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Book review: The Heart of Wicca by Ellen Cannon Reed

I intend to start posting more reviews on my platform: reviews of books, decks (a rare post as I am not a deck collector, but I do still buy the decks that really speak to me), podcasts, music, and more. If you have anything that you would like for me to review, comment below! My first review is going to be on a book that I just finished, The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path by Ellen Cannon Reed.

I would first like to start by saying that I am not a Wiccan, and there may be themes or topics in this book that are over my head or beyond my comprehension because I do not subscribe to the path. I would also like to state that if I write something about this book, or about Wicca in general that is negative or a critique, I am not saying that you are wrong if you are Wiccan, love this book, or anything like that. This is simply a post coming from my personal insight and honesty as a new reader to this book, and these topics.

I picked this book up at a local store some time ago. As much as I know that I will ever become a Wiccan, I do want to learn and understand more about different religions and methodologies, Wicca included. That being said, I did not like this book. I found the tone to be off-putting, condescending, and elitist. The following paragraphs describe specifically what I did and did not like about this book, and why I only gave it a 1 out 5 stars on Goodreads.

First, the book is only 127 pages, which alone is not a problem. What irked me was those 127 pages read like a big condescending rant. The book is title The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path, so I thought that this book was going to discuss some things that are paramount to the Wicca pantheon. Some of this was discussed, but not in any satisfying depth, which is not only disappointing, it is contradictory to the first paragraph. Reed states that other books often only skim the surface of Wicca, which is exactly what I thought of this book. (Reed 1)

One of the first things about this book that put me off was the constant contradiction. Reed would constantly state how other covens, or “new” Wiccans are doing things that irritate her, and then give one small sentence how her covens are not the only ones who do things right. I get the book is from her perspective and will obviously include her opinion, but it got a little tiring to read. From what I could find about the author, she walked this path for a long time before her passing, undoubtedly had a lot of wisdom about the path, and had seen how the path has morphed over time. From what I have heard from others who practice Wicca (how in depth, I do not know), the path is much more formulaic than others it seems. There are certain ways to do things, and ways to not do things. I do not have a problem with traditions, or Wiccans who use tradition in their magick or rituals. It simply read to me that those who don’t hold as much to tradition are doing it wrong, which I disagree with completely.

I was also not aware of how cutthroat the initiation process can be to get into a coven. Reed heavily emphasized that students who wished to be initiated into one of her two covens had to participate for a full year in rituals and traditions, and even then their initiation was not guaranteed. The coven goes off of gut feeling if a person will become an initiate into their coven. I am not saying this is right or wrong. I am simply saying that I did not realize that some covens were so selective. I can see the purpose, but all that did was emphasize why I have never been inclined to join a coven. I am a solitary witch anyway, but I feel like showing up should be organic and honest, a true statement of when and where they can be of service (which no human can always be of service 100% of the time). It should not be for mere attendance.

Again, I see the purpose of wanting a coven to be at its strongest. I can see why coven needs to be more than a social gathering. I can see why covens need to have a certain vulnerability to work through difficulties. Group magick won’t be as effective if some members are holding onto to old gripes, either petty or truly valid. However, I simply could not fathom being accepted or rejected from something I had invested my heart and time into based upon someone’s feeling about me. I also feel that accepting or rejecting someone based on gut feelings leaves room for human error and bias. I find it ironic that during much of the text, Reed makes it clearly known that both students and teachers will at times falter or stumble, as they are human. But, when it comes to the intimate process of bringing in a new and willing participant into the coven, that is left solely to gut feelings and bias.

Maybe that is just me…….

I also feel that people who say a coven always and immediately has stronger magic than a solitary practitioner are honestly just trying to recruit. As a solitary witch, I feel I enter a deeply intimate and magickal experience when I stand in my circle, my guides and the universe the only ones to witness me. I feel free and capable and empowered and deeply loved. No coven, no matter how established, can take that away from me. Reed did say that with the rise in popularity, there is no way that every single Wiccan could join a coven because there are not enough teachers to fulfill the needs of each new practitioner. With how cutthroat the initiation process is, I can see why……

