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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

 

 

11 Ways to Incorporate Magic into Your Routine

let’s reclaim our sense of ownership over our practice and give it some breathing room through it being something we get to do, rather than have to do.

I was recently asked on Instagram, “How do you find time to practice so consistently while balancing everyday life and obligations?” and could’ve exploded with joy that this was asked! When we scroll through Instagram all day or wherever we are seeing projections of other people’s lives, that what we are seeing! Even someone like myself, where I definitely try to offer a more sincere and grounded approach to the platform, am only sharing the glossy, glow-y bits that are about my practice—not me begrudging washing dishes or the guilt I feel when I don’t always have something to share on Instagram!

So, in short, I don’t always find time to practice magic or witchcraft on a daily basis. I have gone months without reading tarot for myself, forgotten full moons, not really cared to investigate certain transits because like any person, when you’re going through it, you may not want to always pry deeper or you could just be busy with life!

in these moments, it’s important to remember that this practice is for us, by us. this phrase should be tattooed on my body at this point, but that’s how much i really believe in it. it can totally feel like someone is on the outside, looking into your life, and judging your for not casting spells 24/7. great news is even if that is happening (which it shouldn’t, definitely get that checked out!) it doesn’t matter because it’s not about them! instead, let’s reclaim our sense of ownership over our practice and give it some breathing room through it being something we get to do, rather than have to do.

set yourself up for success

before diving into a few different ideas to incorporate witchcraft more easily into your hectic day, i think that the most important first step is to set yourself up for success and be realistic about your time constraints and also what you are interested in! when we are rushed, busy, and stressed, it may not be the time to explore the practices we have a stickier or tough relationship with. it’ll just turn us off and we will feel sorry about not practicing later—not the cycle we want to really get into!

for example, like a lot of folks meditation is struggle bus central for me. should i still take time aside and develop discipline around it? absolutely! but maybe it shouldn’t be my go to practice when life is insane. instead, choose something you like, adds to your life and mental state positively, and is available to you emotionally, physically, and spiritually! just finding the things you can easily turn to can make an immense difference in your day to day practice. if you’re feeling a little stuck or don’t know where to turn to do just that, without further ado here are some ideas i have for you!

8 Ways to Add Magic to your Routine

1. CREATE A CANDLE FOR THE WEEK

if you have your sunday afternoon already set aside for meal prep, why not prep something witchy for the week? on your day off, take a little extra time to sit with your candle and think of an intention or mantra that you’d like to bring into the coming week. perhaps it’s “i take care of myself” or “i allow myself to rest” — it doesn’t have to be something promising to shift the tectonic plates of your life, but instead can be a gift to yourself throughout the week. then, when you’re drinking your coffee in the morning or winding down at night, you can light your candle and reflect on that intention for a few moments while moving through your day. aside from reaffirming that intention for yourself, which can be a really helpful form of orientation, candles are also just nice? period? soak up the coziness and delicious aromas that candles bring!

2. LISTEN TO PODCASTS

while we may struggle to find time to actually sit down with our decks, astrological charts, you name it, it doesn’t mean that we can’t be furthering our studies in other ways! when i had a 45 minute commute each way, finding my way to my deck wasn’t always a natural use of my time, but listening to podcasts helped me continue to think about the practice, the archetypes of the cards, and more. when i did get to my deck, i would bring with me a renewed sense of curiosity, new ideas to consider, and more knowledge! audiobooks can be a great expansion from this idea as well!

some witchy podcasts to consider:

  • open magic (obviously a little bit of a cheat! but i do recommend it since we talk about things just like this article!)

  • the radiance project

  • embodied astrology

  • tarot for the wild soul

  • the witch wave

  • myth and magic for modern times

3. TALK TO YOUR GUIDES

as i write this list, i’m realizing i apparently i do a lot of witchcraft in the car! while you may feel a little crazy to start off, if you are interested in developing a relationship with your guides this is a great way to do it. just in driving to do errands or go to work, you can start to develop a dialogue with your guides. this can be out loud or internal, but thank them for getting to your destination safely, share any highlights or frustrations about your day, ask them for guidance on smaller or large aspects of your life, but establish that line of communication—they are there to help you! when you become comfortable with this line of dialogue, you can start to get more interactive with it! ask to see particular signs and symbols such as a pink car, to hear a song on the radio, or whatever you want (yes, i’ve totally asked for the most green lights possible and it does work!). this can be incorporated into other work that you are doing with signs and synchronicities, as well. if this interests you as a practice, i wrote little piece on how to use them for guidance and in your day to day life over here.

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4. WATER YOUR PLANTS

we can bring plants into our home that are medicinal or carry other significant meanings. plus, they are magical beings on their own. take a moment to water them and as you do so, perhaps think of an intention you have growing as you nourish the plant, or just visualize the water being full of vitality and life force that your plant is absorbing. you can expand on this practice by burying sigils and notes of intention into the soil of your plants and thinking about them blossoming as you care for your plant. you may also find that taking care of your plants may make it easier to take care of yourself, as well, and to consider your needs just as you would with a plant.

5. DREAMWORK

we all have to sleep! if you are particularly busy or struggling to move through life in general, much less incorporate magic into it, this can be an excellent practice to engage in. as an added bonus, it can really help with sleep hygiene. like many folks, the first thing i look at when i wake up is often my phone. while i should do this all the time, particularly when i’m trying to do dreamwork i’ll set my phone in the kitchen to charge at night so that i won’t get distracted and completely forget my dream when i wake up! to start your dreamwork practice, all you need is paper and a pen at your bedside. when you wake up, i find its useful to try to put your dream together and remember pieces of it before you move too much. but take a few moments and just start to write about what you experienced in your dream. at first, it will likely seem mundane, but as you wake up and investigate the dream further, you might recognize signs, symbols, or at least understand why certain elements are of symbolic importance in your life. while there are many dream dictionaries, start by evaluating how these symbols are powerful to you and what meaning they have in your life. as you get into the habit, you can start asking for certain issues, questions, or signs to be revealed or at least explored in dreams, and it can be another avenue to interact with your spirit guides.

