Whelp. It’s almost the end of February, it was 11C on Monday (wtf…), we’re due to get snow, freezing rain AND a sudden return to very sub-zero temperatures in the next 48 hours, and Mercury is backstroking through Pisces as I type.
I keep getting the suspicion that planetary retrogrades can function a lot like reversed cards in tarot readings. By-which I mean that rather than (or in addition to) being about the “disfunctional” or “negative” or just “difficult” aspects of a thing, reversed/retrograde can point you in a particular direction.
I tend to read upright cards as “this is about the relationship you have with the outside world” and reversed cards as “this is about the relationship you have with yourself”.
And planetary retrogrades can be an opportunity to ask a similar question.
In the case of Mercury – planet of communication and, mythologically speaking, messenger between the various worlds – this retrograde is an opportunity for me to ask myself “What stories am I telling myself? Where I am lying to myself? Where – as Liz Worth suggests – are my actions, commitments, and habits NOT syncing up with the true nature of my most integrated self?
Which is to say, it’s a good time for Shadow Work.
So I’m doing some Shadow Work!
Trying to triangulate between (assumptions I make about the nature of) other people’s Stories so that I can uncover some more of my own.
If any of you have ever read Starhawk’s Truth or Dare – and it has a been a looooong time since I read it – you may remember her concept of The Unbreakable Vow. The terrible bargain we strike with ourselves – and, according to our imaginations, with someone else who generally has no idea we’re doing this but upon-whom we are dependent for life-and-death because: attachment bonds – to give up something, or take on something, in order to maintain access to love-and-belonging and therefore to survival.
A lot of my stories – a LOT of my stories – are about dropping everything to take care of other people (Who will SURELY reject/abandon me and Leave Me To Die, Frozen and Alone in the Snow if I fail to do this). BUT… I think there’s a flip-side to it. Something that dovetails with my expectations around “Being taken advantage of” or “being used” but isn’t that.
I told myself a story about my mom. About what I suspect her own Story is. That if someone has to be Helpful in order to be Good AKA Safe-and-Loved (which is definitely one of MY stories, too), then on some level that person needs others – attachment-bound others – to be help-LESS.
And so I asked myself if it was possible that I have made some kind of a deal With Myself, the aforementioned Unbreakable Vow, that says:
In order for ME to be safe – to be loved by my mom, instead of punished by her; to be rewarded by an employer instead of punished by them (or fired or whatever); stuff like that – I must remain on some level both compliant (accepting of someone else’s controlling behavior, direction, demands/requests, etc) AND… kind of… at the mercy of the other party in some way that involves “not being able to succeed by myself”.
Like I think there’s another angle to the “giving up my autonomy” thing that shows up under the heading of Compliance, and I’m wondering if this is it.
So that’s something I’m chewing on right now.
I’m reading The Secret of the Shadow which… has both useful information (albeit sometimes hard to parse, particularly when navigating the amount of ableism, fatphobia, whorephobia, and other crap that this book is definitely written with – reader beware) AND has… a lot of stuff that feels like work I’ve already done. Which isn’t to say it’s not work I still need to keep doing – when I’m feeling resentful and frustrated about cleaning my house and telling myself “I can’t do XYZ because someone else hasn’t done QRV yet” I need to catch what I’m doing and say “Okay, but is this really about “can’t” or is this about “annoyed because I have do to QRV as well as XYZ”? Like can you actually, in reality, do the thing, and you’re just pissed off?” Because frequently the answer is Yes.
But it’s not a new concept, if you will.
I have to tell you: Shadow Work is hard because It’s Annoying. It’s hard to do by yourself without someone to be like “Have you considered this other angle that is NOT just digging down into stuff you already know?” because it’s harder to catch that when it’s YOU doing it. It’s a bit of a slog – and maybe a LOT of a slog – because it’s hard (for me, at least) to tell when I’m making progress vs when I’m kind of maybe going backwards?
But I’m noticing that my throat chakra talks to me when I’m in my shadow-place.
Situations where I have a heap of shame – like Eight of Swords stuff – or am freaking out about a Thing that’s (probably) connected to my Shadow Beliefs (like a few days ago when I was in a work situation where my brain was screaming “No! Don’t tell Them that I don’t Need them! They’ll punish/abandon me!” about a third-party communication and my larynx swelled right the heck up immediately.
It didn’t calm down until that night, when I did my Moon Salutations while singing and consciously using good vocal technique to do so.
I think it’s interesting that I have some sort of built in “shut-up-shut-up-shut-up” THING going on that’s so physical and, in retrospect, so recognizable.
I think it’s interesting that my own body has these ways of talking to the words-using part of my brain, and I’m really glad that I’m starting to understand what I’m saying to myself, and under-which circumstances I find myself saying which things. Learning how to recognize where my fears are flaring up, learning how to Not Hide while that’s happening… it’s A Process, I tell you, but it feels good to be doing.
In other news, and for the first time in any sort of official capacity, I’m undertaking an Austerity.
This is a thing that comes up in Ms Sugar’s writing with a fair degree of frequency, and which I consistently dislike. But I’m giving it a shot right now because… why the hell not, basically. There are things I need to do anyway, so why not do them with some magical Intention behind them.
My annual Eat From the Larder Challenge has started early this year, and will be running for about ten weeks rather than about four. It is, as usual, somewhat modified. I can restock on food – milk, eggs, coffee, a few other things – that we go through frequently (in part because this is a LONG version of what I’m used to, and in part because this is MY Austerity, not my wife’s), but only if I pay cash, and there’s a limit to how much I can spend in a given week.
