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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?

COLD – First Week of December

“Unsplash” – Aaron Burden (2017-02-04) – Photo of swirling ice, blue and white as agate, courtesy of Wiki Free Images


 
COLD
It’s not that cold right now. Not by local standards.
There’s snow on the ground (the kind that drifts steadily down, without a driving wind to make it hard to travel through as it falls) that fell this morning, but a lot of water, too. A lot of potential for ice, for wet feet.
The chard is still holding up in the garden – not much, and it’ll be iced over in no time. But it’s there.
That said, the temperature’s dropping, and it’s due to be much, much colder tomorrow.
 
Cold is the temperature that gets into my bones, makes my hips swell up, keeps me up at night.
Cold is also the desensitization to other people’s pain. It’s a numbness that might be self-protective but can just as easily be cruel.
 
This first week of December, with the theme of “cold” in mind, I’m bringing socks – nothing fancy, literally just a bag of crew socks from Giant Tiger – to the drop-in on Bank St. It’s not a lot (it’s never a lot), but I know that socks are one of the most needed, and least donated, things that drop-in centers need once the weather gets cold. So. Socks.
I’m also making up a bunch of, basically, home-made cuppa-soups for a friend. But the timing on that is entirely luck, as she gets out of the hospital this week.
 
The Fool
This is a card of awakening.
I’m in the middle of reading Queer Magic (the one by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulystin, not the other one) and I’m on the essay “Essay”, which presents a queered year-wheel that follows a process of self-realization, self-actualization, and community-involvement that the author chooses to have begin at Winter Solstice.
With that sitting in the forefront of my mind, I can’t help smiling at the relation this year-wheel bears to the Fool’s Journey and, thence, to this little tarot adventure I’m taking myself on starting, well, a couple of days ago, on December First with The Fool.
What are waking up to? Literally? Figuratively? Personally?
Literally, I’ve been waking up to the smiling face of my lovely wife and, usually, a message from my sweetheart as well. I’ve also been waking up to house-hold chores and, until today, not quite enough time to deal with them.
On a more figurative or personal note, I’m trying to “wake up” to – as in be aware of – both the many good things and people in my life, and the places where I can be more helpful (both in terms of offering support to others, and in terms of making it easier for others to support me by Using My Words and voicing my needs and wants).
What do you want to stay open to, as you walk the last leg of this journey into the dark?
I want to stay open to warmth (ha… see next week), and to my sense of belonging and worthiness. My nearest and dearest have a lot on their plates right now, and a fair number of friends and loved ones have mental health stuff, or trauma stuff, or both that flares up at this time of year. Which, yes, definitely means they need some extra support these days. But it also means that I can start pulling inwards, and telling myself I’m “not allowed” to want attention from my people which – combined with the effect that cold (even more than dark, weirdly) has on my own brain – means I start feeling a bit like The Outsider in the Five of Pentacles, assuming I have to beg for scraps, when, really, if I’d just open my mouth and say something, we could probably do a good job of looking after each other in ways that are mutually beneficial and do us all some good.
 
The Magician
This is a card of action and of awareness of one’s own power.
What comes to mind, right this second, is the question “How have you used your privilege today?” A question that, if you are someone who has some politically-backed social power on any given vector, can maybe make you feel defensive. But all it means is “How have you used your powers for good today?”
How Have You Used Your Powers for Good?
This can be as easy as writing a letter to a politician, as a person with a “white-sounding” last name, to point out that, as a voter, you have a lot of problems with, say, oil pipelines being driven through indigenous territories without their consent. As simple as shoveling the walk for your pal with fibromyalgia or your neighbour who maybe can’t swing the shovel that easily. As quick as donating money when you’ve got some relative, even temporary, economic advantages.
Today, for me, that meant buying socks for strangers because, today, I had some available cash.
Tomorrow, it might mean making casseroles for someone who doesn’t have time to cook but needs to be careful about what and how often they eat, because of medical stuff.
 
