The journey continues through this beautiful and mysterious life. For an introduction to this blog series and the Urban Priestess Mystery School that is inspiring this writing, check out my first blog here. Rooted in the wisdom of Celtic and Avalonian tradition, the Urban Priestess Mystery School moves through the wheel of the year, aligning with the astrological calendar and the rhythm of the seasons, and explores the twelve archetypes of the Goddess as the Earth moves around the Sun. This blog recounts my experience with the three archetypes that represent the time between April 19th and July 22nd when the Sun is in Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer: The Lover, the Muse, and the Mother.
The Lover - Taurus - Sensuality and Sexuality
From late April through the first two-thirds of May, the lover archetype brought lots of beauty as well as challenges into my life. The lover represents sensuality, sexuality, intimacy, and vulnerability, and although this wasn’t the easiest archetype for me to explore and embody, it was a rich and healing time.
In April, I received my first ever yoni massage from a female friend of mine. It was a beautiful opportunity to have my yoni be lovingly massaged without the pressure of being intimate with a sexual partner. Overall, it was a relaxing and nourishing experience, and I was able to observe from this sensual yet safe and neutral space the many thoughts and concerns that arose: “Am I feeling as much as I’m supposed to be feeling? Is what I’m feeling “right”? Is there a certain way I should be reacting to these sensations? Am I supposed to be organasming? Is there something wrong with me?” These are the same thoughts that often arise when I’m intimate with a partner - deep doubts and fears that stand in the way of me being fully present in the moment and experiencing pleasure. However, these thoughts didn’t hold as much weight in this context since the intention behind this massage was to receive healing and experience loving touch, and the experience left me deeply relaxed and in a position to continue exploring this shadow side of my inner lover.
I came to accept more fully than ever during my time in Taurus that I am not very connected to my sexuality and that intimacy and vulnerability do not come naturally or easily to me. And I realized that I’ve spent so much time trying to hide this because of the shame I feel around it. I called upon the lover archetype to help me heal. I called upon her to help me learn how to be more comfortable with vulnerability and to feel pleasure more fully. One thing led to another, as things usually do, and I bought a yoni egg, an egg-shaped rose quartz crystal that is inserted into the yoni to bring healing, ease tension and trauma, strengthen muscles, and help one listen to the subtle messages of her yoni. I listened to a yoni egg podcast (listen here), and it taught me some beautiful ways to use it. The woman in the podcast shared that most of us have engaged in sex, and still do, without listening for a clear “yes” from her yoni first. This is subtle trauma and causes our yoni to shut down to protect herself. I’ve found using my yoni egg to be helpful in this regard -- I’ve used it to learn how to listen to my body’s “yes” and “no” and how to wait until my yoni says “yes” before inserting the egg. I feel like listening to the subtle sensations of the yoni egg, along with the healing power of the rose quartz, is helping my yoni come online to experience pleasure more fully.
In some ways I feel like a complete beginner again when it comes to my sexuality. It was originally built on conforming to external pressures, and now I am returning to simplicity, learning how to listen my body, how to experience pleasure, how to be intimate with myself and with others in a way that is all about being in the moment without any expectations or agendas. This is definitely not the first time I’ve found myself a complete beginner in something I thought I had a decent handle on, and so I know that although it may be challenging and perhaps even a bit dispiriting, this is right where I need to be on my journey, and I’m grateful to be here.
The lover also taught me some lessons in non-sexual/non-sensual intimacy and vulnerability. In one instance, a close friend and mentor of mine expressed that she felt an awkwardness between us, and I was launched into a deep process of exploring my social anxiety that I knew was contributing to the awkward energy and lack of authentic intimacy between us. This was not something new to me at all, and I felt so frustrated and powerless behind the walls around me that I had no idea how to break through. I found myself in a place of sadness since I didn’t know how to connect with my beloved friend in a more open and authentic way. I also felt a deep loneliness and fear that I wasn’t connecting to others in my life meaningfully. I realized that a deep discomfort with vulnerability due to my sensitivity to shame was contributing to this disconnection and I longed to figure out how to begin the healing process.
As I was looking through the recommended reading section for the lover on the Urban Priestess site, I came across the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown and ordered it immediately. It was exactly the book I needed. The way she breaks down vulnerability was so helpful and it made me realize I wasn’t alone. Vulnerability is difficult for everyone, yet it does lead to greater happiness and meaningful connections. And isn’t it so true that we are drawn to others’ vulnerability yet repelled and ashamed by our own? The research presented in the book helped me explore what vulnerability is and how to be more skillful in knowing how much of myself to share, with who, and when. It also helped me learn how to build confidence in my self-worth and how to build shame resilience so that I would be more willing to be vulnerable when the time was right.
As with the sexuality piece, I feel like a total beginner in this exploration of intimacy and vulnerability, yet it feels like I’m exactly where I need to be on my soul’s unique journey. It’s been a slow process unfolding for many years and I am reminding myself to be patient and to trust the process.
The Muse - Gemini - Creativity and Communication
From late May to early June, I danced with the muse as I traveled through Europe for the first time. Throughout the trip, I felt connected to the muse’s energy of curiosity, adventure, and magic and learned a lot about self-expression and how to be a vehicle for the creative juicy flow of the universe.
