Tag Archives: Week 9

King of Coins – Week 9: Reflections at Midsummer

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.

Dark Days Tarot, 7 of Pentacles: A woman with wheat-pale hair, nude but for a long cloak, opens a book to its center. Grain and grasses spill out of the book, along with rose-like flowers with pentacle centers. A waning, balsamic moon hangs in the upper left corner, over the woman's shoulder. The image is grey-scale.
Dark Days Tarot – Seven of Pentacles

Tarot Card: Seven of Earth.

This card feel appropriate for its “pause and reflect” characteristics – I’ve literally heard it described as the “interim report card” of the deck – and also because this Project is based in the suit of Earth. I know this card best as “Patience”, from the Osho Zen deck, where it stands, just before the second “plateau” card of the suit of earth, as a reminder that Things Take Time, and only slightly less well as “Healing” in the Wildwood deck, where it’s a call for rest and pause. It’s a very (g)Lammas card for those reasons. But it’s also a card about sowing and cultivating – as Oliver Pickle writes in She Is Sitting in the Night – and about results that come from labour and putting in the work.

I harvested rhubarb from my garden for the first time since we moved here, three Beltanes ago. It took three years, and annual top-ups with manure and compost-heavy top soil, for the sand-and-gravel of my front yard to become something that will let a deep-rooted plant like rhubarb thrive. My irises bloomed for the first time since we got here, too. The seven sisters roses are more covered in flowers than ever. My recently transplanted raspberries, from a neighbour, are rooting successfully and putting out new growth. It’s so good to see them thriving. Later today, I’ll be making peony soul cakes – for offerings and for a midsummer barbecue we’ve been invited to, down by the river – using petals from the peonies in our yard. All of this is wonderful, but it didn’t happen by accident.

I wanted my garden to thrive, so I put in the work and the time and, frankly, the money, to help it do so.

Which brings me to my reflections about where I’m at with my King of Coins Project goals.

I’ve said this multiple times, over years and years of writing this blog. I can’t effectively aim my Will if I don’t know what I want to hit.

There was a point, back in mid-May, where I talked to my Godself about the things that needed to happen in order for my household to be able to thrive. And very shortly thereafter, things started Coming Up that were pointing me in the direction of what I’d said needed to happen. And yet, at the same time, I started digging my heals in because there’s more than two people worth of needs in my household, and I was feeling noticeably trapped (between sets of wants/needs) and resentful about the extra costs associated with prioritizing one set of needs and wants over all the others.

And, big surprise, I have landed zero of the jobs that flooded my way at that time.

Oof. One of the other things that the Seven of Pentacles relates to is a fear of failure, a fear of making the wrong choice. And I have that fear is spades, let me tell you.

It’s definitely stopping me from “picking a direction” because I don’t want to find out, in the long or short run, that it was the wrong one.

At the same time, the Seven of Pentacles is an opportunity to both (a) celebrate your achievements, and (b) make changes and tweaks to one’s long-term plans.

So, let me take a second, as part of this Reflection, to celebrate some achievements in terms of where my original goals ( https://birchtreemaiden.wordpress.com/2021/03/14/new-year-new-you-2021-week-2-goals/ ) for the King of Coins Project are at:

First and foremost: I’m out of debt. It’s potentially going to be a bit of a battle to stay that way, but I accepted the help I was offered, and I’m no-longer throwing hundreds of dollars at a credit card bill that seems unending. I have automatic payments set up to (a) make sure my monthly automatic charges – patreon and some charity donations – are paid off, (b) to add a tiny bit to my savings fund every week, and (c) to put towards my 2022 income taxes, when that bill comes due next Beltane. So I’m feeling good about that.