The High Priestess
This is a card about potential, about diving deep, about entering into Mystery. It’s a card that, in terms of how my weekly themes are lining up, would be better suited to the darkest part of the dark end of the year, when I deal with Shadow. It’s a card that is often very personal. What are the secrets you’re keeping from yourself? What hidden depths do you need to reveal and recognize? What does your Hidden Self, your Rejected Self, have to say to you when you give it the chance to speak?
Are there parts of yourself that you consistently freeze out? Parts that you need to allow to thaw, even if it’s a scary, vulnerable process to do so?
For a long, looooooooong time, I always assumed that the stuff I kept hidden from myself was Bad Stuff. Stuff that I’d have to struggle to overcome or exorcise. But a year ago, I started wondering about how I (and, y’know, all my trauma babes, frankly) maybe hide stuff from myself about being worthy of “more than a kick and a curse”.
I want to stop digging my heals in, and keep letting myself risk feeling all the positive-but-vulnerable things – all the wanting, all the hope – that I sometimes try to stop myself from feeling.

New Moon (in Scorpio!) – Long Nights Moon Begins

Hey, kittens!
I technically started writing this during the “dark moon” (also in Scorpio) which is a good time to Release Old Habits/Patterns and otherwise let things go that aren’t meant to be or that aren’t serving or helping you to be your best, most you-like self. Which, if you go by the New Moon in Scorpio and #scorpionewmoon searches on twitter, is basically what New Moon (or anything at all, ever) in Scorpio is about anyway. So it works.
At least in theory.
 
How is it working out in practice?
Uh…
>.>
 
Yeah. So here’s a thing. Way early on in Scorpio Season, I said I thought that maybe, possibly, the secret truth that this season was starting to hit me with might actually have been a positive one.
I hope that I’m not just kidding myself about that.
I mean, I keep seeing all this stuff about getting grounded in your body and moving forward from that grounded place, choosing to choose your own growth and unlearning old, no-longer effective, pain responses, shedding our skin and stepping into new potential (PS, there’s a salt-scrub ritual cleansing at that link, glamour-babes), building new worldviews and letting the old ones go, that maybe what we thought was truth was really just assumption (and that link has lists of herbs, stones, and oils that are good to work with at this time, fyi). So, yeah. Maybe the Thing I need to Release and Let Go is the latest layer of “you are unlovable” garbage that’s clogging up my system.
Can’t hurt to try, right?
Right.
 
Which brings me to… look. I see all these folks (primarily on twitter…) doing lunar-phase-based healing rituals (like this series), tarot card meditations, and pretty actively working to rewire their own brains through the kind of witchy channels that let us tell more complex and fluid stories about ourselves than the ones we were handed when we were born.
And I love it.
And I do it… a little bit.
But not in a super regimented or consistent way. I think the closest I’ve got to that was doing my Queen Of Cups project, which included choosing a tarot card for each prompt that I did.
So. I guess I’m wondering: How does one do a meditation? Is it just “Oh, hey, I’m going to think about stuff on a theme?” or is there significantly more to it than that? I guess I’m sort of, like, can I use tarot meditations as a way of doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and rewiring the pathways in my brain so that I’m better able to recognize my own worthiness, develop better shame-resilience, and from there, become better able to open myself up to good things in my life. (The gratitude section of the MAGIC thing I do at the end of these lunar cycles posts is part of this, btw).
 
On a related note: As-you-know-bob, I’ve been working through Miss Sugar’s Glamour Magic book and… I have no idea if this stuff is working or not?
People are definitely randomly giving me things (like, yesterday, I was gifted four purses and a mug), and I have my suspicions that they are some variation on the theme of Queer – possibly also Invisible Queer, which may be relevant? Or not?
Occasional people are asking to deepen their relationships with me – though this is more “hey, let’s talk shop and get to know each other, near-stranger” rather than “hey, let’s talk shop and ‘get to know each other’ if-you-know-what-I-mean, already-a-friend”.
But I have no idea if I’m getting queer-spotted more frequently, if I’m getting anything like the Family Discount… none of that stuff.
One… interesting… thing that happened was, on a day when I was storming home, utterly furious and very focused about A Thing, a random lady outside the (big, gay) coffee shop told me “you look nice”.
I… don’t know what to make of that.
I mean, I’m fairly confident that she didn’t mean “nice” like “You’re a really sweet person” (which is the impression I’ve consistently made on at least one other person, and which I admit I’ve been cultivating for some time) but… “nice”? I was in full-on Scorpio Vengeance Mode.
…This is that “black swan, let your power show” business, isn’t it?