6. JOIN (OR START) A GROUP

this may be a little bit of a cheat, but if we are talking about our lives overall, joining a group can be a great means of enhancing your magical practice. a group provides you a sense of companionship, people to bounce ideas or questions off of, and just having that designated time to discuss or practice your magic can be so helpful in keeping up with your practice. if this isn’t available in your area, or you don’t feel comfortable being out as a witch or someone who engages in metaphysical practices, there are many online groups that you can join either hosted by practitioners (like our patreon), via facebook, or internet forums. but this will help you remain engaged with your practice, make friends in doing so, and also provide inspiration and insight into other practices that you may want to explore yourself!

a tarot to-do list i pulled for myself the other day!

a tarot to-do list i pulled for myself the other day!

7. TAROT TO-DO LIST

while this is a little more involved than the other suggestions, this can still just take around 10-15 minutes in your morning. some folks love to do a daily draw, which can be a great way to keep forming associations and considerations around your cards, but there are other options as well. for me, i like to do what’s called a “tarot to-do list” where i use either my tarot or oracle cards and ask, “what are the three things i need to focus on today?” when drawing my cards. you can make it more or less, but i consider the message in the cards and try to consider how it would translate to my everyday life and make a little to-do list out of it! cleaning my home, reaching out to friends in need, and taking time for myself are all things that have appeared on my tarot to-do list before! you can expand this practice by asking your cards about more everyday, mundane questions and questions like helping you decide what to make at a potluck, how to decide what dress to wear, or where you should go for dinner. you’d be surprised at the insight it can bring, plus it makes our relationship with our decks more friendly and delightful when we may be used to intense, grave questions or answers!

8. VISUALIZATION

this is a fantastic practice for any part of your day. and what’s great, is it is all in your mind so you can do it at work or without drawing any extra attention to yourself. is someone pissing you off at work because they are in a bad mood? take a second and take a few deep breathes, thinking about all of that negativity billowing out like smoke. when you’re ready to move on, start to imagine yourself in a golden, smooth, soft cocoon that will keep you protected from taking on anyone else’s bullshit! personally i love to do this while showering. i’ll draw a sigil that i’ve thought of on our glass shower door, and as it melts away in the steam and water, i think of everything from my day melting away from me and washing down the drain. talk about refreshing!

9. SCHEDULE IT OUT

while i’m clearly an advocate for smaller, everyday rituals, it’s incredibly worthwhile to set aside some time for more in-depth exploration such as shamanic journeying, longer meditations, or taking the time to face the practices that ask us to do more emotional work. it’s important to get into the habit of reserving our time for ourselves, as well. you can dictate the frequency, but schedule a time for these more in-depth practices and stick to you! you deserve that time for yourself and your magical practice.

10. movement as magic

this is one of my favorite practices! whether it’s lifting weights, which is my preferred form of movement, to yoga, to going on walk—movement is easily a part of our magical practice. we can spend a lot of time up in our heads and really developing the more mental and spiritual parts of ourselves, but it is important to remain grounded in our practice. while exercising, you can think of a mantra that you repeat to yourself, you can use your intuition to help guide you on your running route, find a sense of mindfulness in checking in with your body and truly sinking into the sensation of movement. it can become a moving meditation where you focus on your breath, as well. consider where you are feeling tightness or pain and how this might translate to mental stressors in addition to any physical ailment. but recognize that taking care of yourself physically and tuning into your earthly body is just as important as your spiritual, intellectual, and emotional self.

11. intuitive journaling

this can be a little more time intensive than the other practices i recommend, but you can also set parameters around how much time you spend journaling! what’s nice about this practice is it requires minimal materials and can be done in virtually any setting, whether that’s waiting at the bus stop to being at work. this is a little bit different than writing, say, a journal entry—though it can start or end that way—but instead of consciously collecting your thoughts and recollecting what has happened during your day, month, year, whatever, this is focused more on the flow of thoughts. it sounds silly, but just start writing. what themes are circulating in your life? what word do you keep hearing over and over? how does it make you think of grandmas house when you were a child? what cravings have you had? what is the energy within you, at the office, in the world in general? it doesn’t have to be linear or structured, but follow the journey of your mind through the different associations. this will really help expand your intuition through giving space and voice to thoughts that you may otherwise automatically shut off in our day to day lives, but then want to access later in our more intuitive practices. start to let that door open in your daily life and see what you are sensing around you already and see how your intuition is being utilized or active all day!

final thoughts

i can think of a billion other ways to incorporate magic into your life, but we will leave this list where it’s at for now so we can explore other ideas later! that being said, i would love love love to hear about your everyday magical practices, what ideas you may have gotten from this piece, and practices you would want to be included on this list! feel free to drop me a note, comment below, or hit me up on instagram!

until next time,

bri

Reflection: Eight of Wands

When I found out that the eight of Wands was my card for February, I was elated.

After all, it carries the traditional definitions of action, things becoming easier after difficulty, and things seeming just to flow. I had grappled with the Queen of Pentacles and the intention of “Clarity” throughout January which had revealed, with searing awareness, how imperative it was to care and fortify myself before others or to put my energy into situations. it became clear that it was time for me to leave my current job and start a new chapter. simultaneously, i found out that i would be attending grad school this fall! this was amongst a whirlwind of developing projects and beginning to see further possibilities for this blog and work i do in-person. so when I saw the 8 of Wands with its seeming promises of action, inspiration, and ease, I thought, “Sign me up!”

What I didn’t realize was actually how resistant I would be to the flow of the eight of Wands. the resulting experience, even with its sometimes painful intensity, completely transformed my impression of what kind of energy the eight of wands can bring into our lives.

