Gratitude, COM|PASSion + Community Trauma

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Some of us are holders and keepers. We feel deeply with the entirety of our beings and take on heart work like it’s an extreme sport.

Some of us are also particularly well suited for trauma because we have been trained by the unforgiving hands of socialization, marginalization and discrimination. We see it everywhere. Sometimes it feels that it is trauma that connects us. Everything in the world tells us that this… this… THIS is our storyline. Get used to it.

There’s no space for anything but this.

Don’t believe it.

Have gratitude today, dear friends, don’t step away from compassion even

“if the only thing we have to gain in staying is each other,

my god that’s plenty

my god that’s enough.”

Don’t stop talking, posting, giving hugs, sharing tears, listening with open hearts. Appease the lump in your throat, the tension at your neck and the grinding of your jaw. Speak forth through the heavy fog of silence and fear and ignorance but don’t get lost in it.

Take time to breathe and nurture and have gratitude for the spark of awareness rising up around us. Know that “the wound is an echo.” It is reverberating through our communities.

Lick your wounds. You can’t make it better, tell someone it’s better, or hope it better right this moment.

“Just say here we are together at the window aching for it to all get better but knowing as bad as it hurts our hearts may have only just skinned their knees knowing there is a chance the worst day might still be coming-

Let me say right now for the record, I’m still gonna be here asking this world to dance, even if it keeps stepping on my holy feet.

You- you stay here with me, okay?

You stay here with me.

Raising your bite against the bitter dark

Your bright longing

Your brilliant fists of loss

Friend.”

Take heart. Make space. Have gratitude that these things that have made us particularly suited to be holders and keepers also forge our spirits in a way that make us particularly suited to wield compassion in the face of our oppressor. Use your strengths. Believe in your superpower. Take your cape. Hold tight to…

“The ripchord of believing.

A life can be rich like the soil.

Can make food of decay.

Can turn wound into highway.”

In solidarity and offering,

COM|PASSionate REVOLT

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Compassion and healing can’t be separated from the source of the wounds. You can read Autostraddle’s list of articles and action tips on “How You Can Show Up for Ferguson” here. To read Andrea Gibson’s poem “The Nutritionist” in it’s entirety you can visit this dedicated blog space or learn more about  Andrea Gibson on their official website here.

 

Kingfisher Lessons

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Last week, we took a first look at the 4 Directions spread, one of my favorite and most used spreads. Next week, we’ll take a second look and deepen that conversation. I meant to do so this week, but so many other things have been coming up that it feels appropriate to take a pause and draw a card instead. There’s a lot of rough news out there today. The holidaze is upon us. Let’s just do a little draw to support us keeping our heads and taking good care of ourselves and each other.

King of Arrows from The Wildwood Tarot deck
King of Arrows from The Wildwood Tarot deck

The King of Arrows watches from his perch, and moves with rainbow clarity of mind and purpose ​into the water, under the water, catching his prey and returning to his perch.

​Kingfisher asks us to consider: How do I move between airy and watery realms? What can I learn from this figure about purposefully bringing the sharp discernment of my intellect into play with my emotions?

This could look like maintaining one’s calm and reason when someone is blasting you with their emotion. ​

​ This could look like a mindfulness practice, creating little rituals or moments of witnessing from your perch, from within your busy day, and honing your focus.

This could look like remembering to take a break from all the feelings, pausing to take deep breaths, consider what you need in this very moment, having a snack, and using whatever support systems you have in place, before diving back into the depths.

​This could look like initiating a dreamwork practice, beginning to write down patches of remembered adventures as you break the surface of sleep, bringing something back with you as you come into your waking mind for the day.

How does your mentality support your emotionality? What tools or tricks do you lean on when you need a little more Air in your Water World?

Whatever they are, use them well this week –

Kaeti

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

What’s In My Kitchen Cabinet

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In this episode of Quick Healing Tips With Ashley, Ashley shares information about some products in your kitchen cabinet that you can also use for natural healing DIY self-care.

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Ashley is a healing seeker, adventurer, provider and sharer. She offers healing services through her practice http://www.holistichealinghelpers.com and is working towards creating a mind body healing site in Honolulu, Hawaii.

