How Skepticism Can Help Develop Your Personal Practice

During my interview with Yarrow Magdalena from Yarrow Digital and Daydreaming Wolves, she brought up what I actually think is such an important question for anyone (new and experienced) that is actively practicing or interested in practicing magic, tarot, astrology, and really anything! She mentioned that she was a bit skeptical of astrology, after all the planets are so far away and how do they really affect our day to day lives? At the same time, she could completely understand how using astrology would be therapeutic or healing for others—she just wasn’t sure how to access this herself or reconcile those twinges of skepticism she felt.

SKEPTICISM HELPS US ACCESS OUR CURIOSITY AND CHASE THE “WHY” BEHIND PRACTICES

I loved that she brought up the topic of skepticism, because often skepticism can be placed in a negative light when it comes to more spiritual topics. Personally, I think that healthy skepticism is an important foundation to your personal practice! It activates our innate curiosity and wanting to understand the “why” behind a methodology, which is crucial if you are going to engage in a practice that becomes personal to you! This “why” that you find is what will give this practice meaning in your life. It’s the difference between thinking your Saturn return will be devastating because everyone talks about it in that tone, versus understanding what Saturn represents and how you can take steps to better align yourself with that transition in your life.

IT CREATES HEALTHY BOUNDARIES

Other than deepening your relationship with practices that you want to integrate into your daily life, it provides healthy boundaries and allows us to recognize what resonates with us and feels healing, versus what doesn’t without judgment. Some of my most healing and incredible journeys with these tools have started with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Gina, my co-host and co-producer for our podcast, Open Magic, and I still laugh over how she gave me my first tarot reading. It was at a craft market and I had bumped into a friend who had just had a card read by Gina, and while I was curious, I was also incredibly skeptical. This was even with me loving crystals at this time and regularly reading about astrology—tarot just seemed a bit out of left field for me. I remember being incredibly stone faced as I told Gina that I just wanted a general reading (I didn’t want to give anything away, duh!). Of course, with just one card she was able to completely summarize my life circumstances at the time and I immediately bought the booklets she had about tarot and got my first deck the next week—the rest is history!

IT RELEASES OUR EXPERIENCES FROM EXPECTATION

I had an incredibly similar experience to my reading with Gina when I went to my first Reiki and hypnotherapy session. Those initial experiences with those modalities ended up being incredibly impactful and inspiring for me, but I think through being skeptical I was much more oriented to feeling what was going on within myself physically, emotionally, and intellectually to be able to feel the slighter shifts. This is in contrast to when we dive into an experience with a set expectation of what is going to happen and what it will mean for us when it does occur. Even if something does shift within us, or there’s the opportunity to, we may have a harder time recognizing it because we are so oriented to what we perceive should happen!

IT ALLOWS US TO DISCERN WHICH PRACTICES RESONATE WITH US

On that same note, skepticism allows us to also notice those moments where particular practices just don’t resonate with us or may be perfectly fine, but not something we are interested in pursuing or practicing further. I feel this way about the language around “energetic portals,” “starseeds,” etc. I’ve read about them to get a basic grasp of the concept and simply didn’t feel like it expanded my practice—and that it is okay to experience that!

Conversely, It’s important to remember that someone not being interested in a practice that you utilize has no reflection upon you, your worth, or your sense of self. We should all be kind about practices we don’t engage in as long as they aren’t perpetuating harm to others. But we do not have to defend or justify what we find meaningful.

HONORING YOUR SKEPTICISM

Through sitting with our skepticism, and choosing to explore it versus feel shameful, it actually opens up this beautiful opportunity to draw down these practices and methodologies you are reading about to a personal level. If you are skeptical about how astrology works as a system, there are numerous books to read about the science behind it. But outside of the science of any of these practices, one of my core values is that if it is not usable to you, it doesn’t matter how “real” it is.

The power of astrology for you as an individual is not just based on the influence of the planets on your energetic being. The healing, transformation, and power comes from how you interact with it as a system. This is why I do not believe in astrology. I practice it. (I attribute this language & concept to reading Alice Sparkly Kat’s work).

I practice it because I have found working with it to be deeply therapeutic and healing in a way that is rooted in my personal, lived experience. My placements and transits have provided a trellis and anchoring point for me to explore topics that felt too daunting or intense to start to process—I felt like I would get lost in a sea of emotion. Much more, I’ve found that observing transits in my own personal life has been deeply insightful and I have been able to observe the shifts in myself through the lens of astrology. You may feel the same way, you may not, and that is what makes our practices so powerful—they are for you, by you. 

Allow skepticism to be a guide towards discernment in your practice. If you are feeling skeptical but interested in astrology, you can start journaling with transits to see if you can observe the influence of these transits in your own life. Explore the “why” behind any of your practices so you can truly bring intention to whatever you are working with—from meditation to candle magic to reading tarot. Allow yourself to feel that ecstatic “yes” when an experience feels expansive, and similarly allow yourself to feel your “no” when a practice that you explore doesn’t resonate with you. Skepticism has a powerful place in making our practices individual and I think it’s worth acknowledging its role more often!

I hope you enjoyed this little exploration of skepticism’s place in our practices! As always, feel free to drop me a note in the comments below, via email, or hit me up on the ‘gram!