I have definitely ridden the hedonic escalator up a few steps. I don’t generally feel like I’m going to be punished for buying new clothes, and I’ve invested in some Nice Items (like an Actually Leather day-to-day-use handbag, and a bunch of flowing, light-but layerable 100% cotton dresses) that should serve me well for years and years to come. Needing to scale back the consumerism, when I quit my Very Stressful Job just before Imbolg, was An Adjustment. But it’s worked out and the thing I spend the most money on, tbh, is “emergency preparedness food” (couscous, orzo, green lentils and mung beans for sprouting, tinned and home-pressure-canned beans, vaccuum-sealed dry sausage that can be stored at room temperature until it’s opened, and then eaten fairly quickly, crackers, peanut butter, nuts and dried fruit, that kind of thing) in case there are more power outages in our near-future.

I’m not sure about “changing my baseline”. I did feel “weirdly exposed” when I made that final payment on my credit card and saw it balance out to zero. I did have to majorly fight myself on “I can buy so many things!!!” (Which doesn’t mean I didn’t buy “so many” things – I did. I just paid cash for them, and bought them over multiple weeks instead of just a couple of days. And, yeah, that emergency flashlight/charger and a bidet widget for our bathroom were among them). Still. The thing I was afraid would happen if I “let” myself be free of debt… happened.

And it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a Terrible Situation with No Way Out where I ended up “right back where I started”. And it wasn’t even very long-lived. It was a managable, and managed, situation where I equipped my house a little better for a particular kind of Bad Situation and gave myself presents that I’ve been wanting for years (a rhodochrosite ring to complete my Bi Pride ring collection; a black felted hat with a broad brim – yes, I DO feel very American Horror Story when I wear it, sorry not sorry; a book about Feri witchcraft), and then I chilled the heck out and went back to reading library books and doing home-canning.

Have I “raised my baseline”? TBH, I don’t think so. Doing that requires (A) a third remote job (or a massive raise from both my current employers – unlikely but maybe?), and (B) the opportunity to save up for a house down-payment, rather than having to pour all that extra money into rent. But I spent a year living with “owning a house” as a distant, but at least possible, dream, and I would like to have that again.

As far as changes and tweaks go:

I have my name in for another possible third job. One that would require more hours than I want to give over to working-for-others, including some weekend hours that I’m absolutely not thrilled about, but that I’m eminently qualified to do and would be good at. And I kind of think I need to take a moment today – because it’s Solstice, and it’s a good time to do this – to sort out what I actually want. What my Ideal Situation is and how to work my will so that it happens.

Six months ago, at Winter Solstice, I put a handful of squash seeds on my tiny desk altar. I think it’s time (past time – would have been better at the new moon, three weeks ago) to collect half a dozen of them, and charge them with goals.

·      New, possibly short-term, upstairs neighbours who are clean, quiet AND away a lot of the time

·      A new third remote job with good, ultra-flexible hours, a fun task list, and better-than-current-expectations pay, plus raises at my other two jobs

·      A publisher for my still-on-sub chapbook

·     Great sex + a happy, loving polycule

·     A growing bank account and savings funds including a down-payment fund

·      A spacious, tidy, very affordable home with native fruit trees growing all around the edges of the yard and enough time, energy, and focus to both tend and harvest said yard as needed

That would be great. Let’s make some magic.

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 2016: Week Nine – Asking For Help

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: “Asking for help feels almost like admitting defeat. And by defeat, I mean admitting that you’re not invincible. Well. You’re not. Sorry.“… So ask for the help that you need.
Tarot Card: I…honestly have no idea. Part of me wants to choose a Six card. The six of fire (abundance, success) or the six of earth (for its elements of checking in and touching base)… but neither of those is quite right. Part of me wants to name the Nine of Cups (for its “wishes coming true” aspect) and part of me wants to suggest the Wheel of Fortune, if only because of how much this seems to have relied on good luck and random chance. Lemme explain…
I’ve been sitting on this prompt for a while, because I looked at it and thought “Who the hell do I ask for help on this one??” and then, this morning, help asked for ME.
As if by magic. >.>

That’s what I mean by “good luck and random chance”.
Turns out, a friend of a friend is getting her Life Coach certification, and needs to practice on people (for free!). So I asked my friend to put me in touch with her friend, and have since sent off a note asking if said friend can help me with some specifics around my Receptivity.
At this point, I have no idea whether this is going to go anywhere. I mean, I hope it does, and I’ve given my possible Life Coach as much information as I can without just running on at the mouth, and we’re going to have A Conversation to see if my Stuff can be molded into something that her school of coaching can help with.
Fingers crossed. (I may or may not update this to tell you all how it goes, if it goes. Again: Fingers crossed!)

