Trip the Light Fantastique

I hope everyone reading this is well. If you are not well or if you are caring for someone who is ill, I wish you and yours a speedy recovery.

 Sometimes, even in these uncertain times, a little sun shines down upon us. This happened for me last Tuesday evening when I conducted my Aries New Moon ceremony.  The New Moon is an eclipse after all, so the Sun plays its part and for me it was the final revelation I needed to put everything together. Everything I’ve studies over the past twenty-five years, all conversations I’ve had, the gurus I’ve listen too, the countless books, the writing I’ve done and the inward journey – it all paid off in a five minute mystical experience where it all came together simultaneously in one magnificent cosmic knowing.

Mystics often state that the experience is ineffable. It cannot be sufficiently related or described in a way that helps others understand it. They are correct. I tried to relay the experience to my partner and found it fell flat. There was just too much to translate in a linear fashion. I know I need to work on the processing portion of the experience a lot longer, but here are the major highlights:

* Each individual is a microcosm of God consciousness. We hold an entire universe in our mind. This is the first principle of Hermeticism – All is Mind. But it was the unquestionable experience of that reality that occurred for me. I know this now, it’s not theory or a quaint view. I know it.

* I attained union with my Higher Self. Through this I understood things like how my intuition works, how magick works, what it really means to be an empath, why my tarot readings have been so accurate and why they go amuck when I freak out. It was like a download of information that happened so fast, I’m still unpacking it all.

* Perhaps the most beautiful part of the experience was the sudden realization of why Venus chose to work with me over the past few month – nearly a year now. It was something I never understood because I never had an affinity toward her before that moment when she stepped forward and made herself known to me. It was out of knowhere that I heard her voice telling me she was the one who could take me the furthest. That night I had sudden and fast revelations about myself that I had never understood before. I intuitively knew I was on the right path with her. 

So, this New Moon, I finally realized that she represents the self-acceptance I was missing in my life. All the beauty and love and jealousy and envy and grace and femininity and wrathful anger and the proclivity towards getting in a snit over small things, and divine forgiveness, all these wonderous paradoxes that Venus represents that I refused to allow myself to acknowledge – that was the Great Lady simply reasserting herself in my personal pantheon. Venus is Self Love. She had long been telling me: Know Thyself.  It finally all clicked.

I could now with total awareness incorporate these earthy aspects of sexuality, sensuality, beauty, the physical – these things I was taught to be ashamed through experience and hard lessons. All those years of internalization that I was trying to deprogram, just fell away in an instant!

* And finally, your truth is yours. If it gives you energy and helps you grow, then embrace it! If it causes you pain and suffering, then let it go. It’s not as easy at it seems. So many of us hold on to destructive beliefs because we’ve been told it’s the path to salvation.  But if you aren’t thriving, you are still in pain, and you are not growing, it’s not be the right path. There is no right religion or belief.  Some are more conducive to growth than others. Some are more restrictive.  Some are downright harmful.  Find something that brings you happiness and light. But most of all, find what helps you to grow in spirit. If it shuts you down, walk away. There’s something else out there that’s better suited for you.

Anyway, that’s my peace for today.

Stay safe. Stay indoors. Be kind to each other.

~Stephanie

The Long Hot Mess of Summer

I haven’t been blogging of late as July turned out to be a rather difficult month. Five planetary retrogrades, Chiron in retrograde (the Wounded Healer is strong in my natal chart), and a solar and lunar eclipse – oh my! You could say that this month was full of important lessons and growth. You could also say it was like getting hit with a meteorite traveling at the speed of light and you’d be right as well.

I wish it were this benign!

 Last year on this date, the universe gave me an important lesson. You can read about it in my first blog post. And up until a few months ago, I thought I learned it. I did actually learn it, but we don’t always follow the lessons we learn, do we? Intellectual knowledge requires life experience to truly drive home the point and transmute itself into Wisdom. Obtaining Wisdom is often done through challenges, obstacles and pain. During this eclipse/retrograde season, the Universe sent another loud message to get my head out of my ass and to stop falling for all of the shinies. All that glitters is not gold and all that.

Touché, Universe.

I am living through a financial scare right now. This summer I lost a good portion of my income temporarily as a number of my courses were canceled due to low enrollment. I started sending out application to schools all over the state. I stopped working on my new projects, the ones I love, the ones I believe will lead me to a better, more authentic life. I abandoned my pursuit of my Personal Legend, as Paulo Coelho called it in The Alchemist. I did this out of fear. I retreated back to what was old and familiar. To a place I already know no longer serves me.