First stop was Hungary where I attended the Integral European Conference. I’d like to start by highlighting a circling workshop I attended that taught me about communicating in-the-moment from a place of deep knowing and feeling. “Circling”, as taught in this particular workshop, is all about being in the moment and allowing whatever is felt, and therefore known to be true, to be expressed. We started in groups of two and I had a strong experience right off the bat. We started by gazing into each other’s eyes and listening to our bodies, emotions, and intuition to speak what we knew to be true in the moment. For me, I ran into a challenge. It was right after a big lunch and I was feeling self conscious because my belly was full and rounding forward. It was the biggest thing I was feeling at the time, but it was the last thing I wanted to say out loud to my partner. It was the last thing I wanted to say because I have struggled with body image issues and disordered eating and I hold a huge amount of shame in this area. I was gripped with panic as I faced this challenge of speaking what I felt in the moment honestly at the risk of being hit with intense shame and embarrassment. However, I took a deep breath and shared, and though I felt so vulnerable and sensitive, my partner held loving space for me and it was a very healing experience. We then moved into groups of four (with me as the receiver and the other three as the reflectors) and I had an even more intense experience of communicating vulnerably in the moment. One of my group members expressed that they were feeling anxiety because I seemed anxious and uncertain about what to say, and I actually became so overwhelmed that my body and emotions went numb and my mind went more-or-less blank. And I realize that this was actually one of my greatest fears: to be overtaken by anxiety to the point where I can’t connect to others. And there I sat, a total mess, and what did the others in my group do? They saw me with loving eyes, reassured me that they were there with me no matter what I was feeling, and helped me work through what I was experiencing. Overall, it was a very uncomfortable, yet important experience of healing in that it gave me the reassurance that I was worthy of love and support no matter what. It was an experience of moving into fear and discomfort in a safe space where I was able to feel it in order to release it. Since then, I think this reassurance has helped me to communicate more honestly and authentically with less anxiety about what others think of me.
In Berlin, I was blessed to be part of The Purpose Summit, a two-day conference exploring what purpose is and how it can help us transform ourselves and our planet. I was blown away by the transmissions that came through many of the speakers. Clear, embodied, creative, authentic, in-the-moment communication that included both darkness and light. The theme of shadow-work and death came through strongly and beautifully with grace. I was so inspired by the vulnerability and authentic expression of the speakers as they explored intimate topics like sexuality, embracing negative emotions, exploring our shadows, death, coming to terms with the destruction that is happening on the planet, and so much more. What a gift to witness these individuals and learn from their example how to embody and express all of myself clearly, creatively, and authentically.
In Ireland and England, I had the joy of traveling with my good friend who is a Gemini and who is the queen of communication and creativity. I felt so blessed to travel with her and be inspired by her transmissions, her playfulness, her gift of engaging just about everyone in meaningful conversation, and her ability to make everyone she meets feel relaxed and open with her communication. The trip was a priestess pilgrimage of sorts to visit sacred sites that are historically associated with honoring the Sacred Feminine. Some tension arose in us during our journey, because although we were receiving powerful, yet subtle gifts from the places we visited, we didn’t quite know what to do with them. My friend brought up her desire to begin working on a project together, perhaps a retreat, that honored and explored the Sacred Feminine. However, I was experiencing resistance around this. In my head I heard “Who am I to think I can create a workshop that was worthy of the Sacred Feminine and that was of value to other women?” and “Even if we could create something, how on Earth could I bring through the transmission of Her ineffable power and beauty?” and “Now is the time for receiving, not for actively creating.” Once we arrived at the Chalice Well in Avalon, my friend and I both received powerful psychic healings that cleared this tension and helped us totally surrender to the unknown and let go of needing to know the answers to the many questions we both had. We both somehow knew that in our surrender, something would come through us when the time was right.
Coming home, I felt the need for a deep reset. I rearranged my physical space, did a juice cleanse, journaled quite a bit about my travels, and enjoyed sharing stories of my adventures with friends and family. As we approached the Summer Solstice, I was feeling cleansed and light and ready to dive into the deep emotional waters of Cancer.
The Mother - Cancer - Home and Family
On June 21, the Summer Solstice, the sun entered Cancer and the archetype of the mother. Since Cancer is both my moon and rising sign, I felt grateful to be home in the deep watery realms of the psyche, the creative darkness of the new moon and the womb, and with the nurturing and patient love of the mother in all her forms.
Even though the brightness of summer was in full force, I found myself spending a lot of time turning inwards. Right after my juice cleanse and participating in a Summer Solstice ceremony, I started my sacred moon time and was feeling sensitive and emotional. I was tired of the city, I was tired of living with four roommates, I was frustrated and annoyed at myself and at others, I was exhausted from difficult conversations at work, and I was lost in an ocean of deep, stormy emotion, not knowing which way was up.
