X — The Wheel of Fortune

Recently, I woke up in the morning with an image of this tarot card in my mind. Along with this image came the words, “Tie yourself to the Wheel of Life.”

As the day went on, I thought more deeply about what this meant.

There are many meanings surrounding card 10 of the Major Arcana. The central theme of this key revolves around change and the passing of time. It is the turning of the wheel of life, which churns ceaselessly on, paying no mind to our individual desires.

Another name for this card is the Rota Fortuna. “Rota” means wheel in Latin, while Fortuna refers to the Roman goddess of chance & luck.

In more ancient imagery, the goddess is depicted turning the wheel of fate. On this wheel sit men in various positions of favor. At the top of the wheel is the king. As Fortuna spins her wheel, each man changes position. The king moves to the right, and will eventually lose his crown. The man on the far left looks toward the king, hoping he will one day assume his position.

The favors of Fortuna are impersonal, and have little to do with the character or will of the men involved. In some older portrayals, she is even depicted with a blindfold, as her sister Lady Justice.

I’ve recently been contending the events that are unfolding in the United States, and all of the uncertainty and anxiety that they are provoking. I’ve wondered where I can even look to anymore for a sense of certainty. Nothing seems safe in a country ravaged by disease and seemingly on the brink of authoritarianism.

I desperately looked for something to cling to outside of myself to make me feel at ease. And that was when I thought of this card, the Wheel of Fortune.

Then I remembered the phrase “tie your self to the wheel of life” from my tarot training.

To start to understand what this means, it’s helpful to imagine yourself as if you were in one of the images of the Rota Fortuna. Think of yourself as the King or Queen at the top of the wheel. As it begins to turn, what do you do?

For many of us, our first instinct is to look outside of ourselves for something to cling to. We grab money, power, possessions, anything that we think can keep us on top.

But what happens when, from our position on the wheel, we cling to things in our external environment? As the wheel turns, we are torn apart. Our arms reach out to grasp for stability, but as time marches forward and the wheel turns, we move with the wheel downward towards our fate. The harder we cling to what is outside, the more we suffer.

I saw that the only solution was to center myself in my true and only source of power, that which is inside of myself.

This doesn’t mean ignoring what is going on around you. What this does mean is remembering that you are the only thing you can truly count on. In times of crisis, we will do well to look inside of ourselves for the resources that will ensure our endurance in trying times.

For me, this means meditating daily, reading & reflecting, and being in right relationship to my work and my surroundings.

What does this mean for you?

Earlier this week I was reading more about alchemy in my new book, “The Emerald Tablet.” I learned about the concept of the rejected stone, or what manifests from the parts of ourselves we have not accepted and integrated. It comes from the persistance of what we keep in the shadows, unwilling to recognize and transmute.

So I said, in my mind, “I want to see my shadow. I want to know what I’m hiding from myself, so that I can work with it, and stop the cycle of manifestation into my life.” I didn’t really expect much of an answer; it was more of like, “I’ll put that on my to-do list for later.”

But I did get an answer. I entered the field of Hermes, I know that for sure. I was shown a lot of things that made me uncomfortable. That I didn’t want to accept. That even still, I tried to deny, or justify, or rationalize.

I knew that I was in the presence of Hermes, because of the play of language that was fighting it’s self in my mind.

One of my attempted justifications was, “Well, you didn’t know better. It’s understandable that you would act that way based on your past experiences & what you’ve been taught.”

Then I heard myself answer, “Okay well you are an adult now, and every day you have the choice to do differently. You don’t have to live as an extension of your past; you have a responsibility to do better now.”

I attempted to deny those words, too, but I couldn’t: they were the same things I had just said the day before about my parents. I could acknowledge that, yes, it would make sense for them to act as they did & do, but that’s never an excuse.

“Music is the space between the notes.”

Claude Debussy

So I kept going. I kept seeing. I kept accepting. I kept staying in that space between understanding and questioning. Of accepting and knowing I could do better. This space in between in where the magic is.

