Tag Archives: Empress Project

New Year New You 2018 (2019) – Week Fourteen: Spiritual Consultation

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: Now would be a good time to check in with your personal Powers That Be (PTB) about your goals“.
 

Wild Unknown Tarot - Temperance - A blue heron + the mingling of water and fire against a rainbow background

Wild Unknown Tarot – Temperance – A blue heron + the mingling of water and fire against a rainbow background


 
Tarot Cards: I picked Temperance for this one, because of how it relates to both “union of opposites” endeavors and, more broadly, to cooperation and compromise.
 
See, the whole “check in with your deities (etc)” prompt… I took a “radiomancy” approach to my tarot cards today and just… shuffled the deck until something fell out.
What fell out was this:
 
Empress crossed with the King of Air. Related Influences: Seven of Air vs Seven of Fire.

Empress crossed with the King of Air. Related Influences: Seven of Air vs Seven of Fire.


 
The Empress (which is what my whole project is about) crossed with – or is that brought about through? – the King of Air. The two other cards – both sevens, which means they relate to the Chariot and its “Get Up / Wake Up, and GO” energy – read as “obstacles” vs “helpers” or a case of “what do I need to let go of” vs “what do I need to act on/with”. Influences to be taken into account, if you will.
 
As far as messages from My Ladies go? This is… very relevant, nothing unusual, and… basically confirming stuff I’m aware of already? Unless I’m missing something?
The diametrically opposed sevens: The seven of air vs the seven of fire. Shame & avoidance vs Courage & conviction.
This has been my problem for ever. I push towards the thing, I get stuck, I regress, I push further, wash, rinse, repeat. Part of me reads this as just, like, “The struggle is real” with a side order of “Also, healing works in spirals and is not in any way linear, and there’s going to be points where you’re making a lot of progress very fast and there’s going to be points where you’re seriously feeling stuck and like nothing is changing”.
But, with this specific project in mind, I can also read it as the overthinking stuckness and “freezing” that I experience literally butting heads with the vitality and bravery that it’s going to take to navigate those Stuck/Lost feelings.
 
The one card I’m not sure what to make of is the King of Swords.
This card could be a reference to my tendency to over-think things and to how researching The Thing is not the same as doing it. But – while I don’t usually read upright cards like this – the fact that the King of Swords is upright suggests that maybe this is something about, well, what my wife called “Cognitive Behavioural Witchcraft”. The way I use magic and ritual to kind of reroute my neural pathways and get myself to, hopefully, stop believing the old tapes and, hopefully, stop making the same set of mistakes.
 
Heh. There’s this meme that’s going around right now:
 

 
And… it’s not inaccurate. Sometimes my readings look more like “Yep… that is definitely an accurate description of my situation…” rather than “Wow! That’s some useful advice as to next steps to get where I’m going!”
That said, I’m choosing to interpret this as a “Yes, keep using your Very Smart Brain and your magical skills to unblock your sexual blocks and further develop your shame resilience! It’s going in fits and starts, but it’s working!”
With any luck, I’ll be correct in this.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

New Year New You 2018 (2019) – Week Thirteen: Sacrifice

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: [Make] A meaningful sacrifice to your Powers That Be […]. You and your PTB will know best what that is for you. Think on it.
 

Osho Zen Tarot - 8 of Major Arcana - Courage - A daisy pushing up through the concrete.

Osho Zen Tarot – 8 of Major Arcana – Courage – A daisy pushing up through the concrete.


 
Dark Days Tarot - Eight of Cups - A ten-limbed woman sits, cross-legged. Each of her eight arms holds a wine glass. She cries, and the glasses empty and re-fill, with the waxing and waning of the moon overhead.

Dark Days Tarot – Eight of Cups – A ten-limbed woman sits, cross-legged. Each of her eight arms holds a wine glass. She cries, and the glasses empty and re-fill, with the waxing and waning of the moon overhead.


