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Tag Archives: shadow
I’ve mailed out all but three of the solstice cards. Have baked cookies and, tbh, bought more wine and cheese (and Sortilege) than we’re going to use before New Year’s is upon us, even with guests coming over. I’m waiting on the delivery of the last run of groceries – sweet cider and whole olives, hothouse cucumbers, tomato juice, and the once-a-year treat of imported clementines – and will be spending at least part of tomorrow making roasted garlic hummus and atichoke-parmasan dip (and the rest of it cleaning, I’m sure…), because the Longest Night is nearly upon us.
It’s a little after 4pm as I’m writing this, the day before Winter Solstice. The sun is on its way down-down-down below the roof lines. It’ll be full-dark in less than half an hour. Now is the time of long, long shadows stretching east. Deep and dark or thin and blue.
Shadow is the word we use for the parts of ourselves that we try to keep hidden. The bits that are “too much”, or too shameful, for us to be comfortable looking at them full-on.
It’s appropriate that the tarot cards for this last week leading up to the Longest Night include The Devil and The Moon. This is very-much their time and place.
the Devil, while occasionally depicted as a trickster/shadow/guardian-of-the-underworld figure, is more generally understood as a card of conditioning, of greed, of learned helplessness, and even despair.
Which… You guys, this is so very much a card of “the holiday spirit” if you go by the state of the malls right now. Desperate consumerism. Greed ( which is explicitly the motivation behind the multi-national CEOs who are destroying the environment – not to get all buzz-wordy on you). Planned obsolescence of every freaking thing. Anxiety around not living up the expectations, getting someone the “wrong thing”, not “fitting in” with your families of origin. Light-levels-related depression. “This is the way we’ve always done it”/”This is the way things are”.
What once, small, manageable change can you make to be – or even just feel – less helpless? Maybe that means you start your day by sending another angry letter to the provincial government (pick a reason, there are SO many). Maybe it means you learn how to cook a thing from scratch – whether that’s kombucha or alfredo sauce or something more (or less) ambitious – or learn how to level a shelf, de-salt your leather boots (Hint: dampen your boots with vinegar, and let them air dry. Brush the salt off. Repeat. Then polish OR condition with a lanolin-beeswax blend), or mend holes in socks. Maybe it means you find the energy to text 2 friends who you know might also be having a hard time right now, and just check in on them and see how they’re doing.
This image, by Cristy C Road, is the first time I really understood what The Tower was about.
That which crumbles was never meant to last.
The going-through of that collapse is going to suck hard. But it’s a release, and a relief, when it goes.
What is one small thing you can do to dismantle those things which were never meant to last, to bring the world we long for into being?
This month, I became a monthly donor to Unist’ot’en Camp, as a small but ongoing way of supporting the water defenders out West who are trying to keep their traditional territories, and the water and soil there-in, safe from oil pipelines; and also of Amnesty International, for what they do here and in the rest of the world. But usually my “small thing” is food. It’s a thing that I’m good at and can reliably provide in a way that I can’t reliably show up with money to donate or volunteer my time in a consistent way. But if you need an emergency bag of groceries or a couple of meals while you get over an illness or a casserole donation to your community potluck or a clue as to which weeds are safe to eat raw? Honey, I’m your girl.
Maybe your one small thing will be going fragrance-free in your day-to-day life (hint: fragrence-free shampoo is TERRIBLE. But baking soda paste + a diluted vinegar rinse + fragrance-free conditioner (or some kind of light-weight oil, applied sparingly) on your ends works pretty well for the straight, fine hair of this white lady). Or switching to humanely raised (or just less) meat in your diet. Or donating Flamingo Rampant titles to your local public (or elementary school) library. Or talking other white people (etc, insert your own mix of privileges here) about how to notice and consistently push back against the racism that lives in our own heads as well as in our government policies and our workplaces.
I love Beth Maiden’s description of The Star as being a card about values, as a reminder to find – and follow – your personal True North. It’s a card about generosity, peace, hope, and inspiration.
