Letting a Cherished Dream Die

I was feeling really angry yesterday evening, and when I woke up this morning, I was still angry. I know some of it is PMS, but I also believe that PMS helps to pull back the nice, shiny veneer we use to cover our more difficult emotions during the rest of the month. Often how we really feel about things is revealed during this portion of our cycles. And for me this month it is revealing long-held anger, hurt, and disappointment.

So I sat down in front of my altar with my anger, lit my altar candle, said “Goddess, I’m really angry this morning,” and I sat with it. I did my tree meditation, sending roots into the ground and branches into the sky. This took a while because it was hard to focus through all the emotion swirling inside. I prayed about it, asking for help and clarity. Next, I did my daily card draw from my Gaian Tarot and Womanrunes decks, and I literally said out loud, “Whoa!”

tarot9-28-16

I drew the same two cards from each deck: cards 13, Death/Transformation. As I pondered them, I remembered the description of Death in the Gaian Tarot book that talks about the death of a cherished dream, and I knew with a sudden flash of insight that this is what needed to die for me: the dream of how I wanted a certain relationship in my life to be. And this insight gave me an amazing sense of peace.

All of these years, I have been dragging my dream of how I want things to be, of how I think they should be, around like that poor dead heron in the card, periodically trying to breathe life into it, and being hurt and angry when it didn’t respond to my ministrations. It’s time to let it die, to let it go, to accept the reality of the situation.

The grieving is not finished yet—I’m still angry. It may be justified, but it isn’t helping. My anger and hurt won’t change the situation, I have to learn to accept and work with what is. My dream will not come true in this situation. This is very sad, and it isn’t easy to let it go, but now I can start working on letting it die.

Because after death comes rebirth. After death comes transformation. All that energy will be released, ready to flow into new channels, into new dreams.

Sometimes daily spiritual practice can feel routine, but today I was reminded about how important it is, and how bringing everything to my altar, even the ugly things, can be profoundly helpful and healing. I am so grateful.

Now to get to the hard work of grieving and letting go!

The Tarot Doesn’t Lie, Yet Grace Abounds

When I did my Autumn Equinox tarot reading and it showed that the next turn of the wheel could be a bit rocky, I had an idea of what the upcoming challenges might be, although I was hoping that I was wrong. Earlier that week, my mom had an ultrasound that showed a small mass in one breast. She had a biopsy on Friday, the day after the Equinox, and yesterday it was confirmed: she has breast cancer.

Wow. It is difficult to even write that. I still don’t think it has completely sunk in. Of course, we are still really early in the process and don’t even know what the treatments will be yet, so there is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of waiting. I’m trying not to do a lot of worrying, but instead to do a lot of praying.

Cancer does not run in my mom’s family at all—both of her parents lived to be over 90 without any cancer. My grandfather had nine siblings, my grandmother had seven and none of them had cancer. My mom also has three sisters and a brother and none have had cancer.

My mom, however, is already a cancer survivor. Thirty years ago, to the month, she had surgery to treat endometrial cancer. They believed it was a result of hormonal imbalances, so it is possible that the breast cancer is from the same cause, though I’m just speculating. I’m hopeful that this means the cancer will be as non-aggressive as the endometrial cancer was, and that all will be well.

My mom is being her usually optimistic Leo self and says that she is confident everything will be fine. I’m grateful that I’m here to support her along with my dad, and she has a group of friends, several who have gone through breast cancer themselves, who are also here for advice and support.

So, my tarot reading was correct—it may be a time when it is hard to keep life in balance, when I need to face fears, practice good self-care, learn to be patient, and most of all to trust that indeed “all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)

Yesterday when searching for words of comfort, I came upon this excerpt quoted in Our Lady of Guadalupe by Mirabai Starr:

Here I will hear
their weeping and their sorrows…
their necessities and misfortunes…

Listen, and let it penetrate your heart…

Do not be troubled and
weighed down with grief.
Do not fear any illness or vexation,
anxiety or pain.

Am I not here who am your Mother?
Are you not under my shadow and protection?
Am I not your fountain of life?
Are you not in the folds of my mantle?
In the crossing of my arms?

Is there anything else you need?

—Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, December 12, 1513, in The Wonder of Guadalupe, Francis Johnston

I cried as I read it. There is grace even in this time of uncertainty and fear. Grace abounds. Thank you, Blessed Mother.

A Blessed Autumn Equinox!

I hope everyone enjoyed the Autumn Equinox yesterday! I usually try to take the day off for each holiday and spend time outdoors enjoying the seasonal changes.