 

COM|PASSionate Inspiration: The Wound

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There’s a lesser known Hindu Goddess I stumbled upon as I traipsed across the interwebs…

She’s the Goddess Akhilandeshvari, The Goddess of Never Not Broken.

I don’t claim her or own her- her image has not been something I’ve grown up with and yet whenever she graces my presence I have the innate knowledge that I have always known her. We haven’t spent a lot of time together but the time we’ve spent has been intimate and awe inspiring. She’s seen me at my most challenged, even when it was so dark no human eyes could make out shapes or lessons. From a deep pit with seemingly no way out she peaked over the ledge as I crawled and clawed my way up the sides, thirsty, dirty and bleeding with desperation and hopelessnes creating a lump in my throat  and wells at the corners of my eyes.

She didn’t offer me a hand.

I fell back a few times tumbling to the bottom- more scratches, more bruises, bones broken, muscles torn. I learned in the dark where my body met the landscape. Aches and pains screamed out to me from places of myself I hadn’t talked to for a great long while- the loudest most blood curdling screams came from places so hidden, off the beaten path, and without directions that I had managed to erase their existence altogether until that moment when I felt them rip open.

I struggled and my wounds spread. As my wounds spread light poured in- illuminating images of tears, and sighs, and traumas, and stories, strength and weakness, vulnerability and power. Flickering images connected one after another creating resplendent backlit stories where I was antagonist and protagonist, observer and observed, nothingness and universe. As my light grew so did hers, reflections of reflections, lifting me out of the pit which was suddenly full of pathways made visible and easily traversed.

As my wounds sealed over she faded into the distance but there remained a phosphorescent glow emanating from the path I had taken. As I looked behind me I saw the long trail of my story, lamplights hung where I needed them most.

You might not know her as Akhilandeshvari.

You might know her as Heartbreak, Grief, Suffering, Loss, The Tower or DISASTER.

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She remains NEVER NOT BROKEN to remind us that “The wound is the place where the light enters you {RUMI}.”

Take this darkness REVOLUTIONARIES, take these hardships, these marginalities, these struggles and most importantly these WOUNDS because (as the Collective Tarot Reminds us):

“Do not be afraid. Do not get stuck in Oppression. Coping. Trying not to change. You cannot control the disaster. The change is inevitable. It is our nature to preserve ourselves. Our dreams. Do not be afraid. The Star awaits.”

In Broken-ness,

COM|PASSionate REVOLT

A little dreamwork primer

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Ahoy dreamers!

Sometimes, waking up from dreams leaves you feeling a little like a kid who’s stumbled into a magical forest. Mouth hanging open in wonder and surprise. Or leaning in, but stunned and skeptical. Not sure what to do next. But certain you’re dressed for just such an occasion, and ready to wander around…

Forest Children

So for this week’s Dreamboat, I’m excited to share with y’all a little dreamwork primer.

Download the pdf, make a cup of tea, and enjoy!

Cheers,

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

Quick Healing Tips with Ashley: Mindful Activities and Vibrations

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COM|PASSionate REVOLT is excited to introduce a new video blog in collaboration with Holistic Healing Helpers. Ashley will be sharing quick accessible healing tips with the COM|PASSionate REVOLT community. We would love to hear any tips that you have! Send us a message to get involved in the healing dialogue!

View Ashley discussing the power of mindful activities and vibrations below:

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Ashley is a healing seeker, adventurer, provider and sharer. She offers healing services through her practice http://www.holistichealinghelpers.com and is working towards creating a mind body healing site in Honolulu, Hawaii.

4 Directions Spread: Cosmic Snapshot Part 1

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Happy Tuesday y’all – did you know we welcome submissions to Tarot Tuesday?

A reader wrote in, “I don’t really know how to interpret a directional spread,” but she’s playing with it – and she included a photo of a beautiful full moon spread she did while camping in the Cascadian forests.

4 Direction spreads have been my bread and butter for years – I love their flexibility and use them way more than the other common small spread, PPF or “past, present, future.”

(PS, “Spread” is what us tarot folk call the particular design guiding the cards’ layout after you draw them. It’s like laying out a feast. What a spread!)