Double punch!

The Universe sent me another big fat HELL NO! And then rerouted me to where I need to be again. Last year it was wrapped in a massive hail storm. This year, I was left with a much longer lingering affect which won’t be lost on me anytime soon. It’s been said that stupidity should be painful. This was physically and mentally painful. It left me sick, beat-up, worn-out and drained of energy.

This time around, however, I was able to reap the benefits of the growth I experienced over the past year. I’m not wallowing in this mistake as I would have before. I’ve been able to forgive myself. It wasn’t immediate, but it wasn’t months longs either as it would be in the past. I gave myself a few days to recover from the blow and nurse my wounds. Then I started a routine to get myself reoriented and back on track.

Here’s the gist of my lesson. Self-transformation cannot begin with giving in to old patterns, old ways of thinking, old jobs, and old thoughts about self. That will only breed more of the old. Self-transformation begins with deep self-reflection and taking steps in new directions. It’s far more than applying intellectual knowledge. In some ways, intellectual knowledge can get in the way. It’s about developing intuition and applying the lessons of lived experience. In other words, cultivating Wisdom. How often have I written in this blog, Know Thyself?

Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty, Anxiety, these negative thought patterns that ego clings too, need to be ejected. Easier said then done, right? But not impossible. Meditation helps quite a bit. It lead me to the realization that I had to realign my goals to place personal transformation at the center of everything. When I placed my income and financial prosperity as my stated outcome for my transformation — out of fear and a sense of lack in my life — what I got back was more fear and lack in my life.

I tell my students, don’t focus on the grade, focus on the learning. If you focus on the learning, the grades will follow. They resist this. I often hear, “I need to get an A in this class! How do I get an A?” I tell them to focus on learning and understanding the content. Read my feedback on your assignments. Apply that feedback. Ask questions if you don’t understand. There is no other magic pill for getting an A in the class.

What I learned was that I was doing the same thing as my students: I focused on the financial outcome rather than the personal transformation required to live an authentic life.

But this set back isn’t without it’s gains. For one, I have much more empathy with my students. I can get very frustrated with them when they don’t heed my words. What I learned is that it’s quite hard to do when there is so much at stake. Fear, Doubt, Uncertainty and Anxiety rear their hydra heads and scared the bejesus out of me! It is the same for my students when the fear a bad grade will keep them out of a certain program or that they will lose financial funding. Or they won’t meet the impossibly high goals they set for themselves. I understand that one more as well.

I also learned to trust in my instincts and the synchronicities around me. Everything within and around me told me that I was going backwards. I convinced myself otherwise. I convinced myself that it was just a temporary setback to my ultimate goal until I got back on my feet. When ego is scared, ego lies. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

The most important lesson, was that once I released the death-grip I had on controlling my finances, opportunities started to flow towards me. Ideas that I previously found elusive started to flow from me. I feel like for the first time in my life, I know what I want to do and how to get there. What it took was a realignment of priorities. Focus on the personal transformation, let go of my attachment to results, and the results that I need in my life will manifest.

It’s been a long, hot mess of a summer. But it’s also been quite productive. I know what I need to do and I’m getting on track with how to do it. The witch has finally awakened, let the magick begin!

What the Spider Said

One of my great shadow figures in this life is the spider. Like, all of them. Except Lucas the jumping spider. But I’m pretty sure jumping spiders are the arachnophobe’s idea of My First Spider. They barely count. Still, it’s a good first step for me. I blame my father who told me scary tales of The Midnight Spider when I was a small child. He once told my sister and I that in the winter he comes on skis. You have no idea how that warped the mind of a little kid. So, I avoid spiders whenever possible. I ask my partner to take them out of the house or to kill them if they are poisonous.

When I dream about spiders, the dreams are generally dark and frightening. They typically show up to warn me about something terrible in my waking life that I need to address. That’s not a bad thing, but its petrifying in the dream. Literally, I can’t move.