Until next time,

Bri

 

 

Magic of the Zodiac Modalities: Cardinal, Fixed, Mutable

while the elemental nature of each zodiac sign is typically well-known even if you’re just dipping your toes into astrology, we often don’t hear as much about the modality of the signs! the modality of each sign only adds and speaks to the elemental expression of each zodiac sign and provides us greater information of how that elemental energy is expressed! their modality is also what distinguishes each of the elemental signs from one another. we don’t just have three air signs that all express the same energies, magic, and lessons. we have three air signs with three distinct modalities that reveal the range of natures that air energy can be expressed!

in interpreting your natal chart, looking into the modality of your placements will provide a great deal of insight into how your energy flows and the expression of elemental qualities of your chart. it can also provide insight into what ways of expressing energy that you may need to cultivate and find balance with! because, while your natal chart may indicate a balanced distribution of placement between the elements, this can be radically different if all of these placements are in cardinal signs versus mutable signs!

after all, the modalities represent a cycle. they represent the beginning, middle, and end to seasons—and this cycle expands outward to so many other aspects of our lives! all three are required to bring forth creation. we need conception, gestation, and deliverance for the birth of something, anything! so let’s discuss the magic of each of the modalities, the lessons they bring us, and how we can use this information to look at our own charts!

image by  Marco Molitor  via unsplash

image by Marco Molitor via unsplash

CARDINAL

aries, cancer, libra, capricorn

it begins with the cardinal signs! the cardinal signs begin our seasons from the first signs of spring to settling into the chill of winter. during the spring, do you ever notice the first buds of the leaves to then have them seemingly appear overnight, filling out the trees and spreading a definitive announcement of “spring is here!”? this is the magic of the cardinal signs. they show us the beauty of bursting forth into the unknown and bring the ability to believe, create, and erupt from nothingness into something. it is turning the friction of flint and rock into the smallest spark that grows into a flame. it is starting with limits and only seeing the opportunity to build and create so much further—even beyond what we can conceive at the time. they are the big bang, synthesis, creation, and conception.

FIXED

taurus, leo, scorpio, aquarius

the fixed signs carry out the seasons and bring them to their height. this modality brings us the lushness of spring, the intensity of summer, the peak of fall, and the depths of winter. this ability to show the full expression of any energy—whether its a season, an ideology, or characteristic—is the culmination of their magic. this magic exists in their ability to nurture, invest, carry forth, and tend to what needs tending to. they are the keepers of our ideals and the guardians of what we value. they help us continue forward as the journey threatens to end us. they are fruitful gardens, sanctuaries, deep quarries. they bring committed dedication and ask how we cannot just go further, but deeper through their respective elemental energies.

MUTABLE

gemini, virgo, sagittarius, pisces

our final modality, mutable, presents the importance of flexibility and transience as we prepare to move from one season to the next. they teach us the art and wisdom that comes from impermanence and change. they bring the changing tide and inspire us to be playful, curious, and to release our clutches on the things we are clinging too tightly to. they are wind sweeping through a meadow, dancing wildfires, and the rise and fall of the tide. they remind us how to be expansive, endless, changeable, and always developing. they ask, what happens when you let go off all your preconceptions about your being? how can we reimagine ourselves just within our finite life? is it then we can feel infinite?

image by  fotografierende  via unsplash

image by fotografierende via unsplash

THe MODalitieS IN OUR LIVES & CHARTS

just like the elemental component of the zodiac signs, looking at the modality of our natal placements provides us wisdom to understanding how we express ourselves, how our energy flows, and provides insight into where we may need to cultivate balance.

to calculate the distribution of the modalities in your chart, we will use a 14 point system where you will tally up the distribution of modes in your chart.

  1. start by creating a small chart with “cardinal, fixed, and mutable” as the header at the top

  2. start by going through your natal placements INCLUDING ALL YOUR PLANETS, ASCENDANT, AND MIDHEAVEN, and tallY POINTS for each placement—granting 2 points to your sun, moon, and rising sign

  3. once you move through your placements, add it all up and see how it shakes out!

p.s. if you use astro.com, it actually does this for you already! it’s that little 3x4 table below your natal chart and above your aspects where it shows you the distribution of elements in your chart against the different modalities.

HAVING 4-5 POINTS FOR ONE MODALITY IN YOUR CHART IS CONSIDERED TO BE AVERAGE, 6 POINTS OFFERS A STRONG INFLUENCE, AND HAVING OVER 7 POINTS IN ONE MODALITY INDICATES THAT THIS IS A PROMINENT ASPECT IN INTERPRETING THE ENERGIES IN YOUR CHART.

BASED ON THE DISTRIBUTION, IT MAY BE THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF PLACEMENTS IN ONE MODALITY AND FEW PLACEMENTS IN ANOTHER. THIS IS PART OF YOUR UNIQUE ENERGETIC SIGNATURE THAT WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR NATURAL PROCLIVITIES AND SKILLS, AND ALSO THE AREAS THAT MAY NEED SOME ATTENTION.

BELOW YOU CAN READ ABOUT WHAT ATTRIBUTES ARE THEMATICALLY ASSOCIATED WHEN THERE’S AN EMPHASIS OR LACK OF PARTICULAR PLACEMENTS—PLUS AN AFFIRMATION IF YOU ARE TRYING TO CULTIVATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH MODE!

image by  Jason Leung  via unsplash

image by Jason Leung via unsplash

CARDINAL

ACTIVE, AMBITIOUS, ENERGETIC, BUSY, DRIVING, INVOLVED, INITIATIVE, OPPORTUNISTIC

IF YOU HAVE OVER 6-7 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE CARDINAL MODE, THEN YOU ARE LIKELY ENERGETIC, AMBITIOUS, AND POSSESS THE ABILITY TO BRING INITIATIVE AND ENERGY TO A WHOLE ROOM, PROJECTS, AND PARTNERSHIPS. YOU WOULD RATHER BE WORKING ON SOMETHING THAn FEEL LIKE YOUR LIFE IS EMPTY AND OFTEN ALWAYS HAVING SOMETHING THAT YOU’RE WORKING ON. ON THE FLIP SIDE OF THIS, YOU MAY STRUGGLE TO FIND REST, SIT STILL, OR NOT BE DOING SOMETHING. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THESE INDIVIDUALS TO BE CONSCIOUS ABOUT BALANCING THEIR NEED FOR ACTIVITY AND PROFESSIONAL/VOCATIONAL GROWTH WITH THE RELATIONSHIPS IN THEIR LIFE SUCH AS LIMITING LATE NIGHTS AT THE OFFICE, WEEKENDS SPENT AWAY FROM HOME, OR EVENINGS WORKING AND TO LEARN HOW TO STRIKE A BALANCE. (IF YOU WANT TO TALK CARDINAL EMPHASIS, I HAVE 9 POINTS IN THE CARDINAL MODE!)