 
Anyway. I have (alas) a kitchen to clean and (hurrah) hummus and other goodies to make before I head out dancing tonight, so off I go. 🙂
 
~*~
 
Movement: Going dancing this evening! 😀 😀 😀 Hauled 16lbs of groceries home on one shoulder today and probably could have managed another four pounds before things started getting unweildy. (Should have brought a second bag for balance – which would have allowed me to choose the 10lb bag of carrots, oh well – but still!)
 
Attention: The calling of crows. The state of the veggies in my fridge. Whether or not there’s ice on the sidewalks in the mornings. Whether or not there are jobs I can apply for at places I actually want to work (Hint: Yes. Need to get my latest application in). Places and situations where My Stuff is getting in the way or being Part Of The Problem.
 
Gratitude: A hella-full pantry with enough food to share, and enough food to last. Friends who give me presents, bring over apple pie, reality check me, and otherwise make me feel seen and looked after. A wife who misses me. Early-morning cuddles. Time to knit and catch-up with friends. Novels I can re-read again and again. Candle light. The impending visit of my queer aunties + my cousin for the weekend. Hot, running water right out of the tap. Apple pie. Baby queers, and getting to watch them grow into their brilliant selves. ❤
 
Inspiration: Astrology. For real. I’m trying to write poems that touch on what different astrological events (like New Moon in Scorpio) and identities (like “Venus in Sagittarius[1]” or “Mars in Leo[2]”) mean, indicate, or look like under whatever circumstances.
 
Creation: Knit all the things. No, my Safety Shawl isn’t done yet, but all of my various projects are just a little bit further along, so there’s that. I also managed to write another poem, so hurrah!
 

Silver-white sliver of a barely-waxing crescent moon against a dark blue background that may or may not be sky.
Image by Ed Dunens (New Moon) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


 
[1] Prone to long distance relationships. Which… Is, like, the only part of that combination that actually applies to me, even though my Venus is in Sag. o.O
 
[2] Wants to be the best lover, bit of a performer, enjoys Power Dynamics, gets annoyed when people won’t say what they want. Uhm… Hi. >.>

New Year New You 2016: Reflections So Far + Week 10: What Motivates You?

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!
 
Reflection Instructions: “[…]Reflect on the last nine weeks and talk about what you’ve learned” about yourself, your practice, your project, and where you want to be.
+
Week 10 Instructions: Do some navel gazing: What are your reasons for working on your goals? What makes you eager to work on them?
 
I’m combining these two prompts… for no real reason, except that I can? We’ll see if they wind up having common themes or not.
 
Tarot CardS:
Reflection: Ha, I’m half-inclined to suggest the Hanged Man because of it’s “pause” and (in particular) “mirror” or aspects, or even its “seeing things from a new angle” elements. We’ll see if I stick with that, though.
Motivation: Part of me wants to choose The Chariot (AKA: The Archer, Awareness) because it’s very much about “get up / wake up, and go!”, about finding and directing your energy. It’s a card about being motivated in general. But… In reality, a lot of my motivation – for this project, and also in life more broadly – is the 4 of cups + the 6 of cups. Dissatisfaction, self-isolation, the search for self-knowledge, sadness (all Four of Cups traits) combined with the Six of Cups’ yearning for something better, and re/connected to others (sometimes obtainable, sometimes… no so much, but either way)… that’s what tends to push me into action. A sense of “gotta fix this” combined (more frequently) with “I am sick of feeling this way”.
(Heh… actually, the “Turning In” aspect of the Four of Cups would work well for the Reflections part of this post, too…)
 
Anyway.
So, yeah. Via tarot cards, I’ve already talked about what motivates me, but let’s dig into that a little more with specific respect for this NYNY Project.
 
Strictly speaking, I started my Queen of Cups Project because I was sick of feeling miserable all the time and wanted to get better at welcoming good things/people/feelings into my life. All the Brené Brown stuff (that I would end up reading in February 2016) about Preemptive Tragedy and Camping Out in the Swamp of Disappointment? I didn’t have words for it yet, but I knew it was a major problem. So my motivation was definitely about wanting to lift/shake myself out of my perpetual Four of Cups funk.
 
The dirty little secret, though, is that I also started this project because I was afraid my partner would leave me (…and she did) if I didn’t shape up and stop freaking out all the time. Lots and lots of stuff about “Is this in my head? I don’t know what to think” facing off against “This love is dificult, but it’s real…” and not knowing how much of my anxiety and spun-ness was due to my own self-inflicted meta-naratives (meaning stuff I could fix by myself) versus how much of it… wasn’t. A lot of yearing for the loving, second-chance, taking-care-of-each-other energy of the Six of Cups. Not a great reason to start a self-improvement project (although probably not an uncommon one, either).
 