As Cancer season progressed, I continued swimming in her deep emotional waters as a few other challenges arose. First, my former partner began dating another woman for the first time since we uncoupled, and this brought up all sorts of emotions. On one hand I was happy for him as I really liked her, and on the other hand I was feeling an emptiness as he began to spend most of his nights away and wasn’t there to connect with as much. I felt lonely and was experiencing a deep longing for a partner of my own, yet I wasn’t feeling outgoing or motivated to go out and meet one. Then, it became clear that Global Purpose Movement, the project I have been lovingly working on for the past 2.5 years, was dying, and would most likely not last beyond our Purpose Summit in San Francisco this November. Shortly after, it became uncertain if we would even be able to put on the Purpose Summit that we’ve already spent months planning. The details are definitely too great to go into here, but the process involved navigating deep emotional realms, a lot of soul searching, and being in the darkness of uncertainty. As I sat in front of my mother altar each morning, I sat with the void of the unknown and felt the immense potential that was there. I was reminded that the tomb is the womb. That all new life comes from the darkness, and only Spirit can decide when the birth will happen, so the mother learns to be patient and to trust. Here I found deep acceptance and gratitude for the mystery of life and the way the Great Mother is always guiding us in her sacred cycles.
One other significant way that I connected to the mother this month is by leading a Feminine Purpose workshop with my friend Andrea. It was right after the new moon eclipse in Cancer and consisted of a ceremonial journey in which we invoked the Divine Feminine to be with us and guide us into the womb to remember why we were born and how we can embody Her grace and love more fully in our lives. Our journey to plan this workshop was not an easy one, and it involved being in the darkness of uncertainty for a long time before we were able to plan it.
Andrea and I made plans to begin working on it together on July 5th, and on the evening of the fourth of July, I couldn’t sleep and I actually stayed up and received downloads of how the Sacred Feminine wanted to be expressed through the workshop. I experienced a deep knowing that evening and felt so clear and connected to the wisdom of the Mother. However, when we got together the next day, nothing went right. First of all, we were in the midst of the dying process of Global Purpose Movement and were processing a great deal of anger, sadness, and many other emotions. In addition, I was exhausted from being up so late the night before and then when I tried to shared the downloads I received, they came out clumsily and distorted and the spirit of collaboration was overshadowed by my insistence that I knew how the workshop should be. Then, we were caught in a thunderstorm on our bikes, and Andrea’s bike got a flat tire, and then while the tire was being fixed, we shared some plant medicines that sent us into an intense purging process. We went back home unsure if we would even be able to put this workshop together.
However, we tried again a few days later and this time we started the process off by creating an altar and connecting to the Divine Feminine together and allowing ourselves to engage in a beautiful co-creative process to plan a workshop we both felt good about. The workshop continued to evolved over the days leading up to when we were to lead it at Breathe Fest, and as it did, I flowed through waves of feeling good about it, then feeling unsure, and back and forth again. When we finally led it, everything went beautifully, and we held space for our workshop attendees to return to the womb, explore their shadows, listen to their intuition, embrace their worthiness and gifts, and set intentions. It was a rich and rewarding experience to see this creative endeavor come to life and to feel like I was a worthy vehicle for sharing the wisdom of the Divine Feminine to help others connect to Her. I realized that in order to birth this workshop, Andrea and I needed to dive deep into our own shadows and reemerge so that we could sincerely hold space for others to do the same, and I'm grateful that the Mother created space for us to do so in Her mysterious way.
To Conclude (For Now)
As I wrap this up on my 31st birthday, I’m feeling many things. First off, I’m feeling nervous about sharing this blog and wondering if I am revealing too much of my process, yet, I’m feeling courageous and more connected to a sense of healthy vulnerability than ever. I’m currently deep in the darkness of uncertainty about whether or not we’ll be able to pull of the Purpose Summit this fall, yet I’m feeling grateful to be here surrounded by love, support, and opportunity. I’m feeling excited about what’s to come. As we enter this time of Leo, and the wild woman archetype, I’m looking forward to exploring my primal nature more fully and letting the wild woman express herself through me. Here I go into the last quarter of this year-long priestess journey...
And the journey continues…so much has unfolded, and is unfolding, since my last blog, that I feel like just jumping right in. For an introduction to this blog series and the Urban Priestess Mystery School that is inspiring this writing, check out my first blog here. Rooted in the wisdom of Celtic and Avalonian tradition, the Urban Priestess Mystery School moves through the wheel of the year, aligning with the astrological calendar and the rhythm of the seasons, and explores the twelve archetypes of the Goddess as the Earth moves around the Sun. This blog recounts my experience with the three archetypes that represent the time between January 20th and April 19th when the Sun is in Aquarius, Pisces, and Aries: The Visionary, the Mystic, and the Warrioress. Please note that I've also written a song for each archetype, which expresses the way they've flowed through me in a more abstract, poetic way.
The Visionary - Aquarius - Community and Collaboration
My journey with the Visionary started in the depths of the Chicago winter. After a challenging month of labor pains with the Midwife and Capricorn (see previous post here for details), I was grateful to transition into the expansive and airy energy of Aquarius. I surrendered to living in the apartment that I share with my former partner for the time being, found my bearings and flow at work, and began to focus on preparing for the Vision Quest that I was to go on in Colombia in late February. It felt really auspicious and synchronistic to have the energy of the Visionary with me as I began my preparations for the powerful four-day Lakota ritual called Hamblecheya, which translates to “crying for a vision.”