 
Tarot Card(s): Strength + The Eight of Cups
I chose Strength – and this version of it, specifically – because it’s a strength that exists in vulnerability and trust. It’s not a card about brute force. In the more traditional rendering, the lion and the lady both have to trust each other in order to share that space together, and there’s a certain amount of coaxing going on. On a related note, this variation from the Silicon Dawn carries a reminder that risks and challenges are a thing we can choose, rather than something that gets shoved at us by the universe. We can decide to be brave and Do The Thing.
As for the Eight of Cups… The Osho Zen version is maybe more explicit in its meaning. A sacrifice is a letting-go. An offering up, or a rendering unto, in order to make room for a rebirth.
 
So. Week Thirteen. As-you-know-bob, the thought of Giving Something Up is not my favourite thought in the world. It’s easy to get het up about austerity when you already never go out because you’re perma-broke and you already avoid rash behaviour because everything feels – and sometimes is – so precarious. Miss Sugar’s a big fan of (temporary) material austerities as a form of sacrifice and… I’m not going to knock it, because apparently it tends to do the job.
But, kids, I hate it.
And – possibly for this reason – I don’t tend to do it in order to the attention of my deities. Eating more veggies or drinking less alcohol or moving my body more frequently is stuff I’m doing more for my own sake than anything else. Buying the more-expensive-because-it’s-more-ethical coffee is something I do (when I can – right now I’m swinging between the store-brand Organics coffee that’s $18/kg and the stuff that’s $18/340g but uses part of the proceeds to install water-filtration systems in homes on Reserves) because I want to be the kind of person who Makes Reparations (um… at all) and thinks about fair wages for farm staff instead of just thinking “Mmm, coffee” when I’m at the grocery store. I walk away from the internet for an afternoon, or don’t turn on my computer for the first two hours of my day, because I’ve got chores or writing to get done and I know myself well enough to know that I won’t do them if I have access to social media.
 
So. What is a sacrifice, in my case?
 
Well, it’s got to be said that I had a bit of a penny-drop moment while I was griping about how rarely I take risks because of fear (around money, around heartache, you name it).

This whole project is about “the sex-and-sensuality, certainty, abundance, inter-connectedness, and unapologetic embodiment of the Empress”.
So how the heck am I supposed to open my hands/heart to welcome in all that stuff if I’m too busy clenching them into fists, clinging to risk-averse behaviours, fearful assumptions, and other crud that’s cluttering up my brain?

 
I wrote about this over here, but the gist is that I need to give up some detrimental behaviours and patterns, in order to invite in, and make room for, all of that lovely Empress Stuff.
 
Is it a sacrifice?
Debatable.
It’s more of a “letting go” than a “giving up” but… it’s difficult. It’s hard work to dig into those habits and behaviours and sort out where they’re anchored and how to undo those knots and let them go. It’s hard work to lean into the discomfort, fear, and even just the awkwardness, of opening, loosening, freeing myself up and trying (and trying, and trying) new behaviours on when they still feel dangerous or doomed-to-failure. (I’m legitimately wondering if this is why I’ve been so tired lately, tbh…)
So… I’m willing to call this a sacrifice, even if I’m not sure anyone else would see it that way.
 
Recognizing that… this is going to be an on-going thing, an entire process of giving up and letting go (and re-filling with something else that’s better for me), I did a whole ritual/ceremonial Thing to kind of kick things off.
 
There was a bath – because me. There was a circle-casting (of a sort) and candles and a red[1] bath bomb that smelled like raspberries[2]. There was anointing my delta of venus with my signature perfume. There was a bunch of tantric-esque breath-work to raise some energy and to ritualistically breathe out all of the stuff I want to let go of. There was head-over-heart-over-hips breathing and stating affirmations while doing leg-extension & hip-flexibility exercises[3] (in the bath, because apparently I can live dangerously, on occasion). There was, somewhat unexpectedly but definitely relevantly, reaching out to my maternal ancestor line to talk to my great-great-grandmother about trauma survival and t tell her that I’m really glad we all got to exist, but also that I’m sorry she was raped and that it wasn’t her fault and she didn’t do anything to deserve it[4]. There was letting the water out, opening the circle, putting out the candles, drying myself off, and then slathering myself with cocoa-butter[5].
 
