities.
 
Creation: I have NOT been making a lot of things. Have spent most of my down time, these past two weeks, curled up in a blanket nest, drinking hot tea, and reading a bunch of books. Which is fantastic, but not particularly creative. Currently drawing up some prompts for a possible blog/brain project, so we’ll see what I come up with, essay-wise.

New Moon – Ice Moon Begins (Imbolg 2019)

What I Did on My Imbolg Vacation: A burst pipe chez my GF meant a team effort to prevent the house from flooding PLUS shutting off the water for a then-unknown amount of time, which meant reserving some of the flood for toilet flushing and hand-washing while we still had the option. Pictured: A stand-up shower stall with six large pots/bowls of water sitting on the tiles, awaiting necessity.

What I Did on My Imbolg Vacation: A burst pipe chez my GF meant a team effort to prevent the house from flooding PLUS shutting off the water for a then-unknown amount of time, which meant reserving some of the flood for toilet flushing and hand-washing while we still had the option. Pictured: A stand-up shower stall with six large pots/bowls of water sitting on the tiles, awaiting necessity.


 
I got back from my Imbolg visit to my girlfriend’s place earlier this week, but have been holding off doing the write-up for the New Moon / Cross-Quarter Day until I had some free time and recovered energy to do so.
In my neck of the woods – which is undergoing its annual Winterlude Thaw right now[1] – Imbolg means that the light is noticeably coming back. There’s still a LOT of winter yet to go in a place where even the earliest flowers don’t turn up until well after the Spring Equinox. It’s a time to focus on the hearth and the forge, on what you can create – with your hands, with your head and heart – and on the seeds (literal and metaphorical) that you know won’t even be sprouting for another few months. Imbolg is the half-way point of Winter. We made it through the worst of the cold. Now we get through the lean times (much, muuuuuuch easier to do with two freezers and grocery stores available, I do realize). Mending and tending. A slow germination, leaning towards May, towards heat and light and the quickening earth.
 
But. I didn’t spend Imbolg in my neck of the woods.
I spent it, and the New Moon in Aquarius, in a different town (and a different country) entirely, in a climate that’s hypothetically much warmer than my own, but which was enduring unusually cold temperatures when I arrived from The Frozen North. And I spent it dealing with water a whole lot more than this fire festival would normally entail.
As you can see in the photo (and the caption) above, There Was A Flood. A burst pipe, low in the wall, that had to be shut off from the street by the local water authorities. There was a lot of baling; a lot of wringing out of sodden towels, outdoors in -13C temperatures, a lot of coming up with DIY solutions while my person and her housemates and I waited for the Landlord to show up with an actual plumber to fix the break, and wondering how many candles we’d actually be lighting once the sun went down given that the burst pipe was a little too close to an electrical outlet to safely keep the power (meaning the heat, and the lights, and the stove) running.
It all worked out in the end, of course, and mercifully quickly, but it was An Adventure.
And now my young lady and I have A Story to tell.
We were joking that we were “officially a couple now”, because we’d been through a crisis together.
It was a good visit, my dears. For so many reasons.
 
Now that I’m home, it’s time to do the cleaning that tends to come with Imbolg, the start-fresh moments that come with every New Moon. Time to pack up the Solstice decorations, change out the spruce wreath for the one that’s all grape vines, ribbons, and cinnamon. Time to vacuum the burlap-and-foam under padding for the imminant return of the Magic Carpet my wife (after joking about it literally since our first service-versary, AGES ago – we’re at nine years in a service dynamic as of this Sunday) has had professionally cleaned through one of her jobs. Time to shovel the back walkway (again), clean out the fridge, and take out a lot of compost.
 
Liz Worth talks about the New Moon in Aquarius being one that can help us break free of old patterns. She says:

What we are hoping for is there for a reason, and that our desires are arrows helping us to see the way.

Where are your desires, pleasures, longings directing you?
 
Steve Kenson, in his essay “The Queer Journey of the Wheel” (in Harrington’ and Kulystin’s Queer Magic: Power Beyond Boundaries) refers to Imbolg as a time of Naming, of putting words around What Is, if only to yourself. A time of recognition and understanding. He’s talking explicitly about one’s self-recognition of being queer/trans/both, but I think it can go beyond that. We’re still in Root Time, contemplation time. What needs recognizing right now?
 
Imbolg is Brigid’s day. A good time for poetry (it’s ALWAYS a good time for poetry, but stick with me). Brigid is a wordsmith as well as a blacksmith. What are you trying to put words around right now?
 