The biggest preparation I did during this time was making 405 prayer ties for my quest. Over many hours spent in front of my Visionary altar and the billowing smoke of sage, I spoke my prayers into 405 pinches of tobacco, one by one, and wrapped them in tiny squares of cloth strung along one long piece of string. I felt the Visionary strongly influence my prayers in a beautiful way -- her focus on community, humanitarianism, collaboration, and innovation really helped me frame my prayers so that they encompassed all of creation and expanded beyond my everyday mind. Overall, the theme that I kept coming back to in my praying was the importance of community and the sacred interrelatedness of all beings and energies. This was an especially powerful theme for me, as a sense of belonging was something that I painfully lacked while I was in Colombia supporting the 2017 Vision Quest. Remembering that pain and the difficult, yet transformative, months that followed steadied my focus in praying for my quest to bring personal transformation that could be woven easefully into the communities I am part of to support growth and healing in both myself and the whole.
Another gift I received during my time with the Visionary was connecting to the Goddess Brighid and celebrating her feast day of Imbolc in early February. Brighid is one of the most celebrated goddesses of Ireland and is a unifying force between people and the elements. On Imbolc, the midpoint between winter solstice and the spring equinox, I gave thanks for the fertility and awakening of the Earth as it began to thaw deep under the snow. Honoring this midpoint towards spring filled me with hope and excitement for the new life that was on its way even though I was still deep in the emotional depths of the frozen winter. I celebrated with song, poetry, traditional honey cake, and spending time in nature at Starved Rock, where I auspiciously found myself surrounded by sacred Oak trees, the tree of the Visionary. These rituals really lightened the heaviness of the Winter and helped me connect to the inner flame within all life that Brighid represents even during the coldest days of the year.
The Mystic - Pisces - Mysticism and Spirituality
The Mystic represents Pisces, the final and most transcendent sign of the zodiac. I spent most of my time with the Mystic in Colombia and it was the most perfect, lush sanctuary to be with this archetype of spirituality, dreams, compassion, and unconditional love. I set up my Mystic altar in my little casita in the Colombian eco-village that I shared with four beloved sisters. A picture of Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion, and the mother of cups tarot card reminded me to be patient and gentle with myself and trusting of my intuition as I embarked on my Vision Quest. The days leading up to the quest, I gave myself time alone each morning to contemplate my dreams, connect with Mother Earth, and practice yoga; I filled my body with nourishing food; I took time to journal; I gave myself space to feel emotions that came up without judgement.
During the four days of my quest that I spent alone in the forest, I felt so connected to the love and deep peace of Pachamama. From my questing spot, I could hear a stream continuously flowing, which to me was a tangible representation of the infinite blessings that the waters of life bestow upon us. Even during times of restlessness and discomfort, I still felt totally held by Spirit. There were times that I dearly missed the community back in the eco-village, but I never felt lonely or afraid surrounded by the creatures and aliveness of the forest. In some ways, especially to my mind, being on the quest felt very natural and mundane. On a deeper level, perhaps you could say soul level, I felt a profound, mystical connection to nature, to life, to the elements, to the seven directions, and to myself.
The whole journey felt so supported and guided, including my journey home. I had a soft landing back in Chicago, via California, filled with love and abundance. In some ways, it was a bit challenging to return to the harshness of the city and fast pace of work, and the question arose that so often arises after a profound experience or trip: “Now what?” Was I just supposed to go back to what I was doing before? The answer came to me in the song lyrics I wrote, “My heart knows the way.” Don’t let the mind worry about it too much. Trust. And without that worry, I could feel that I was living an answered prayer in many ways: I was completely surrounded by love, I was part of strong, supportive communities, I had everything I needed to thrive, and I was on a clear, beautiful, transformative path that I trusted with my whole heart. A path that has allowed me to feel the Mystic and her qualities of transcendence, mystery, dreams, and love, right here in this human body and in this physical realm.
The Warrioress - Aries - Courage and Leadership
The Warrioress came into my life strongly with the fire of Aries that initiated the beginning of spring at the equinox. I quickly learned that there is a reason the Warrioress needs to be fierce and courageous, as I soon found myself facing multiple inner battles. First, something surfaced for me that I had missed while I was offline in Colombia. A link to a very long blog post landed in my inbox, sent by a friend. The blog was entitled PROOF THAT THE SPIRITUAL HEALING COMMUNITY, FEMINIST LEADERSHIP AND PERSONAL GROWTH INDUSTRY IS INTRINSICALLY TOXIC AND RACIST (you can read it here, and I do recommend reading it). I won’t go into details here, but the blog highlights how a fiery conversation erupted on social media around Urban Priestess and a free online event they were hosting. The conversation was initiated to point out the lack of diversity in the speaker lineup for the event and it quickly escalated to discussing issues of cultural appropriation and racism in all female spiritual and personal-growth communities. It is a heavy piece of writing, and it left me feeling speechless and paralyzed.
This same issue then came up strongly in my work with the Global Purpose Movement when we received similar comments on one of our videos on Facebook. I felt so disheartened that this project that I was pouring my heart into, which was meant to help create space for positive transformation toward a world that works for everyone, could possibly be toxic and perpetuating racism and cultural appropriation. I felt confused because there was literally nothing I could say or do that couldn’t be discounted as total bullshit coming from the ignorance and conditioning of my white privilege. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood in the fire and listened. I still am.