Eight of Wands

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In the Rider Waite Smith deck, the Eight of Wands is represented by eight staffs flying through the air. In the Wooden Tarot, its represented by eight crystals in similar motion. In the Fountain Tarot, beams of light seem to either center on a focal point or extend outward (a bit of a Rorschach in terms of your interpretation, huh). When I first considered this card, the initial elements I noticed were the action and swiftness of the staffs flying through the air. when i considered the fountain tarot’s representation, i loved the focus it depicted—especially as i had been feeling uncertain and unrooted in what was the next step after i left my current job. as someone who fills their life to the brim with projects (admittedly, sometimes to my detriment) this promise of an action-packed saga came as a great relief to me! In retrospect, what I notice now is how each of these elements are all moving quickly while remaining in alignment. it was this component of the 8 of wands that took me by surprise and was brought into my life with an element of searing awareness.

you see, this month has genuinely been one of the hardest months i have experienced in awhile. on one hand, i experienced some incredible firsts including launching our podcast, open magic, and unexpectedly reading tarot professionally for the first time! each of these certainly felt like a classic eight of wands moment, creativity and inspiration bursting forth, feeling that flow. but each of these moments appeared as sparks of joy in the murkiness i felt like i was wading through rather than being a focal point of my orbit.

finishing out my position over the past month has left me completely burnt out and exhausted. some days i’ve just had a hard time keeping track of a conversation or what i said 10 minutes ago. when i faced the job market again, this burnout and sense that i haven’t completed anything over the past year left me with an identity crisis over what jobs to even look for. this was only complicated by feeling myself emotionally pinball between anger and sadness as i processed grief over becoming estranged from my family, which took place last summer.

as i faced this stagnation, friction, and despair over what to do next or who i am, i kept thinking about the eight of wands. and to be honest, i was pissed. where was the flow i had been promised? where was the ease? because this all seemed pretty damn hard to me. it’s interesting because—in moonlighting as a cycle instructor—when i ask students to turn their resistance high and find slow deliberateness in their work, i ask them what comes up. how do they feel stuck? what are they unable to run away from? this was exactly what i was facing. where i thought it would be able to run, it was all coming to a head. all of the frustration i hadn’t processed or any inadequacy or question over myself hit me head on. i was frustrated over how hard it was for me to own the label of an “astrologer” or how tenuous i had been about revealing any skills related to tarot reading. i was pissed at my mom for not loving me the way i am and not having a family to turn to in my distress. i was pissed that insurance benefits come with jobs, over having to buy a new laptop, and i was mad over not knowing what the hell i was doing next.

where i finally reached a breakthrough, and started to truly understand what lesson this card presents, was when i was up at midnight and had finally completed a summary statement for my resume. i had spent all day rewriting my resume in a roiling, feverish haze. have you ever felt what it is like to wrestle yourself? every sentence i tried to write, every bullet point i laid out, felt torturous because it emphasized that no matter what i accomplished, i could still feel this way. empty, lost, angry, unwanted. as the day rolled on and i languished, i thought about the eight of wands again and my intention for february—what had started as “vision” and morphed into “envision.” when i felt that question appear again, with distress and pain, why isn’t this easier?! i realized how much expectation i had placed on this card’s energy to make my life easier and how unwilling i was to face these difficult emotions myself. i had to acknowledge that where i had been demanding ease and flow, i was really demanding escape. there had always been a flow, but i had been demanding a river to rise just so i could swim in the opposite direction because claiming who i was with confidence also meant swimming through these excruciating emotions contained within myself.

but i wanted to move forward, and with a deep breathe i plunged into my vulnerability and wrote my summary statement: “Human decoder ring here to translate the most complicated subjects into actionable and understandable reading for the everyday person. Expert on providing innovative, critical opinions on topics of wellness, magical living, and the ideals that shape our lives.” i almost cried after writing this because i felt like i had been standing on a diving board for days, too scared to jump, and now i had taken the plunge.

KEYWORDS FOR EIGHT OF WANDS

through this process, i now know that the eight of wands brings to us actioned alignment.

this was the piece that i was missing when i first saw this card. i had only seen the action forward, but now when i see the card each element is moving forward, synchronous with one another. anything that slows you down, holds you back, keeps you stuck, is brought to your attention with painful intensity to be sheared away.

similarly, i think it is a symbol for burnout, the exhaustion that comes from treading water and not submitting to the ebb and flow that comes with life. it is only when you find purposeful synthesis and intentionally unburden yourself of what cannot flow with you that you can move forward with the focused intensity that the eight of wands grants.

questions from the eight of wands

if you are wanting to contemplate the energy of this card or see it appear in a reading and feel stuck with it, here are some questions to consider: 

  • What am I resisting?

  • What is detrimental to me, but I’m afraid of releasing?

  • In a dream world, what do I want for myself? How have I already put the work towards this vision?

In many ways, the questions brought up by the Eight of Wands makes me think of working through the obfuscation that Neptune can sometimes bring and what we must sort through to access the power to imagine and envision that it brings. A journaling exercise for it is available here! 

I would love to hear your experience with your card for the month or your interpretation of this energy! Feel free to reach out via Instagram or writing me a note!

Until next time,

Bri

Winter Solstice: A Curation of Folklore and Custom

Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
now you are uncurled and cover our eyes
with the edge of winter sky
leaning over us in icy stars.
Vines, leaves, roots of darkness, growing,
come with your seasons, your fullness, your end.
         Annie finch (2003)

the shadows start to grow long at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, long-lived sunsets striate the horizon and skies, and by 6, I crave to be snuggled up on my couch or in bed. we are in the depths of winter and the darkness that accompanies it, the sweet song of hibernation lulling through the air it seems. but, with the winter solstice, we get to celebrate as the wheel of the year turns and welcome the rebirth of light, the emergence from darkness and our desire for domicile and slumber.

what I find the most delightful about the solstices and equinoxes is the unity it brings regardless of religion or creed. they remain as temporal common grounds and remind us, regardless of how many hours we might spend under flickering office lights, where we came from and that our internalized clocks are still synced to the rise and fall of the sun. together, we experience the feelings that the change in light bring. as it wanes, we feel that magnetic draw to retreat home, to slow down, to eat more, a magnetism emerges towards turning inward, the extroverted days of summer seem but a distant memory as we cozy up with warming wines and filling treats.

at this time of year, there is a brilliant convergence as we celebrate the rebirth of light into our lives. we see this through Christmas, kwanzaa, Hanukah, yule, Diwali, and more. while it’s common knowledge that christmas was slotted for this time of year to ease the conversion of pagans to christianity, and that keeping some of the traditions was a form of compromise to ease in this conversion, I find it delightful that we have held onto so many traditions and their core principles have remained relatively similar, even as they may have shape-shifted or been domesticated. it’s because these traditions serve a purpose through providing stories we thrive upon and bring us hope.

we decide what is tradition and what is just another event in our lives. we create rich stories and mythologies to perpetuate these traditions and vice versa, which to me is just the most beautiful thing. it’s utterly magical that we create stories to live within and experience not just for ourselves, but for entire nations and groups of people when it comes to the stories of the holidays. for example, with Santa claus, it would be super weird if just some random dude was walking around with a red robe trying to give you gifts. instead, we’ve all partaken in creating the stories of santa—through retelling it and living it. and it serves a purpose for us through introducing magic and wonder into our lives as children, but also as adults again as we get to relive and reimagine these myths through the children around us or through embodying our memories once more. if you want to think about this further, just listen to christmas unicorn by sufjan Stevens which basically reminds us that we all contribute to this story—some parts of it are silly and others dark and haunting—but we learn and live through these stores.