It’s a card that asks: How can you be generous with your time, energy, attention? With you money and skills and resources? But it’s also a card – because this is Shadow Week – that asks us to investigate the places where we find it hard to be generous – either because we’re feeling burnt out and overextended, or because we’re uncomfortable with “neediness” (our own or someone else’s) in the sense of a need for support or care or even just patience that doesn’t go away once it’s not convenient for you anymore.
I’ve been reading Care Work, and more than one of the essays in it talks about the feminization – and therefore erasure and denigration – of care, and the expectation that the (usually fem/me and feminized) people who do it are never, every going to bring up that need it, let alone expect to get it. Which is to say: A whole freaking lot of us have The Feels about both wanting & needing to be taken care of (doesn’t that make us bad?) AND being worn out from doing all the heavy-lifting when it comes to getting the groceries, maintaining the relationships, picking up the prescriptions, and remembering the appointments/food allergies/triggers/etc of other people. (I think Brené Brown’s Rising Strong has some relevant stuff about this, too).
This is 100% a card about The Shadow. About all that stuff we keep hidden in our personal depths. It’s also a card about anxiety and illusion, distraction and fantasy and, as such, it’s a card about avoiding the realities of your privileges and about the stories we, along the vectors where we have social-&-political privileges, tell ourselves and each other (and other people) about why we have it so relatively good. This is stuff like “bootstrapping” or “Well, women aren’t just any good at coding” or “thus-and-such a demographic is just More Susceptible to Alcoholism” or any of the other stuff that comes up for us. There’s a podcast that I really like, that talks about – among other things – the fact that, compared to the rest of the world, Europeans were pretty crappy at farming. And I have to admit I was shocked. And kind of… hurt?? And I probably shouldn’t have been.
In this context, The Moon asks us What stories am I telling myself to explain away good fortune that probably isn’t fortune, and probably isn’t good? What can I do to push back against those stories?”
Heh.This was ALMOST the card that landed on the Solstice. So close!
The Sun is about truth and hope and joy (and relates to the star in those ways), about forgiving yourself and leading by example. It’s a card that asks Leah Lakshmi’s question: What kind of ancestor do you want to be?
What kind of example do you want to set? How will you learn from your mistakes, and make amends for them, so that you can forgive yourself for them, and keep learning, growing, changing into the truest version of yourself that you can be.
As weirdo queer and pagan artists have got their fingers into tarot over and over and over again, the Judgement card has undergone a bunch of transformations. It’s a hard one to love, at face value, when your cosmology and identity are at odds with the obviously Christian messaging of The Last Judgement. But what this card is about is stuff like taking a stand, recognizing your purpose or calling, and coming out the other side of a transformation. It’s about the stuff that, er, I think people mean when they say someone is “woke”. (Yes/No?) To paraphrase Cristy C Road, on the darkest, longest night of the year, Judgement asks you this: How will you follow through on the lessons that you’ve learned?
The Solstice moves around. This year, it’s on the 21st of December. Next year, it won’t be until the 23rd. So working through the Major Arcana during the lead-up to Midwinter won’t necessarily fit with what the actual planetary orbit has in mind. (This reminds me of the first time I tried to track my period. I counted out every twenty-eighth day in my calendar, marked them all with a little red dot, and just… assumed my body would just… fall into line. Not so much, kids. Not so much).
So we’ll come to the end on December 22nd – never mind that I’m doing this write-up a couple of days early. After the tower. After the judgement. After it all, there’s this. Just as the days are barely, just barely, starting to get longer again. Assessment. Investment. Being involved. How have you contributed? How have you healed? How have you shared what you have – your time, energy, attention, resources, and skills?
Count your blessings. Acknowledge your accomplishments. Look forward towards what you can do, for yourself, for the world, during the next circle ’round the Sun.
I’m doing Miss Sugar’s New Year New You Experiment in Radical Magical Transformation (again) because I find it’s a really good way to kick my own ass into getting things done. You should try it!
Instructions: “Think about how you’re presenting yourself to the world and how that’s affecting your own personal goals. […] Give your physicals selves some love and magic this week!”
Tarot Card: Seven of Swords. Both the Wildwood and the Osho Zen decks are applicable in this case.