Here’s what I love about the 4 Direction spread: It creates a little cosmos, giving you lots of room to explore aspects of relationships. That little cosmos is both circular and linear. Take a look:

Reader-Submitted "4 Directions Spread," using the Marseilles Tarot deck
Reader-Submitted “4 Directions Spread,” using the Marseilles Tarot deck

You see the circle clearly – the wheel created as your attention moves around the perimeter of the spread. It moves in both directions.

The linear is in the axes it sets up – I find myself using the word “axis” a lot when I read cards. These are the axles, the load-bearing places of support between cards: they give strength, seal connection, channel energy, and create oppositional movement.

Taken together, the two form an ancient and deeply archetypal symbol that has as many interpretations as we could throw at it, and then some.

The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.
The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.

Sometimes I’ll put a card in the center: a hub. This spread doesn’t have one. That’s okay. That’s part of the flexibility of this spread, and I often don’t include a central card when I’m just asking for a general picture of things (cosmic snapshot). Or, I’ll do the spread and then pull a card for the center about how to deal with all the lessons the outer cards have presented. To ground me as I move back into the mundane world. Anyway, this spread clearly has some beautiful ritual & magic going on in the center and that will have its own power in this reading for Our Dear Reader.

Some positions have more than one card: that’s cool too. Sometimes you need a little extra for certain positions – you have a question, it sparks another question, or you just don’t know what to do with the first card (the wtf factor). I am a big fan of just drawing another clarification card, even if you’re not sure why yet.

Another thing I love about this spread is that it is deeply orienting. Imagine me, or you, the querent, or the issue in the center – and then the spread encourages us to ground into that center, and then to take a minute to look in each direction, and then to really be with what’s there. Before I start playing with axes, I go around the circle and be with the card/s in each position. It has the effect of making a place, giving some ground from which to consider whatever the issue is, and understanding that issue not as a thing but as an ecosystem.

One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics :)
One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics 🙂

Part of sitting with each direction will include bringing your associations and meanings for each direction to bear on that image. This kind of practice (associations with directions) shows up in a lot of cultures, and we tend to take it for granted (especially in pagan communities) as something that belongs to us, just something we do. One of the places it comes from is Medicine Wheel, which belongs very specifically to various indigenous American tribal traditions. This is not something we can just take wholesale and plop into: East means this, West means this, according to the Great Indian Shaman, case closed. Especially for those of us practicing on this land, I feel very strongly that awareness of this history and our capacity to participate in its legacy of violence via cultural appropriation is a part of right relationship. Many Western pagan traditions do have their own sets of directional correspondence: great – use what works for you. But if you’re copying lists of meanings from (books about) indigenous cultures to whom you do not belong and with whom you have no relationship outside of your consumption of them, this paragraph is especially for you.

And so this is not to say we can’t practice directional spreads, or some form of Medicine Wheel meditation. It is to remember the importance of doing our own work, and to remember that personal spiritual practices are part of the web of collective life and history. To remember that the 4 directions are not lists of meanings but experiences of aspects of the ecosystem we live in.

That said, you probably have a blend of associations and meanings that belong to the different directions for you – a mix of personal experiences, things you’ve read, practices you’ve studied, and sheer intuition. I can’t encourage you enough to start practicing bringing your awareness to the different directions, and thus building your own library of associations to those directions for you. Maybe you regularly encounter a certain animal, or color, or goddess, or feeling when attuning to a direction: these are associations full of potential exploration.

Our dear reader, chillin' in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East <3
Our Dear Reader, chillin’ in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East ❤

Bringing them to bear on a spread might look like: “The East is where the sun rises, a place of light and hope and restoration and newness. I associate it with qualities of Air, and stillness, thoughtful practice, and a refreshed heart. How might the Page of Wands embody those qualities, or what would she have to say about them?” Look how, in the actual spread, she even faces the East, and perhaps the coming dawn. I might close my eyes and connect with the East, visualize a landscape or setting there, and then allow the Page of Wands to wander on stage. What happens next?