FOR THOSE WITH FEW CARDINAL PLACEMENTS, THERE MAY BE A SENSE OF “STUCKNESS” AROUND GETTING THINGS OFF THE GROUND OR INITIATING PROJECTS. IF YOU ARE TRYING TO DEVELOP YOUR IDEAS OR PROJECTS, IT MAY BE USEFUL TO PARTNER WITH OR HAVE SOMEONE TO HELP YOU START THINGS OFF—BECAUSE ITS LIKELY THAT YOU ARE FULLY CAPABLE OF COMPLETING OR FOLLOWING THROUGH WITH SAID INITIATIVES ONCE THERE IS SOME MOMENTUM. FIND A SYSTEM THAT ALLOWS YOU TO GET OVER THAT INITIAL INERTIA.

affirmation: I INITIATE

FIXED

DETERMINED, WILLFUL, PURPOSEFUL, STEADFAST , DELIBERATE, STRONG-WILLED, PERSISTENT

IF YOU HAVE OVER 6-7 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE FIXED MODE, YOU ARE LIKELY INCREDIBLy FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU VALUE, YOUR GOALS, AND WHAT BRINGS YOU A SENSE OF SATISFACTION. YOU ARE EXCELLENT AT FOLLOWTHROUGH, BUT MAY BE SLOW TO START. WHILE YOUR STEADFASTNESS IS OFTEN ADMIRED, IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO FALL INTO THE TERRITORY OF OBSTINANCE OR STICKING WITH PEOPLE, SITUATIONS, OR IDEALS SIMPLY FOR THE SAKE OF NOT HAVING TO FACE CHANGE. INSTEAD, IT IS IMPORTANT TO CULTIVATE A HEALTHY ATTITUDE OR PROCESS FOR EVALUATING WHAT YOU ARE INVESTING YOUR TIME AND ENERGY IN AND MAKING SURE IT TRULY ALIGNS WITH YOUR DESIRES—NOT JUST WHAT YOU’VE BEEN SPENDING YOUR TIME DOING. CULTIVATING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AROUND DIFFERENCE, FEEDBACK, AND CHANGE WILL ALL BE HELPFUL SKILLS IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF FIXED PLACEMENTS!

IF YOU HAVE FEW FIXED PLACEMENTS, FOLLOWTHROUGH MAY BE A LITTLE TRICKY. IT COULD BE THAT YOU ARE EXCELLENT AT GETTING THINGS OFF THE GROUND BUT SEEING IT THROUGH CAN FEEL A BIT LABORIOUS SOMETIMES. YOU MAY ALSO STRUGGLE WITH CREATING STRUCTURE AND STABILITY IN YOUR LIFE DEPENDING ON YOUR PLACEMENTS. GOING THROUGH THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING A HEALTHY SENSE OF DISCIPLINE ABOUT FINISHING WHAT YOU’VE STARTED WILL BE HELPFUL IN LIVING YOUR LIFE. IT IS ALSO CRUCIAL TO BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU AGREE TO HAVE ON YOUR PLATE AS THIS CAN TAKE YOUR ENERGY AWAY FROM COMPLETING THE TASKS AND INITIATIVES YOU’VE ALREADY STARTED. THIS MINDFULNESS ABOUT THESE COMMITMENTS WILL ALLOW YOU TO TEND TO THESE OTHER PROJECTS DEMANDING YOUR ATTENTION.

affirmation: I SUSTAIN

image by  Josh Hild  via unsplash

image by Josh Hild via unsplash

MUTABLE

ADAPTABLE, VERSATILE, VARIABLE, PERSONAL, RESTLESS, INDECISIVE, OPEN

IF YOU HAVE 6-7 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE MUTABLE MODE, YOUR FOCUS IS LIKELY ON RELATIONSHIPS AND THRIVE ON DEVELOPMENT, VARIETY, AND CHANGE. YOU ARE LIKELY MORE INCLINED TO GO WITH THE FLOW AND READILY ADAPT TO CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCES AND PEOPLE. WHILE THERE ARE MANY ADVANTAGES TO THIS MORE RELAXED RELATIONSHIP WITH LIFE, YOU MAY STRUGGLE WITH FEELING DIRECTIONLESS—INSTEAD PREFERRING FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR YOU OR TO JUST FOLLOW THEIR PATH. IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU SPEND TIME SEPARATING YOUR FEELINGS FROM THE DESIRES AND FEELINGS OF OTHERS AND ASK YOURSELF, WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT? AND BECOMING MORE COMFORTABLE WITH ASKING THIS QUESTION OF YOURSELF. THROUGH BEING ABLE TO RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN NEEDS, DESIRES, AND AMBITIONS WILL ALLOW YOU TO BE IN BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS AS YOU WON’T BE AS INCLINED TO PROJECT YOUR NEEDS ONTO OTHERS AND INSTEAD ALLOW BOTH TO BE HEARD AND REALIZED.