The final point I want to make about snobbish and elitist mentalities come in the chapter about initiation, a chapter I find ripe with contradiction and looking down the proverbial nose on those who don’t follow the same path. Reed states there are two types of initiations: the one that comes from the coven, and the one that comes from spirit. The one that comes from spirit cannot come from a human, or from the self. It can only come from the Gods and Goddesses unveiling the mysteries to you in a process. Putting aside the fact that I disagree with that, I want to focus more on what Reed states about coven initiations. She makes the point that college degrees have fallen in strength, no longer holding the same weight as before, and that she does not want that to happen to her initiates. While I understand her wish for nothing but the best from her initiates, what I took from that is her saying that her coven members are more deserving of the magickal path, and stronger in their magickal creeds. This is simply not true. Credentials are great, but they don’t mean that someone is stronger, more pure of heart, or more deserving of the magickal path than a solitary witch, non-Wiccan witch, or anyone who isn’t in her coven. (Reed 58)

Okay, now on to some things that I agreed with Reed on: working with deities, and certain aspects of training and studying. In working with deities, I agree with her that it is important to treat it like any other relationship. It is not polite to call in a deity simply because you heard a friend or colleague say they did it. It isn’t polite to call them in to fulfill a need without doing some basic research or creating some respectful energy. Some deities will be lifelong influences. Other may be some that you work with on specific occasions. I don’t see a problem with any of that, as long as you approach the relationship with respect, and a willingness to engage in the process with this deity. Take time to read about them, visualize them, give an offering to them, or connect with them before simply asking for things.

I also agree that spiritual work does not, and should not, equal easy. Spiritual bypassing and a refusal to confront the shadow self in the end does more damage, and weakens the spiritual path. There is no race towards the other side of the darkness. There is no hierarchy for who has gone farther, confronted more, or overcome more. Please don’t feel like you taking the time you need to confront the difficult means your spiritual is lesser. In fact, you are doing what others refuse to do. I personally feel that we see this way to much with positivity culture. We need to be willing to share our hurt and pain and fear and dread. Those are just as valuable of spiritual teachers as any mentor or positive moment. I also agree with her that spells are a small section of a big umbrella called magick. I also agree that spell casting should be done wisely, and without vengeance in the heart.

Overall, this book did not pass the mustard for me, which I think I have made clear. Even Reed herself acknowledges on page 127 that the views of her and like-minded individuals may be seen as snobbish, old-fashioned, and elitist. Snobbish and elitist, yes. Old-fashioned, no. I actually wished that her book contained more of her “old-fashioned” views and tenets. I wish that she went more into specifics, and spent less time putting down anyone new to the path, or anyone who may stray from her opinion of how things should be done.

Reed, Ellen Cannon. Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path. Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2000.

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Deck Forecast – 2020 (Wild Unknown Archetypes and Tarot)

The deck forecast begins at the very top of the table, with the Desert and the Hanged Man

For 2020, I am going to switch up the decks that I use. The Wild Unknown Archetypes decks is STUNNING. I cannot get over these cards. Plus, archetypes are meant to explored, discovered, understood, and utilized. This makes them the perfect deck for doing a monthly deep dive. The

Wild Unknown Tarot is the companion card, creating a layered message of what archetypal energy is present, and how to invite this potent energy into your life. Patrons will still receive a third card in their monthly card forecast. If you would like to become a patron, click the badge on the right hand side and join the dwelling!

For reference on how to tell upright vs. inverted, I pull every card with my right hand, and then turn each card over pulling from the left side. If I were to take these cards out of the circle, and place them in a straight line, I would then grab from the right side and move left if it’s on its side (horizontal). I hope that makes sense! It can be hard to tell when it is this kind of formation.

I tried to get a picture that did justice to the imags, while keeping the names visible. For clarity, here is the monthly forecast:

January: The Desert and The Hanged Man

February: The Shadow and the 8 of Swords inverted

March: The Eternal Child and the Tower inverted

April: The Poet and the Devil

May: The Castle and the 9 of Wands

June: Eros and the World

July: The Crone and the Mother (Queen) of Swords inverted

August: The Creator and the Ace of Cups

September: The Queen and Temperance inverted

October: Thanatos and Judgement

November: Aletheia and the 10 of Cups inverted

December: The Mirror and the Son (Knight) of Wands

So, that is the forecast for 2020. I am not going to lie, when I say the card pairings for January through April, I said to myself, “Here, we go….” That is not to say that the cards are bad or that I don’t like them. Cards like the Tower and the Devil have some of the most profound blessings, but they are not easy cards to grasp and hold. Those cards, and many others, can be incredibly daunting, and speak to growth in ways that are often uncomfortable or hard to bear at times.