I’ve never known the seven of swords to be a positive card. Even when the interpretation is a good idea (It’s time to take the mask off! It’s okay to stop maintaining and fall apart right now. I know you’re worried about What People Will Think, but you really are Enough in spite of those fears), the actual process of showing people one’s Real Face can be terrifying (and can sometimes backfire). Yet, sometimes, what it points to (e.g.: in a reversed position) is the need to break old habits, break silences, break out of self-imposed prisons of Shoulds and Musts.
I was yacking with a friend about this a few months ago, and it seems to fit here pretty well: A lot of us learn to keep ourselves small as a defence tactic. If you are a woman on the internet (even a white, cis woman such as myself), you learn pretty early how many readers it takes to start getting unwanted, threatening attention from trolls. If you’re a woman who ever leaves her home, the same goes for when you’re walking downt he street.
There’s a zillion people (of a very specific gender, most of the time) who would love to police us back into silence and invisibility, and a lot of us balance on a thread between “too visible” and “straight-up hiding”.
The thought of being Visible, of being Big, can be really frightening, whether we’re worried about being attacked by trolls, cat-callers, or The Fraud Police, and it can be exhausting to deal with.
Presenting yourself in a way that shows you in your best light, as your best self, can be exhausting.
I went to a book launch a couple of weekends ago. I went to the Gorgeous House in the Country (a luxury home built inside a reclaimed barn – for real. I want to live there when I grow up) book launch of a femme-lookin’ (I say, because I don’t actually know if she’d ID as femme) lesbian writer’s new novel. Her sculptor-painter partner was decked out in a Nice Suit at the merch table, and she was all dolled up in a shiny gold blouse signing everyone’s new books. My wife and her other partner (through-whom we know this couple) both talked about feeling out of place at the party. Even though, as creative dykes in the 40-75 age bracket, they were even more among their peers than I was.
But I swanned in there like I owned the place, because I’m a queer femme writer (in a raspberry faux-fur 3/4-sleeve coat, a leopard-print skirt, fancy stockings – that the woman who turned-out-to-be-a-publisher noticed and complimented me on, no less – huge, diva sunglasses and hot pink lipstick… I was flagging pretty hard, kids) so how could I not fit in?
… And it worked.
I mean, right up until I found out that the nice queer-poetry-chick I’d been politely down-playing my writing work to (my wife had been chatting her up, but I hadn’t wanted to hog the spot-light while talking to another writer who probably wanted to talk up her projects as well) was, um… the publisher of our friend’s novel.
That was supposed to be an elevator pitch, was it?
We’ll see what, if anything, comes of that interaction, but it was an introduction regardless.
A while back, I wrote a little bit about how Glamour is feeling hard right now. We’re in “transitional shoes season” in these parts, the point in the year where you really do still need close-toed shoes, but winter boots are definitely too warm (and clumpy) to deal with anymore. My “tranisitional” boots are all in a bad state of disrepair and, while I can and do make them work, they’re bad enough that it’s hard to make them look “street chic” (or whatever you want to call it when fancy fashion starts riffing on a ratty punk look) at this point. I’d love to get (or more likely make – this is one of the reasons I keep a shoe-maker on staff, after all) a few pairs of shoes like this so that I have Options that won’t wreck my back and can look “professional” (in the office work sense of the word) while also looking artsy-funky-weirdo (I.E.: actually like myself) at the same time.
But the reality is that this isn’t really about shoes. It’s about how I feel about myself.
When I regret the haircut I gave myself (even though I now look great with my hair down), but I can’t tell how much of that regret is because I feel like a total grease-ball when my hair is hanging in my face, vs how much is because I miss having the option of doing funky anime buns and being able to do this without too much trouble, vs how much is just missing that which is easy and familiar… What do I even do with that? But when I catch myself feeling “frumpy” in a skirt I picked out, gleefully, from the clothing swap heap because it would finally let me wear leopard print on something other than lingerie, that I stitched a new lining into and replaced the zipper on because I had wanted a skirt like this for so long… That’s a bad sign, folks.