Negative reinforcement can go a long way towards pushing me to do something.
But my other major motivator is success.
 
Which brings me to the “reflection” part of this post.
 
I think it’s going well.
 
I’ve been doing these prompts in order, but I haven’t been pushing myself to do them week-by-week. As such, it’s been a solid six months – rather than 10 weeks – since I started this project. There was a break-up in there, with a bonus sharp reminder that “fixing myself” is only going to work if I’m doing it for my own sake, rather than because I’m doing the desperate worthiness/shame dance and trying to “become someone worth loving” (yeah, I know. I know). But there’s also been time.
 
Listening to all the Slow Down messages I was getting meant giving my magic the chance to actually game the odds with enough time to get a run-up at things. It meant giving myself time enough to learn Handy Truths from Leah Horlick’s and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s poetry, from Brené Brown’s work, from Ms Sugar’s glamour guide blog posts, and from numerous queer, almost exclusively) femme, tarot readers (go give them some love), as well as time to let things fix a bit better in my marrow than they might have if I’d pushed myself to keep to the “Just Keep Pushing” time-frame established by the course. (Which doesn’t mean that the time-frame is bad, just that this is a deeper project than “change where my money comes from” or get this book finished”… or at least it is in my case).
 
Heading into “phase two” of NYNY (prompts 10 – 23), I’m going to keep the pace I’ve set for myself, keep working on glamour and self-glamouring, keep working on tarot, keep working on me and all of my Feeeeelings Stuff. (P.S.: The Help that arrived in Week Nine? I am having a preliminary consultation on Sunday. woohoo!)
 
And,with all that in mind, off we go. 🙂
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.

Full Moon – Ice Moon Crests

The past few days, it’s been warm enough that it rained (rained!) for two days straight, and walking anywhere required rubber boots and careful navigation over icy sidewalks – and roads – covered in four inches of cold water. The temperature dropped overnight, and the sidewalks were thick with (thankfully-rough-and-choppy) ice this morning. Ice Moon, indeed.
Outside, a flock of starlings are eating the offering bread I put out a week ago. Inside, the house looks a bit like it exploded (we emptied our storage locker, but all that means is that the various boxes and other Things that we’d kept outside of the house are now stacked in my front room and partialy unpacked). This past week, I’ve been (avoiding further unpacking by) reading a lot of Brené Brown. You know, the TED Talk woman who researches shame and vulnerability? Her stuff. Like, all of her stuff. It’s astonishing how much what she’s saying about vulnerability relates to what Miss Sugar says about how glamour works. The courage to show up and be seen.
It’s blowing my little mind, I tell you.
 
At the beginning of this lunar cycle, I asked myself:
What do I need to firm up?
Where do I need more flow?

 
I… have no idea.
Sometimes, when I write my lunar cycle posts, I try to come up with questions to get me (and anyone else who feels like it) thinking along lines that are thematically related to the time of year. In another six weeks, I’ll be asking myself (here or elsewhere) what needs to be cleaned out of my literal and metaphorical pantries to make room for newer, fresher things to come.
 
As far as “flow” goes… I’m sticking with those self-help books I picked up and recognizing that I’m going to have to get… used to, if not comfortable with, uncertainty. That’s flow. Needing to be able to roll with sudden changes-of-plan without taking 24 hours to freak right out about it before that can happen. That’s flow. That’s the Ace of Water and the Two of Earth. Figuring it out, moment to moment, and being willing to go with the flow rather than panicking (and potentially drowning because of it).
 
As far as firming things up go… What am I committing to? Like, really, not just lip-service. Part of why I’m reading the entire Brené Brown oeuvre right now is because all that “daring greatly” and “rising strong” stuff is pretty relevant to my Queen of Cups Project (still going, even if it’s taken a bit of a detour in terms of keeping up with my NYNY posts). And part of it is because it’s relelvant to a couple of books I want to write. I’m taking another stab at The Novel, and I’m working on the outline and content (and research) for a Relationships Book for polyamourous folks. So what I’m committing to, other than getting my own head-and-heart in slightly more reliable working order, is getting back in the saddle for Draft WhateverTheFuck of my novel (maybe I’ll actually get it all the way done this time?) and sorting out the preliminaries for the Relationships Book.
 