Some things to note about the complete forecast: the year is divided into 6 major arcana cards, 4 pip cards, and 2 court cards. Major Arcana cards speak to great forces, forceful momentum, and encompassing shifts. When a spread, or here a forecast, is dominated by Major Arcana cards, that means that the year forecast is going to see a lot of transformation that is effective more on a grand scale of life, rather than dealing with the more minute details of the day to day. The Majors are archetypes unto themselves. They represent the macrocosm. Their energies are so large that, at times, it can be harder to feel their presence.

We have the 8 of Swords inverted, 9 of Wands, Ace of Cups, and the 10 of Pentacles inverted. With the majority of the pips and court cards falling to the Swords, we can safely say that the majority of the microcosm will be focused on the threshold of thoughts, communication, brainstorming, ideas, and narration. We will be looking into the mental faculties that gauge the energies, and how that logical clarifying accompanies the larger forces at play. The Court cards are the cards that speak to us between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Side note: I do not read Court cards as other people. I read them as the threshold between the majors and the minors. That means that July and December present invitations for a more intimate conversation about how to bridge yourself between the energetic forces and shifts available, and how to make energies available.

What are your thoughts on these card pairings? If you would like to download my free monthly ezines from 2019, do so by the end of the year. After that they will be getting deleted to make room for 2020 ezines. Much love to you!

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Approaching the end of the year

The end of the year is finally coming to a close. I feel the need to create a little time capsule of my year, and what better place than my blog? For me, this year was a rough one, but also an insanely beautiful one. There were so many things that happened, and many things I really had to confront and face. This was also the year that I really had to admit and confront where I was hurting myself, and my business.

Here were some of the major points of my year:

+My schoolwork consisted mostly of science classes (which is not my strong suit) to finish the requirements for my Associates in the Integrative Health program. Next year, I get to enjoy the Capstone, all about transitioning into the professional world.

+I got to see some whales and experience the beauty of Mexico.

+My cat was on and off sick for months. He was so sick that, at one point, Grizzly and I really thought we were going to lose him. However, my little Zombie survived, and I feel that experience in many ways brought Grizzly and I closer together.

+Some of the other classes that I got to take this year were amazing, including Medicinal Herbs in the Wild, where I met a dear friend, and fell more in love with herbs, and Colorado.

Towards the end of this year, my own health started to take a turn. What first started out as acid reflux, has turned into breathing issues that have persisted for about a month now. The shadow part of me isolated even farther, less willing to do things like see friends, run errands, or get motivation for the things I needed to complete. However, it also brought me closer to spirit, and to myself.

My year card was Strength, and I feel that after this year (I haven’t even mentioned the social injustices and headlines that have impacted and changed me), I have a better appreciation for that card. I also have had to take some time and reconcile with myself the fact that I have had to put myself on ice in regards to my business. I have had bitter moments where I have feel like I’m hitting a wall. I have had moments where it seems like I have been wasting my time. I had had moments where it has felt like no matter what I do for my business, it wasn’t good enough.

(If you would like to know your year card is, add up your birth month and day with the current year. If yours equals something like this (29), you would then add those two together, which equals 11. In the Wild Unknown deck, which is the one I use most often, the 11th card is Strength.)

It was like constantly hitting a wall. It took me a while to realize that I was the wall. My ego was needing certain boxes checked off to feel validated. My spirit just wants to express the tarot, and other modalities, with passion and authenticity. Going forward, I have recognized where I was placing expectations on the outside world, but I really need boundaries with myself. I also needed new projects.

So, come next year I am going to start a podcast. This is something that I am really excited for, and I have been toying with the idea for a while now. I am ready to try something new. I am also going to start putting up physical products, expanding my services, and establishing my platform a little bit more. I was not giving myself was the belief that I deserved a thriving business. I was not allowing myself to feel the confidence needed to thrive. That stops now. It is not welcome in 2020.