I could keep going, but, I wanted to celebrate and revel in our storytelling abilities during this time of year. here is the result! it is a curated assortment of mythology and folklore about winter solstice, yule, winter itself, christmas, and other related traditions. I hope you enjoy!

(featured photo by Rikki Austin via unsplash)

JULBOCK & Juulebukking

julbocken by Jon Bauer

julbocken by Jon Bauer

the Christmas goat

from the wandering witch, “the pagan origins of the yule goat,” by Julia Penelope:

“…Folk scholars believe that the origins of the Julbock lie with the Nordic god Thor and his goats, Tanngrisnir (Gap-Tooth) and Tanngnjóstr (Tooth-Grinder). These two goats pulled Thor’s chariot and provided food every evening by being slaughtered only to rise again the following morning. One ancient Swedish practice related to all this is the Juleoffer, or Yule sacrifice, in which a person dressed in goatskins and carrying an effigy of a goat would be symbolically slaughtered and then returned to life in the morning. This practice was most likely predated by actual sacrifices, as we know the Norse practiced both animal and human sacrifice. This custom of Juleoffer went out of practice with the rise of Christianity and the Julbock was decried as a demon.

Historical records from the 1600’s in Sweden speak to a belief in the Julbock as he was said to roam the country on the night of Christmas, demanding offerings and scaring Christians. Later on, the Julbock would be reframed as a good-natured being who distributed gifts during Christmastide, accompanied by the Jultomte.

“After the dancing round the Christmas tree is over, presents are brought in by a Julbock, now often represented by Father Christmas. Bock means goat, and the bringer of presents was supposed to ride on the Yule goat, the goat and the rider having now coalesced. You will remember the association of the goat with Thor. The Julbock throws parcels into the room, and very often as a joke a small present may be wrapped up in a dozen different covers with different inscriptions and verses on each directed to different people before it arrives at the rightful owner. (Cyriax)….”

sources cited: Swedish Christmas Customs, A. Kellgren Cyriax, Folklore, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Dec. 31, 1923), pp. 314-321

juulebukkING in Wisconsin

an excerpt from “julebukk” in Wisconsin Folklore: A Reader by James P. Leary:

“On August 22, 1942, the linguist Einar Haugen posed an important question to a seventy-two-year-old woman in the Wisconsin Norwegian stronghold of Coon Value: “Julebukk?” Her answer was immediate :”Oh yes, they still do that in some places. It used to be great fun in the old days for there were only the young people of the neighborhood…” Variously spelled and variously translated as “Christmas mummery,” “Christmas fooling,” “Christmas ghosting,” and “ragamuffining,” Julebukk literally means “Christmas goat,” in reference to bestial spirits said to roam the wintry Norweigan night playing tricks on country folk. In former times, Norwegian youngsters donning masks suggestive of mischievous animals visited neighbors between December 26 and the Epiphany. Barging into homes to demand food and drink, they enjoyed their hosts’ efforts tO guess who they were. …

I first heard of julebukking in the late 1960s when sisters Esther and Ruth Frederickson, who worked for my dad in Race Lake, offered seasonal reminiscences with treats of fattigmann (“poor man’s” cookies) and krumkake (thin waffles rolled into cones). A decade later, Phil Martin countered numerous julebukking stories from Norwegian fiddlers in Stoughton and Blair. The tradition has also been reported from Waupaca County Norwegians and, as “Joulu-Pukki,” from Finish settlers in Clark County.”

Julbukkers via the tarje grover family website

Julbukkers via the tarje grover family website

JuuleBukking and other Christmas Traditions in Oregon, Wisconsin

an excerpt from the essay “christmas traditions in and around Oregon, Wisconsin,” written by Byron d. wechter, which appears in Wisconsin Folklore: A Reader by James P. Leary:

“Christmas decorations in the home were not elaborate. There was the Yule tree, a holly wreath on the front door, and possibly a few springs of mistletoe hung about the house. Few people had more elaborate decorations than these.

An old Scandinavian custom in the area, observed during the holidays, was called Juleboking, meaning “yule fooling.” People dressed in crazy costumes generally the men as women and the women as men. They visited their friends and went through a silly dance routine. Then they expected to be invited into the house and given food and drink. If they were not treated they were likely to pull some prank or practical joke. …

The sending of Christmas cards has grown tremendously in volume during the past few years. In the past people sent cards only to their best friends. Now cards are sent to everyone you know, no matter how slight the friendship is. I can remember when we thought fifty cards were a great deal to receive at Christmas time. Now we think nothing of receiving several hundred. …

The custom of Juleboking is stilled carried out, but not quite as extensively as in the past. An interesting sidelight on this practice occurred recently when two young men from Oregon held up a tavern near Brooklyn. The proprietor thought they were two people out Juleboking and tried to pull a mask off one of the two. The bandit stepped back and tried to fire the gun he was holding but evidently it wasn’t loaded, which was fortunate for both him and the proprietor.”

Native American winter MYTHOLOGY

photo by  Victoria Alexander  via unsplash.

photo by Victoria Alexander via unsplash.

The crane & the otter

This version of the legend comes from Robert Harry Lowie's 1900 collection The Assiniboine.

