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Having it all figured out

Having it all figured out

You know, a lot of blogs tell you they have the answers to everything, and I’ve always been staunchly against having the answers. I have what works for me, I have ideas and opinions, but answers? If I had the answers, where would I need to go next in my spiritual path? The search for truth and mystery is a journey that never ends. So while I’m here, I’ll share my journey and the insight I have gained from it, but I will never have everything figured out—and that’s okay.

A lot of blogs put me off because the authors make it seem like they have everything figured out and that they’re going to help you, too, learn How To Life, and yeah, nope. I’ve internalised the idea that I can’t post something unless I have something big to say, something well thought out, something that will enlighten readers. That’s a lot of pressure! Why do I let it get to me?

I vented recently to a friend that one time, the internet was all about what we could create with it. We teenagers made web sites to our favorite musicians, movies, and TV shows, worked pretty graphics, learned every bit of HTML and CSS we could to make web sites that shone our love for the creations. Then Google Adsense came out, and suddenly people were growing up and learning the importance of having money for sustenance, and adults were figuring out that the Internet could be “monetized” and suddenly blogs and web sites weren’t about talking about the things that made us happy and excited, they were working on gaining audiences so they could make money. So of course they’d put themselves in a position of authority—who would buy their books or e-courses or sponsor their speaking fees if they weren’t an authority?

Then there were blogs about how you, too, could make a lot of money by blogging, and then people clamored to write their own blogs to make money, and then suddenly there were all these people on the Internet blogging with the goal of making money instead of talking about the things they’re interested in. Now it seems like ALL blogs out there position themselves as an authority on something, relying on the capitalist structure where if your authority isn’t behind your product, you aren’t doing it right. And we the people writing the content ARE the product.

That’s a structure that just doesn’t work for me. I’m a person first, and can’t turn myself into a sellable product without repressing what makes me me. (Though I’m more than happy to charge for services rendered—want a Tarot reading? Maybe you’d like some advice on web sites? I’d be happy to charge for those things, but I won’t tell you I’m THE authority, just what I’ve learned on the Internet over the last fifteen years.) I won’t write about how to do this thing or that thing and expect you to believe me as the last word. I will write about what I’ve learned while figuring myself out, and how I came to the conclusions I’ve come to, and ask questions to get to more answers.

Reflecting on the Four of Swords

Reflecting on the Four of Swords

I’ve been meaning to write an entry for four days now. I spent a whirlwind weekend at Paganicon, exploring what it means to be pagan in a world that needs so much more from us in terms of social justice, and how do I personally put together practices that keep me grounded in my beliefs? I have a few starts to answers to that second question, and I’ve been feeling really close to my Tarot cards the last few days because of the conference.

Which is awesome.

I grabbed my Fey Tarot and brought it with me a few places over the weekend, including a Tarot meetup for queer people on Monday night. I got to see my decks through others’ eyes, and check out some great and new-to-me decks that others have. And while I was sitting there, leafing through my cards, this Four of Swords snagged my attention.

An image of the Four of Swords, a fairy putting on war paint for battle, from the Fey Tarot deck

I’ve seen it before in readings, and it is such a strong card to me: gearing up for battle, putting on the war paint—I have a joke with a friend that my makeup is Pigments of Protection, my armor against the outside world. So I see myself putting on makeup in this card, and getting ready to do battle with the day.

Last night, as I was drawing a card to write about in my paper journal, I saw this Four of Swords at the bottom of the deck, thought about it a minute, then shuffled. Shuffled four times, cut the deck, and flipped over the top card: Four of Swords. Well done, Tarot. Well done.

I see in this card that I have all the tools I need to protect myself as I venture into the world: I have my makeup, I have my understanding of how to pay attention to my needs. I have some light shielding in place so that I don’t “read” too much from others. (I have a lot of work to do to feel confidence in my shielding from others’ energy, though.) I’ve figured out reasons for why some “normal” interactions bother me and what I can do about it. I really am ready to take on the next stage of my life.

I can see where protections might go too far, though, and if I ever see this Four of Swords reversed, I’d have to examine myself to see if I’ve been shielding myself from too much. Am I being vulnerable to the people who matter to me, or have I closed myself off entirely from everyone? Am I pushing friends and family away instead of letting them know what I need? That happens often enough that I need a good nudge to remind me that people care about me, and it’s okay to let down my guard.

For now, though, I’m reassured by the presence of the Four of Swords reminding me that I got this. I can go after my hopes and dreams, because I’ve worked hard to earn the skills I need. It’s a beautiful feeling.