If you are feeling overdrawn, overburdened, or anything that does not register with your higher being, I ask to you to see where your beliefs or confidence or compassion for yourself is at. I am not saying that I found the formula for growth. That is a process that I look forward to learning more about as I discover more about myself. I simply ask you to confront and face. You can do it. You are strong. You are worthy. You are gorgeous. If you would like to go deeper into some energy, we can work together, and use the tarot to unleash some needed energy. Next post will be about the deck forecast for 2020.

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My Spread Pricing and Why I Don’t Charge Per Hour

I wanted to do and write something a little bit differently today. More specifically, my intention is to show a little bit of my process behind certain aspects of my business. Many, if not most, tarot readers charge based on time spent for the reading. There is nothing wrong with this, but I personally have never liked to charge that way. A big reason why is because of my first reading as the client, not the reader.

I like to charge based on number of cards pulled as opposed to a set price per hour. Time can be a good factor to set the value, but I don’t personally like to be controlled by a timely starting and stopping point.

I went to see a tarot reader long before I knew how to read tarot. To be fair, I had not done my research into the type or reading, or reader, I wanted. I simply had some cash and showed up at a store in Denver. I also had not taken the time to consider what I wanted, and more importantly needed, from my reading. What was the underlying purpose? What would I do with the information given to me? How could I be vulnerable and hear both the good and bad the cards may bring forth? I asked myself none of these question. (I would like to spend a whole post on the etiquette between reader and client, but I digress….)

So I show up at a store, cash in hand, ready for my reading. I asked if anyone was available to read for me. A woman was, and although I do not expect or want an overly fluffy or lovey-dovey reader (that is not my style), this woman was cold and not very friendly. We went to a section of the store, that was separated by nothing more than a divider. This made my walls go up. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted or needed from my reader, but I knew I didn’t want every customer walking by to overhear what I considered, and still do, a sacred conversation.

I told her a little bit about what was going on with me, and she started to pull the cards. And she kept pulling… and pulling…. and pulling. She must have pulled over thirty cards from her deck. I say this not because I question or despise the way another reader works with her cards. (I also want to make it clear that many, if not most readers do not read this way. They are inviting, informative, and value the shared energetic experience.) I did not feel like this reader valued my presence. I say this because the majority of the reading was spent shuffling and looking and shuffling and looking. I could not tell you a single card that was pulled because she didn’t talk very much. The last five minutes of a fifteen-minute reading was spent with her asking a few more questions, and then giving some small suggestions, and that was it.

Those fifteen minutes cost me $20.00, and although I recognize that is not the most expensive reading ever, it was still a lot for me at that time financially. I left feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, and more confused than before. I would have preferred it if she had pulled one card for me and had deeply gone into the meaning of that card, and how it could relate to me and my situation. As a reader, I don’t not believe more is more when it comes to number of cards. As a client, I know it’s not. A couple of years later, when I started developing my website, writing spreads, and determining my prices, I knew that I didn’t want to make anyone as my blessed client feel like they had been overcharged and under-served.

My pricing starts at $10.00 for one card, and goes up in $5.00 increments for each additional card.

But, I wrestled with the way to price my services and my spreads. What was fair to the clients, but still honored and valued the heart and soul I put into my work? I finally decided that I wanted to charge based on cards that I pulled. This means that my one-card readings (still thorough and written with love) are not charged the same way that my five-card reading does. Here are some of the main reasons I decided to charge this way (I feel the need to preface here that this is what works for me and the way I operate as a tarot reader. I am not saying that others who price or charge differently than me are doing it wrong. Different strokes for different folks):

1.) I don’t like being rushed for / by time and numbers: By removing the constraint of time, I personally feel more free to spend as much time as needed going into the messages that I download from each card. By removing the layer of time from my readings, I feel less confined by time.

2.) Discussing the cards from intuition: I could take one hour to discuss one card if my intuition keeps downloading meaningful content. I could take less time with more cards. With no time limit, I feel able to discuss each download clearly and without rush.

3.) Gives you financial options: Because my spreads are based upon the amount of cards I pull, I have many different spread options available on my website. You can choose the spread that works for you and for your budget. As mentioned, I have been in the place where $20.00 was my grocery limit for the week. I believe tarot is medicine, but I also believe it shouldn’t put you in the red. No matter the spread you choose, you will get my soulful intention to provide the best tarot reading I can.