“Some birds lay eggs early in the season, some later, but the crane is the last to hatch. When the young ducks and geese were flying away to a warmer country, the young crane was still too weak to fly. Winter was approaching. The mother-bird asked Otter to keep the bird for her during the winter; in return she would reward her in the spring. Otter kept her ward in a warm hole. Once Osni' (Cold) came to the camp, killed Otter, and carried off the young crane to his home, where he made him stir the fire for him with his bill. He was never allowed to go anywhere else. He was starving and became ugly; the fire burnt his back, so that the crane's skin is of a reddish-brown color now. In the spring, when the south side of the hills was warm while the northern side was still frozen, the young crane knew his mother would return soon. He went into the sunshine and called her. He continued to do so later in the spring. Osni' cried, "Come in here, stop that noise, my grandson." The crane cried all the louder. Osni' pursued him and nearly caught him, when suddenly a clap of thunder was heard and the lightning struck Osni' and tore him to pieces. The Crane was there, and asked her young one how he had been treated during the winter. He told her that Otter had treated him well, while Osni' had abused him. The old bird looked for another otter, and said to him, "Henceforth the cold (osni') will never kill you." Thus she paid the Otter for his services. This is why the Otter can live in the water throughout winter without freezing.”

by  Joshua Galicki  via birdwatching daily

by Joshua Galicki via birdwatching daily

The Hell-diver and the Spirit of Winter

Adapted from Victor Barnouw, 1977, Wisconsin Chippewa Myths and Tales and Their Relation to Chippewa Life, Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.

“Every winter, the birds fly south. One winter, a hell-diver (also called a grebe) told all of the other birds that he would stay for the winter to take care of two of his friends who had been injured and couldn't fly south. Both of his friends, a whooping crane and mallard duck, had broken wings. To feed them, he got fish by diving through a hole in the ice. But the Spirit of Winter got jealous of his success at fishing and froze the water after the hell-diver had dived through his hole below the ice. But the hell-diver swam to shore where there were a lot of reeds and bulrushes. He pulled one of them down through the ice with his bill to make a hole in the ice and so he got out and flew home.

When he got home, he saw that someone was peeking in the door of his wigwam. It was the Spirit of Winter, who did not like him and who was trying to freeze him out. The hell-diver got a big fire going, but it was still cold in the wigwam because the Spirit of Winter was right there making it cold. But the hell-diver tricked the Spirit of Winter by mopping his face with a handkerchief and saying, "Gee, but it's hot in here!" The Spirit of Winter thought the fire was hot enough to melt him, so he ran away.

One day the hell-diver decided to have a feast. He got some wild rice and sent a duck to invite the Spirit of Winter, but it was so cold that the duck froze to death before he got there. Then he sent Partridge with the invitation. She got very cold too, but she dove under the snow to warm up and then went on again. She reached the Spirit of Winter and invited him to the hell-diver's feast.

When the Spirit of Winter came to the feast, it was like a blizzard coming in the door of the wigwam. He had icicles on his nose and face. Hell-diver built the fire higher and higher, and it began to get warm inside the wigwam. The icicles began to melt on the Spirit of Winter's face. He was getting awfully warm, but he liked the wild rice that hell-diver had at his feast and wanted to keep eating.

Hell-diver said, "Whew! It's very warm in here. It must be spring already." The Spirit of Winter got scared and grabbed his blanket and ran out of the wigwam. With his fire, Hell-diver had brought the spring and, outside, things were already melting and there were just patches of snow here and there. The Spirit of Winter had a hard time getting back to his home in the north, where there is always snow.”

the dream fast

why the ojibwe discourage dream journeys in the winter — THIS WAS A BIT TOO LONG TO INCLUDE BUT CAN BE READ HERE.

winter solstice & yule

photo by  Ricard Gomez angel  via unsplash

photo by Ricard Gomez angel via unsplash

the circle of life

this is an abbreviated excerpt of "A Celebration of Winter Solstice" from The Circle of Life by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr.

"There is a tendency to want to hurry from autumn to spring, to avoid the long dark days that winter brings. Many people do not like constant days bereft of light and months filled with colder temperatures. They struggle with the bleakness of land and the emptiness of trees. Their eyes and hearts seek color. Their spirits tire of tasting the endless gray skies. There is great rejoicing in the thought that light and warmth will soon be filling more and more of each new day.

But winter darkness has a positive side to it. As we gather to celebrate the first turn from winter to spring, we are invited to recognize and honor the beauty in the often unwanted season of winter. Let us invite our hearts to be glad for the courage winter proclaims. Let us be grateful for the wisdom winter brings in teaching us about the need for withdrawal as an essential part of renewal. Let us also encourage our spirits as Earth prepares to come forth from this time of withdrawal into a season filled with light.

The winter solstice celebrates the return of hope to our land as our planet experiences the first slow turn toward greater daylight. Soon we will welcome the return of the sun and the coming of springtime. As we do so, let us remember and embrace the positive, enriching aspects of winter's darkness. Pause now to sit in silence in the darkness of this space. Let this space be a safe enclosure of creative gestation for you."

photo by  Zoran Kokanovic  via unsplash

photo by Zoran Kokanovic via unsplash

PAGAN AND WICCAN TRADITION

this except is from, "light through the long night” by Steven Rasmussen, which was published in the mountain xpress (Asheville) in 2003. Steve Rasmussen, otherwise known by his magic name of *diuvei, was interviewed for the origin story project this fall and is the high priest of a Wiccan coven, coven oldenwilde, in Asheville:

“When the world goes dark in wintertime, people of almost every religion find ways to celebrate the light. Christians mount a star of Bethlehem on their rooftop; Jews light candles on a Hanukkah menorah; Hindus fill their homes with Diwali lamps. What they all share is the intuition that physical light is a metaphor for -- maybe even a connection to -- the force of spirit.

"Bright is that which is brightly coupled with the bright" is what Abbot Suger, the inventor of Gothic architecture, carved on the door of the first cathedral to be illuminated with stained-glass windows, echoing Plato's connection of the Sun's light with the radiance of the Good. (Suger, too, used to be drawn into a mystical trance by "the multicolor loveliness of the gems" that glittered on his church's altar furnishings.) Even scientists seek evidence of the genesis of the universe by tracing rays of ancient starlight all the way back to the Big Bang.

For Pagans, who see all the world as animated with spirit, Winter Solstice -- the longest night of the year -- is a time to turn the "Wheel of the Year" and bring back the light of the Sun, that blazing being Who gives us life amid the cold, dark void of space. If spirit and light are essentially one, Pagans believe, then it only makes sense to recognize the divinity in the greatest light we see. (Up until modern times, artists conventionally depicted the Sun with a face, as you can see in old woodcuts.)

Local Wiccan groups carry on many old Winter Solstice traditions that center on the return of the Sun God and on honoring the light in the darkest time of year.