~*~
 

Silicon Dawn - On the left, the 6 of Swords (a smith working in her workshop, five swords hung on the wall behind her, while she works the sixth using an electric current. On the right, She Is Legend (VIII - one of the bonus cards in the Silicon Dawn deck), a genderfluid love-cat in tiny clothing, possibly planning to dance all night at an house-based rave.

Silicon Dawn – On the left, the 6 of Swords (a smith working in her workshop, five swords hung on the wall behind her, while she works the sixth using an electric current. On the right, She Is Legend (VIII – one of the bonus cards in the Silicon Dawn deck), a genderfluid love-cat in tiny clothing, possibly planning to dance all night at an house-based rave.


 
For my tarot card meditaiton during this waxing moon, I drew two cards.
First, I flipped the deck over to find the Six of Swords.
Then I shuffled and split the deck to find She Is Legend.
 
The six of swords is a card about change. Changing states. Changing locations. Sometimes it’s literally about going on a physical trip somewhere else – something that can be much needed as we slog through the cold, damp, grey, endless days of what author Amelinda Berube eloquently refers to as “the armpit of the year” (and that slog, itself, is an aspect of this card). But the swords are cards about intellect, about the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world and our respective places in it, and this card frequently puts me in mind of The Hermit – a reminder to make some inner changes, create some new neural pathways in order to enter a new frame of mind and deal with the effects of trauma. (I mean, don’t get me wrong. This takes FOR EVAR and is an absolutely cyclic, non-linear mess of an undertaking. But it’s a necessary one and it can be accomplished, little by little, provided you actually put some effort into getting the work actually done).
 
She Is Legend is one of the Silicon Dawn’s “bonus cards”. It’s a joyful, big-hearted, queer-as-fuck, indicator of having a million options, of infinite potential and fractal possibilities, of love never being a zero-sum game. This is a reminder that I don’t have to pretend to be need-less. That I don’t need to preemptively put myself onto anyone else’s back-burner. This more-experienced-than-they-look character is a reminder to remember the time when my skin knew what it wanted, and that naivete never saved me, but that the arrows of my own desire can.
 
~*~
 
Movement: A fair amount of dancing around the kitchen, singing along to tunes. (That said, I’ve been avoiding walking to work lately, because the ground is very icy and – even with crampons on – I have some concerns about falling). Doing some exercises to help my back (this means Plank more than anything else) and shoulders. Did my ten minutes (roughly – based on counting out minutes the way I do when I’m doing short poses) of weights and cardio (for a given value of “cardio” that means “walking up and down the stairs a lot”) and yoga things, and am honestly rather embarrassed about just how out of breath I am having done so. But I did them (and found myself wanting to do vocal warm-ups, at the same time, which was a nice bonus). So go me.
 
Attention: Keeping an eye out for submission calls and deadlines. Also keeping an eye out for icy patches when I’m walking.
 
Gratitude: Thankful for affordable (it’s relative) plane tickets, flexible work schedules, being able to see my girlfriend in person(!!!), for easy-free communication so that we can stay in touch without drowning in long distance bills, grateful for her patience and her kindness and her enthusiasm. Grateful for meeting my new metamours, and my GF’s Best People, and really liking them. Grateful for easy, largely hassle-free border crossings in both directions (thank goodness!). Grateful for snuggles with my wife when I got home, and being able to tell her stories of my time away. Grateful for her skills and her steadfastness and her willingness to make me comfort food the night I got back. And for the bucket of compersion she’s so happy to marinate in. Grateful for how much my two sweeties like each other. There are other things, too. Gratitude for modeling work, for a repaired coat and boots, for discount bath products at the pharmacy, for an in-coming clean carpet. All sorts of good things. But right now – as is so often the case – I’m grateful for having so much love in my life. In this case, for being able to say “I love you” to two romantic partners, two s-types, who say it to me, too. My heart is very full right now, and it’s wonderful.
 
Inspiration: The Shondes’ “Everything Good”. Hot baths (because: me). Saint Carmen of the Main (Linda Gaboriau’s English translation). Poems Between Women (edited by Emma Donoghue).
 
Creation: Started learning how to make lace this past week, and it’s actually working. Have started (just barely) a not-for-the-project glosa based on Elsa Gidlow’s poem, “Relenquishment”. May possibly have invented (ish?) a cocktail, though I’ll need to actually try it out, despite having zero of the ingredients. >.>
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] There’s been a rise in temperatures during most of February for a solid 100 years. It’s why they scheduled a festival of explicitly outdoor “winter fun” at this time. But a hundred years ago those temperature climbs still meant it was below Freezing. Just think, like, -7C rather than -30C. Instead of what it’s doing now, which is flip flopping between -18C and +5C without a lot of transition time, thus turning the whole city into a sheet of ice with intermittent flooding.