Grandmother Spider, by Susan Seddon Boulet

Not long ago, I was lying in bed meditating and I had a strange vision of spiders all over the place. I wasn’t dreaming, just meditating but I wasn’t afraid. I knew they were not physically real; thought mentally they were definitely there. I was calm and I waited to see what happened next. Then I saw the Spider. Like the archetype of Spider. The Great Weaver sort of spider, that you don’t expect on a Sunday night. Well, there she was. In retrospect this could have been a Robert Smith Lullaby moment, but it wasn’t. She approached as a friend and told me to cast my web to help me capture what I want. I thought the word “weave” and she said, no. Cast your web. It wasn’t profound or deep. The message was simple, clear and direct.  I’m using words, but they were more thoughts or feelings. But the weird thing was the correction of “cast” over “weave”.

Something I feared had showed up as a friend and there was never a reason to fear it in the first place. Was it more shadow integration? I suspect so. I’ve come a long way. She was telling me to put myself out there and start creating my own business. Get out of the gig of working for others, cast my web and see what I catch. Maybe a spider version of “If you build it, they will come.” Sometimes the demons we fear are really angels in disguise.

So, I’m going to cast my web and see what happens. Wish me luck!

And just in case I started an ear-worm with The Cure’s Lullaby, go ahead and satiate it.

Money and the Subconscious

It’s been a while since I posted to this blog. Again. This time due to grading finals and then getting lost in thought on what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve concluded that I do not want to grade for the rest of my life, as that is self-torture. For the past two weeks, I’ve engaged in a shitload of shadow work to find out why it’s taking me so long to get out of my present occupation and into one that allows me the freedom to stand in my own power and love it! The problem as I see it is that I still have a divided will.

ShadowWork DrknessConsciousA divided will occurs when on the surface one wants all the good things in life, like a fabulous job that pays well with incredible perks, but deep down inside there is a subconscious need to fail. That need to fail can come from a variety of different forces, such as a deep seeded idea that money is evil, or the belief that one doesn’t deserve a good life with a stable income because of a past misdeed or trauma. Or maybe one wants a healthy relationship with a romantic partner, but subconsciously they feel unworthy of one so the unconscious mind desires a less than ideal relationship, even an abusive one. The problem is that we often don’t realize we have a divided will, because our subconscious wishes are buried under feelings that acknowledgement of them in the light of day is completely unacceptable. To acknowledge I want a crappy job because it lets me off the hook from dealing with all that evil money that I don’t deserve anyway, isn’t something most of us find suitable for our conscious mind to ruminate over. However, digging in the dirt to bring those desires up to the conscious level is exactly what needs to happen if one wants to transcend and transmute those shadowy desires into something more productive.

What I’ve found over the past few weeks is that I have profound problems with money and how to make it ethically. Through targeted meditation, I brought up childhood issues with money that stem from my parents always worried about household finances and arguing about it. I was already primed to think it was evil because it was a negative force in my life ever since I could remember. This began my life long cognitive bias that money is truly the root of all evil. People will exploit others to get more of it. They will lie and cheat to gather money to them.  And I looked for this to play out in every scenario. I was never disappointed. When you look for something everywhere, you will find it! And I was able to feel self righteous and superior in my lack of money. Subconsciously, I was reveling in it!

MoneyEvil

“I’ll eat your soul!”

 My meditation didn’t lead me to some great understanding that money is actually neutral and can be used for benefic purposes. That would make things easier, but that’s not what I found. What I discovered is that money is simply something one must have to live in this world. It’s a necessary survival tool. Money is not good, it’s necessary. One can do good things with money, I don’t deny that. But the history of money is abysmal. It’s a tool of enslavement.

However, not having it doesn’t make the world a better place, it just makes me completely miserable and unable to take care of my family. By meditating, I was able to bring up the unhealthy attitude I cultivated about money at a young age. I could see that much of it stemmed from the anger and fear my parents displayed as they worried about it daily. I could see that little eight-year-old girl terrified that her family would have no money and end up living on the streets without food or clean shelter. While the situation was never that dire, it was to a young girl who internalized the fear and anger her parents projected.

Moneygoodevil

Money shoulder angel, show me the right path!

Both my sister and I have the exact same fear of money and success. I thought it strange when I first made the connection a few weeks ago, but now it seems more impossible that we wouldn’t have the same neurotic issues around them.

For now, the shadow work continues, but I’m working to unite my will, transmute my money hang-up, and put myself in a better place financially. I’m learning to let go of the fears I developed and find myself worthy of financial stability and a happier life. I’m learning to get out of my own way so that I can experience the happiness and magic that is all around me!

(Well, this certainly helps my anxiety over money!)