4.) Telecommute makes time commitment harder: Because I do readings exclusively out of my home right now, time commitment to readings is not so black and white. Often, during a reading I pull the cards, write down initial notes by hand, and then take some time (outside, in meditation, or by journaling) to really let my intuition start downloading. It doesn’t always get channeled so immediately. So, I don’t have to start a timer or take note when I started or stopped. This again makes me feel less pressured by time, and more able to just read the cards and write.

5.) Quality over quantity: More cards does not mean a better reading. More time does not mean a better reading. Say it with me: more does not mean better. As I said in my story above, I would have preferred a $20.00 with only one or two cards, as opposed to a reading that had half the deck, and little to no detailed insight from particular cards. One card can really anchor you into clarification, or speak to your needed questions. Throwing down card after card after card may not always provide the most insight.

No matter as a reader, or a client, the main focus is in the value of each energetic experience. If you do not see what you want or need on my website, reach out to me. My prices are set by the cards I pull, but we can collaborate to create something of utility that honors both energy and budgets.
Photo by Ikhsan Sugiarto from Pexels

Hopefully, this provides some clarity to the way my pricing is set on my website. If you have any questions, or if you have a certain price point but don’t see a spread that fully covers your needs, no worries, shoot me an email at teaandtombstones@gmail.com and we can get a spread that fits your price point and your needs. Thanks for reading. Much love to you!

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The Law of Creation

Law 2: The Law of Creation

The second karmic law is the Law of Creation. This law states that life does not merely happen by chance or coincidence. Life is formed in the forges of ourselves; we are the creators. This means that as creators for our own lives, it is imperative that we hold to our truth, and honor that which makes each of us who we are. If you hide your truth or refuse to be an active participant in the daily makings of your own life, it can be of no surprise then, when your life does not hold the glittering riches of what you value.

One of the things that is important to be an active creator of your life, is to be present and aware of what is around you. Why? Because what is around you can be a direct message about your internal self. If your external world, and the way it moves and flows daily is peaceful (for the most part), inclusive (of yourself and others), creative (sacred expression), your internal self probably feels secure and sound. If your external world moves and flows daily from a place of fear, anger, or isolation, your internal world probably feels like a struggle or energy drain.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels

The Law of Creation, with each person as the creator, means that if your world and external self are not in alignment with your higher potential, your internal self is most likely out of alignment with your truth. When or if this happens, look to what is within you that needs to be present and seen. Look to what your truth is, and that which you seek. If you look for answers and solutions outside yourself, your internal self is constantly left to adapt to themes, ideas, and situations that are not in alignment with your core.

5 of Pentacles from the Ostara Tarot

I think this sentiment applies nicely to the 5 of Pentacles, the tarot card of the month. This image shows a girl standing outside of a cathedral, and she is clearly destitute at the moment. Her wrap is in rags, her skin is exposed, and the night is bleak and snowy. With her is a snake, wrapped around her closely. Together they attempt to move and protect themselves from the elements. What she does not realize is that right next to her, shining through the cathedral window, is a stained-glass portrait of a snake wrapped around a tree of five pentacles.

If she would just turn and look at the light shining and the portrait on the stained-glass window, she would realize that she is where she needs to be to heal and be whole again. She would realize she is welcome beyond the doors of her current situation. Only she can make the choice to look and see that world is giving her an opportunity to regroup and grow through her personal truth. She is being given an opportunity by the universe to seek that which is seeking her, and to be part of the oneness of life.

The Law of Creation, since it applies to each person, means that you connecting to your life, forged from your own daily creation, means that when you meet another person, animal, or personified spirit, you are connecting to the oneness of the universe. Your life creation is a creation of energy. This energy is elevated through choice to be part of the wholesome universe as one energetic force.

There are certain things that are obvious outliers for the Law of Creation (in my humble opinion). Freak accidents happen. Bad things happen to good people. Life is often a painful experience. What is not an outlier that you, and each person, create your life through your choices, actions, relationships, intentions, spirit, and so much more. When looking to use the Law of Creation to connect more deeply to the oneness of yourself and beyond, look to the current energy within and around you. Ask yourself if you are happy. Ask yourself if you are okay. Ask the universe to help reveal the opportunity you need to grow, and then look up and choose…….