Or: “The West is where the sun sets – where the darkness grows, the home of night, the gateway to dreams. I associate it with qualities of Water, especially ocean, because I live on the west coast; also I link it with change, and moving between worlds.” Look at how, in the spread itself, the two queens in the West regard each other; what kind of tone does their interaction have for you? How might this go down in the wild West I described? What kinds of power are at play?

Then, I might think about the axis. This horizontal axis I often associate with time. The West may reflect what is passing away from the present, where the sun is setting, what has come before – while the East reflects what is on the horizon.

It may also reflect different choices or influences: on the one hand, on the other, a kind of weighing. It may speak to fears (the growing darkness of West) and hopes (the rising sun of East). It may talk about where your emotions are at (the Watery West) vs. what your head is doing (the Airy East). Western Moon speaks with Eastern Sun?

You can see how deep a spread like this can go. And we haven’t even really gotten into more magical directional correspondances, or specific meanings of cards outside our immediate reactions to them. We haven’t even touched the cards of the vertical axis, or gone around the wheel. I’m telling you, 4 positions + your central attention is all you need to explore your mini cosmos, to get a snapshot of your psychic ecosystem.

Another "4 Directions" spread, using The Collective Tarot deck - and another way to trace relationships in a reading!
Another “4 Directions” spread, using The Collective Tarot deck – and another way to trace relationships in a reading!

Clearly we could go on (and on) with this one, but that’s about all the time and space we have for today. Next week we will look at the vertical axis, and dig a little deeper into this particular spread. I hope this little intro has sparked some ideas and excitement about using this spread for you though! I know Our Dear Reader who submitted this lovely query would enjoy any of your thoughts, for anyone who wants to jump into the comments and practice interpreting, or share their 4 directions stories. I encourage you to send in other questions, spreads, or ideas for us to play with too!

Be well!

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

COM|PASSionate Inspiration: Good Animals

OhLord

You know that phrase “world weary traveler?”

Well, traveling this world can be a weary task. The world doesn’t always (read: very rarely) makes space for the way we would like to travel: intentionally, safely, vulnerably, with open (and often wounded) hearts and minds.

On days when life is demanding and busy and not setup for your heart to do it’s greatest healing work we invite you to be gentle with yourself, good animals. Take breaks and deep breaths. Remember that REVOLUTION can be accessed through PASSIONATE COMPASSION for yourself and others.

Look into the eyes of the animals you pass in your travels– the ones you love and interact with, the ones who challenge you, the ones that may not see “goodness” in themselves and even the ones that pass swiftly through your peripheral vision. Send them love and light and wish for them nothing more/less than what we wish for you dear community,

“to be a good animal today.”

With pure good animal love,

COM|PASSionate REVOLT

Bibliotherapy: Welcome to the Jungle

Hilary Smith’s book Welcome to the Jungle starts with the buy in, “Everything you ever wanted to know about bipolar but were too freaked out to ask!” and ends with a metaphor about finding your “own unique strategy, philosophy, and game wisdom” for making it through the ever rule/round changing video game of life. Final closing statement: “Live large. Think big. Go for walks.” A statement that the previous reader of the copy I just finished reading noted in the margins as “Sound advice.”

I’d agree.

Smith’s book is part rant, part reference and part how to but it is all supportive, non-judgmental and non-pathologizing. WIN. Plus, it takes you through a pretty expansive journey: from starting to notice (or having others notice) that you might be in need of a little extra support, to navigating diagnoses, disclosure to partners, figuring out what treatments are the best for you and, once finding the rhythm of life that best supports you, how to interact with aid/organizations/institutions/doctors/insurance in a way that can keep you in that positive rhythm cycle. DOUBLE PLUS, there’s a chapter entitled: “Hippie shit that actually works: Herbs, wilderness time, and other ways to help you keep your shit together.”

You had me at “Hippie shit.”

The one caveat to my overwhelming thumbs up is that it did seem a little biased to the side that medication will likely always be part of the life story of someone living with bipolar. I think in many cases this is true and also the overwhelming belief of most folks living or working with the challenge of bipolar. Even here, Smith is very clear that every journey is different. I would just echo this… loudly. Smith also offers some ways to explore how to set up safety when figuring out if medication needs to be part of your journey. This exploration (not whether or not one takes medication) is really what’s important to me. I think consciousness and honoring around our internal meter for what is right for our bodies, hearts and spirits is an invaluable part of any healing adventure. I’m also open to the explanation of the light nature of these asides being more about Smith’s casual, accessible and very humorous tone than any pro-med rhetoric.