Something from The Gifts of Imperfection is the idea (or data-based argument, or whatever) that in order to be open to joy, you have to practice gratitude, and that – kind of the same way that trying to see someone else’s PoV by practicing empathy will also help you to be less afraid of them and less ashamed of (yourself for) the fear that is starting to quiet down – focusing on something (related to the Scary Thing) that you are greatful for can help make Vulnerable Moments feel less like something you have to flight/fight/freeze about and more like something you can lean into and deal with (hopefully) without screwing it up. So, I’m poking at this, at Miss Sugar’s Glad Game, at my friend Talia’s “two good things for today” practice, and other stuff that various people in my life do to refocus on what’s going well and making them happy in their lives. So here’s mine (WHY YES, IT’S TOTALLY AN ACRONYM, BECAUSE I’M LIKE THAT SOMETIMES):
 
Motion: I modeled today (which is sort of the opposite of motion, but is definitely engaging with my body), and then walked home (about an hour, into some seriously bitter winds for the last 15 minutes or so). Glad to be warm and inside!
Attention: I’m thinking a LOT about (go figure) shame and vulnerability, how all those FEELINGS that I’d been understanding as anxiety might actually have been “shame storms”, and how… that explains things a little more fully. It’s another piece of the puzzle of my own brain, at any rate.
Gratitude: My awesome wife got my Walking Wheel working last night. She made me a spindle (that you could totally gash yourself on, if you’re not careful – Sleeping Beauty may have been a cautionary tale about running in the house…) and fixed the accelerating head. It looks fantastic, and it works – even if it does take two of us to work it right now (I don’t really know how to do this yet…). Excited to practice and get things up to speed, though I suspect there will be a significant learning curve involved.
Inspiration: Inspired by how narrative is built into our DNA, and (finally) learning what “Act Two” in a story is actually for. (This is what has given me the go-ahead to pick up the novel again – I know what needs to underpin the stuff that’s happening and the decisions my MC is making. Woohoo!!!)
Creation: Books, yes. However slowly. And wheel-spun yarn, ditto, however slowly. But right now I’m in the middle of (and excited about) knitting a shrug (in the round), and using new (to me) stitch patterns to do it. I love the way the texture of the fabric changes depending on the stitches you use (knitting in the round looks very different from knit-one-direction-perl-back-the-other-way, and I find it just fascinating… I’m easily ammused. 😉 )

New Year New You 2016: Week 2 – Goals

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: Determine what you want to accomplish in 2012 2016 using both magical and mundane means, then break it down into magical and mundane steps that you can take.
 
Tarot Card: Queen of Cups for some fairly obvious reasons (see below).
 
Thoughts:
So, yeah. My Goal is to wake up my Queen of Cups energy and to become More Receptive on all fronts.
This feels a bit scary (but it probably should), and also a bit… foolish? Like I’m doomed to fall down the rabbit hole of Second Chakra Energy money-and-sex stuff (because Receiving Makes You Vulnerable and/or Wanting Is Shallow, or whatever other internalized crap I’ve got to deal with… is still up against money and sex being strongly conflaited in my culture, even as we deamonize sexworkers… yada yada yada, I’m already getting Meta in an effort to avoid looking at my own Issues, look at that) rather than focusing on some sort of heart-opening/ocean-soul thing that would be just so much more valid and less greedy and just… eugh. Internalized issues? You bet your ass!
 
Questions (and similar):
1. How are you going to accomplish these large goals in your daily life?

I… have no idea.
Which doesn’t work as an answer, I know.
It’s hard to think of “receiving” as something I can initiate.
None the less, I can pay attention. Like it says in this post, I can actively notice when someone does something nice for me in order to circumvent That Thing where it only takes one “no” to cancel out a dozen “yes” responses and maybe help me stop thinking that nobody wants to give me things (even when “things” are non-physical stuff like “kind words” or whatever).
 
I can do some of the exercises in Ecstasy is Necessary (because, yeah, some of this – lots of this, even – is totally to do with sex)
 
I can Try New Things. Stick with me here. Being receptive means being open. It means less holing up in my living room (oh hai, Winter… look who just arrived) and more (a) eating Korean BBQ, (b) reading at open mics (again), (c) volunteering, (d) taking classes, (e) going to Free Cool Events in my neighbourhood, (f) going to Free Cool Events in different cities[1]!, and other stuff like that there.
 