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Breakdown of the 12 Karmic Laws – The Great Law, The Law of Cause and Effect

We all know about the understood universal energy of Karma, even making memes and jokes that Karma is a bigger bitch than any of us ever could be (and there may be some actual truth to that statement). I have been thinking a lot about karma ever since the beginning of August. The Phoenix reversed is sending a message that it is time to really look at the karmic cycles we moving through, and the ones we are stagnant in. August is presenting an opportunity for each of us to really look at what in our actions, choices, or surroundings is holding us back from ascending on our hierarchical ladder of self.

The Phoenix is an invitation to provide for yourself and rise past Root Chakra

There are 12 Karmic Laws, and I want to devote a blog post to each of them. There is to much to say about each law for one post. So, we will start with the first law: The Great Law, also known as the Law of Cause and Effect. This is perhaps the most well-known law. This law basically means what is says. The energy you put out into the universe (including sub and unconscious energy) comes back to you.

Because of cause and effect, because the energy includes sub and unconscious energy, this law is often defined and perceived as a message of: if you are positive, positivity comes back you. If you are negative, negativity comes back to you. I respectfully disagree with this statement. Yes, there is something to be said about constantly looking at the world through a dark lens. There is something to be said about those people who constantly choose to exist in the darkness, and never wish to be honest about themselves so they can move into the light. We all know someone like this, and they are perpetuating a karmic cycle because they keep choosing a dark path, and then complain there is no light.

Where I take issue with this blanket statement of positive versus negative is 3-fold

1.) The Universe does not work or flow in only black or white: The Universe, the collective unconscious, Goddess and Gods do not exist in a state of either good or bad. There are layers of perception, action, emotion, and process. Sometimes the hardest things to do are scary to us. Sometimes the worst things for us, about us, are easy. Cause and Consequence is not a simple singularity that keeps a tally of every positive or negative aspect of ourselves. Cause and effect is more based in patterns, and a willingness to try and be courageous for change.

2.) It is impossible to be positive all the time: There is no way that we can have only good days, hold only good vibes. Why? Because that is not normal. If you can have a good day and have only good vibes during tragedy, that is not living and feeling into the dynamics of expression and emotion. Loss, death, heartbreak, rejection, insults, grief and more are going to bring out negativity, and that’s okay. It means you are human. The patterns come in how you handle it, and how you choose to let it define you.

3.) I believe it comes down to where this energy resides on your inner spectrum: Simply put, the life experience is going to move us on the spectrum with each day. It is going to move us further towards love, or further towards fear. I believe this is where the karmic cycle takes root. You can have a negative emotion, but still come from a place of love. You can keep perpetuating a smile to avoid having to deal with deep fear or sadness. In the end, I believe karma comes down to where the life experience consistently moves you on the spectrum.

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Know Your Limits: All About health

One of the biggest blessings in my life has been the blessing of health. I have been blessed with a healthy body and very few major health issues in my 31 years. For this I am incredibly grateful. The worst health issue I have had to deal with was a kidney stone. It was the worst pain of my life. Ever. What was worse was that I knew I needed medical attention, and I was alone. My family was on the other side of town, and I could not wait for them to get to me and then take me to the hospital.

So I drove my car to the nearest Urgent Care that took my insurance in Colorado rush hour traffic. I was in so much pain that I wasn’t sure if I would pass out. I called Grizzly and asked him to just stay on the phone with me. I would tell him the exits I passed so he knew where I was on the road at all times. It was so bad that I almost pulled over and called an ambulance. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I cannot afford that kind of car ride. I knew if I did call an ambulance I would be looking at an immediate price in the thousands of dollars. I did not have that kind of money, so I drove on.

Other than that horrifying incident, my health has been quite good, which admittedly is something I take for granted. Other than slight allergies or the common cold, the last few years have been incredibly good to me. Even my healing process from getting my wisdom teeth out at the late age of 31 went so well that I was barely swollen, the holes closed quickly, and I wasn’t ever really in bad pain.

However, the last week has been a recall on all that bright, healthy energy that I have taken for granted day after day. It first started with chest pain, nothing major but enough to feel it. I assumed that it was due to poor posture (I slouch a lot. I also hug my shoulders close to my neck a lot, something I didn’t realize I did until I started following Adriene Mishler’s yoga videos on Youtube). I kept going with my lifestyle, living off of hummus and snap peas, yogurt and granola, finding time to cook a few meals during the week. I wasn’t drinking enough water, and stress in many areas of my life has been higher lately.