I greatly appreciated the way that Ashley and Sianna were so transparent about the shadow work this issue brought up for them and how they shared their process openly and honestly. They spoke in live webinars about how they were listening deeply and making tangible changes in their business the best they could without being afraid to continue speaking their truths and walking their paths. I was inspired to educate myself and be willing to look at my shadow while also listening to my heart for guidance on how to move forward lightly and steadily without denying myself the opportunity to trust my inner knowing of what is true for me. It will definitely be a long and winding road, and I’m dedicated to continuing this shadow work the best I can.
Soon after, my boss dropped some heavy news on us: He had decided to step down as President of Greenheart and discontinue the department of the organization dedicated to personal transformation, the department that I work in. That means my position will not exist after the end of this year and the Global Purpose Movement will need to find an alternate source of funding to continue its work and its evolution. Again, I’m just not able to go to deeply into details here, but this news came with a lot of emotional processing, difficult personal discussions, deep frustration, feelings of powerlessness, and uncertainty about the future. Every day, there was more that came up to process.
Each day felt like a struggle, even a battle in some ways. However, connecting to the energy of the Warrioress, with her sword that cuts through illusion and her shield that gives protection, with her tiger of lunar intuition and fierceness, and with her strength and willingness to be courageous in her vulnerability, I felt equipped to stand firmly despite my inner chaos and to dig deep to uncover my personal truth. As I danced in the fire, I felt grateful for the opportunity to connect to this fierce energy that may not have been accessible if things weren’t shaken up so much.
To Conclude (For Now)
I’m happy to say that things settled down a bit after the sun moved into Taurus and the archetype of the Lover with her Earthy energy. And lots of opportunities for healing and paving a path forward are presenting themselves now that we are in the time of Gemini and the Muse. I am focusing on being more fully present in each moment and in my relationships as I dive deeply into sensuality, vulnerability, intimacy, communication, and creativity. At the moment, I am in Europe for the Purpose Summit, our first Global Purpose Movement European conference, and afterwards I am taking a pilgrimage to the sacred Well of Brighid in Ireland and the sacred Well of Avalon in England. There is still so much processing and shadow work happening right now, but life feels rich and filled with possibility. I’m excited to see what happens next. Until then...xoxoxo.
Since ancient times, mystery schools have existed in almost all cultures offering initiatory pathways to awakening, self development, and wisdom embodiment. Today, while pretty much everything we’d ever want to know is literally at our fingertips, modern day mystery schools offer a way for individuals to access something that cannot simply be googled or learned from mainstream education. They offer tools for accessing our inner-knowing and truth, initiatory experiences that allow for deep transformation, and community that supports embodiment of the wisdom that is revealed. Though many different mystery schools are active today, it’s been my experience that the right one will find you in perfect timing.
I found myself on the path of the priestess about four years ago, after taking Ashley Turner’s Urban Priestess yoga workshop in Chicago. It was not only a yoga workshop, but a weekend of ritual, sisterhood, and honoring the Sacred Feminine. After that, I was inspired to read the Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and learned of the ancient feminine mystery schools of Arthurian times, feeling connected to the rituals that honor the cycle of the moon and the wheel of the year as well as the devotion and trust embodied in the ways of the priestess. For the next couple years, I continued on my path, learning about goddesses of different wisdom traditions, taking part in rituals to honor the cycle of the moon, gathering with sisters in prayer and ceremony, and singing my praises to the Divine Feminine in all her forms.
This past September, I took the next step on my priestess path and joined the Urban Priestess Mystery School with high priestesses Ashley Turner and Sianna Sherman. Under the guise of a yearlong online course, this program/mystery school has been an invaluable resource and guide for me these past few months and has allowed me to feel more aligned with my path and my truth than ever before. It has given me a new, crystal clear framework for continuously receiving the teachings of the sacred feminine, remembering the ancient ways of living in harmony with nature (even while living in the city), reclaiming my power and gifts as a woman, living them out in my day-to-day life, and sharing them with others. Rooted in the wisdom of Celtic and Avalonian tradition, the Urban Priestess Mystery School moves through the wheel of the year, aligning with the astrological calendar and the rhythm of the seasons, and dives deep into the 12 archetypes of the priestess as the Earth moves around the Sun. For each archetype, the course provides an abundance of articles, videos, and live webinars to explore the many expressions of the Divine Feminine. We explore mythology, ritual, self-inquiry and shadow work, integration, and manifestation. Ashley and Sianna not only share these teachings, but they show up fully and vulnerably, showing us what it means to embody the wisdom on this path with authenticity, humility, and compassion.