I’m working on staying grounded in this liminal space. At the border between two truths, between the inner and the outer, at the crossroads of above and below, the masculine and the feminine, of my light and my own darkness. To look both ways as I leap into this infinite void, the place of all possibility and of true presence.

It’s an ever-changing dance, a beautiful and delicate stepping into the future, a jump divinely inspired and grounded in truth.

Step by step, I’m here, and I’m ready for whatever may come.

Fueling the Flames

Three nights ago, I had a dream.

In this dream, I was in a war zone. This war zone was contained within a massive warehouse, which extended out as far as I could see.

After a time, I came upon a wooden staircase, and ascended up into an attic. It seemed to be a workshop where many scribes were writing in bound books of various shapes and sizes.

There, I found a nun, a saint whose name I recognized (but can no longer remember now). She spoke to me, and asked me of my many fears. Of what I thought about my own power. And of the fears she knew I had surrounding this power.

Before we parted, she handed me a notebook of my own, and pointed toward a black wrought-iron spiral starecase at the back of the attic workshop. She gave me one question I was to reflect and write on: “What purpose does your rage serve?”

I walked past the many scribes and ascended to the next level, and then the next. As I walked from room to room, in an unending spiral moving towards the sky, I encountered scenes from my past, and some from a possible future.

In each room, I would find a different pen, each a different shape with a different kind of ink, and here I would set down my notes. Here was my rage. Here was my purpose. Here was my power.

I’ve been reflecting on this dream during these past three days, days which have been filled with anxiety, turmoil and unrest.

I’m learning not to fear my own power. I’m learning how deeply I had internalized the message that my power is not welcome. That my passion is not allowed. That my presence is one which should be diminished.

I see these messages for what they are, tools of control, methods of oppression that have kept me small, that have kept me serving the needs of the patriarchal capitalist (+ colonist + white supremacist + beyond) society in which I was born.

And I see the purpose of my rage.

After a lifetime of being told that anger, not to mention rage, was “not allowed” for a person in my position, I am welcoming it. I am feeling it. And I am listening to it.

I am asking my anger, “What are you here to tell me?”

I ask my rage, “What do I need to do to honor you?”

I am listening. I am open to answers. Now I know that my darkness is my fuel. This is what will light my way forward. And I am ready to carry the torch into a new future.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house … My fullest concentration of energy is available to me only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from the particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restrictions of externally imposed definition.”

–Audre Lorde

This is my work, and I am commited to doing it without apology. I’m done exiling all the parts of my self that made others around me uncomfortable. I’m done feeling “too much” or “not enough.” I’m done criticizing, shaming, denying the fullness of my being in an effort to make myself an object of mass consumption easy for others to digest.

And I urge you women, you people of color, you with different abilities, all of you who have been told you are somehow not deserving to join me here now. We can do this work with compassion, curiousity, understanding & love.

We can reclaim our selves, and reclaim our world. Join me.

Graduation Day! — Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of graduating from Mama Gena’s Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp at the School of Womanly Arts.

I feel so blessed, grateful and proud to have been one of over 500 Sister Goddesses to take part in this class and the final graduating ceremony, which took place over a Zoom call Monday morning.

After speaking about the final art, “the Womanly Art of Inviting Abundance,” Mama Gena put on music and invited us to dance for ourselves and the other Sister Goddesses present.

Not only was it so much sexy fun, it was a testament to my progress and growth that I even danced at all! I know that at the beginning of the class I was barely able to even get myself moving for the dance breaks in the middle of class. Now, here I was, feeling sensual and powerful enough to join the other SG’s in our graduation striptease dance break.

Participating in this class has been a pure pleasure. It is also once of the most healing things I have ever done for myself.

I first read “Pussy” by Regena Thomashauer (aka “Mama Gena) around two years ago, and then moved on to reading her “School of Womanly Arts” as well as “Owning and Operating Men” shortly afterwards.

I was deeply touched and impressed by her work. I wholeheartedly agreed that pleasure is power, and that our desires are the gateway to our dreams.