Nervous, fearful, and ready

Nervous, fearful, and ready

Today’s to-do list is starting to feel oppressively long and scary, which means it’s time to do something that makes me nervous first: write it out.

Like I said earlier, the theme so far this year has been intense. This week has held my first committee meeting where I’m a co-chair and therefore leading discussion (terrifying for the quiet kid in the corner!), my birthday that same day, anxiety and fear about surgery next week (but who isn’t anxious about having surgery?), birthday celebrations all week, and intense studying alongside doubts and fears that going to law school is the right decision. Yesterday I had therapy, where we talked about how I’m handling all of these things, and then I came home, meditated, and felt like I needed an oracle card.

Felt like I needed a Faeries #oraclecards today. 47 – The Oak Men. So beautiful.

A photo posted by SJ Witchling (@sjwitchling) on

This old, wise, caring, powerful Faerie reminded me of many conversations I’ve had with my therapist: right now I am learning all I can about how I function best, in a world that wants to put me into a box that doesn’t quite fit. But the more I know about myself, the more grounded I feel, the more able to weather the storms that are coming. And they are coming: that’s what life is. Constant change. The more I stay connected to my roots, though, like the wise old Oak Men, the more I can stay myself while tossed around.

It was a good reminder that I’m on my side, not the side our culture expects me to be on.

I should go draw an oracle card for today (maybe I’ll draw one daily?), then take a practice test. This weekend is pretty busy again, but I’ll try to post on Monday—and of course keep up with me on Instagram and now also Twitter. All bets are off on whether I keep up with everything from Tuesday on, next week: recovering from surgery is going to be my main priority.

Climbing out of the hole

Climbing out of the hole

What a difficult month it’s been so far. There’s only one way I can describe it: intense. On Sunday, I spent some time reading about Mercury Retrograde and what it affects, then later told my mom over the phone that she needs to wait this period out. I don’t think MR affects me as strongly as other people in my life, but now I want to paint warning signs all over the people I love. For my mom: avoid travel and communication outside of your comfort zone. For a few friends: please stop having difficult conversations and ride out this period. Those conversations will go better in a few weeks.

For my part, intensity is playing out in not being able to go outside for days to protect my lungs, getting ready for surgery in two weeks, and planning to take the LSAT a few days later. I’ll be quoting one of my favorite movies, Legally Blonde, extensively for the next two weeks. (“You don’t want to go to law school. Law school is for boring and serious people, and you, sweetheart, are neither of those things.”) Also, my birthday is next week, and it’s the first time I really can remember that I haven’t had someone else pushing me to make plans—instead, I’ve made plans well in advance.

A fancy humidifier on a table.
And this fancy new guy is keeping the air in my room at a good level of humidity to help my lungs work

But I still have my fair share of psychological gunk that I’ve been avoiding, and I’m not sure how to approach it. I definitely have been avoiding my Tarot practice. Do you just… start despite the fact that it’ll end in tears? I don’t cry easily, I don’t cry well, I am not sure how to deal with feelings, really. I have an inkling if I keep these in any longer, though, something bad will happen. And I don’t want that.

How do you get past periods of intense feelings? Do you stay in, ignore it, and ride it out? That’s what I’ve done for a long time, to avoid triggering depression on top of it, but that doesn’t feel right anymore. It feels like if I ignore the feelings, they’ll explode. And I definitely don’t want that on top of everything.

Macro shot of four oranges in a bowl
Oranges brought home from California to remind me that I’m loved

So I’m a bit lost right now. I wish I could tell you that I’m on my way to finding my way, but I just don’t know if that would be right. Everything right now is too intense.

This is what disability looks like

This is what disability looks like

On Sunday, I woke up with a catch in my throat. “But that’s no problem,” I thought. “I’ll just take some extra albuterol [inhaler] this morning and I’ll be fine.” I did that. Felt better. Then decided that I was sick of the garbage accumulating in the kitchen. Rather than thinking, “It’s kind of cold out, that’s an asthma trigger, and I am already weak this morning, so maybe instead of multiple trips carrying things up and down stairs, I’ll ask a housemate to take care of it later,” I went ahead and took out all the recycling and compost.

As I finished my last round, panting, a housemate came home and found me noticeably shaking and breathing heavily. Sitting and trying to catch my breath back.

Two hours later, I went in to work my part-time job. Finding I was stationed somewhere with a lot of standing and talking to people, I went to find a supervisor to move somewhere less active. The supervisors took a look at me and told me it would be fine for me to just go home, and are you sure you don’t want the EMT to make sure you’re okay? Let’s find someone to walk you to your car to make sure you don’t collapse on the way there.