All in all I would highly recommend this book for anyone living with bipolar, loving someone with bipolar, working with folks who are working with their bipolar or really anyone that wants to feel less crazy in this sometimes crazy world. With the holidays looming ahead I can’t help but appreciate the way that Smith sets up bipolar like the awkward, inevitable, bio-family get together. Meeting your bipolar head on (with self-care measures in place to help you stay calm in the chaos and a surefire exit strategy for when shit really hits the fan) allows you to see it for what it is, gain insight about who you are, where you came from, what you like and what serves as a reflection for things you want to look different in your unique journey.

Happy reading! You can also listen to a podcast interview with Smith here (we haven’t yet but are putting it on our roadtrip listening list) or visit Smith’s website here.

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Traci is a fan of useful reflections as healing tools whether they be therapy, film therapy, bibliotherapy, art therapy, the list goes on. She also appreciates a well placed expletive, especially when utilized in the accurate way that Smith uses them to describe the beautiful and ridiculous chaos of life.

That Tricky 7 of Swords

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I’ve used tarot for a lot of things over the years. And I know I’m excited to have some space to write about tarot and share some of those stories here. But I find myself wondering: how to start?

This is actually how I use tarot most these days. These are not my days of fancy spreads that take over the table, or deep extended esoteric study piling up across the living room floor. Moving through my day, in the flow of it, coming across a random question and doing a quick draw to address it – to shift the energy, to take a breath, to bring some playfulness and perspective in – this is the bones of my practice lately. The cards are like neighbors who drop in for a spot of tea and gossip, sharing their view from just around the corner. They have familiar personalities and penchants, but sometimes pop over in unexpected ways.

So, how to begin? What are we up to here with Tarot Tuesdays?

7 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith deck.
7 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith deck.

Oof! Talk about unexpected. This fellow is the neighbor who just shows up, at the back door, with odd timing and who you can’t quite say you like, and who can sometimes be quite demanding to deal with, yet who just as often brings such rare gifts, ideas, assistance or laughs that you’re glad he’s around – and glad when you seem to be on his good side, too.

I think of this card as how Trickster shows up in everyday life – particularly in our life of the mind, how we think. When your thoughts run crafty or cunning. When you need to get out of a spot. When a little sleight of hand goes a long way. When you see the flaw in the matrix, the gap in the armor, the way around the impasse. When you use reason and logic as tools, and can see the world beyond them, rather than being caught in their blinders. When you flirt with deceit. These are 7 of Swords moments.

I have heard this guy described not just as a trickster, but as a shape-shifter. In the RWS deck, he’s the only one with those fancy fur-trimmed cap-n-boots. Sneaking around on the outskirts of the camp, on the border between wild and civilized life, he’s in some other kind of relationship with The Animal. But also with the thinking mind – these are swords being put to some other use than battle. That outfit might also mark him as himself other, from another the tribe.

This speaks a lot to me about my relationship with tarot. It brings something in from the outside, another perspective, something that feels wild and other while at the same time familiar and thoughtful – which is always kind of a gamble, where you may not get what you’re looking for at all. We all have those experiences of drawing a card and going “WTF no, lemme pull another.” In fact, this touches how I believe tarot even “works:” by giving our usual daily-ego-minds a way to step aside and get in touch with the random – with chaos, synchronicity, and the wyrd. To practice not giving into that “wtf, no” but sitting with what’s on the other side of that reaction and listening for its perspective. Letting that perspective inform our own. Looking for reflections.

What an excellent place to begin – with this unexpected encounter with the tricky edges of ourselves and our usual campsites. And with the reminder to examine our thoughts once in a while, to sneak outside their usual flow and not be so ruled by what seems like the cold, hard steel of civilized logic. And a lovely anchor for our explorations here – let’s continue to expect the unexpected!

Cheers,

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.