It was a good ceremony. It’s probably one that I’ll have to repeat intermittently. And it’s definitely an “in addition to” (rather than “in lieu of”) the breath work stuff I’m doing around my root chakra a few times a day (it’s not exactly a mindfulness exercise, but it’s… in that neighbourhood).
Here’s hoping I can continue to blow away the old habits in order to make space for the new ones.
Wish me luck.
 
 
Cheers,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Red for my own Red Lady, my goddess of sex and dance and standing your ground (among numerous other things), whose help I definitely need with this.
 
[2] My Maiden goddess, who I don’t write a tonne about, I realize (sorry), has a link to raspberries. For Reasons. She’s also curious, polyamourous, confident, and adventurous. So having something to invoke her and invite her behaviours into me was… pretty relevant.
 
[3] Bonus information: My hips actually are more flexible – and my lower-back muscles are stronger – than they were a year ago! The exercises are working! Mwahahahaha!
 
[4] Because you all needed that information dropped on you, without notice, today. Sorry. Talking about it cause weird, tight feelings in my chest that aren’t panic-related, and I supposed we’ll find out what that’s about at some point in the future? Who knows.
 
[5] The stuff I did up with cinnamon oil (possibly not the wisest choice) and sweet orange oil and ylang ylang with the express purpose of making a sex-balm massage bar to use with various partners and – apparently – on myself in situations like this.

New Year New You 2018 (2019) – Week Twelve: “Time to Get Back to the Physical Work”

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: I want you to keep a daily journal. In it, talk about what you’ve done that day to accomplish your goal(s). If you didn’t do something towards your goals, examine your reasons why. Were you really that busy or could you have taken a half hour to work towards your goals? What stopped you from making your goals a priority?
 

The Slutist Tarot - Eight of Coins - A white person in a string bikini, gold high heels, and gold jewelry, runs ter hand through her flowing black hair while doing a back-bend from her knees on a red floor.

The Slutist Tarot – Eight of Coins – A white person in a string bikini, gold high heels, and gold jewelry, runs her hand through her flowing black hair while doing a back-bend from her knees on a red floor.


 
Tarot Card: Eight of Earth
I’m fairly confident I’ve used this card – with its links to diligence, detail, and the slow daily process of getting things done – for this prompt during other years. It fits and feels very appropriate, so I keep coming back to it.
I went with the Slutist Tarot this time around, though, because the goals that are proving harder for me to actualize, or at least harder for me to spot Progress on as it’s happening, are the ones that have to do with body-positivity, unblocked sexuality, and healthy relationship habits around things like boundaries and communication. Some fairly significant stuff as it relates to my initial over-arching goal of “opening myself up, rooting myself solid, and becoming my fullest, most integrated, femme self“.
 
I have to admit I feel a bit like I’m cheating a little here? I didn’t plan it this way, but my finishing (and posting) the Week 11 prompt, and therefore taking a look at the Week 12 prompt, just happens to line up with the beginning of the annual Explore More online summit, which is a whole ten days of video-based interviews/lectures about (sacred or otherwise approaches to) sexuality, interpersonal connections (of various types), and body-positivity. While I know I’m going to skip whole swaths of this thing – trying to absorb that much information, even with a week that’s so otherwise open and flexible, is exhausting and not something I’m likely to do – I’ve marked my calendar with what I most want to check out and think about. Between that and a couple of social events, I feel like my deck is kind of stacked in my favour.
That being said, part of me is going “famous last words”, so we’ll see how things pan out. (Yes, I started writing this before the week of journal-keeping. This next bit, below the “~*~” is what comes during and after).
 