On Monday I got a second letter about a doctor’s appointment my insurance failed to cover. Last week I got my monthly premium bill saying I didn’t owe anything, so I assumed it had taken into account that I am not working and would be covered for insurance. Now I am going to have to spend a lot of time on a phone tree trying to understand what happened. Phones make me anxious at the best of times, and this certainly is not that.

Looking out of a rain-splattered window to a tree and garage
The dull, dreary view out of my kitchen window this week

SAD is rearing its ugly head, with the time change and the ugly drab grey days filled with rain. Time to take extra vitamin D and use a sun lamp after waking up. Try to conserve energy as best as I can.

Even just a few months ago, I called this “dealing with health issues”. Or “I have invisible illnesses”. But if I have days where I go in to work and have someone look at me and tell me it’s okay to go back home, then I am more than justified in taking back the word disabled. Disabled in our minds looks like using a walker, or wheelchair, or blind, or something we can see when we look at them. It doesn’t look like days that are fine and then days that suddenly I just can’t breathe. It doesn’t look like a pretty, vibrant young adult (woman) with strong energy and a sharp mind. It doesn’t look like me.

A black cat snuggled into the bed covers
This one wants all the love in this weather.

But these are the realities I deal with. I don’t know what it’s like to wake up with a healthy body. That’s never been a part of my reality. And as I’m getting older, my disabilities are wearing down my body. I’m in my 20s. No one expects someone my age to not be able to trust their body and mind. I’ve internalised this mind set so thoroughly that I have barely let myself be comfortable with disabled, and that means I haven’t let my body be what it is.

It’s time for me to take back disabled. To forgive myself for spending most of my day taking care of my body and mind. To not expect myself to do too much, and to understand that things like navigating phones are going to take a lot of energy, and it’s okay to treat myself gently. It’s okay to not be perfect. That’s a hard thing to get used to. After all, we have a social narrative that demands we fit in to how our lives are supposed to look like. Disrupting that is a challenge.

I hope to live up to that challenge.

Being human, stumbling, and keeping going

Being human, stumbling, and keeping going

I’m sitting at home near a candle that’s not burning as perfectly as I’d like and thinking about what I should be writing. I know I should be writing, because it calls to my soul. But what should I be writing? And do I have the confidence to write it?

I was emailing with my friend Libby over the weekend, wondering if I could ever write again. I wanted to, I have big feelings in my chest that need to get out, but how do I write? I’m not sure how to anymore. Libby said: just write. Free writing will take you where you need to be.

So here I sit, with some poetic music playing, and writing for everyone to see.

Over the past few years I’ve become really afraid of blogging publicly. So many blogs these days are written by the point of view of someone who has it figured out, whatever “it” is. I don’t. I feel scared and small, and if I start focusing on the things that scare me, I panic and the monsters get so much bigger than they really are. Then I’m paralyzed with fear.

Instead of focusing on the things that scare me, I’ve started ignoring them, and letting myself hold on to things that make me confident and proactive. That’s why I am researching so much about starting a business in my state (but waiting a day or two more to actually register). That’s why I forget to write here. Because I want to stick to safe topics, ones that I already know, because that’s what people do in the blogosphere these days.

That’s not who I am.

Who I am is a timid explorer, still trying to hold xyrself steady on xyr feet. My legs are shaky, my balance sucks, but I can still take the steps I need to to keep going. I might hide from the big truths for a while, but I am fascinated by them, and I want to grapple with new ideas and play with words. I don’t want to be the woman with the big truths. I want to be the fairy with the musical laugh, asking the right questions to provoke insights for others.

So I will stumble, and I will reach out, and I will try new things, and I will have faith in myself and the people around me. I will pay more attention to the journey than the destination.

I am a witchling in flight, and I dare you to uncover your own truth.

There’s gonna be some changes made

There’s gonna be some changes made

There’s gonna be some changes made lyric from Bruce Hornsby’s “Gonna Be Some Changes Made”

The last week or two has been a time of monumental change and upheaval in a lot of people’s lives, including mine. It started with the super moon in Pisces and just kept on going. It was as if I didn’t stop and pay attention to the signals I was getting, well, the forces of the universe were going to crush the things that are most important to me to get me to listen.

One reason I like that article about the super moon best is this quote:

We are approaching the final four months of 2015—and it’s crucial that we enter into it as honestly and authentically as we can. This was promised to be a big year of change and revelation for all of us—right now is the time to evaluate how close we are to achieving the life that we envisioned when we rang in the New Year.