My aim for this blog is to give you a glimpse into my journey through the first three archetypes of the wheel of the priestess: the Queen of Death, the Wise Woman, and the Midwife. Each section includes a song I wrote as well <3
Queen of Death - Scorpio - Shadow and Transformation
Let me tell you: this mystery school does not mess around. After getting an overview of the ways of the priestess and the wheel of the year, we began our descent straight down into the underworld of darkness, shadow, and transformation. This, of course, is not on accident, as Samhain, marking the beginning of the darkest eighth of the year before the Sun returns on the Winter Solstice, is considered the Celtic new year, and like all true initiations, becoming a priestess requires death and rebirth. But truly, what a beautiful way to begin. Descending into the depths of my shadow - all the parts of myself that I am ashamed of, all that I try to hide both from myself and others, all that I am afraid of - allowed me to become intimate with the parts of myself that are most difficult to love and helped me learn to embrace, rather than avoid, these places within me most fertile for transformation. Through meditations in the dark, early hours of the morning, I felt the meaning of the phrase “the tomb is the womb.” I sat silently with the hindu goddess Kali looking back at me, blood dripping out of her mouth and a necklace of human heads around her, and felt beauty in her power of destruction. I looked into the face of the black Madonna, seeing the holiness in her scarred cheeks. I allowed myself to feel the chaos happening in the world and released the need to always make others think I had it together. I listened closely to my inner voice and knew in my heart that it was time to step away from my relationship with my partner who I had built a life with over the past six years. I received the courage and clarity I needed to initiate our uncoupling process and moved through those difficult days with the inner-knowing that all life originates from darkness. I came to love the Queen of Death and her fierce medicine that cuts through illusion and allows deep transformation to occur. However, I was also very relieved when it was time to move onto Wise Woman archetype!
Wise Woman - Sagittarius - Aging and Wisdom
As the sun entered Sagittarius, we called in the archetype of the Wise Woman, who symbolizes higher knowledge, the wisdom of our elders, the quest for truth, patience, and acceptance. My heart and mind were so nourished by the transmissions received from the goddess Sophia, Grandmother Spider, White Buffalo Calf Woman, and other feminine beacons of deep wisdom. I felt the serenity of being at peace with all that is, as it is, with full gratitude and trust. Two big shifts happened to me during this time. First, I realized the importance of connecting with my blood ancestors, especially my grandmothers and great grandmothers. I printed photos of my two grandmothers and my four great-grandmothers and placed them on my altar. While I had a relationship with both of my grandmothers when I was younger, I didn’t know much about my great-grandmothers. I learned and spoke their full names and found out exactly where in Europe they were from; and therefore, where I am from. I felt them here with me as I sat at my altar each morning and asked for guidance for what I was going through in my life. I connected to my Irish/Celtic roots by reading Anam Cara by John O’Donahue and realized that many of the mystical teachings I cherished from Eastern, shamanic, and Native American traditions were also present in my own ancestral lines. I even decided to take a trip to Ireland later this year to visit the land of my ancestors and journey to sacred sites there. Second, I felt a major shift in how I experienced the time of year around the Winter Solstice. Like many people, I had become disillusioned with what Christmas has become in our culture: the consumerism, the very un-eco-friendly decorations, Christianity being forced upon native peoples and all the violence involved around it, the stress of having the “perfect” family gatherings centered around the overconsumption of food and alcohol, and the unconscious participation in it all without asking why. However, this year more than ever before, I felt so connected to the celebration of the Winter Solstice and honoring this precious time of the return of the sun. I learned much about the Pagan roots of many Christmas traditions and chose to participate in them in a way that was meaningful for me. On Christmas eve, I was inspired to go to the woods and take in the beauty and wisdom of nature, everything still and covered in white snow. Overall, I’d say I at least doubled my wisdom over this month. :-P
Midwife - Capricorn - Career and Finance
As the sun moved into Capricorn, we celebrated the return of the light and welcomed in 2018 with new intentions and goals. The earthy Capricorn supports career, structure, dharma, money, and abundance, and I was definitely feeling ambitious, focused, and dedicated to creating a prosperous and successful year with the Global Purpose Movement, the project for which I work as event manager. However, the year definitely didn’t start out as planned, and I found myself having a mini meltdown. Our first meetings of the year, which I hoped would send us smoothly forward into planning a year of purposeful events, were filled with uncertainty, miscommunication, disorganization, and frustration (at least for me). To make things more complicated, my boss unexpectedly announced that he was taking a sabbatical, leaving the rest of the team and I feeling uncertain about the year ahead. This stress brought me face-to-face with the shadow side of the Midwife: I became aggressive, rigid, and overly controlling in my attempts to try to get our team organized and start manifesting our events and projects. I was overly critical of myself and others, I was detached from my emotions, and I was operating from a place of fear of failure, rather than a place of trust and abundance. At the same time, I decided it was time for me to move out of the apartment I share with my former partner, and the uncertainty of where I would be living come February and my inability, despite my best attempts, to control the actions of other people in this process pushed me right to edge. I was exhausted, full of anxiety and doubt, and ready to give up. So, to say the least, it wasn’t exactly the beautiful and abundant start to the year I was hoping for, at least not at first glance. However, looking back now from the place of the Visionary (the next archetype in the wheel of the year), it was the start to the year that I needed, and the Midwife was there to coach me through the difficult birthing process. As I prayed at my altar each morning, she reminded me how to stay grounded when the winds blows strong, how to be graceful under immense pressure, how to move slowly and steadily through transformation, how to hold space for my shadow to arise so that it can be transmuted. One day when my worry and doubt was at its worse, the course guided me through an invocation of Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of abundance, and I felt my entire being shift into a state of joy and abundance for all the beauty and prosperity in my life. I also received the Midwife’s tool of the pendulum, which has been a surprisingly reliable guide for working through uncertainty and difficult decisions. In addition, I took a deep dive into examining my relationship to money and received lots of practical guidance for managing finances and engaging in conscious business practices. After an arduous, yet deeply transformative month, I am happy to say that I am feeling abundant and grounded as I begin the journey of opening my third eye with the Visionary archetype of Aquarius.