~*~
 
Monday: Took some notes on ecstatic states and how to cultivate them, and then did some experimenting with same. Took a fancy bath with scented candles and fizzy additions, just for the hot, humid, relief of it. Made a point of kissing my wife for an extended period of time.
 
Tuesday: Wrote up a rudimentary plan for how to energy-work my way into being more connected & present in my own body.
 
Wednesday: Listened to M’kali-Hashiki’s talk (Explore More Summit so, yeah, kind of feel like I’m cheating a little here) on “Expanding Our Container for Bliss, Healing, Joy, and Grief Through Ritual and Erotic Breathwork”. Which is interesting and had a significant component of “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals” which I particularly appreciate. It was lovely. Had a lovely, slow wake-up and breakfast with my wife.
 
Thursday: The Notice Pleasure project is (so far) moving along quite nicely. Had a really nice bath that included a prayer explicitly inviting curiosity and experience (back) into my own body. It was kind of done on the fly, but I did it. I will probably do something similar again. Am definitely noticing that (a) doing pole dance tricks as part of my “move your body” options is… a fair bit of fun and makes me grin, which is lovely… but also that I am creaky as heck and hesitant to do a lot of body movements and, when I do them anyway, I wind up with joint pain (and muscle pain, but that’s actually supposed to happen) that I might have otherwise avoided, or at least mitigated. I’m thinking that hitting up the local pool once a week for laps and leg-lifts and then a good, long hot-tub sit, would be a Very Good Idea, and I’m wondering what to give up in order to free up the $5 or so that it takes to access it (and totally haaaaaaaaaaaaaating that I have to make those kinds of decisions, ye gods…).
 
Friday: Made myself go out to a social event in the evening. It was, as expected, actually a good time once I got there. 😉
 
Saturday: While I did the first exercise in Ecstasy is Necessary today, it was hard to concentrate and I found that today was just difficult in general. I’ve been devoting a lot of my time, this week, to doing stuff on the “get fully into your body” and “heal your sexuality stuff” fronts this week, and I am feeling really self-conscious about it. It’s weird. Trying to work towards my goals when I’m quietly doing so on my own (albeit, yes, blogging about it like heck) is… relatively easy? But trying to devote time, energy, and attention to it when there’s a literal person, right there, asking “What are you working on?” with a genuine desire to hear the answer? Wow, do I ever feel weird about that.
Also… Hope is kind of exhausting? One of the Explore More talks (Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s talk) including some discussion about “the gift of slowness” and how you create actual effective, lasting change by going slow-but-steady – rather than trying to get everything fixed in a frantic six-week period.
I’ve been treating this week like “school”, and granting myself a LOT of time and energy for my Notice Pleasure project, because I’m effectively attending a conference right now. Once the conference is done, I’m giving myself permission to move at a slower (but still steady) pace and treat this like the marathon it is rather than trying to do it all in a sprint. But the “sprint” part is also kind of necessary (at least I think it is) for me to build up a little bit of momentum, do some habit-forming, and remind myself that, yes, I can do The Thing(s) in a consistent way, so that when I slow down, I’ve still got something to help me carry myself forward. None the less, I’ve been sprinting all week, going “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” up this hill all week, and I’m tired. Change is hard. (Duh). Making mistakes in front of people and being messy and not knowing the answers easily is… embarrassing and I do not like it. It’s necessary. It’s part of the learning/healing/etc Process. But, fuck, is it pissing me off. Harumph.
 
Sunday: Okay. So having had my day of not really making myself a priority – and also having the house to myself today – things are a little easier again. I read my tarotscope for Pisces Season, and found that it was easily relatable to the “root myself solid” part of my overarching Empress Project goal as well as to all of the sexual boundaries-and-mysteries stuff I’m trying to get a handle on through the Explore More Summit and the Ecstasy books I’m reading right now. So: Relevant? Relevant. To that end: I looked up (and did) a root chakra guided meditation thing – which had some… interesting… results – and had lots of social plans for the afternoon, which I think falls under the heading of “spend more time with people who are good for my head and heart”. So Go Me.
 