"We rise before daybreak on Solstice morning to welcome the returning Sun," notes Byron Ballard, high priestess of Notre Dame de l'Herbe Mouillée. "We also celebrate using a Yule log and various candles to re- light the Celestial globe." The Yule log is a piece of oak big enough to burn on a hearth all through that longest night of the year.

"At each of the Solstices, we enact the battle of the Oak King and Holly King," says Coven Oldenwilde's high priestess, Lady Passion. At the Winter Solstice, the Oak King, who represents the waxing light of the Sun, ultimately wins the battle and rules over the next six months till the Summer Solstice, when the throne is won back by the Holly King (representing the waning Sun).

Although these groups' rites won't be open to the general public, you too can celebrate the light in the darkness on the night of Winter Solstice (Dec. 21-22 this year). Find a stout oaken log to throw on the fireplace, invite some friends over for eggnog and coffee, and keep yourselves warm all night with good cheer till the newborn Sun arises in the east.

And if it's a clear evening, you might take a moment to walk outside and lose yourself in the twinkling, glittering interplay between the lights that decorate the neighborhood around you and the ancient stars that sparkle through the vastness of the night.

In the Halcyon Days, we enter a period when we step out of our ordinary cares and the workaday world. This ancient practice calls us to pause, honor the rites of Yule, and celebrate with peace and kindness.”

photo by  jan Meeus  via unsplash

photo by jan Meeus via unsplash

HALCYON DAYS

this excerpt is from Beth owl’s daughter’s piece, “Embrace the Quiet That Is Nature’s Gift: The Halcyon Days Are Here:”

“Once upon a time, Alcyone (also called Halcyon) was the daughter of Aeolus, King of the Winds, and the wife of Ceyx, King of Thessaly. Alcyone and Ceyx loved each other devotedly and were never willingly apart.

Nevertheless, a time came when Ceyx decided he must make the long journey across the sea to consult the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. When Alcyone learned what he was planning, she was overwhelmed with grief and terror, for she knew the power of the sea winds and feared his death.

Ceyx was deeply moved, but his purpose held fast. Alcyone yielded at last, and let him go alone.

Alas! As everyone knows, men should listen to their wise and loving wives, for Ceyx was shipwrecked and died the tragic death that Alcyone had feared. The Gods appeared to Alcyone in a dream in the image of the drowned Ceyx, and told her of his death. Alcyone ran to the seashore and found Ceyx’s body drifting slowly towards her.

Stricken with grief, Alcyone jumped into the sea to join him in death, but the Gods took pity on her and before she could be overcome by the waves, she was transformed into a kingfisher.

Ceyx was reborn also into a sea swallow and together, their love lives forever. To this day, they are always seen together, flying or riding the waves.

To honor their love and to prevent any others from meeting such a tragic fate at this time of year, Zeus forbade the winds to blow for seven days prior to and seven days after the Winter Solstice.

The Tritons, attendants to Triton, the son of Poseidon, were called upon to ensure that this was made so. And henceforth, every year at this time, the Mediterranean Sea is supposed to lie still and calm; no breath of wind stirring the waters.

For this is when the kingfishers brood over their nests near the waters. After the young birds are hatched, the charm is broken.

So every year, at Winter’s threshold, these days of perfect peace are meant to come, and they are named after Alcyone, or, more commonly, “Halcyon Days.”

So starting now, my friends, let us bid welcome to the Halcyon Days.”

photo by  Annie Spratt  via unsplash

photo by Annie Spratt via unsplash

FOLKLORE OF PLANTS

these excerpts come from “holiday greener folklore” by Terry KRAMER which appeared in the north coast journal as well as the wikipedia page of festive ecology:

MISTLETOE

“Because mistletoe sprouts from bird dung, people of the Middle Ages believed that it had the power to bestow fertility and life-giving powers. Mistletoe could protect against poisons and serve as an aphrodisiac, it was believed. People at that time used mistletoe to scare away evil spirits. It was common practice to hang mistletoe in doorways throughout the house and stable to keep witches at bay.

Today's kissing tradition when two people stand under a sprig of mistletoe comes from Norway. In Norse mythology, Balder, god of peace, was slain by an arrow made of mistletoe. His parents, god-king Odin and goddess-queen Frigga, restored Balder to life and gave mistletoe to the goddess of love. It was decreed that anyone who passed under mistletoe should receive a kiss. Scandinavians consider mistletoe a plant of peace under which enemies could declare a truce, or bickering spouses kiss and make up.

The ancient Celtic Druids would ceremoniously cut mistletoe from an oak tree with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon. Two white bulls would be sacrificed amid prayers that the receivers of mistletoe would prosper (Kramer).”

“According to Pliny, it was believed that mistletoe in a drink would make any barren animal fertile and that it was a remedy for all poisons. Special powers are attributed to mistletoe by a wide range of cultures, both within Europe and further afield.[4] The use of mistletoe as an all-heal and a cure for barrenness is reputed to have a very ancient history.[5] The link between mistletoe and fertility persists to this day in Britain in the tradition of kissing underneath bunches of mistletoe at Christmas. In the early 19th century, it was traditional for each man who kissed under the mistletoe to remove one berry. Once all the berries are gone, so is the potency.”

photo by  Annie Spratt  via unsplash

photo by Annie Spratt via unsplash

HOLLY

“Holly was another plant valued by the Druids. They considered it a sacred plant in which woodland spirits took winter refuge. Holly is a plant full of superstitions and traditions. The ancient Romans used holly to celebrate their end-of-the-year holiday, called Saturnalia. Sending gifts of holly boughs to friends was common.

Early Roman Christians adopted the holly as a sacred plant. They believed that the cross on which Christ was crucified was made of holly wood; the crown of thorns being holly leaves and the white berries stained red by the blood of Christ.

During the Middle Ages people associated holly with good fortune. Trees planted near homes were protected from thunder and lightning. The berries and leaves were used to ward off witches and evil spirits. Yet, if misused, holly would bring bad luck and misfortune. Medieval Europeans believed family bickering would result if holly entered the home prior to Christmas eve. Holly boughs left up past New Year's would cause one misfortune for each leaf on a branch. Picking holly in blossom might cause death. The Germans believed bad luck would befall anyone who stepped on the berries.

Medieval Europeans also believed that a piece of holly plucked from church decorations would bring good luck all year long; holly hung in the barn would cause animals to fatten and flourish; holly picked on Christmas Day would protect one from witches and evil spirits.”