IF YOU HAVE FEW MUTABLE PLACEMENTS, YOU LIKELY HAVE A STRONG SENSE OF KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT. IF NOT ATTENDED TO MINDFULLY, YOU CAN FREQUENTLY BE UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE AND FORCE OTHER PEOPLE TO FIT YOUR VISION OR EXPECTATIONS. BEING FLEXIBLE TO CHANGE IS A SKILL THAT WILL NEED CULTIVATING BUT WILL HELP APPEASE WHAT IS LIKELY SOME LEVEL OF ANXIETY. LEARNING HOW TO ACTIVELY LISTEN, FIND COMPROMISE, AND HONOR THE NEEDS AND LIMITATIONS OF OTHERS WILL ALLOW YOU TO HARNESS YOUR DRIVE TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL RATHER THAN BEING CONSTANTLY STUCK IN FRUSTRATION OVER OTHER PEOPLE OR SITUATIONS BENDING TO YOUR WILL.

affirmation: I COMPLETE

FINAL THOUGHTS

WHEN I FIRST STARTED GOING THROUGH MY CHART, LOOKING AT NOT JUST THE ELEMENTS BUT THE MODE OF EACH OF MY PLACEMENTS WAS TRULY CRUCIAL IN HELPING ME ADDRESS SOME OF THE BEHAVIORAL PATHWAYS I WAS FEELING STUCK AROUND! I HAVE 9 POINTS ASSIGNED TO THE CARDINAL MODE AND I’VE FREQUENTLY FELT FRUSTRATED ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE JUST NOT DOING WHAT I WANT THEM TO AND HAVE FOUND MYSELF TRAPPED IN A CYCLE OF BURNOUT AND RECOVERY. HAVING THIS LANGUAGE AROUND THESE BEHAVIORS AND ENERGETIC TENDENCIES—ALONG WITH LOOKING INTO MY CHART FURTHER—HAS REALLY HELPED ME BE ABLE TO SEE MY BLINDSPOTS AND BE MINDFUL ABOUT MY TENDENCIES SO I CAN TRULY USE MY ENERGY IN A HEALTHY, FLOWING WAY!

AS ALWAYS, FEEL FREE TO REACH OUT TO ME IF THIS PIECE WAS HELPFUL AND COMMENT WITH ANY QUESTIONS! YOU CAN COMMENT, SEND ME A NOTE, OR HIT ME UP ON INSTAGRAM!

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

BRI

Reflection: Strength

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.

— brene brown

image by stefan tan via unsplash.

image by stefan tan via unsplash.

out of all of the cards in the major arcana, strength is the one that i have the most familiar relationship with, though this relationship continues to evolve and develop with every experience. ever since i have started working with tarot, it frequently appears and in the fountain tarot it’s depicted by a a woman riding an amorphous beast with a fiery, feisty smile staring right at you. whenever i’ve looked into her eyes, it’s been hard for me not to feel that it is the part of me that has kept me moving forward, making tough decisions to protect and care for myself, and believing in my resilience even when i struggled to believe it.

my card for the year and for the card of april were both strength. after struggling to embrace the movement that the eight of wands (february) and king of wands (march) was demanding from the last two months, i decided that with that synchronicity april would be the month i truly needed to jump off the diving board i had been staring down and take the plunge.

before i get to far into my personal experience with the card of strength, for those who haven’t worked with this card before, let’s take a second to consider its more general meaning.

STRENGTH

in the rider waite smith deck, the strength card depicts a woman with a lemniscate above her head in a flowing white dress, wearing a crown and flowers around her, holding the head of a lion as it gazes up at her. it’s interesting to consider, based on the context this card appears, is she exerting dominance and force against the lion, closing its jaws with its tail curled in submission underneath it? or is she stroking it, having tamed it and the lion finding comfort in her touch?

i believe it probably depends on what the lion represents for you, but either way this is not a battle scene. instead, they stand in a peaceful, sunny field with the sky a bright, golden color behind them. it is a scene exuding the elements of grace, fortitude, resilience, and courage. regardless of whether the lion is snarling or being stroked, it almost seems to welcome the opportunity to be tamed and provided guidance through the way it looks up at her, bows its body, and tucks its tail.

the lion will likely represent many different things, people, and situations that we face in life—but centered around the theme that it represents our passions, pride, ego, and the things we do to survive. i find it intriguing to consider how the lion appears so small next to the woman holding its head. i personally see that strength presents an opportunity for us to surrender our desire to fight for our survival or defend ourselves, pride, and passions to our intuition and parts of ourselves that are wiser and not so attached to our egos.

through experience, we learn that we do not have to burn bridges or lash out to get our point across or make healthy decisions. instead, we can make these choices for ourselves in a measured, calm way.

the fortitude and resilience that the woman exudes seems to indicate that we are more than capable of facing the situation at hand, if only we can surrender to our own abilities and trust our true strength to be calm, resilient, and truly courageous in the face of adversity.

how can we embark on this journey? in the words of brene brown, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” 

image by  Priscilla Du Preez  via unsplash

image by Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash

MY JOURNEY WITH STRENGTH

in my personal life, i find it intriguing that strength is my card for both this year and the month of april. these past two months, i’ve felt a bit of a struggle with the cards i’ve had. in many ways, i wanted those energies depicted in the cards to do the heavy lifting for me rather than showing up to the do the work and create space to invite the energy in. i wrote about this experience with eight of wands and how i was looking for the external validation and arrival of this energy rather than taking bold action or clearing space myself. as a result, i felt desperate, insecure, and frustrated rather than feeling grounded or like i could trust myself to take those actions.

with the appearance of strength, i realized it was time to jump in the pool and learn to swim.