But then life (or inertia or resistance to change etc.) took over, and I kept on living my life as usual. Great ideas, sure, but…. [insert excuses here]

Signing up for the class, I approached it from a business-as-usual kind of way, meaning: I tried to understand everything intellectually as quickly as possible without really putting anything into practice in my actual life.

The power of this class was that it challenged me to go beyond my resistance and to begin truly embodying these principles.

First of all, Mama Gena herself is an absolute powerhouse. Her turn-on and magnetic energy is palpable and high contagious, even when experienced solely through the Zoom calls.

I know that I felt super-charged and excited after every session, connected to my power and ready to go after what I wanted. Her presence is like a candle that, touching other woman, lights them up so they can shine with all the brightness they may have been holding in for so long.

Equally important to Mama Gena’s powerful presence was the role of community among the other Sister Goddesses (as we call our classmates and fellow empowered women).

We had a private Facebook group where we could practice each of the arts, and receive praise and “uprides” from other SG’s.

We were also encouraged to find a Fitness Partner to Spring Clean and share our Trinities with. I had the pleasure of working with 3 different women from all over the world (based in New York, Canada and India).

This what was truly took this work to the next level. In the process of working through each of the Womanly Arts, I was able to get clear on some of my own internal processes and thoughts around pleasure and more. I felt heard and seen by strong, beautiful and powerful women I respected and admired. And I was able to learn from what each of these women shared with me, from their own struggles and shame, as well as their triumphs and victories.

Although this class will formally be ending in just a few days, I’m looking forward to continuing to practice each of the Womanly Arts and everything else that I learned during this time. I’m also looking forward to staying in touch with the friends that I made here, and to living my life in a new, more expansive and empowered way, as a Sister Goddess should.

Saturn in Aquarius Ritual

I’m writing about this ritual now, even though it’s something I did almost two months ago, on March 23.

But I still wanted to share some of what I learned here. In some ways, it feels like a turning point when it comes to how I conceptualize and relate to my ritual practices.

So I’ll start by saying that I was NOT looking forward to this one. I am not a big fan of Saturn. I’ve always felt uncomfortable when thinking about how the Saturnian energies of rules, limits and responsibilities manifest themselves in my life.

I had a very simple set-up for my altar that night. It was all black everything: black altar cloth, black obsidian pyramid, and a tall black taper candle in the center.

I started this ritual the way I usually do, by calling in the four directions, casting a circle, and then finally, evoking Saturn.

I asked that Saturn be here with me now, and in offering thanks for this presence and assistance in my ritual (and beyond), I vowed to honor and respect Saturn and all that this archetype represents.

That’s when it occured to me: I have never, ever done this before.

I’ve never had any respect for limitations or honored the role of boundaries in my life.

I saw that I’ve spent 30+ years fearing, and running from, any and all kinds of rules, limitations, and boundaries.

Maybe I’ve never really understood what these things were truly about. It seems to me I’ve usually understood myself as a victim of these things. Rules were meant to make me obey, to make me submit, to make me suffer. Limitations were all the places I could never go, all the things I could never be, everything I could never have.

What I’d failed to see was that these things did not have to be about my own weakness. In fact, rules, limits, boundaries could all become my friend. If I wanted to, I could learn to make them serve me.

In that moment, I saw how deeply I had done msyelf a disservice in not respecting these elements that Saturn rules. In fearing them, I had let them and others take control of my life. Now, in honoring them, I could take my power back and make my life my own.

At the time, I had attributed this shift in understanding as my own personal growth (and prior misunderstanding of Saturn’s qualities). But looking back, I’m starting to think that it’s like I was actually picking up on this shift in cosmic energies that was occuring as Saturn moved into Aquarius.

Saturn had been in Capricorn (which it rules) for the past 26 years, the majority of my life. Capricorn is an earth sign, known for being stubborn and rigid, resistant to change, and associated with authoritarian leadership and even oppressive circumstances.

Saturn is also the ruler of Aquarius, according to traditional astrology (while modern astrology gives that role to Uranus). These two zodiac signs do share some things in common: they shy away from emotional expression, are concerned with rules & norms, and focus on society and how it’s structured.