Yesterday, however, I woke up in a bit of a funk and it took me a while to get going. But I finally got dressed and headed out to one of the county parks along the Rogue River. I found a place to perch on a rocky outcropping next to the river and just sat there soaking in the beauty. I was mesmerized watching minnows swimming in the shallows near me. I find watching fish incredibly soothing, and it seemed like a nice reminder to flow with the changes as we enter this watery Autumn season.

auteq2016

The view from my rocks

A couple of guys asked me if I would keep an eye on their boat while they went to pick up their second car. I must look trustworthy! I didn’t mind doing it, although I amused myself by trying to figure out exactly what I would do if someone did try messing with their boat. Throw river rocks at them?

A man came down with his son and went for a swim in the river while the little boy splashed along the edge. Whew—that water is COLD, and it was only in the 60s (our first cool day, really). Oregonians are a hearty group!

Another couple wandered down to the rocks I was sitting on and we talked about fish and they told me about their koi pond at home. It always amazes me how friendly people are around here! I thought people in Portland were friendly, but people down here are much more likely to strike up a conversation (or ask you to watch their boat!).

As always, time outside and time by the river worked their magic and I was in a much better mood when I left the park.

I spent the rest of the afternoon making an Apple Molasses Snack Cake, then held my personal Autumn Equinox ritual during which I did my tarot reading. All in all, it was a really nice day and a great way to welcome Autumn. I’m looking forward to cooler weather, wearing scarves, drinking hot chocolate, buying pumpkins, and most of all—rain! The valley is dry and dusty and desperately in need of a good soaking.

autumneq2016

My Autumn Equinox altar

May your autumn season be blessed!

A Tarot Spread for Autumn Equinox

For several years I did a tarot reading on each of the eight holidays of the Wheel of the Year asking what I needed to know during the next turn of the wheel. I got out of the habit of doing that this past year, but decided it was time get back into the habit again, and pulled out this Autumn Equinox spread that I created a couple of years ago. Much of the inspiration for the spread comes from Joanna Powell Colbert, creator of the Gaian Tarot, which I used below for my own reading. She often uses the “overall theme,” “key opportunity,” and “key challenge” elements in her spreads, and I find they work really well in my seasonal spreads. In addition to those, I add three cards regarding topics or issues related to the current seasonal theme.

tarotlayout

Question: What do I need to know during the next turn of the wheel?

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What I most need to let go of
  5. My most important harvest so far, something to be grateful for/proud of
  6. The internal work that most needs to be done as the light wanes

My reading was a bit intense!

auteq2016

My reading, using the Gaian Tarot

  1. Overall Theme: Bindweed — The Gaian Tarot book calls this card “life out of balance.” During this turn of the wheel I may be challenged to maintain balance in the midst of many demands for my time and attention. It will be important not to give into despair or slip into escapism through my favorite addictions (like eating too much junk food or bingeing on too much Netflix!). It will be important to consciously seek to respond in healthy ways to the challenges I may face during this time.
  2. Key Opportunity: Five of Fire — The opportunity of this time is to practice courage and face my fears and challenges head on.
  3. Key Challenge: Four of Air — It will be a challenge for me to create boundaries, to take the time I need for meditation, reflection,  and journaling to help me stay calm when things get difficult. This card has also been showing up a lot for me as reminder not to hide away, safe in my nest, and refuse to face things. So I will be challenged to put into practice the courage of facing problems (as indicated by the Five of Fire), instead of hiding, which is the more comfortable response for me.
  4. What I most need to let go of: Seven of Earth — I most need to let go of impatience and trying to force things to happen. Growth is a slow and steady process, and it is time to trust that the work I am doing now, the seeds I am planting, will sprout and grow in their own best time. I can let go of trying to control everything.
  5. My most important harvest so far: Five of Air — I have taken steps to move past the conflicting inner voices that have kept me stuck and confused for far too long, and have moved forward to claim my own space and speak my truth in the world. (But it is still really scary!)
  6. The internal work that most needs to be done as the light wanes: Ten of Earth — I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret this card at first, but my eyes kept being drawn to the nurse stumps in the foreground. I think this means that the internal work I need to do is to cultivate trust that, as Julian of Norwich wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” I need to learn to trust that new growth can spring forth even from places that seem dead and barren. To trust that even as things pass away in my life, there are always fresh, new experiences to take their place and bring life and hope to me again.

I hope your own reading with this spread is just as juicy. I’d love to hear about it! I’m kind of bracing for impact after my reading!

Bright harvest blessings to you all!

Out Loud

Out Loud

Mixed media on canvas panel, 2016

I finished this painting today, and I love how it turned out. Some paintings can be a bit of a struggle, but this one just flowed. As soon as I had done the background, I saw the shape of an elephant and knew that she would be the focus of this piece. I’m always a bit anxious when I sit down to paint something that I want to look semi-realistic, but she came out well and I really enjoyed painting her.

This painting speaks to me of joy, of living life on your own terms, walking through life as your authentic self, and speaking your truth—living your life out loud and in full color.

Elephants symbolize strength, pride, wisdom, confidence, and determination, as well as happiness and good luck.

May we all move through our lives with more confidence and joy!