It’s a sacrifice of time and energy and easiness, basically, as coming up with tasty dinners and speedy lunches when I can’t decide to Just Buy Something is… tiring, to say the least.
I have bread rising right now. I’ll be making another batch of Hippie Muffins (think: lots of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds plus fruit butter standing in for the majority of the sweetener) later today. I need to put a bowl of chick peas on to soak, and another one of green lentils. I may or may not set up some mung beans to sprout while I’m at it.
I have plans for a lentils-and-kale soup with dried tomatoes and spicy sausages thrown in for this evening (with home-made bread) and for a zucchini-and-tomato bread pudding for tomorrow night. Pan-fried fish with rice (or maybe quinoa) and frozen veggies on Friday.
Which all sounds great (and will be).
I’ve been grateful that my wife has had more than her usual number of evenings out with partners since I started this thing just over ten days ago because it’s meant that I could content myself with tea and toast and/or tinned herring “snacks” (which, ha, I am entirely out of now, and which I’ll likely be kicking myself about for the next eight weeks) rather than having to think of Actual Meals after a day of work. Because – thankfully – I’ve also been getting a fair amount of work (and also a fair amount of social events) in the past two weeks that have had me away from the house, and/or working on paid stuff instead of household stuff (like keeping the kitchen clean-and-functional or taking stock of what I have in the pantry and the freezer to work with), and… I’m getting to the point where that’s not so much of an option anymore.
I can still make tuna sandwiches, provided I’ve made bread recently, but I don’t have a LOT of tinned tuna left, which means making hummus – possibly with some frozen mashed pumpkin thrown in – from scratch so that I can make hummus-and-sour-kraut sandwiches as an alternative to tuna. It means making tasty, protein-heavy muffins from scratch AND watching how much flour I have available. It means recognizing that I have two one-person servings of (different kinds of) noodles left, and considering how many varied dishes I can make with rice, barley, and quinoa.
Part of me – the part that wants to cook with butter rather than oil+salt, the part that wants to have a gallon of milk in the fridge AND a pound of butter AND rotini within easy reach AND wine on the table (and, okay, the altar) this Friday – is annoyed with myself for creating “artificial scarcity” in my home, in the name of creating more abundance in the long-run. The rest of me… The rest of me is noticing how readily the paid work is coming in, including bookings from unexpected places, and is taking this as a good omen that suggests my sacrifice is being accepted. And that part wants to see how this all works out.
So we’ll see how it goes.
The card I pulled – from my Silicon Dawn deck – as my tarot card meditation for this waxing moon, is Fortitude. The Strength card.
Strength is my birth card, so it’s always a little bit significant when it pops into my hands at a random cutting of the deck.
In the Osho Zen deck, Strength shows up as the Courage to push through the hard thing and bloom. In the Next World deck, it’s about “accessing your higher self through compassion and listening”. Which are both relevant to my current endeavors.
In the Silicon Dawn deck, it’s also a card that talks about choosing to take on a burden or a difficult thing.
During a period when I’m both choosing to take on the extra work of this Austerity AND digging into the Shadow Beliefs that (in my particular case) have me choosing, on some level, to remain in some specific kinds of bondage? I’d call that relevant to my interests.
Movement: Yoga almost (almost) every day. Go me. Six hours of modelling work, yesterday, that involved pushing some limits and discovering that my body is stronger and more flexible than it was the last time I tried poses like that. (Oh, hey! Take note, self! Sometimes you outgrow your own limits without noticing and you don’t find out you’re capable of more until you try! It’s A Sign!) Walking my errands and commutes – although I have taken the bus home from work a few times in the past week, which I think was the right decision. Chipping and chiselling the ice dams away from my steps – we’re going to get a big dump of snow and/or freezing rain in the next few days, but I wanted to use the (unusually) warm weather to help make the impending shoveling easier for myself.
Attention: Listening to my body/chakras when it/they/I talk to my word-using brain. Striving to notice when I’m Up In My Narratives so that I can step outside outside of them, little by little, more easily and readily. Also taking note of what I do and don’t have in my pantry to put towards tasty meals. Also keeping track of which Tiny Magical Workings I’m remembering to do / making a point of keeping my commitments to, and which ones get pushed to the side on any given day (and trying not to beat myself up about that, in the noticing, because I built redundancies into this stuff for a reason).
Gratitude: For work that pays in cash. For modelling jobs. For a free poetry workshop and an opportunity to perform (open mic) that I actually took instead of bailing (Good Job, Me). For tinned soup and tinned fish and pumpkin-and-sunflower seeds that I can use to make quick, snack-like meals to keep me going when I’m tired, distracted, or prioritizing something else (whether or not that’s a good idea). Grateful for a wife who thinks I’m gorgeous and awesome. Grateful for a girlfriend who listens to me talking about my Shadow Stuff and tells me the Divine things she can see underlying them. Grateful for this blessed day off, almost entirely free of paid-work-commitments, so I can focus on home-work and homework, on writing and self-work and the magic of making food. Grateful for a body that talks to me and and brain that is starting to understand my physical language.
Inspiration: The specifics of everyday life, as used pretty directly during last night’s poetry workshop. Tarot Cards (because: always, apparently). My fellow poets and fellow witches. My sweethearts, working hard at what they do.
Creation: Three new poems! A bunch of (currently untested, but go with it) non-boozy cocktail recipes. The beginnings of (a) a new porn story, and (b) a possible memoire-related book outline? We’ll see where these ones go.