SURRENDERING

over the past year, i have been making a lot of intense decisions around caring for myself, implementing boundaries, and choosing to actively heal myself.

first, this past summer i became estranged from my family after years of struggling with boundaries and my expected role in the family. because this had been causing me so much stress for so long, i genuinely felt just sheer relief for months before really starting to feel the grief settle in my bones at the beginning of this year. since then, i have struggled to be gentle with myself and to allow myself the time and space necessary to even be vulnerable about my emotions. in many ways, i felt like grieving at all only affirmed how important my family is or how i need them when i’ve spent years distancing myself and extricating myself from their dynamic. i’ve had to take great steps to let the heaviness of my bones guide me to rest, to be felt, and allow myself to finally cry about the emptiness i feel not over the members of my family, per se, but through allowing myself to palpate the emptiness that exist in these roles in my life.

secondly, i was in a job where i was facing a lot of the same dynamics that were present in my family. it was incredibly stressful to be in my role itself with these dynamics, other than it being incredibly triggering and bringing up a lot of the trauma from my family. i have struggled with money for years and this was the first job where i was truly starting to make enough to start paying down debts, so it took me months of feeling ill and genuinely starting to dissociate regularly for me to recognize enough was enough and i had to choose myself and my health. this in many ways was actually harder than leaving my family because i was still receiving something (a paycheck and financial stability) in exchange for this emotional pain. i had been taught to sacrifice myself and my wellbeing for the sake of money for so many years, that this was a huge form of reprioritization for myself.

this month, i left a side job i’d been working for over 2 years. a few behind the scenes changes make it clear that it just wasn’t going to be fulfilling for me anymore. choosing to leave this job felt actually incredibly intense and was where i truly drew upon the strength card.

TINY SHIFTS

i found it intriguing that taking the most radical steps, such as becoming estranged from my family, actually felt easier than starting to implement these new systems and ways of living into the smaller, more everyday components of my life. i think it’s because i was just at such a breaking point with my family that i couldn’t carry that burden anymore whereas it would’ve been much easier for me to just ignore my feelings around these smaller aspects of my life. through choosing to still take actions and extricate myself from these unhealthy, albeit familiar dynamics, even in the smallest slivers of my life indicated that i wasn’t just taking these steps because i couldn’t handle it anymore, but that i was actively choosing to care for myself before things reached that breaking point. as someone who has been taught to sacrifice their needs to others’ priorities and desires for so much of my life, this has been an incredible paradigm shift that has truly shaken me to my core.

when i look into the eyes of the woman in the card strength, i want to say to that part of myself, ‘thank you for saving me.’

through finally leaving this job, after leaving all of these other dynamics i’ve listed, i truly feel like i have cleared the space necessary to move from a point of trying to cope with and handle unhealthy dynamics and old thought patterns, to a point of healing.

there is now space for me to process, acknowledge, and heal from these experiences and create new thought patterns without simultaneously having to justify these same dynamics being in my life in any capacity, no matter how small.

through making this transition, i feel like i am now able to look at the entirety of my work in the past year and hold myself tight. i have felt a great deal of joy and sadness simultaneously well up in my body. i look at the card of strength, see that part of myself that believes in my strength smile back at me, and i want to cry. i want to thank myself for continuing to fight for what feels like forever.

i feel like i have been fighting through life, through these dynamics, trauma, and emotional abuse for the past seven years. the entire time, that small part of me has chosen to fight, to dig deep and believe in myself and my ability to carry forward even when i wanted to collapse, to give up the fight, and just succumb to these forces and people around me. when i look into the eyes of the woman in the card strength, i want to say to that part of myself, “thank you for saving me.”

image by  Maddy Baker  via unsplash

image by Maddy Baker via unsplash

CLEARING SPACE

during our latest interview with lisa nagel on our podcast, she presented a beautiful analogy about the different ways of clearing space and letting go that nature presents. in the interview and other aspects of her writing, she talks about how beech trees and oak trees release their leaves. beech trees release their leaves all at once in anticipation of their new leaves coming in whereas oak trees hold onto many of their dead leaves until a new bud comes through and releases that old leaf.

in the past, i’ve always been a person to hop from stepping stone to stepping stone. it was okay if the path meandered, but i was always building and always moving forward with a new opportunity to replace the old one. in leaving these two jobs, and i suppose my family in many ways, i feel like the beech tree. i released all of these relationships and commitments with nothing to fill their place.

i have had to become familiar with this void and sitting with emptiness. the emptiness of not having a family, of not having another career based job lined up, and not having another stepping stone to jump to. i’m currently not able to justify my worth through an exemplary paycheck or title. through this void and through the card of strength, i’ve seen the opportunity to lash out, act from my ego, to return to that ability to claw my way through life and fight for survival, and try to fill this void with something, anything, so it won’t just feel so empty—but i’ve dedicated myself to the act of surrendering.

i have become the lion. with my tail curled underneath, i bow to the wisdom and intuition that i hold within me. after years of having to fight for survival. this time, i have fought enough to clear this space to be able to listen, to be able to sit in space and time, and just listen to that void and do the work i need to to be prepared for the opportunities i see ahead of myself.

WORKING WITH STRENGTH

if you are working with the energy around strength, first and foremost, i recommend that you watch the ted talks by brene brown and read a book or two of hers such as daring greatly. her entire body of work exudes the energy of strength through finding the connection, creativity, and opportunity that vulnerability in the face of fear provides—and how this personifies true courage.

i highly recommend listening to our most recent podcast episode with lisa nagel where we discuss inherited trauma and ancestral healing—which requires this ability to show up, be vulnerable and gentle with ourselves and our healing process while recognizing our resilience.

otherwise, when working with strength or if you are wanting to invite the energy of strength in your life consider a few of these questions when meditating, journaling, walking, or even driving. just let them settle in your mind for a moment and find surrender in the answer provided.