If my personal goal, my Queen of Cups Project, is to be more receptive to all the Good Things that come my way, I need to believe that I’m worthy of receiving that stuff. Feeling ugly, unworthy of notice, or unable to keep it together (says the chick who discovered she’d spilled… hollondaise sauce?… on her skirt mid-way through her work-day and is expecting Company tonight while still having an entire kitchen full of dirty dishes to deal with)… does not inspire feelings of worthiness in me about myself.
So. How am I handling this week’s prompt?
Well, my office-contract recently ended. So I’m back in the land of “wear whatever you want” (hurrah!) and I’m aiming for a mix of “ultra casual” (like, skirts made out of former-pairs-of-pants, very colourful socks) and “Fabulous Bohemian” (diva sunglasses, faux fur 3/4 sleeve coat, Fierce hair-do – or lack of ‘do, since it basically means just leaving it down – and cute boots). I finally shaved my legs. A friend painted my toenails yesterday. I’m feeling pretty good, even if my heart is still yoyo-ing up and down and my feelings of self-worth are following suit on a rollercoaster of their own.
Things I can do (concrete/mundane things I can do) to show my physical self some love (this week, and all weeks) that will also (probably) help my mood and energy levels:
1) Get dolled up and go for a walk
2) Sit in the steam room of the local pool while wearing my bikini and soaking up the heat
3) Eat fancy pastries, ideally with friends (but this is not a requirement), while out and about
… So, basically, dress spiffy and get out of the house.
I can do that.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 Say what you want about The Beauty Myth, it’s insidious and fuck.
I’m writing this late.
Feel like I’ve been neglecting my Religious Blog a LOT, and neglecting my spirit a little bit in so doing.
Shadow Moon crested just before Samhain, and all my own shadows came out to get me. All the fears that I need TOO MUCH, that I want TOO MUCH, that I am TOO MUCH, that nobody (against all evidence to the contrary) could possibly want me, being the giant ball of dorkish misery and bottemless needing that I am.
Getting in my own way again.
I am trying to stitch together a quilt that will let me take care of myself and that will also let me collaborate with people. It feels super preliminary right now, and I’m running up against a lot of Emotional/Mental Stuff around money, value, sharing, and the fear that collaborating with people will boil down to me being taken advantage of on some level. I don’t really even know where that comes from, but it’s definitely sitting in there like a boil. 😦
I don’t like it.
I think this might relate to the stuff in my tarot reading about “what are you afraid of”. (Ya think?)
The full moon saw me digging up my jerusalem artichokes (I now have a couple of gallons worth sitting in my fridge and needing to be eaten quickly – next year, I may make a point of digging them up one plant at a time, so as not to get overwhelmed) and freezing more kale and chard. There is still kale and chard in the garden (that need to be harvested, blanched, and frozen), along with sage and oregano that need to be harvested and drie, but mostly the garden is cut down. I need to put it to bed, ideally before the next full moon (which is coming on fast, I’m afraid).
My We’Moon date book talks about shadow wisdom, about needing to accept and show the parts of yourself that you kind of wish you could just cut out and be rid of. Sofia Wren (and SJ Tucker, for that matter) talks about needing to forgive yourself for your light, for being big and bold and bright and noticeable. And I want to take a deeper look into that. Maybe now’s the time.
Meliad, the Birch Maiden.
So, I’ve done it again. Skipped the new-moon post in favour of getting the moving done and completely failed to make New Moon Pizza on top of that. (A friend of ours has just gifted us with a fancy-schmancy pizza stone, mind you, so whatever I make for Long Nights Moon – probably something involving fairly-recently-made tomato sauce, as it happens – will be baked on that little number).
We are officially and completely moved out of the old apartment – keys and (empty) laundry card handed in at the office, all the paperwork signed, all inspections passed, and so on. Though we’re not completely moved IN (all boxes emptied, everything with a place to be in) to the new place just yet.
We’re getting there.
Expecting company for this weekend is definitely lending a sense of urgency to that effort, which is a helpful thing, I don’t mind telling you.