I can Ask. I can Use My Words and see what comes my way. (This is terrifying, but there you go).
 
2. What magical acts (rituals, spellwork, whatever it is you do) can you do to help you accomplish this goal?
This is almost easier. I’ve been taking Glamour Baths for ages, now, and word has it that my High Femme Smoulder is basically unstoppable. This is good to hear (for many reasons), and means that this particular form of magic is actually working for me.
I’m good at Honey Pots – calling things to me.
What I need to sort out now is how to see, and take, the opportunities/gifts/wooing/kindness/etc that come my way. I can:
 
Re-enchant my (new) mascara to help me see and recognize those things as they come.
 
Keep up with my ritual baths and honey-pot feedings, since those seem to be working well.
 
Re-charge my favourite lipstick(s) for added glamourous vavavoom.
 
Do some of the exercises in Urban Tantra with specific regards to opening up my energy flows.
 
Do Kundalini yoga (using an online free video, provided I can get it to stream properly) because… it helps. Though I’m not sure how/why. But go with what works.
 
Do “water meditation”. Yeah. You know that thing that everyone learns when they read Starhawk (or Silver Raven Wolf, or whatever you read as a baby Pagan learning the 101 stuff), where you send your roots into the earth and draw energy up from the earth’s core? I could never get the hang of that. But I tried looking for the water table and BAM! Now that’s energy I can access and draw upon! So I figure, what better way to access my Queen Of Cups mojo than to practice opening up to, and drawing in, specifically water-based energy? Gotta be worth a shot, right? Right.
 
3 and 4. What does [your preferred method of divination] and/or [patron deities/spirits] have to say regarding how to make sure you put these plans into action AND what kind of road blocks may keep you from doing so?
Yeah, I totally conflated #3 and #4 here. I get a lot of radio silence (or possibly I’m just failing to pick up the signal – Also likely. “Receptive” has a lot of meanings and I need help with all of them) when I ask questions without some sort of translation service (such as tarot cards) in play.
 
Yesterday – and I realize this isn’t the most Intentional way of doing this (call it Radiomancy with divination cards) – I was shuffling my Daughters of the Moon tarot deck[2] and, possibly because the cards are big and round and hard to handle, half a dozen cards toppled out of the deck, first two, then four, right after each other. I decided to go with it:
 
Road Blocks:
Reversal (the Hanged One)
Conflict (4 of Flames)
 
Actions to Take:
Cerridwen (Crone – King? – of Flames)
The Moon
Hokhma – Decisions (8 of Blades)
Mami Watu the Mermaid / Pisces (Maiden – Page-Knight – of cups)

 
With regards to road blocks I might have to deal with, the “reversal” card sometimes just means “hanging around and waiting” AKA: Inaction. That one’s easy enough to understand, although not strictly super helpful in terms of specifics. The “conflict” card is… one of the ones that doesn’t match up, to my knowledge, with anything like a traditional tarot card. The closest I can guess is the possibility of there being “too many cooks” involved in my personal receptivity-building project (I understand the 4 of Fire as participation/get-involved/everyone-onto-the-dance-floor/collaboration kind of thing) or maaaaaaaybe that I might “plateau” at the first sign of leveling up or start balking (inner conflict??) when it comes to trying to open up with/to someone(s) else.
 
As far as steps to take (or allies, or helpful hints, or however you want to read this bunch) go, I’m inclined to take the Moon card pretty literally, given that my own Moon Goddess handles trust and emotional stuff (and the ocean) as part of Her pervue.
As for the rest… Cerridwen’s cauldron of creation and transformation. Recognition of harms done in past relatioinships and needing to (actively) choose, moment to moment, whether those ripples are going to be the boss of me right now. That mermaid, again, calling me to dive deep, seek self-understanding/compassion, but also to trust and take risks. Which, okay, that last one is pretty clear. 😉
 
I don’t know if my Ladies were talking through those cards, but I’m willing to keep them in mind going forward, since they (mostly) seem to make sense.
 
Anyway. Week Three awaits, but it’s probably going to Await a little longer (which is hilarious, given that the topic is “something you’ve been putting off), since Week Four is pretty date-specific (New Year’s and all it’s accompanying guilt-ridden self-sabotage) and Miss Sugar commands that we all do that one right on time.
 