~*~
 
So… How did I do?
I think I did okay?
I made some plans – some of which I’ve already started implementing, but some of which are going to have to wait (for the impending new moon, in one case, and for roughly Beltane in another) – and had some (I think) breakthroughs. I’ve started doing some Internal Workings stuff that should help to re-route my neural pathways so that I have an easier time moving towards (and sticking with) and accomplishing my goals. I went to a party and hung out with various friends and metamours. I confided in both of my romantic partners about my whole Notice Pleasure project and how it’s going.
I didn’t do any poetry-related stuff, but I did write a whole bunch of personal essays, and have made a Productivity Date with a writer-friend, for later this week, to try and synthesize all of my thoughts and hopes and break-throughs into some poetry.
I think I did okay.
 
I know that a big part of why I did okay was that I gave myself a heap of inspiration – through the Explore More Summit – and permission to actually focus on that project.
In a different week – one where I had a lot of outside-the-house work booked, or one where I was doing catch-up work on house-keeping (which I’ve been ignoring in a lot of ways, despite telling myself that I need to clean the house more consistently if I want to actually enjoy the time I spend in here)… I might not have been so social or so dedicated to actively trying to change my brain and my internalized beliefs around what I am and am not allowed to experience or enjoy and what I am or am not worthy of receiving in various kinds of relationships.
So the timing on this one kind of worked out.
 
I think the most telling part of this past week was how hard it was to let myself focus on The Thing when I had an “audience” and was faced with the possibility of having to talk about it in real time. Like, I’m pretty sure there’s some internalized shame around trauma and mental health stuff going on there, but also I think there’s some sort of Shame/Unworthiness Stuff about even just, like, “I am worthy of my own love, attention, patience, and energy” here. It’s like “Oh, no! If someone ‘finds out’ that I’m actually devoting a fair bit of my own time, energy, and attention to just… helping my heart and my brain feel better and helping myself have a more fulfilling life… I’ll be dismissed as one of those pathetic woo-woo people who thinks Everything Happens for a (Me-Related) Reason’ and doesn’t have the emotional fortitude to deal with even the most limited of traumas. How pathetic”. Or similar.
So… I guess that’s something I need to work on, too?

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.

New Year New You 2018 – Week Ten: What’s My Motivation?

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:As we enter into the second phase of the Experiment, I think it’s time that we do some navel gazing. […] What are your reasons for working on your goals? What makes you eager to work on them?
 

Six of Fire - Success  Osho Zen Tarot  A joyful person riding a tiger while confetti and streamers rain down, the world at their feet

Six of Fire – Success
Osho Zen Tarot
A joyful person riding a tiger while confetti and streamers rain down, the world at their feet


 
Tarot Card: Six of Fire
What motivates me is pretty basic. Success – even incremental success – is what helps me keep moving towards my goals.
“Success” can be having a poem accepted for publication. But it can also be writing a poem that I’m proud of. It can be drafting another scene in the YA novel. It can be sorting out the cabling in a knitting project. It can be extra paid work landing in my lap right when I need it. It can be someone stopping me in the street to tell me that the poem I read at That Event years ago was, and remains, meaningful for them. It can be surprise free beer at a restaurant or a co-worker turning up with a muffin or a frappacino for me out of the blue. It can be getting The Nod from a butch of a certain age or seeing a genderqueer teenager light up when they see my bi pride button or one of my art-school students jump at the chance to talk about witchy stuff with me (meaning: with someone else, who happens to be me… but still). It can be a really good batch of fermented veggies. It can be someone saying yes to a date or a scene. It can be A Sign in the form of half a dozen horoscopes all telling me variations on the same piece of timely encouragement.
However.
 
Osho Zen Tarot - 8 of Air GUILT A person whose overwhelming dark thought-clouds are clawing at their head, obscuring the calm and lovely world that's actually around them.