As of yesterday evening, I’ve canned all the pumpkin butter – nine-and-a-half cups worth – and started the pear butter stewing in the crock pot. I will probably have to get myself another flat of canning jars, though I kind of wish I could get half a dozen one-cup jars for the pear butter on top of a dozen half-cup jars for the impending tomato sauce.
I still haven’t planted the bulbs, and I’ll have to get that done before the ground freezes, but I’ve been scattering wild-crafted (and “wild-crafted” – as in yoinked from people’s gone-to-seed gardens) flower seeds – common mallow, milk weed, dark pink yarrow, and queen anne’s lace – in the front yard. My hope is that they’ll take root, come spring, and I’ll have a yard full of pink and white seed-flowers plus blue and purple bulbs to enjoy. 🙂
Strictly speaking, this lunar cycle is “Ancestor Moon” – the cycle that crosses Samhain – It’s been a rough couple of weeks and I’m inclined to call it Shadow Moon this year. Missing my beloved dead, sure, but also old relationships weighing on me – the mess of my first marriage, and how he hurt me a lot, did a lot of indisputably bad things, but that I hurt him, too; the relationship with my first girlfriend where we both cause damage, even though neither of us wanted to. Also old fears bubbling to the surface (again), eating me alive (again). I feel a little bit like – as they say in Fairyland Below – an Imminant Catabasos Event is in the works for me, and I have no idea if that means that 2015 (and surrounding months) is going to be my Year of the Shadows, or if that means that the entirety of my next seven-year cycle (which starts the day after tomorrow, when I turn 35) is going to be focussed on diving into the depths and swimming, lungs burning, back to the surface with a fistfull of precious, previously-discounted muck to make myself whole again.
There will be tarot readings done on this front, you can be sure. O.O
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
Maybe, given the number of posts that I’ve written relating to this theme, it’s not surprising that I’ve chosen “shadow” for one of my S prompts. The whole idea of “Shadow” is that all the things you don’t like about yourself wind up tucked away in a closet at the back of your Self where you stuff them to try and pretend they don’t exist… which never works.
For a long time, I figured that “shadow” was specific to “dangerous” things in the sense of “things that other people would perceive as dangerous” – you know, things that get you in trouble, things that “Good Girls Don’t” do, that kind of thing. It never occurred to me (until very recently, at least) that people’s insecurities, their meekness, that which is “dangerous” because it makes them (feel) vulnerable (rather than harmful-to-others or unwantable or something) could end up there, too.
I once did a “Guided Meditation” thing wherein my then-counselor took me on a trip in my own brain. I got to ride the Personal Bus and see who else was on there.
There was a man on my bus who dressed like a rough rocker type and who had a ring in his nose, and whose head was that of a boar or a bull (but I’m not at all sure which, because it kept changing), who looked scary and intimidating but who was really a bit of a gentle sweetheart. There was an unhappy, rather lonely lesbian with diamond earrings and jeans (who actually looks like someone I’ve now met… huh…). There was an old woman (who looked so much like the 4-of-Earth card in my tarot deck, it’s mind-boggling) name Angela who was bitter and hurting because nobody took care of her and a very young little girl (like between 4 and 7) also named Angela who wanted/needed to be taken care of but was wasn’t bitter or hurting about it yet, and still possessed some wonder about the world.
There were others, apparently, but I didn’t see them.
My counselor said that I was unusual because, while most people have one side of their Mental Bus all full, and the other side mostly empty – that all of their Shadow People fall along the same lines, so to speak – for me, if I had a person on the right who was imperious, sexual, and entitled (The Wicked Queen, let’s call her), I’d also have a person on the left who was the naïve, vulnerable, childish (child-like?) shadow of The Ingénue. Apparently there are a lot of parts of myself that I’ve learned (in whatever way) are “unacceptable” or “dangerous” for me.
I don’t have a clue why that is, but there it is. (Is this why I’m constantly frozen with indecision? …Perhaps).
I’ve heard it said – everywhere from self-help books to mythology classes to writing workshops – that what scares [you] most is where you have to go.
I know what scares me most.