To Conclude (For Now)
In addition to connecting deeply to each archetype of the priestess, I’m also feeling connected to the overarching rhythms and cycles of nature, from my own sacred moon time to the Pagan sabbats. This week is the celebration of Imbolc, which is the sabbat that is midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is the time when the life force energy of the Earth begins to awaken and the very first signs of Spring begin to emerge. It feels so auspicious to be posting this blog and songs on this day as I feel my inner flame growing stronger again and new energy awakening in myself and in humanity. I offer these words humbly as a way to share the gifts I have received these past three Winter months with so much gratitude for the guidance that has helped me realign with Her sacred rhythms. Aho + Awen <3
This is the first of a series of posts about the major arcana, or trump cards, within the tarot deck. The major arcana are representative of powerful symbols that can cause change in the world. When one of these cards shows up in a reading, it is likely the querent is working with a major transformational change on the path they walk. And yet there is an even deeper meaning within these particular cards. Within these major arcana cards are the processes of manifestation that brings the entire universe into existence. The very same process we all walk in that great adventure of "knowing thyself." Come with us as we traverse the 22 cards of the major arcana.
At the beginning of the great journey through to manifestation we find the Fool. Typically a young man or woman, sometimes even a child, and almost always at the end of a cliff, the adventure from potential energy to full universal manifestation begins here. Symbolic of the great element of Air, that holy energy that is the mediator between Fire and Water, the Fool card is the beginning of a new journey. It is unawakened potential, held back only by fear of change. Symbolic of this fear we find the Fool preparing to step over the cliff and into the chasm, through the doorway into the unconscious mind. The dog barking, or sometimes even seen as a great beast, that strange ego trying to hold them back. Tension and suspense rises as the Fool, despite fear, begins to stare over the edge into the great unknown. Yet it is the sunlight that shines down upon them from behind that they remember they are taking their first steps onto a greater path. The fear vanishes and with pure trust the Fool steps from the safety of the material realm and into the vast secret of the universe.
The fool card has a number of different esoteric and exoteric meanings within. Generally, it is representative of the beginning of a journey. New decisions are being made that can shake up the normal routine. The Fool is symbolic of the element of Air, but not the typical earth based elements. Rather, it is associated with the greater cosmic process of the creation of the universe. In the Qabalah, it is associated with the mother letter of Aleph, which is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It's number is zero as it is the potential for great change, yet has not been awakened yet. When this card comes up in readings great change is afoot. It is time to see which side of this change you are standing.
Close your eyes. Calm the mind, watch the breath. Find yourself standing at a cliffside looking over a great chasm that seemingly goes down and down eternally. Clouds blowing aimlessly prevent you from looking deep into the vastness. Feel the ground with your feet, perhaps even touch it with your hands. Make a wish, calm the mind, and silently step over the edge into the great unknown.
Allow the mind to operate unimpeded by intellectualizing the imagery. Let whatever visions that may arise come to you.
This pretty house that I built
I wanna tear it down, I wanna tear it down
And grow a garden in its place
The kind that grows in outer space
But I don't know how to grow flowers where it is so cold...
I'm tearing down this I house I built
I'm gonna sleep outside under the stars
I'm gonna grow a garden in outer space
With cosmic flowers that shine with grace
I'm not sure yet how they grow, but I will know how when I go...
As I lay outside now among the stars
In this soft bed of astral blossoms
Cosmic roses full of grace
Mother Mary's sweet embrace
Through her love I somehow know how these celestial flowers grow...
And they're everywhere, they're everywhere now, these cosmic roses, they're everywhere...
They're in the gardens
And in the stars
They're even in the pretty houses
They're in this longing
And in the pain
They're in the teardrops
And in the rain
They're in the sunlight
And in the songs
They're in the children
And in the frogs
They're in the learning
All through the night
They're in the darkness
And in the light....
Cosmic roses full of grace
In our Mother's sweet embrace <3
The Spring Equinox..
Here to thaw our bones so we can awaken to the light as well as to the darkness, recognizing and embracing the beauty of them both.
As I am gifted the vision of greater light and the capacity for greater love, I become more aware of my ignorance and the ways I continually surrender to anxiety and need for the approval of others..
And I am grateful for this chance to be deep in my own darkness while feeling the presence of a voice that is continually reminding me to love unconditionally and offering me glimpses of reassurance.
While the beauty of warmth and springtime approaches us..
Let us feel the strength to continue embracing all the parts of ourselves that are broken, aching, and longing for numbness..
Let us feel it all, so that we may know that much more love and compassion..
So that our roots grow deep into the dark, dense Earth and our branches can grow higher than we know..
Let us learn to be vulnerable and become authentic teachers just by letting others see that we have chosen to do the difficult work of opening to our own darkness and letting it shine..
As the flowers begin to bloom..
Let’s celebrate together the magic of continuous rebirth, the intelligence of nature, and the beauty of new life..