Osho Zen Tarot – 8 of Air
GUILT
A person whose overwhelming dark thought-clouds are clawing at their head, obscuring the calm and lovely world that’s actually around them.


 
My other motivator is guilt. Or possibly shame.
Sometimes this is useful. I feel bad, or get down on myself, for not doing XYZ, so I get off my butt and do it.
 

 
Right. So I wrote the above stuff literally two months ago, to the day. And, full disclosure, I’m writing this, right now, while I’ve got a grey blanket thrown around my shoulders like the world’s fuzziest toga, having spent the entire day eating cookies, chocolates, and paté on crackers while sucking back V8 like it was going out of style. (Or like I just had a Solstice party and need the fridge jenga to ease up a bit).
 
Which is to say that, while drinking from stem-ware definitely makes me feel fancy, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that my glamour game is particularly on point right this second.
 
The above stuff is all true. I am motivated both by guilt/shame and by success. And I’m trying to be more motivated by success than by guilt and shame, because negative self-talk is bad for me and I’m trying to do less of it. Besides, guilt and shame – and, oh hey, money stress – are kind of hard on the creative process. At least they’re hard on mine. I wind up writing the same mediocre… thing… about fear-and-uncertainty fourteen times and never actually come up with an actual poem. Which, P.S.: I’ve barely written, what, two poems in as many months? The moon has waxed and waned and waxed again, and the “creation” section at the end of each lunar cycles post has me grasping at straws. I spend 10+ hours/day sleeping, and it’s not like I have a particularly tiring life.
 
Basically, I need to take a look at the chapbook pieces that haven’t found a right-of-first-publication home yet, and start sending them out again. Getting a Yes from somebody will probably help me feel motivated from a success standpoint.
Beyond that?
Miss Sugar’s prompt post (linked, above, under Instructions) mentions a degree of motivation stemming from achievable micro-goals. For me, this means hitting up #novemberotic prompts over on instagram, pulling out my tarot decks, and otherwise finding ways to kick-start whatever poems need to be written. (This is actually how I ended up with 30+ glosas, aka half a full-length manuscript – written. I needed to put some parameters around my poetry in order to get it to show up).
Which I guess means I have my marching orders.

New Year New You 2018 – Halfway Point Feeeeelings

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:“[R]eflect on the last nine weeks and talk about what you’ve learned. About yourself, about goal setting, about your magical practice, whatever was meaningful to you. Also reflect on where you would like to see yourself heading now that you’ve accomplished what you’ve accomplished.”
 

Eight of Arrows (Wildwood Tarot) - Struggle - A hooded figure carrying a lantern struggles through the snow in a fierce wind.

Eight of Arrows (Wildwood Tarot) – Struggle
A hooded figure carrying a lantern struggles through the snow in a fierce wind.


 
Tarot Card: Eight of Swords
 
This isn’t really the halfway point. But, when this course first ran, it was the last public prompt. Obviously there are, like, 13 more to go now, BUT long, long ago, this was the last stop for the blog-around.
Which is convenient.
Because I’ve been kind of wondering what the heck I’m doing.
The previous prompt, about asking for help, acknowledged that at this point in the project, participants are likely to be tired, demoralized, or otherwise wondering why they started this stuff in the first place.
And, y’all? I’m kind of there.
Some of the stuff associated with the eight of swords are: “floundering around / feeling lost” and “feeling overwhelmed”, and “needing guidance or clarity” right alongside “doubting anything you do will help” and “avoiding responsibility”.
I look at my response to this prompt from when I did it for my Queen of Cups Project, and in a lot of ways I’m in the same place I was two years ago. Still stuck on the Planes of Desolation.
What I said in my Goals Post, way back in January, was that:

This project is about opening myself up, rooting myself solid, and becoming my fullest, most integrated, femme self.