I’m off!
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.
 
 
[1] Yeah, I’m looking at taking “working vacations” to nearby cities where I have Crash Space in town, and booking 3-5 modeling jobs in as many days… if I can manage that. But: Receptive. (Gahds, so much of this is “power of positive thinking” crap. I feel like I’m subscribing to The Secret or something… Eugh…)
 
[2] Which, in my opinion are really not a tarot deck at all. They’re something new built from the bones of the tarot, but… while most re-interpretations / new-interpretations of the tarot stick to the 78 cards and their original meanings – so while some decks might put the emphasis of the 3 of Cups on “relationships between women”, others might put it on “your cup runeth over”, and still others might focus on “community building”, “partying to excess”, or “so many (too many?) options”, these different emphases are still all aspects of the actual card – the DotM deck amalgamtes a number of major arcana cards, conflates the pages and knights together, and redistributes the “troubling cards” of the suit of air across the entire minor arcana so that, basically, the elemental suits look a little bit less like the houses in Harry Potter.

New Year New You 2016: Week 1 – Making Way

So 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: Clean the house, weed the wardrobes, and generally get physical stuff out of your space (or back in its place). THEN Magically cleanse your place (and your head-space, too). Miss Sugar suggests doing this during the waning moon, which is technically happening right now, but only just.
 
Tarot Card: If I were to assign a tarot card to this week’s prompt, I would almost definitely pick a Fire card. After giving the eye to the Queen, the 8, the 2, and the 4 (as well as The Chariot, as it happens – all that “get-up/wake-up and go” stuff), I’m inclined to stick with the Two of Fire (“Possibilities”) because of its connections to balance & harmony, planning & decisions, and new ventures, plus the fact that it’s a Two, which means this is all about taking small (but consistent) steps towards getting the hang of Doing(New) You well.
 
Thoughts:
I feel like the accumulate/de-stuff-icate cycle is one that I’m never going to actually finish. Like the Wheel of the Year, periods of abundance and paring down happen in their seasons.
I’ve got a year-at-a-glance horoscope (I get the we’moon date book every year as a birthday present to myself) telling me that, in spite of Scorpios (in theory) being better at elimination than accumulation, it’s time to deal with wealth (of various kinds) and material security.
 
A talk with a friend, about two months ago, included the ways in which we’re both more “switching up” than “throwing out” these days. Accumulating stuff, yes, but it’s stuff that will last. Good quality things. Things that actually fit our senses of self (whether we’re talking furniture or machinery or clothing), rather than “single-season” or otherwise disposable items that we’ll wear out too quickly because they’re poorly made. Glass not plastic. Cotton and linen, wool and silk rather than polyester. Things we can repair or alter ourselves. Things we’ve even made ourselves – thus getting Hours Of Fun from the making, before getting (hopefully) Decades Of Fun from the wearing or using of what we made. Things with stories attached to them (“I got this skirt at the Harvest Swap, it used to belong to A. Fatale” or “I got this necklace/yarn/knife on my trip to Iceland, last Summer” or “My wife found this antique yarn winder behind the crack house on the corner – Can you believe they put it in the trash??”).
 
I feel like the stuff in my life is edging slowly towards being the kind of Stuff that is (a) limited (hahaha, here’s hoping), but also (b) almost permaculture-y in the way each item comes with many “purposes”: This shrug will keep me warm (and stylish!) when it’s finished, keep my hands (and mind) busy while I’m knitting (and spinning) the yarn, help me strengthen chatty connections with other fibre artists in my community/ies, and help me become a better knitter & designer, too. This cheese plate is beautiful (beautiful is a purpose in my world), can be used to serve cheese and other goodies, and comes with a story because it’s a wedding present from the House of the Dragon.
 
As far as the state of my home goes…
Yeah…
Thanks, entirely, to our annual Winter Solstice Partay (and the corresponding, too-brief but much-appreciated visit from our Archivist), our house is actually… not a total mess.
Admittedly, “not a total mess” is about as good as it gets around here. Our front room is functional as a dining room, but it’s also doing multi-duty as (a) my spinning wheel storage room (none of my spinning-related machinery is functional… yet), (b) my wife’s steam-engines display area, (c) the work-shop-ish area (still lots of stuff for doing leather work, including a sadle-stitching bench and two sewing machines, but also jewelry-making), and (d) the garage because my wife – somewhat understandably – keeps her skis, ski boots, winter boots, and her bicycle in here.
Still. We’ve been eating at a table with chairs (rather than eating off our knees, sitting on the couch) for a couple of months, and I am overjoyed about that!
The party has meant that our kitchen is stocked (overstocked) with really fancy food, and the living room is cleaner and tidier than it’s been in a month.
We still have (lots of) art and family pictures to put on the walls, and heaven only knows when next we’ll try to tackle that business. I’m eyeing January 1st as a date to take the (put up on December 20th) Winter Solstice Decorations out of the windows, though we’ll see about that as well.
 