  • what does the lion represent to you?

  • how have you had to fight for yourself in your life?

  • write a list of ways that you are strong and instances where you have demonstrated your strength

  • what do the words strength, vulnerability, and surrender mean to you?

  • what ways are you comfortable being vulnerable?

  • how do you let go and clear space?

  • what habits and survival mechanisms does the lion represent for you?

  • what steps can you take to release those mechanisms to your wiser, compassionate, vulnerable self?

if you’d like to work on this intention through spell work, feel free to utilize the sigil i’ve included below by drawing it on a sticky note and placing it on your desk, stirring it into your food, writing it on your palm, drawing it in your journal, writing it down and burning it, burying it, or letting it dissolve in water—whatever works for your intention and how you wish to activate the sigil.

 
Surrender-06.png
 

as always, thank you for reading and feel free to reach me with your experiences, thoughts, questions, and other forms of communication either via instagram or my email!

until next time,

bri

4 Astrology Books to Start Learning About Your Chart

When we are looking up to experts we follow or just hearing a friend share their astrological knowledge, we can hear the question, “How did they learn all that?!” enter our minds! In my path, I’ve used books to get a basic knowledge so then I could start really working and forming associations with my own chart—and later would start working with others’ charts! Whether you want to know how to utilize and work with your personal natal chart or eventually want to work with others’, here are some books that have been and continue to be defining in my work with astrology! These are perfect if you are wanting to build a solid foundation or looking for alternative perspectives or additional knowledge if you consider yourself an expert!

1. ASTROLOGY AND STORYTELLING BY ALICE SPARKLY KAT

I wish this was one of the first astrological books I had read! In this workbook, Alice Sparkly Kat provides a stunning, thought-provoking analysis about the implications of Western astrology being the predominant form of astrology. This book explores and redefines the zodiac signs in a way that applies to a modern, capitalistic society. It examines the intersection of astrology, our culture, and our biology in a way that will be deeply informative for the beginner, redefining for the intermediate practitioners, and create a paradigm shift for the expert.

The book is also a workbook! Designed to help you explore and write about your natal chart as a work of fiction, this book helps you create associations with your chart in a way that is usable and workable for you and by you. It can be used personally or in a group!

This is not your cut and dry astrology book of yore, but is intersectional, blunt, and has a critical, insightful take on astrology. I really could not recommend this text more whether you are a beginner or have been a professional astrologer for 20 years. It created a huge paradigm shift in how I consider zodiacal energies and components of my chart, and the importance of being a teacher in reading the charts of others versus a mystic that imposes definitions of someone’s being in a top-down strategy. she also has a new workbook that just came out that provides exercises, meditations, written exercises that follow planetary events and cycles. it also “frames mental health issues as social issues, because depression, paranoia, and anxiety are public feelings.”

2. THE ASTROLOGY OF SELF-DISCOVERY BY TRACY MARKS

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This was the book that introduced me to the power of transits and how astrology is a living, breathing practice. In this book, Marks provides guidance for achieving self-development and accessing our potential through finding attunement and alignment to planetary influences. Like many more “modern” astrology books, Marks does not see astrology has being fatalistic, but every transit and placement as an opportunity to explore ourselves, our attitudes, thought-processes, and ways of navigating life. She shows how understanding astrology and the transits affecting us can provide a means of guidance in navigating through life.

I personally love how the book is structured as it starts with our moon signs and the importance of exploring and reconciling with our inner child, plus she devotes a great deal of time to the longer-term, outer planetary transits. I particularly loved how when she presents transits that are affecting her chart, whereas I may not have had an immediate association with the implication or “meaning” of that transit, she provides illustrative examples of how it affected her life. This really opened my eyes to how planetary forces influences our lives and made me really consider how I could start aligning myself with longer term transits in my life. Plus, she does an excellent job discussing how transits aren’t events we need to cower in fear over or dread, but are invitations to consider different aspects and dimensions of ourselves and ways of moving through life.

This book provided a sense of freshness, realness, and liveliness to my view and practice of astrology and I highly recommend this book for folks who want to take their understanding of astrology beyond their natal chart and understand it as a dynamic, every day discipline.

3. ASTROLOGY, KARMA & TRANSFORMATION BY STEPHEN ARROYO

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i will fully admit that i am still in the process of reading this book, but aside from the information that arroyo has presented, i particularly love the angle he approaches astrology and its use. this angle would be moving away from predictive astrology more towards utilizing it as a tool for spiritual and psychological growth and development. i greatly appreciate how he encourages the process of reading someone else’s chart to be a conversation—much like what is illustrated and discussed in alice sparkly kat’s book—rather than natal chart readings as a display of prowess over being able to draw stunning, dogmatic conclusions from someone’s chart.

while the language of this book is centered around being an astrologer providing readings for others, i think anyone of any skill level would find this to be an enriching read. plus, i think it lays a wonderful groundwork for being a teacher and guide in delivering readings for others rather than drawing strict, dogmatic conclusions, if you were to ever decide to start offering astrological readings for others! these principles are even important to consider if you are just sharing information with your friends or have the privilege to look at their chart.

otherwise, this book provides wonderful insight and a great perspective on astrological topics such as karma & relationships, progressions, transits, the meaning of the Ascendant & its ruler, a positive approach to Saturn, and an in-depth look at pluto. this is an excellent book if you are looking explore your chart through the lens of self-development and understanding the karma of your chart.