 
And I’m really not sure if that’s happening.
I mean, yes, things are going really well (I think) on the creativity front.
But that’s the easy bit.
The other stuff? The stuff about internalizing that my whole self – the needy part and the possessive part and, frankly, the violent, impatient, frightening part… as well as the care-giving part – is worthy of love and belonging? Or the stuff about understanding, really-really-for-real, that I’m allowed to ask for experiences, care, and pleasure that I want, just because I want them? Or the stuff about shucking off emotional/relational bad habits in favour of ones that reflect (and require) better boundaries?
That stuff is… it’s not going nowhere. I can recognize that. But it’s hard going, and I frequently catch myself deciding to do things where I am seriouslyquestioning the motivation behind those decisions, or else falling back on behaviours that I know are self-destructive and unhelpful and just… It’s good that I’m catching them. It’s good that I can recognize when my body-mind is doing stupid things like getting emotionally agitated specifically because I’ve been agitating the water to do the dishes, and my body-mind is reacting to “agitated movement” with “agitated feelings” and it’s just… at least I can catch it and stop it?
Which is a major deal, even if I’m not necessarily catching it all the time.
And I still have a LOT of concerns about just how quickly this mental health house of cards would come crashing down if I were to throw a wrench – like a new relationship or a new job (neither of which are on the horizon, fyi) – into the gears.
 
I feel like I need to reset my glamour, or otherwise give it a good wash-up and a polish because, wild-harvested apples, home-made rainbow earrings, and a day spent playing tourist at the local big Fibre Arts festival notwithstanding, I am feeling run down.
 
So I guess that’s the next magical-physical thing on my to-do list.
 
On the Glamour Front – because, as you may recall, this is being done in conjunction with the exercises in Miss Sugar’s book – I’m kind of… I don’t know, equal parts “checking in” about it as per the halfway point Glamour Checklist and seriously questioning if what I’m doing even counts.
 
I find myself avoiding the spaces where it’s socially appropriate to revel in my violence and possessiveness which… I don’t really know what to do with. I mean, sure, some of my reasons for not going to Those Parties are just practicalities. I don’t technically have the disposable income to pay the cover fee. I don’t want to be “stuck” in a room full of overwhelming noise and sensory overload with no way to just leave and go home without inconveniencing someone else (the usual venue for these things is an industrial park on the other side of town with no real bus access, so I’d be relying on rides from other people). But… How much of those are just excuses to avoid those parties? How much of “I don’t want to be stuck there” is really “I don’t want to be somewhere where the parts of myself I’ve been feeling more and more wary/ashamed of could get rejected by the only people (demographic) on earth that might be okay with them”? How much of “I don’t want to be stuck there” is me assuming “Even in a context where it’s okay to be gleefully violent and take-y, I’m not really allowed to do what I want but ‘have to’ ‘facilitate an experience’ for someone else, instead”?
 
How do I stop believing that, just because X or Y person wasn’t that into me, or into what I wanted to do, I’m supposed to stop wanting what I want? That what I want, and what I am, is bad and shameful (or, hey, boring and repetitive) by default?
 
This is both a relational/emotional bad habit and an assumption about how my “scary side” should/will be rejected.
As such, I think the next major point of focus is, well, “therapy magic”. The stuff that’s harder to do, the “learn self-compassion” stuff. The “let yourself be truly seen” part of Glamour that goes beyond dressing with intent and reading my poetry at the open mic, and gets into stuff like “talking to my partners about explicit, specific, desires” even when I don’t know if the thing I want to experiment with will ruin everything or wind up okay.
 
This is really fucking scary.

New Year New You 2018 – Week 8 (Asking For Help)

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: This week’s prompt is about asking someone for help. Most of us hate that shit with a hating that fires a thousand suns. Asking for help feels almost like admitting defeat. And by defeat, I mean admitting that you’re not invincible. Well. You’re not. Sorry.
 
Tarot Card: Honestly, this could be any – or maybe all – of the Fours.
 