And boy-howdy does it ever scare me, for more reasons than one. But there it is. So… down I go. At least I think I’ve found a way of putting my feet in that water without completely risking drowning. :-\
Wish me luck.
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
So… Miss Sugar has a post on Being The Other as a witch (in the sense of magical-practitioner/spell-crafter rather than in the sense of someone who practices Wicca). This has got me thinking about queerness again and about how “witch” is tied up with “sexually deviant woman” in much the same ways as “slut” and “dyke”. See… I do magic. Sometimes I even do it professionally, as folks who have commissioned jewelry from me will know. I’m a spell-crafter, as well as an arts-and-crafter, if you will. 😉 I’m also a femme dyke and a professional naked person and, as such, I’ve got some personal freedoms tied up with the human rights of (and denial there-of, and the resulting tacit encouragement of violence against) sexworkers. I live in a neighbourhood where multiple people make their living – in an official, “I’ve got signage in my front windows” capacity – as diviners and fortune tellers and umpteen others do so in a more casual/unofficial way (myself included).
My neighbourhood is full of (a) racialized and/or immigrant/new-comer people, (b) kinky, poly dykes, (c) broke-ass, working-poor, fixed-income, and otherwise economically-screwed people, (d) sexworkers in various fields & on various career paths, and (e) folks who are some or all of the above at the same time. It’s a neighbourhood that is full of Othered People, is what I’m getting at. If you’ve ever read “Baseball Magic” (or Mama Fortuna’s blog, for that matter), you’ll know that people turn to spell-craft and divination and similar when they can’t control their situation through more mundane means. No surprises, then, that neighbourhoods where marginalized people tend to live also tend to be neighbourhoods where witchcraft flourishes (relatively speaking, at least) as a trade.
It’s also not surprising, being as we live in The Patriarchy, that women who know-damn-well that they possess personal and sexual agency and don’t act like good, little, self-policing Stepford Wives competing for men’s attention, are (a) scary as fuck to said Patriarchy, and (b) Othered all the heck because of it.
Witch has always been a word leveled, like a threat, against “sexually deviant” (too pretty, too ugly, too wanted, too wanting, too available, not available enough…) women. So has “dyke”. So have “slut” and “whore”. We are all related.
Glamour is a tool of the vamp, the femme fatale, the witch as beautiful seductress. Femininity is art/artifice/artificial, set up in our cultural narrative as lie in order to make masculinity look “natural” and “honest” next to us.
This shows up everywhere from the damn Maleus Malificarum to the fairy tale witch who is set up as “woman gone wrong” with her stealing/eating of children, her house on chicken-legs or made of questionable-yet-alluring materials, her seducing of men away from their wives, her dangerous beauty; to relatively recent pop-culture icons like: the spooky, short-skirt-wearing, self-identified “weirdo” girls in The Craft; Jilly the “bad girl” in Practical Magic – who was totally comfortable using her power to her own advantage and who was also kinky, promiscuous, and generally “wayward”, right alongside her “good girl” sister Sally’s status as a witch being an open secret “she’s… different” whose “coming out” is commented upon by her co-workers – two characters who, in different ways, ping dyke buttons on their own; Willow Rosenberg who, as she grew in her power and her comfort there-with, also came out as a dyke and took a trip down her own “wayward”, stand-in-for-recreational-drug-use, path; and Lisle Von Rhuman (Death Becomes Her), the seductive, sensual, dominant, sorceress who holds the secret to eternal life and perpetual youth.
Goddess Spirituality, labrys pendants, and similar iconography have had a few surges in popularity as a means of flagging dyke to women who might want to hook up with you – the late 70s and early/mid 90s being two that I can think of myself. (Starhawk definitely had a hand, intentionally or not, in that one. Morning Glory Zell, too, for that matter – bi, poly, and pagan both of them).
Slut, dyke, and witch are all set up as “home-wreckers” in various ways, and thus contrasted to the “home-maker” status of idealized/expected/“respectable” (safe) womanhood.
Whore, Slut, Femme, Dyke… Witch.
Witches are transgressors.
We are Circe, every one of us.