TRIMMING TREES

photo by  Kieran white  via unsplash

photo by Kieran white via unsplash

“Trimming trees in December dates back to ancient Egyptians, who celebrated the solstice by bringing palm branches into their homes. The greenery symbolized the essence of all growing things. Ancient Romans celebrated their Saturnalia by trimming trees with trinkets and topping each tree with an image of their sun god. Druid priests hung golden apples and lighted candles on oak trees at the solstice.

During the Middle Ages, Dec. 24 was a time to celebrate the feast of Adam and Eve. It was symbolic to decorate a fir tree with red apples, calling it a Paradise tree.

It was the Germans, 400 years ago, who adopted the holiday tradition of trimming an evergreen tree as part of the Christian Christmas celebration. German immigrants brought this tradition to America and by the mid-1800s Christmas tree lots began to appear, the first in 1851 in New York.”

POINSETTIA

“While the poinsettia is perhaps the most popular of holiday plants, it is the youngest of holiday traditions. This native of Mexico was introduced to the United States in 1830 by Joel Robert Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico. A plant enthusiast himself, Poinsett brought poinsettias home to his greenhouse, giving a few away to friends. Although the plant soon became a popular item with the wealthy during the Victorian era, it wasn't until the Southern California nurseryman Paul Ecke Sr. began propagating the poinsettia as a viable indoor potted plant that it became the celebrated holiday plant it is today.

And while the poinsettia is a cute, bushy plant today, the ancient Aztecs cultivated the gangly wild bush as a source of red dye. They also made potions of it to reduce fevers. When Christianity entered Mexican culture, the poinsettia became part of religious tradition. Legend has it that an impoverished young Mexican girl left the church in tears on Christmas eve because she had no gift to lay on the altar of the Christ child. An angel appeared and told her that Jesus would welcome any gift given sincerely in love.

The child then picked some weeds from the side of the road and placed them on the altar. These were miraculously transformed into bright red poinsettias. To this day the Mexicans call poinsettias Flores de Nocha Buena, Flowers of the Holy Night.

We may no longer believe the myths that holiday plants will protect our homes from thunder and witches, yet some other legends persist. Take the poinsettia, for example. Many people think the plant is poisonous and will make a person deathly ill if consumed. Numerous studies have revealed this to be untrue, but the belief persists.”

CHRISTMAS IN Appalachia

this article provides extensive information on christmas traditions, history, and legends in Appalachia that is a bit too long to include in full here.

it includes facts such as:

“Children born on January 6 are special and often develop powers for healing the sick.

If you sit under a pine tree on Christmas Day you can hear angels sing. But, beware! If you hear them, you’ll be on your way to heaven before next Christmas.

Breads and cakes baked on Christmas Day have special healing virtues. Some folks preserved them for use in curing illness during the coming year.”

photo by  Joanna kosinska  via unsplash

photo by Joanna kosinska via unsplash

Ideas for celebrating the solstice

want to celebrate the solstice? mystic mamma reminds us that ritual acts give life meaning and why we celebrate:

“Solstice Blessings! 

Like our ancestors have done from the beginning of time, we honor the cycles and the seasons that remind us of the ever-changing flow of life that we are a part of~~~

Ritual acts give life meaning. They also honor and acknowledge the unseen web of Life that connects us all.

If you don’t have a community that provides this, don’t be afraid to create your own and reclaim your connection to the source of all life. 

A simple act done with intention in your heart is enough.”

in their article, solstice: ritual, ideas & celebrations, they provide different ritual ideas such as solstice lanterns, a candlelight ceremony, a bell ringing ceremony, and a fire releasing ceremony to welcome in the return of the sun!

 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, a peaceful, cozy winter solstice, and let us find rest in the halcyon days to follow.

with love,

bri

 

Reflections: A Year with The Sun

photo by Noah buscher via unsplash

photo by Noah buscher via unsplash

January 2018. I drew “the sun” as my card for the year from my crisp, new tarot deck. when this card appeared, it was definitely not at the most glorious vignette of my life.

I was in the middle of piecing together part-time jobs to make ends meet and felt like a horse following a carrot as one of my employers kept promising for months that my position was going to be made permanent. exhausted—and financially strapped—I had finally decided to focus my efforts elsewhere and start applying to other places.

but amongst this turmoil, there was also a great deal of new joy and curiosity in my life. my years long flirtation with the metaphysical was quickly becoming a hot and heavy love affair! I had just bought my first tarot deck and was absolutely consumed by a need to read anything and everything on learning how to interpret the cards. I was intoxicated by the rich symbolism in each card and how they continue to tell new stories and sing new songs when in different spreads, asked different questions, at different points in my life! It felt like a chance to dialogue with the divine. I had also just completed my first reiki training where I was able to access and recognize my power as a healer—not just of others, but how I had the ability and power to heal myself.

so when I saw the optimism and radiance of the sun gazing back at me, I couldn’t help but feel relief. finally, things will be easier, I thought to myself. after months of piecing together jobs, stumbling into the field of communications after graduating with a degree in biology and English, I was ready for the waters to become a bit smoother.

but, as you know when you work with the tarot, these energies aren’t so simple—especially when applied over a long period of time. instead of just sunshine and rainbows, this past year has offered an incredible concoction of both hard, painful lessons and crushing grief, directly juxtaposed with radiant rewards, inspiration, and incredible opportunities.

the sun taught me that joy often comes in spite of the memory of pain; that you cannot turn off the lights and unsee the landscape of your life once they’ve been turned on; that life will often provide a reason to celebrate and a reason for suffering—it is also not our responsibility to try to reconcile these two worlds but instead to hold space for each; that we are left with the responsibility to orient ourselves towards what will nourish us.

as i’ve learned about astrology, tarot, and more, i’ve always found the personal stories about how these energies have manifested to be the most informative. as a result, I wanted to share my experiences with how the sun has manifested itself in my life over this past year so that you can potentially draw upon it when you draw this card or see this energy manifesting in your life. let’s dive in!