4. ASTROLOGY FOR YOURSELF BY DEMETRA GEORGE & DOUGLAS BLOCH

this is a book that i have just decided to purchase and work with! while there are numerous books out there that are styled more as “textbooks” and provide definitive meanings of your astrological placements, my focus and interest—even in providing astrological insight to others—has rested in helping other create their own meanings and associations with their chart and overall spiritual practice! astrology has provided such a rich language and system for me to understand myself, chart a path towards my development, and particularly endure difficulty and turmoil in my life.

this book is a workbook that is designed to introduce you to and guide you through the language, art, and science of astrology, while also providing exercises to allow you to write your own chart interpretations! i promise that engaging in the activity of interpreting your own chart and creating your own associations is a powerful practice that will bring great meaning and depth to your life, understanding of yourself, and in laying a foundation to your astrological practice!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS?

See a favorite of yours on this list or have a book you’ve want to be included? Feel free to email me at hello@tadpolemagic.com or DM me on Instagram! Otherwise I hope this provides some enriching resources as you learn more about astrology!

 

Until next time, 

Bri

 

Making an Altar? 5 Ideas to Provide Inspiration

altars are a personal staple of my magical practice. they definitely aren’t required to practice magic or be a witch, but i love having a designated space to work with an intention over a longer period of time.

i have a semi-permanent altar on the top of my bookshelf in our dining area that is just dedicated to beautiful gifts from the earth such as a deer skull i found and a bouquet that has dried. there’s a lot of queen of pentacles and empress vibes with this one and i enjoy feeling the presence of the natural world.

the other altar i have is in my kitchen and here’s my huge secret from instagram—it’s on the top of a shoe rack from target! for this altar, i like to change it up entirely every few weeks as i work with different energies or intentions.

altars don’t have to be a perfect, instagram-worthy interior design feat—just to reiterate my favorite altar is on top of a shoe rack! instead, there is abundant variety between altars from large, sprawling, and bountiful, to more minimalistic or even mobile(!) altars! while the variety can be a little overwhelming at first, i hope we can open this up into opportunity knowing that the most important component of an altar is simply intention. regardless of where you put it or how large it is, every time you pass by it and even just in the process of creating it, you’ll be reminded of this intention. plus, you may have working elements on your altar such as a magic candle, sigils, and more.

funny enough, we had a discussion at craft night about what really constitutes an altar and arrived at the meme-worthy, mind-blowing revelation that even a single candle can be an altar! it is the intention that matters!

to help you get started in working on your own altar, or maybe just finding some additional inspiration for your altars presently, here are some ideas based on how i get inspired for my altars!

oracle cards from the  hollow valley deck of symbols  by erin alise borzak. these particular cards have inspired some objects for my personal altar!

oracle cards from the hollow valley deck of symbols by erin alise borzak. these particular cards have inspired some objects for my personal altar!

GET INSPIRED BY YOUR CARDS

i’m crazy in love with my first and only oracle deck, the hollow valley deck of symbols by erin alise borzak, not just for the messages it gives me, but the incredible amount of inspiration it has provided me for altar items. i’ve recently been pulling the cards antler, comb, and honeybee frequently and, in my desire to work with their messages, they’ve inspired so objects to place on my altar including an hourglass, comb, and something related to honey (i recently had honey calcite pop up on my feed and i immediately thought of this card!).

looking to your cards can be an excellent way to really work with integrated intentions! you can draw a card for the month and if you are desiring to really embody that energy, look for the symbolism in the card and see if there’s an object you have or could easily obtain that would suit your altar.

for example, you could use a pomegranate to bring in energy of the empress or something i’ve considered doing when i pull the five of cups, is placing those full chalices that the figure in the card is ignoring onto my altar and replenishing them every day to mimic the perspective shift necessary to see opportunity.

based on the different decks you use, there can be abundant symbolism to draw from them and you can even create new associations with this energy! i personally love trying to embody the cards and seeing how i feel when i imagine myself in those forms and mindsets, and adding something physical to my altar is a create way to really enhance that for me!

prism oracle deck, full spectrum edition, by iriseyris!

prism oracle deck, full spectrum edition, by iriseyris!

COLORS

color correspondences are a classic element of magic and is incredibly versatile as well! you can choose candles to prepare based on the correspondences, you can make yourself an altar (!!) by wearing particular colors, and wear or place crystals and gemstones on your altar based on color as well.

color magic in many ways permeates our daily lives through how marketing and branding play off of these natural color associations. aside from using these correspondences to create your altar, see how they are used in your daily life and draw your own associations from them that you can use!

otherwise, thought co. has a great list of different color correspondences.

plus, if you are super interested in using color magic, i highly recommend following IrisEyris! She has a book out called Color, Form, and Magic and also has an oracle deck, The Prism Oracle, that utilizes color magic!

NUMEROLOGY

working with numbers can be a wonderful factor to integrate into making your altar as well! like color, it can act as a correspondence to match and enhance your intention and other elements that you want to work with.

for example, if there’s a tarot card that you particularly want to work with such as the nine of pentacles, you could use nine small votive candles that are dressed to align with your intention around this card. if you are are wanting to work with a tarot card in the double digits, you can simplify the number to work with its numerology. say you want to work with death, which is the 13th card in the major arcana, you could utilize 4 as the simplified number you’re working with!

otherwise, numbers themselves hold potent meaning and you can use it as a man element in your spell work and altars! for example, in the work i’ve been doing recently around money, i’ve placed three cinnamon sticks on my altar to attract abundance as cinnamon is an herb that brings in warmth and abundance, and three is the number of harmony, abundance, and is connected to the empress in the tarot.

image by  Rikki Austin  via unsplash

image by Rikki Austin via unsplash

NUMBER MEANINGS

  • one - self, independence, energy of the individual, associated with the sun and the magician. can be utilized with work focused on defining yourself, identity, advocating for yourself, setting out on your own, and individuation.