The pain consisted, but I ignored it. I assumed that my body would take care of it, let me recover without taking any part in the healing process. The pain slowly morphed into a lump in my throat (like when you swallow a pill that doesn’t immediately go down). I kept swallowing and swallowing to see if something was stuck, but the annoying feeling persisted for so long that I knew it wasn’t food or a pill. There was now tightness in the chest, a lump in my throat, and then the worst of it came…..

Yesterday I was sitting at home with Grizzly, looking forward to a slow day of movies and nachos. I was ready to do nothing but relax and enjoy my lazy, Sunday haze. In the late afternoon, I was silently screaming in my body. I was so annoyed and anxious about my health that my body was tensing. I felt jittery and unable to sit still. Worse still, I started to slowly feel like I was losing my breath. I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs, and when I focused on my breathing I kept feeling the grasping strain of trying to get more air in. I ended up calling my mom who had earlier in my life dealt with some similar things. Everything sounded similar to her situation: acid reflux and heartburn.

I did not know that heartburn could feel as serious as it did, and still does. I was almost in shock. Dragging myself up and into pants, Grizzly drove us to the store so I could buy some medication. The whole time I just tried to quiet my mind, but it wasn’t helping and I was starting to get scared. With the medicine purchased, on the way home I was trying again to just calm the fuck down. In my attempts I also broke down in tears. I started quietly apologizing to my body, apologizing for almost a whole lifetime of not taking the adequate time to put better and healthier habits in place. I apologized for making my body carry years of stress. I apologized that I always just assumed that my body would heal me. Now I needed to heal my body.

Today is a better day. I woke up feeling like air was in me. The lump was still there, but I took the OTC medication and started doing some yoga. I have an appointment to see someone for a follow-up, and I started to meal plan healthier meals. What I told myself today while I sat in the shower was that I embrace this path, and my limits. I cannot keep acting like my health is something I can ignore because it has been so good. I cannot keep interrupting symptoms in my body to keep to my daily routines. I need to release an old Ashlie, one that was unwilling to focus on the body and afraid to handle the needs of the body. I am choosing to learn from this experience.

One of the first things I learned was that after my breathing got under control, I almost felt silly for being so afraid. I felt silly, like I had been overly dramatic. I couldn’t believe what I was saying to myself. I was telling myself that I was silly for getting so anxious over the feeling of NOT BEING ABLE TO BREATHE! When did I become so harsh towards myself? When I tell my body to shut up and never have a problem, and if it does then I am stupid for following along? The Daughter of Pentacles is double-earth and all about the body and the sense. The Bat reversed is all about releasing to begin again. I had been ignoring some of these messages within my body for a while, but I cannot avoid them any longer. This process is not really about healing some acid reflux, although I would love for that to go away. More than anything, this is a healing process of learning my limits, and letting my body be loved, completely and with attentive intention.

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Honest analysis of the first 12 days of July

July has been crazy from the get-go, and it hasn’t let up. In fact, it feels like it is growing stronger in its tumultuous ways. I cannot tell if it is Mercury Retrograde, the monthly cards, or the fact that it is just July, but this month is starting to feel crowded and cramped with all that energy spiraling in all directions. After writing my monthly ezine, I tried to really contemplate the cards message, decipher what was keeping my stagnant in my current space. I did not have to wait long for an answer…..

Within these fluttering 12 days, I have tried to power on and keep it business as usual. That is where I started to overdraw my energetic savings, depleting me of my ethereal riches. To start with some things a little less serious, I have tried to keep my business output the same, despite the fact that I work from home, and my home is currently an active construction site. The constant noise of whirring power tools, hammers banging their heads, and people shouting has left me short-tempered and exhausted, actually.

I finally had to throw in the towel and wait a few days for the crews to move to the other side of the complex before I could start my creations again. I do not write this with the presumption that this is a unique or extraordinary situation. It isn’t. Because of that fact, I couldn’t help but wonder why I felt so rushed, like I was failure because I couldn’t power through the circumstance.