It woke me up to the fact that I’m being pushed to a way of life entirely in opposition to the “daily grind” and that this new way IS what’s best for me. I’m pagan, and we believe that there are many gods and many of them are active in our lives. Mine are leading me toward a future where I use the skills most important to me and honor myself and my needs.

This isn’t all about me, though. I’ve been encouraging a lot of people to follow the paths of change we’re being pushed toward.

As a friend said:

I talked a lot about the fact that the Earth is calling out her people because she needs us.

As I put it “people are too far up God’s ass and worrying about what other people can and can not do” and we’re destroying ourselves.

So the Universe “God” is calling into action those that will help each other and themselves.
We’re being called to our higher selves because we are needed.

If you’re also being called to change, welcome to the club! I’m having my own anxieties and self-doubts about being part of this change, but I guess I need to follow the right path for me. Fear and misgivings are only going to make my Gods notice and throw more upsetting curve balls at me, and I’m trying to avoid those at all costs. The curve ball last week devastated me. I’m trying to not give Them a reason to devastate me again.

Instead, I’ve been making an active decision to continue to trust my instincts and be okay with where I’m heading. I sometimes channel universal messages, and I’m hoping to work more with the Tarot to interpret the currents I sense. I’ve joked in the past that I’m an oracle, and my goal for the next few months is to work that intuition and psychic abilities to a point where I can help others stay on the right path: for themselves and for Mother Earth. We have a lot of work to do and I’m looking forward to starting.

Asking the cards for guidance

Asking the cards for guidance

It’s been way too long since I’ve done a Looking Forward, but I’d like to draw three cards for guidance for the next few days. I’m transitioning back to “home” tomorrow, and gathering up all the tools I have for keeping me grounded and centered. So this is what I’m asking my Halloween Tarot: how to stay calm and collected during the next few days of transition.

Queen of Bats

The Queen of Bats in the Halloween Tarot

The last time I saw the Queen of Bats was only about a week ago, doing a one-card draw for myself. The message she had for me was simple but hard: be sure of yourself. The Queen of Bats is a woman who knows her place in life. I am not that at the moment, but I want to be. Or rather, I think the more promising point is that she wants me to be assured of my place in the world.

XX Judgment

The Judgment card of the Halloween Tarot

I’ve been judging myself, and finding myself wanting. A couple of relevant keywords for Judgment: Decision, renewal, rebirth, consciousness, forgiveness. Delaying making a decision about how my life is going to look is costing me a huge toll on myself. It’s hard to make a decision, though, with so many factors involved. Still: Judgment seems to be telling me just do it, just go through with what I need to to make my life happen.

XIX The Sun

The Sun card from Halloween Tarot

One constant in my life has been the Sun as a source of energy. It’s one of my spirit energies, really. More than one person has commented on how like sunshine I can be, so whenever I see The Sun in a reading I associate it with being my most sunny self. It’s time for that energy to be my guide just as much as being sure of myself will be.

It’s interesting to me how much the cards are saying “Just be your best self!” Well, all right. Being my best self will at least keep me honest with others and put me on a path to the life I want to be living, right?

Slowing down

Slowing down

Hello, Luminous Emporium! I’m currently on my lunch break at work and working out all sorts of raging thoughts. It’s hot, humid, and air quality hasn’t been great over where I live right now, so I’ve been escaping to a friend’s house with central air conditioning. Meaning I haven’t gotten much done the last couple of evenings with regards to study and building new routines into my life, but you know that we ALL need breaks from having to do things all the time, right? Right. (Why yes I do remind myself of this often!)

Since I’ve been so lax in my Looking Forward posts recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of building Tarot reading into my daily routine: maybe draw a card in the morning to study and start my day, or in the evening? Evenings tend to not work well as I get caught up in some exciting thing or another, then act like a toddler at bedtime, too excited about what’s going on but too tired to go to sleep. I have been picking up my spiritual and Tarot books with more regularity, so I am counting this as a win!

While Becky is monopolizing the cool artsy lifestyle, I’m brainstorming lotions and potions to make. I’m a big fan of homemade deodorant, and I figure if I can make my own deodorant and a lotion that works really well for me, why not also make some special lotions and potions for you all? Use the tidbits of aromatherapy knowledge I’ve picked up from one place or another over my life for good, right? Maybe even put some spells into it, for added witchyness!

I’m slowing down in the sense that it’s hot and to properly take care of myself, I need to make sure I am resting in the evenings. “Go go go” simply doesn’t work for my body, and that’s okay. Meet yourself where you are, right? Still, it’s hard to be patient and take it easy when we’ve got so many ideas and plans to develop and unveil!