  • two - balance, polarity, duality and polarity between “self” and “we”, collaboration, partnership, relationships. related to the moon and the high priestess. can be used for intentions related to promoting harmony, love, enhancing partnerships, and inspiring mutually beneficial collaboration.

  • three - creativity, communication, abundance, action, will, the trinity, collaborative and supported expansion. associated with the empress. can be used for intentions around communication, inspiration, action, and abundance.

  • four - foundation, balance, solidity, home base, stability. associated with the emperor. four is the number to utilize for things like boundary setting, finding stability in your life, promoting your health, and helping sustain and nurture projects and ideas.

  • five - friction, change, agitation, creativity, true growth, need for a shift, taking risks. associated with the hierophant. five can be utilized for removing or destroying parts of your life that you no longer wish to carry with you or bringing in the necessary change for projects, parts of your life, etc.

  • six - family, community, harmony, partnership, there are similar elements of harmony and balance of the three, but this is amplified and evolved. associated with the venus, sixth house, and the lovers. this is an excellent number to utilize for long-lasting partnerships, harmony, unity, and artistry.

  • seven - higher knowledge, spirituality, intuition, higher expression, connection to our guides. associated with the chariot and neptune. this is perfect for enhancing your intuition and seeking guidance from your guides, ancestors, and angels.

  • eight - power, wealth, strength, maturity, wisdom, mastery of self, transformation, discipline, patience. associated with the card strength. this is the number for working with mastering your skills, your wisdom, maturity, and transmuting your shadows to find your strength. this is perfect for developing discipline and beginning the path of transforming habits and finding greater wisdom.

  • nine - transformation, completion, self-awareness, rebirth, growth. related to the hermit. this can be used as a number of amplification, of integrating lessons to find true growth, and for moving through difficult times or shadow work.

photo by  Shot by Cerqueira  via unsplash

photo by Shot by Cerqueira via unsplash

ASTROLOGICAL CORRESPONDENCES

working with the energies and movements of planets can really enhance or provide inspiration for your altar! each planet cards its own symbolism and some correspond to a day of the week! so not only could you select objects that correspond to its energy and color, but you could start working with it on the day of the week its associated with. if you want to get really precise, there are also particular minutes and hours that correspond to each planet. this can be useful for working with planets in general, or if you know you’re undergoing particular transits that you’d like to align yourself with. if you want to know more about this practice, i have a guide for journaling with astrological transits available on our patreon for just a few bucks a month!

you’ll see how all of these elements can really come together and layer upon one another! say you are seeking a little extra energy in your life around a project. you could create an altar that utilizes the colors of inspiration such as orange and yellow, dress three candles for this intention, and then light them and meditate on this intention on a wednesday—the day associated with mercury! or, you could just take one of these elements and work with it, it’s all up to you!

witchipedia has this great little table of colors, intentions, days of the week, and planets that you can reference! 

this is an altar i created using my pendulum!

this is an altar i created using my pendulum!

USE A PENDULUM

this is actually one of my tried and true methods of creating an altar. this is particularly because, number one, pendulums aren’t very expensive and can even be made from found materials. number two, i personally have a hard time figuring out what i need, particularly in times of distress, and like having something that i can defer to to help bring me what i need.

a pendulum is simply a weighted object that hangs from something like a string that can swing back and forth. i find it is important to bond with your pendulum and, like any person in your life, treat it kindly when you want it to help you out.

how to use your pendulum

  1. when it’s suspended—first ask, “can you please show me what a yes looks like?” and “can you please show me what a no looks like?” you can also ask it to show you either what uncertain, maybe, or rephrase looks like. once you know how your pendulum is going to communicate, i would ask, “do you mind if i ask you some questions?” i even tend to be specific when making an altar and talk to it first.

  2. i’ll tell my pendulum basically, “hey looking to make an altar that’s around the intention of ____, do you mind helping me with that?” you can also decide whether you want to access the wisdom of your ancestors or spirit guides through your pendulum. otherwise, you can even explicitly state that you do not want these entities to be involved in the communication process.

  3. from there, based on that intention, i will just go through all of my objects and touch them, silently asking if it would be useful for my intention. if my pendulum says “yes,” i add it to my collection to go on my altar. if it says “no,” it stays on the shelf.

  4. after the fact, i always thank my pendulum and ask it if it would like to be left on the altar that it has helped create. otherwise, i find a spot to place it that it has indicated they would like to be set down.

after you’ve arranged the objects on your altar to your liking, when you’ve used a pendulum to select them it’s incredibly useful to look and see what objects have been selected. as you do this a few times, you’ll see patterns and the significance in different objects based on different intentions or times in your life. for example, my pendulum doesn’t really select that many crystals. so i was quite surprised when one altar i was constructing was almost entirely crystals! when i refreshed myself on the meaning of each of them, it was clear that they were selected because i needed healing around my grief and my heart chakra.

this technique works for many magical preparations such as making a magical candle, selecting tinctures, finding medicines that work, etc. and i find that using a pendulum can really help you break away from potential overwhelm!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

i hope that if you were curious about creating an altar of your own that this can help provide guidance! if you already work with altars, hopefully this provided some helpful resources or new ideas!

there are certainly other kinds of “recipes” and instructions for making altars for specific purposes that you can check out as well! my interest was simply in providing the tools to make your own altar based on what you are interested in!

i would love to see your altar, hear how you construct yours, and receive feedback either via email at hello@tadpolemagic.com or via my Instagram!

Otherwise, I hope you have a magical time making your altar!

until next time,

Bri