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the sun & ITS MEANING

in the wooden tarot, the sun is depicted as a fox whose head has turned into a sunflower. in the center of the card, this sunflower fox stands with winding vines pining towards the sun that shines brightly and unobscured overhead.

in this depiction, the first question I always face is: why is the fox’s head a sunflower?

the sunflower, blossoming at the height of the summer, is clearly fitting for the sun as it is associated with solar deities. when the sunflower blossoms, its heavy, flowered head also tracks the sun as it travels through the sky. here, the fox is no longer driven by scent, eyes, taste, sound, or even the thoughts that drive its actions. instead, it is in complete orientation towards the sun and becomes a complete embodiment of this orientation. the sun, as a card, asks us to continuously orient ourselves towards its light. perhaps this light is joy, happiness, that pomp and circumstance, but I think its light can also offer truth and literal enlightenment.

furthermore, I find it deeply intriguing that a fox is out in broad daylight in this card! our wise, clever trickster typically roams around at dusk and dawn, living in the liminality between the darkness and the day. seeing a crepuscular animal out in the broad daylight seems to further emphasize the exposure and revealing nature that the sun provides where no one can hide or scurry into the darkness.

after all, during our normal day we have the ebb and flow of light and darkness, there is time to reveal ourselves and a. time to retreat inward. but with the sun, this ever present light is like pandora’s box. once is it opened, you can’t close it. instead, the landscape shifts and transforms under this unyielding brightness. now it is easier to see what brings us happiness, joy, celebration, and offers us a chance to celebrate in these truths—to be nourished by these elements just as the sunflower feeds upon light.

but the sun is indiscriminate in its application. after all, while a bit of a crude metaphor, when the lights turn on the cockroaches scatter. there are no longer ravines or valleys for shadow to collect and hide dishonesties, the things that bring us dread or suck the energy right out of us. it reminds me of surgical light shining on a wound that reveals exactly the extent of damage. whether beautiful or ugly, you cannot diminish the light of the sun and the truth it brings.

now, in its beautiful, blinding brightness, we survey a new landscape. we become almost all seeing in this moment, finally able to truthfully and honestly assess our lives now that all the details have been revealed to us in its splendid beauty, but also its frightening ugliness—it is all there out in the open.

my key word for the sun is revelation: an act of revealing or communicating the divine truth.

what’s challenging but beautiful about this revelation, is now that we have all the pieces and the truth has been revealed, it is now our time to act upon that information. we become the fox, our heads turned to sunflowers. we get to blossom, to shine bright, beautifully, fully, but also we are asked to track the sun. what is bringing us joy? what is asking us to live to our fullest potential? furthermore, we can see any threats that were lurking in the shadows—people can be see for who they really are and their motives out in the open and now you have the chance to act upon that as well.

along with this loss of darkness, there is a sense of stage lights being turned on you. the curtain has been pulled away, what can nourish and fulfill you has been revealed, and it is your time to step onto the stage to embody this role! there will be that demand and push to embody that divine truth that’s been revealed for you. it’s time to become a sunflower.

photo by Juliana arruda via unsplash

photo by Juliana arruda via unsplash

living under the sun

i’m grateful for the lessons that the sun has taught me, in both its pain and the deep happiness that it has granted me.

I feel so much stronger and resourced after this year—the constant process of reorienting towards what is working, what is shining, what fills me with life, lest I succumb to the darkness and challenges that were revealed to me when the lights were turned on.

the most challenging and painful aspect of this year has likely been becoming estranged from my family.

with the sun casting light onto all aspects of my life—and forcing parts of it into view—I reached a point where I just could no longer make excuses for my family and its entirely dysfunctional dynamic. instead of brushing away the emotional pain I would feel every time I would visit my parents, I started to actually listen to it. I could feel my body tense just stepping into the doorway; I felt the weight of my exhaustion in every conversation becoming a therapy session that I would provide; I felt the devastation of realizing that I had been emotionally abandoned years ago, that I was waiting for them to finally show up, and how I was always disappointed. but finally, after years and years of making excuses, of believing that I could somehow “fix it,” a different path was revealed.

I could no longer bring myself to make excuses as I could plainly see the dynamic at play—that my parents, while certainly not happy in this dynamic, found it more comfortable that breaking free. I finally saw that I could walk away; the obstacles I had imagined that blocked me from this path melted away. while it was painful to embark on that path, I mostly felt freedom in choosing something that made me feel stronger and happier rather than depleted and used. this feeling of empowerment, strength, joy has far outweighed the grief I have experienced. and this is what I meant by that joy often comes in spite of the memory of pain. the freedom, the joy, the empowerment that I have felt comes from the memories of entrapment, manipulation, paralyzation, pain, guilt, and disappointment and how I now get to revel in their absence.

this year of revelation has also graced my life in the most bountiful ways. my magical practice has evolved exponentially—it almost feels like this door was opened that I could finally step through and find all the resources I was searching for. I have found a beautiful, loving, supportive, and cozy community of fellow witches, metaphysical practitioners, and healers who inspire me on a daily basis. i’ve also had the amazing opportunity to offer some of these resources through craft night, which gina from incandescent tarot and I developed as a way to continue growing and connecting this community.

I also found my voice. i’m confident calling myself a witch and, even more so, calling for the respectful and accurate documentation of witchcraft, paganism, and metaphysical practices in the south. from this inspiration, I started the origin story project and am honored to partake in and preserve the life stories of incredible witches, pagans, and metaphysical practitioners. I even felt so called to and passionate about this subject that I applied to graduate school for folklore so I could better serve this community!

i’m grateful for the love, the joy, the celebration, and also the strength and power to face emotional darkness and pain head-on knowing that I will, eventually, come out on the other side. the journey of the sunflower has been deeply illuminating and offered the lesson of learning how to orient towards and embody the light that feeds you. I feel that this light has lit my soul on fire, inspired me, and allowed me to realize exactly what I am capable of, worthy of, and here on this earth for—a transformation that couldn’t have happened without allowing the dark, hidden parts of myself get cast in the sunlight and to excise what I no longer felt like embodying.

have a reflection you want to share?

each of our stories hold so much power and knowledge, so I would love to hear the energetic themes you’ve been experiencing for the past year by either writing me a note or sharing via instagram! you can also take some time to draw a card that represents this past year, write out what you notice, and send it on!

while i’ll be continuing to write and share my thoughts in the meantime, but i’m nervous and excited to say I will be sharing what my card is for 2019 come January—so stay tuned!

until next time,

bri