Energetically speaking… My altar has had a cursory clean (using a Lysol wipe, of all things!), and I’ve been keeping up with my candle offerings. It’s time to start making water offerings again, I think, though I’m not sure how I’m going to do them. I may pour (boiled) water into the shell-composed tea cup on my altar once a week. Or I may do the water on the stove like I used to do. Maybe a bit of both? I don’t know. But it seems like the right thing to do, so we shall see where I go with this.
My wife has mentioned that my insense gives her headaches, so I’m going to have to find a different way of energetically cleaning my space – It may just mean that I do the Big Clean shortly after she leaves for work on a day when I know she’ll be spending the night elsewhere (Yay, Polyamoury!), since this is one of the least labour-intensive (and therefore most likely to actually get done) means of House Cleansing that I know of. That being said, ti’s been a long-ass while since I gave my place that kind of a clean. Time to get on it, me-thinks.
Other than that, I gave my brain a bit of a once-over as well. Not in the sense of going to my “Magical Internal House” and giving that a wipe down, but by having a look Inside and doing some self-care and assessments (relevant for Week 2, as it happens).
 
Questions:
1) Is my time being well spent?

At this point, mostly yes. I mean, I still Internet waaaaaaaay too much, and I know that. I’m generally making a point of keeping off the computer (like turning it right off, when possible) when my wife’s at home. I find myself looking at things that I’m neglecting though.
Some of it is “Should” stuff, like sending out more job applications for part-time/casual reception/admin work. But that’s not actually what I’m concerned with on the NYNY Project Front this go-round. (Doesn’t mean I should ignore it, and I do need to acknowledge it, but it’s not my focus. You’ll see why that’s relevant in a second).
Stuff I’ve been neglecting due to the guilt-shame-fear spiral that I have around money and employment:
(A) Self-care & my mental-emotional health. Which is part of why my goals for this Challenge are what they are, to be honest.
(B) Spiritual study and contemplation. Yes. I’m such a bougie whatever-whatever, but that stuff is actually important to me, and I’ve been missing it for over a year. I want to get it back! I’m considering the remarkably affordable Alternative Tarot Course from Little Red Tarot, actually, as part of way to get some of this back – this is also why I’m picking a tarot card for each week of this Challenge.
ART for the sake of making and finishing art. Yes, I’ve got a poetry manuscript on the go, and I want to keep up with that. But I miss scribbling stories for the hell of it, and I’d like to see if I can’t do something like the Fanfic 100, but for Random Short Stories and try to flash-write something in the 2000-word range, maybe once a week on Productivity Wednesdays or something).
 
This is all stuff that my Poisoned-by-Capitalism brain has a lot of trouble with allowing me to “get away with” doing (and, yes, finding myself a damn part-time job – the kind that lets me blog/novel/poet as needed in between phone calls and accepting deliveries, while earning a salary – would seriously help on this front, but go with me here) , but which are also all things that I think will seriously help me with my actual NYNY goals as well. Funnily enough, those goals have to do with putting down the baggage I’ve been hauling around for 20 years so that I can get myself free (or at least free-ER) and be happier and more open to Receiving things. More on that next week.
 
I’ve signed up to do one volunteer shift per week at a local food centre that focuses on neighbourliness and skill-building. I figure, I’m a fucking Kitchen Witch. Food is how I help people out. I might as well do it on a larger scale and see where it gets me. If nothing else, I’ll learn how to Feed The Multitude on donated produce, and that’s a skill I’d love to have.
 
2)What Big Rocks Are You Carrying?
I am carrying a couple of doozies. The whole point of doing NYNY again is to actually put some of them the fuck down. But I’ll fill you all in on that with my Goals post for Week Two.
 
 
TTFN,
Meliad the Birch Maiden.