But while Capricorn brings a very heavy hand to these matters, Aquarius swings to the opposite side of the spectrum. Aquarius is progressive, original, and independent. This sign expresses its concern for the structures of society with a focus not on what has been (like Capricorn), but about what could be.

Aquarius is humanitarian and egalitarian; an air sign, it uses its intellectual force and vigor to imagine a better world. It is a sign that would reform and re-make everything that Capricorn has put in place, seeking to bring freedom and independence for those within its orbit.

I now think that this ritual was so powerful because I somehow managed to tap in to exactly that shift in energy represented by this zodiacal transition.

It was only natural for me to have experienced Saturn’s energies in the past as oppressive and punishing: in Capricorn, that is what they were.

Moving into Aquarius, I had the opportunity to experience all these rules and limits in a healthier way, one which ultimately benefits me.

I’ve been thinking about boundaries and limits and discipline so often the past months. I’ve been able to set new boundaries with family and friends, as well my self. It’s made me a better daughter, dog mom, friend, and person. It’s helped me focus on what I do want to allow into my life, instead of my discomfort with the parts of my life I don’t.

How are you feeling this transition of Saturn into Aquarius? I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve noticed so far. Tell me about how you viewed Saturn’s rules and limits in the past versus today. I’m looking forward to reading about all of your insights in the comments below.

Venus Retrograde 2020

Today marks the beginning of Venus’s retrograde travel through Gemini. This air sign is all about communication, sharing information and getting to know the other through the life of the mind.

All retrogrades can usually be seen as an opportunity to pause and reflect on your experiences, to re-assess your normal way of operating and the world.

With Venus Retrograde, this means we can look to our past to inform how we’d like to act to create our future.

This particular Venus Rx happens to be a Venus Return for me, passing through the sign of Gemini in my 12th house. Mercury also happens to be here too, and the Sun is about to join them in Gemini in about a week.

Not surprisingly, given the global pandemic, I’m already in a situation that lends itself to lots of solitude and time alone. I fully intend to use it to take a closer look at some of my own patterns, especially those related to Identity, Love & Communication, and how they have manifested through my 12th house shadow side.

What are some patterns you can think of that influence the way you communicate in love? Are there things you may have left unsaid or hidden from those you love? (And you can include yourself here!)

This Venus Rx will last around 40 days, so start brainstorming some ideas that you may want to put into practice when Venus starts moving forward again on June 25. 

A Buddhist Approach to NVC

I’m grateful to have been able to attend a daylong program over at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in the Bay Area this weekend, “Skillful Speech in Difficult Situations.”

Essentially, it focused on a mindfulness-based approach to Nonviolent Communication skills. The speaker, Oren Jay Sofer, brought Buddhist principles to his knowledge of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s ideas regarding NVC through short lectures and transformative meditation practices that we then shared and reflected on with a partner.

It was very helpful for me to learn some of these ideas and skills at a time when I’m being challenged in certain key relationships. I’d like to share with you now some of what stood out for me, and hope that it can be useful for you, as well.

The first thing that caught my attention were the following fundamental principles underlying Sofer’s approach:

  • All humans share a set of fundamental needs.
  • Every action we take is an attempt to meet one of these needs.
  • Emotions are a response to our needs being met (or not).

Knowing these things, we can then begin to better understand other’s motivations and behavior. When we understand that their negative emotions and unskillful behavior is often a response to the pain and discomfort of unmet needs, we may be more willing to be compassionate and collaborative in our approach to them.

One of the practices that I found really useful were the 3 “Practices of Presence” that we later engaged in with a partner. We learned how to come back to the present moment through focusing on the breath, grounding in our bodies, and orienting ourselves to the wider space around us.

Other valuable skills mentioned were active listening, reflecting, and how to skillfully interrupt or pause a difficult conversation.

I was able to get myself a copy of Sofer’s new book, “Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.” I’m excited to get back home to LA and spend some time with this book, I can’t wait to learn more.