What Have I Learned [New Year, New You]

So. Miss Sugar’s final (public[1]) prompt for the New Year, New You Experiment is the What Have I Learned prompt.

So. What have I learned?

Hrm. Okay, thing one, I’ve basically confirmed that I don’t like doing Special Stuff every day. I feel guilty about that, but there it is. I’m more likely to spark my altars once every ten days and do light offerings (and honey-pot feeding – more on that shortly) that way than I am (currently) to do water offerings on a daily basis. I feel kind of guilty about that. But I also feel like trying to push myself in a direction that is clearly Not Working (presently) is kind of a waste of energy that I could be directing elsewhere. Like working on my “novel”[1] or tweeting about queer and trans health-related stuff or promoting my poetry show or blogging about my Cosmology, whatever[2]. I’m not thrilled about my lack of stick-to-it-ivness. However, since I’m Sticking To a whole freaking heap of (often scary) other stuff – my Wedding Singer business cards came in the mail yesterday, FYI. They are spiffy and I’m pelased with them – I’m at least slightly willing to cut myself some slack here.

On the plus side, I’ve learned that I make really good[3] honey pots. Which is a serious boost. It’s like, hey, guess what: You are actually capable of doing magical work. That functions. As expected. Rock on! 😀

From this point on… I’m not sure where this is going to go. Miss Sugar’s NYNY Experiment will be conituing outside of the blogosphere (alas, as I quite like blogging about this stuff – I’ll probably keep using the tag for things that relate to my own Radical Transformation, even if I can’t blog about actual Deb-provided topics, be warned), so I don’t know what to expect on that front.

I keep feeling like “Must Get Organized” – which is shorthand for “must tidy workspace so that it’s functional and inviting again” and “must establish a routine that is easy to maintain and includes things like vocal warm-ups and yoga” (both of which are tied together, as doing yoga chez moi involves having enough floor-space in the living room to set up the yoga mat) – needs to be my mantra actual task, because, right now, I don’t feel like I’m there (yet).

It’s funny (sort of) because, this time a year ago, I was just starting my Freelance Everything work, and I had far fewer things on my plate. Writing, yes, and VoV, yes, Spring Fling, yes, modeling, yes (though not nearly as much – go me for getting more clients!) and a little bit of crafting (levels actually remain the same on this, much as I keep trying to up them. Blah). I didn’t have my health outreach job, I didn’t have VERSeFest, I didn’t have a new singing business, and I didn’t have multiple blogs to maintain. And, while the combination of those only adds (so far) about an extra 20hrs/month to my schedule… that’s still and extra 20hrs/month that I need to figure out how to adequately and efficiently work into my day-to-day schedule without getting overwhelmed or in over my head.

Anyway. That’s kind of where I’m at. I’m still not totally sure how to use magic to Radically Transform myself. But, hey. At least I know I can use magic at all. 😉

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

1] We’ll see if I actualy write a novel. It might be a novella or a short story, or it might be some weird thing that never goes anywhere. But I seem to have the beginnings of a plot and characters, so go me. YAY!

[2] Miss Sugar, I swear, I don’t have a clue how you do this. How you work a Nannying job AND craft like fuck AND write enough short stories to actually submit to places. In a timely fashion, no less. O.O I am in awe of you, madame. 🙂

[3] Okay, yes, I’ve only made two of them and, yes, both of them have been for me. But they’re both working. I’ve been getting heaps of modeling work (so far – here’s hoping it keeps up) and, like, see above re: having a the beginnings of a plot and characters for an actual NOVEL. Woohoo! 😀