The minor arcana Fours
Crystal Visions Tarot
“Four is the number of stability, the home, the physical realm, organisation, security, limitations and mercy.”


 
All the fours relate to both The Emperor (tradition, personal power, structure) and Temperance (balance, team work, moderation in all things). They’re also the first “plateau” in the climb from two to ten through the each suit.
I find that they pertain to the hopes and fears we have around trusting and working with other people. (Granted, I also think the sixes are about this, so maybe I’m just projecting here).
The four of fire is about participation and being an active part of A Group. The four of earth is the fear that nobody will have your back when you need it. The four of air is pulling away, or taking a step back, in order to prepare to re-enter a social (but not necessarily friendly) milieu. And the four of water… The four of water has one interpretation that I think fits this theme very well: Just take the fucking cup.
 
There is a well-worn, and more than a little frustrating, pathway in my head that goes: When I’m freaking out about something (which is often), I literally forget that people will help me.
Like, I have to stop myself and walk my brain through a multi-step process to get myself out of the head-space that truly believes “I don’t have friends” and back to something that more closely resembles reality.
So, when it comes to this particular writing/action prompt, I’m trying to recognize and accept the fucking cup more reliably when it’s offered to me.
 
When someone invited me to participate in a flash performance at a local poetry show? I said yes.
When a local author offered me a paid gig reading tarot for teens this Fall? I said yes.
When I got hit with a shitty summer cold and my wife said “Stay in bed and rest!”… I said yes (though I don’t think I could have done otherwise), rather than feeling guilty about not making my own sandwiches.
When a friend offered to cover the difference between missing and making last month’s rent payment? I said yes.
When a temp-job contact told me about a mat-leave reception contract in the same close-to-me office building and offered to put me in touch with the appropriate people? I said yes. (This was literally yesterday, and I’ve been having The Anxiety about it ever since, but I still said yes).
 
There was a time when accepting gifts/support from people – letting my girlfriend pay for dinner, for example, or believing someone when they say they want to hang out with me instead of assuming some kind of ulterior motive – felt fraught with danger and was fraught with shame. And certainly some of it still is, though being broke for eight straight years has definitely, uh, “helped” with that. I may still have difficulties around believing it when my partner(s) tell me I’m awesome, but if they offer to make me a sandwich, I am there!
 
Anyway. So, for this prompt, I had a look back at my goals for this project. Some of them (like putting my creative stuff out into the world by sending out poetry submissions, reading at open mics, and saying yes to participating in group performances) is going just fine. Some of it (like letting go of detrimental behaviours or opening up to relationships/behaviours/activities that are good for me) is… not so much.
There’s a lot of (ineffective) self-protective “don’t wanna” going on, and a fair bit of, I dunno, “The danger you know is better than the danger you don’t” in terms of how I interact with people. Like “Sure, I know that hiding my feelings because I think they’re stupid is… detrimental. But at least I know that, right? At least I know I’m putting my hand in a blender and can maybe mitigate/prepare-for some of the damages? Whereas if I do something different, there could be unexpected surprise blenders just appearing around my fingers, and then what would I do??”
It’s dumb.
I know it’s dumb.
So… One thing I am doing marginally more consistently is, as per her request, letting my wife know about what’s going on in my head. Like, if I’m getting all wound up because: Anxiety, I’ll actually tell her about it. Which I’m finding (and it feels really weird to discover this, even though it’s maybe not that surprising)… it helps. Really? Really.
And the combination of (a) showing my Crazy, if I can even call it that, and (b) having someone validate that weird collection of feelings, is kind of helping on the front of these two goals:

I want to recognize and know-in-my-bones that my “scary side” isn’t actually scary to people who are good for me.
I want to recognize and know-in-my-bones that all of me is worthy of love and belonging BY/WITH people who are good for me.

 
So, asking for help? Not exactly.
But accepting help when it’s offered, trusting that those offers are sincere and that I won’t be humiliated and/or abandoned while risking being vulnerable…? Yeah. I’m giving that a try.