Remember that we are a part of it..
Be humbled by the magnificence of it..
And feel the immense gratitude so great that it can't even be expressed when we really realize the sacredness of it..
Thank you Pachamama, for teaching us so much..
Thank you for our lives..
Continue to bestow your love and compassion upon us and bless this point in what we call time of balance, new beginnings, and open horizons..
We pray for your waters to be clear, for your air to be pure, for your trees to grow tall, and for your heart to burn with the fire of love for our children's children's children's children and beyond..
Wishing you love, peace, and clarity this Spring Equinox!
Wishing you all a season of peace, love, and mindfulness as we continue this beautiful transformation into 2016! To celebrate, we are hosting the second installment in the Continuum Series - The Winter Continuum: An Evening of Art, Music, & Magic. On January 15th, we will gather at Live Work Yoga in Wicker Park to celebrate the winter through intentional music and video art by the talented Alex Sokol, Brock Alter, Rich Logan, and Sweet Aum's very own Bryan Alvarez. Join us as we journey through darkness towards light, laugh through sorrow towards happiness, and dance through cold towards warmth.
The Winter Continuum
Where: Live Work Yoga (1470 N. Milwaukee)
When: Friday, Jan 15th at 7 pm
Who: Music and Art by Alex Sokol, Brock Alter, Rich Logan, and Bryan Alvarez
Suggested Donation: $10
We are also gearing up for a one-month journey to Brazil on January 25th until the end of February to deepen our connection to the Divine through the power of music, nature, and adventure! We are so grateful for this chance to explore and learn in a culture that we've been feeling very connected with over the past few years! We are excited to bring new insights, rituals, and MUSIC back to Chicago and share them with you through our yoga classes and events!
Blessings to you all this season, wherever you find yourselves!
So much love,
Carly and Bryan
A daily thanksgiving inspired by the Onondaga Nation, Haudenosaunee
GREETINGS and THANKS
to each other as people
TO THE EARTH
mother of all
greetings & thanks
to all the waters
WATERFALLS & RAIN
RIVERS & OCEANS
greetings & thanks
to all the
GREETINGS & THANKS
the grains and greens
BEANS & BERRIES
as one we send thanks
to FOOD PLANTS
of the world
and their keepers
GREETINGS & THANKS
TO ALL ANIMALS
& their teachings
greetings & thanks
for shelter & shade
fruit & beauty
greetings & thanks
TO ALL BIRDS
large and small
joyful greetings and thanks
and from the four directions
THE FOUR WINDS
thank you for purifying the air we breathe and giving us strength
our grandfathers in the sky
We hear your voices
GREETINGS & THANKS
and now THE SUN
for the light of a new day
and all the fires of life
GREETINGS & THANKS
to the oldest grandmother
leader of women
all over the world
AND THE STARS
for their mystery, beauty, & guidance
GREETINGS & THANKS
TO OUR TEACHERS
from all times
reminding us how to live in harmony
GREETINGS & THANKS
AND FOR ALL
the gifts of creation
for all the love around us
GREETINGS & THANKS
and for that which is forgetten
WE END OUR WORDS
NOW OUR MINDS ARE ONE
The season of the harvest is upon us...
Do you feel the transition, the transformation, and the abundance all at once?
We call upon the Spirit of the West, the direction of water, of surrender, of opening to receive...
May we feel our emotional waters deeply and flow through them without getting swept away...
May we keep learning how to surrender more deeply to the flow of the universe, the changing of the seasons, the transformation we are undergoing as a society, as a planet..
Allow us to open our eyes to the immense abundance around us, the gifts of Mother Earth, the love in all things...let us open our hearts wider to receive all that surrounds us fully and with infinite gratitude..
Teach us how to trust in the steady flow of the river and release our grasping and our fears..
Please show us the way to surrender the mind to the stillness and wisdom within all creation..
Sending our love and our gratitude to you, setting sun, for showing us the beauty in letting go..
Let us rejoice in this transition to cooler days and darker nights, celebrating the cycles and rhythms of this existence...
Grant us the ability to slow down and begin our journey within once again...
We bless you Spirit of the West, and we ask for your blessing during this time of transformation.
I feel the feminine elements earth and water in my body, mind, and soul.
I simply observe and hold space for all that moves through me.
I know I am whole and complete even as I journey through sadness, anger, fear, and doubt.
I honor the traditions of my family while I strive to live according to my own truth.
I am grateful and accepting of my life exactly as it is but am open to new opportunities and abundance.
I am not afraid to say no to the demands of others or to say yes to adventures with uncertain outcomes.
I fully embrace stillness and patience even while I flow through constant movement and change.
I set realistic goals but my dreams are vibrant and I truly believe anything is possible.
I surround that which does not seem to change with compassion as I let go of guilt and shame.
I acknowledge the return of old behavioral patterns as a sign that I am becoming more open and approaching a breakthrough.
I release control and trust in the ebb and flow of the tides.
I cherish all that I hold dear in my life while accepting that all things must pass.
I work steadily with confidence while surrendering all that I am to the altar of Love.
I am open, receptive, infinite, and sacred.
I am earth and water,
Pure love and beauty,
Growing deep roots as I flow on and on and on...