Me and My Shadow

Nice Kingdom Hearts Iphone Wallpaper the shadow knows t shirt by lamontcranstonSometimes my shadow side takes over and I get angry and vindictive with those I interpret as acting against the social good. In this case, with several atheists who set out to attack anyone expressing any sort of religious thought. I am not against atheism. I see it as a perfectly reasonable position to take in this world. I counted myself as an atheist for about a decade between the ages of 25-35. My journey has taken me somewhere else, but I still find atheism a legitimate claim worthy of attention and respect.

But I don’t like bullies. (there’s always a “but,” right?) I don’t like people who set out to discredit others based solely on their beliefs, unless those beliefs are demonstrably harming others (I include animals and the environment in this). This was a case of going after anyone who was trying to discuss nuanced philosophical understandings of the divine and conflating them with fundamentalist ideologies of Christianity and Islam. The shadow side of me decided a smack down was in order in some sort of crusade against religious intolerance!

But first, some perspective is needed…

Atheism SymbolIn our history, to be a self-declared atheist could be a death sentence and often it was. Even after the Enlightenment, one could face social and financial ruin if they admitted their atheism in public. And today in America, while atheism is more accepted and mainstream, there are still consequences that go with it. One only need to look at how many vocal atheists hold public office in the executive, legislative or judicial branches of government today for evidence. There aren’t any. At least none that admit it. And it’s one thing a political opponent will dig through first; what religion are they and when did they establish ties to the church they claim they attend? Obama went through this when his opponents wanted to frame him as a Muslim in the eyes of the public. Just imagine if he was an atheist!

EvolutionAmong the academic and scientific communities in the nineteenth century, atheism rose up in the ranks and became respectable. This was largely accomplished through the publication On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. Many intellectuals saw Darwin’s theory as a means to put God to bed once and for all. God wasn’t needed to explain the world anymore.

But many atheists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially those who were not shielded by academia, felt isolated, ostracized and condemned for their beliefs. This still goes on in many communities in America. A number of my friends that grew up as atheists in communities that were overtly religious often felt threatened and afraid to speak their truth. In this respect, I do understand why some would take a position of attack against religion, as religion was the vehicle for attack against them at some point in their life. Was it religion or the intolerance of the community they lived in that led to the abuse and bullying? Likely both. Especially if it came from a person in religious authority.

My reflection of the history of atheism doesn’t excuse someone who had a bad experience with religion from attacking someone with religious convictions, but it does open up my ability to have more compassion for them. My need for a “smack down” says more about me than it says about them. I was ready for a fight! I wanted to show them that they were as irrational and dogmatic in their thought that they accused others of being! Basically, I just wanted them to feel stupid by showing them how little they understood religion and spirituality outside of Christianity.JungShadow

I don’t know if they were bullied by intolerant religious folk in the past or if they’re bullies themselves who like to harass people for disagreeing with them. I don’t think it matters. I wanted them to feel stupid for their actions. This is about me, not them. Could it be if I don’t make a solid defense and tear them down first, maybe my own set of beliefs won’t stand up to the scrutiny either?  Yeah, I think that’s part of it.

Psychologically, humans are messy creatures. My core beliefs are solid, but I’m still formulating what I believe for myself on this life’s journey. Not everything is on solid ground as I sort it all out. The need to lash out is strong when I feel attacked, because everything is still raw. I feel a knee-jerk reaction to protect it. When an animal has a wound, it will lash out if anything comes near it, even if it’s potential help because all the animal can feel is the pain.

In our society, I think a lot of us are feeling the pain right now. We’re trying to protect ourselves in irrational ways to make it stop. This is not productive. Lashing out only creates more tension and more lashing out. It also aggravates the wound we carry. It can’t heal this way, it only becomes more of a problem.

The main purpose of this blog is shadow work. I write to figure out what’s really going on in my head. There’s a lot of fear – when I get down to it – that needs exorcised. My answer to this is to transmute it into compassion. There is a Buddhist meditation that asks participants to rephrase what they are experiencing from their ego perspective to a universal perspective. So, for instance, instead of saying, “I have fear” or “I am suffering,” say instead, “There is fear” and “There is suffering.” This raises the person out of the individual mindset and to the understanding that all of life experiences this. We’re not alone. There is no duality; no, Us versus Them. We’re all connected. With this connection comes a greater understanding and compassion for ourselves and others.

Buddhism