This toxic mindset made me feel even worse, heightening already heightened energy. Some of this energy came from other, deeper sources too. One of my cats has been dealing with some health issues with no clear cause (despite some serious and expensive tests). Each trip to the vet, each dose of medication, made me feel more depleted. I didn’t know what to do, or sometimes how to handle this experience. All I knew was that I would do everything I could, and some days that didn’t feel like enough. Again, heightened energy left me feeling depleted and unable to honestly handle many things. Top that off with a flat tire this (thankfully discovered while at home), and these first 12 days have been a mountain.

But this is not a blog post meant to harbor resentment or throw a pity party. Some wonderful things have happened too. My cat is doing much better now. I decided to get fully back on board with yoga, opting to do my routine through youtube videos (Yoga with Adriene is amazing by the way) to save money, and I have been feeling great. I have also started baking more again, and eating better. I have also noticed that my energy has either been incredibly high or low and lazy. When I am feeling that brightness in myself, I have been working to declutter and reorganize my home.

I am also being more cognizant of how much news I take in. It is important to be mindful of what is going on in the world (when babies are being held captive, we cannot turn away from the truth), but it is also important to keep the head up, the eyes forward, and the heart open. Sometimes stepping away may feel privileged (and it completely is), but is necessary to breathe and not overwhelm the heart with such repulsive news.

So there have been many wonderful things coming from this heightened energy. But all of it made me wonder, why I am judging myself so harshly in moments, and then loving myself fiercely in other moments. Coming back to the Daughter of Pentacles and the Bat reversed (for the full description of the monthly cards, head over to my free offerings for the July ezine), I realized the first thing I have to release is judgement. There are times where I need to let myself stoop into laziness or frustration. Not the most pleasant of feelings, but it has a lot to teach. We cannot exceed our limits, although it is almost ingrained in us to just go, go, go. By taking a step back and letting myself feel a little triggered, I recognize that my sensitivity is proof of my existence. It is part of the spiral of life that I wouldn’t trade for anything, even in these times.

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Working on the world, your visions, and yourself

Top (left to right): 3 of Swords, 3 of Pentacles, 3 of Cups. Bottom: 3 of Wands

The 3 of Wands is all about stepping into your present to forge your future. This means that you need to merge yourself with the larger energies also present. It is fair to say this is not an easy task when in creation. It can be easy to look on others both close to you or distant and see where their lives have stacked up in a way yours might not have yet. This is something that we often see talked about with social media. We should remind ourselves that what we see is a highlight reel, and not always demonstrative of someone else’s life as whole.

While this is a great point to make, it can be hard to times to remind ourselves of that when we are feeling buried under the weight of what we think must or should do to improve our lives, and the world. In order to engage with the world, work on the world, make a mark on the world, we must also engage with ourselves, work on ourselves, make a mark on ourselves.

For this reason, I think it is important to be reminded of the fact that in the traditional Rider-Waite Smith deck (and even here in my deck: the Ostara Tarot), the 3 of Wands is the only three to show a solitary figure. The 3 of Swords shows no figure, just a heart pierced through and through (worthy of its own post). This correlation shows that the 3 of Wands is often an isolated undertaking. The figure goes from the looking out of his balcony, to being in the action, adorned with a new vision, a new wand, new clothing, and a new headpiece.

So, what does this all mean? I think it means that when it comes to engaging your visions, making your mark on the world, and finding yourself in the process you have to remove the noise from others. That does not necessarily mean that you cannot heed any advice from someone you trust, nor does it mean you cannot ask for help when needed. What it does mean though is that at the end of the day, you have to rely on yourself and your skills. You have to be willing to trust in yourself, and when needed, to remove yourself from the constant chatter of society at large. The dialog with and from others is extremely important, but if it leaves us doubting and questioning the work that we do, it can lead to becoming a very toxic conversation.

Because the 3 of Wands is the card of the month, seek to deepen your own understandings of what is workable and do-able for you and your place in the world by creating some intentional silence. Work on what it is you want to see happen and remove your eyes from the google page to see if it has been done before, unless you looking to research, check facts, or give credit where credit is due. Work on your visions by acting as if you are in a relationship with them, because you are. Give them time to develop into something wonderful, or something no longer worth the effort. Trust that your needs can fit in there without too much force, and when needed your basic needs must come first from time to time. Work on the world by letting that silence be an invitation to listen to what the world needs. Let the work for the world be a resounding drum that comes from your own beating heart. At the end of the day, you and only you, can create your visions into something tangible and external. Only you can create that which you seek.