Swords and Resolutions: A New Year’s Meditation

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I rung in 2015 this year with a small tarot party of old and new friends, all of us filling up my kitchen table with tea and sass and little charms and laughter, a few tears, and of course a gaggle of tarot decks. It was lovely and fun and super orienting – and a little surprising! It has me actually excited to talk about something that’s often spoken of in tones of dread, confusion, disappointment, or bewilderment.

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That’s right: let’s talk about Swords.

Or some aspects of them, anyway. I think talking about swords, despite their (rightful) reputation for pain, vulnerability, grief and distress, is an apt way to come into the new year. Because New Years generally has us doing a lot of swords-y activities from the quiet space after the holidaze and before 2015 gets into action:

Taking stock. Looking back and making some judgements about how things went. Taking accountability for our parts in all that. Looking forward and crafting visions of how we’d like things to go. Taking responsibility for nurturing those visions into reality. Setting goals. Breaking those goals down into pieces, making plans, committing to taking steps. Discerning and choosing. Dreaming and scheming.

RWS deck's dreamy Page of Swords
RWS deck’s dreamy Page of SwordsWS

The thing about swords – particularly the Ace, the quintessential sword that holds all the possibilities of swordiness – is that they cut both ways. And how we treat ourselves in going about these things is a great litmus test for how we are using sword energy. Do our resolutions hold us with their promise, inspire us, give us definition and motivation and evolve with us as we get into action? Or do our resolutions become another weapon that turns on us, another reason to cut ourselves down, punishing us when we slip or fail or don’t achieve something the way we hoped?

Swords talk about mentality – our thoughts, beliefs, fears, judgements, goals, unconscious scripts, critical thinking, ideas, inspiration, vision, discernment, communication, language – and our relationship to these things in ourselves and each other. They can also be about how these things interact with particularly intense and deep emotions – how they support or impede us in the thick of those feelings. Swords are tools, too, and they can be used in service to ourselves. I think it’s very common to feel at the mercy of one’s thoughts – whether they are oppressive one-liners that run on loop, or unconscious beliefs that continually undercut our ability to make change, or suffering that cuts so deep it feels impossible to think through and cuts us to pieces instead. Our relationship to these dynamics are very much connected to how we feel empowered to make the changes we want in our lives. Sometimes, it’s revolutionary just to remember that you can pick up the sword and use it to cut yourself out of such patterns, and to reflect on them instead of being pinned down by them.

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This lady is The Queen of facing even the most difficult reflections…

Take your deck and lay out the sword cards (or google up some images). Do any remind you of how you talk to yourself, how you react when things don’t go your way, how you treat yourself when you feel like you’re doing a bad job of something, or what happens when you try to make a change?

Swordsknight 8s-rws

Do any images remind you of tools you have, skills you’re learning, different perspectives available, helpful stances to practice? Is there anywhere in the images you feel a sense of balance, lightness, or empowerment?

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Thoth deck’s 2 of Swords & Mary El deck’s 5 of Swords

Can you give yourself permission to be with the Ace of Swords – and remember what it’s like to feel empowered and purposeful? Or know that things will change as the new year gets into gear, and you are capable of discerning and then making whatever adaptations are necessary, and this is not failure but its own kind of strength?

AceofSwordsWildUnknownEven the word resolution acknowledges that things change: resolution is re + solve – to loosen, free, figure out or cut apart again. Hidden in the word itself is the implication of swords at their cutting, discerning, liberating best. A resolution is not a bond, which one is punished for breaking. It is acknowledging that even when you think you know something’s form, it will dissolve into pieces and become something else again – which you can then examine, learn from, make new decisions about. It is knowing that there is more than one solution. It is realizing that judgement and accountability are processes in motion, with plenty of opportunities for taking responsibility in new ways.

I know I’ll keep checking in with the Ace of Swords this year as a reminder of all this, and of how my relationship with swords energy is of just service to me and my own vision. I offer this meditation to you in hopes it sparks some interesting thoughts and helpful ideas for you as well. Please share them in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the suit of swords and how you use its imagery.

And of course, cheers to your 2015!

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.

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The Light in the Dark

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Winter Solstice is this weekend, and has me thinking a lot about The Sun…

The Sun from The Gaian Tarot
The Sun from The Gaian Tarot

Here she is in her full glory – something we remember as we connect to her during this shortest, darkest time of the year. The light in the dark. The core of heat and vitality in the cold emptiness of space. The force of warmth and life-giving power that rests as deep in the earth as it does inside each of us. We celebrate our ability to endure, share, and honor what’s born anew. We surround ourselves with reminders of what sustains us and nourishes us in dark times – community, color, sweetness, spice, warmth, fire, food, drink, joy, solitude, cozy comfort, and more.

Here is one of my favorite meditations on Winter Solstice, with a little bit about tea and magic, from the lovely creatures of Worts and Cunning. My Winter Solstice tea this year includes St. Joan’s Wort for sun and light, Star Anise for stars and dreaming, Transylvanian Mountain Mint for calm, ease, and a reminder of the year’s magic adventures, Hawthorne Berries for heart and movement between worlds, Rose Hips for sacred heart and vitamin C, and locally gathered pink peppercorns for the flavors of home and a little peppery kick. Have fun brewing and charming your own holiday tea!

Some teatime magic from Worts and Cunning!

I am loving practices like candlelight yoga – basically candlelight anything. (Attended by music about the descent to and return from the Underworld no less!) Being with the quiet and the dark, tending the spark and seeing by its light. Holding the spark of whatever comes to me in these quiet moments as a seed, held and nurtured by the darkness as it germinates, waiting to bring new magic  into my life in the coming year.

What might you do to mark this time of honoring the light in the dark?

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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.

You missed out.

No, seriously, you missed out.

The Califia Collective Holiday Market was AMAZING!

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There was of course the lovely Dream Workshop by our COM|PASSionate REVOLUTIONARY, Kaeti Gugiu, the highly anticipated Elixir Bar + Potion Lab, lots of lovingly made and magically imbued goodies and most importantly community gathering!

Those who swung through were lovely, folks with lots of healing knowledge themselves, aromatherapy and plant medicine aficionados, those just entering wide eyed into the world of quirky holistic healers and medicine makers, serendipitous new connections  and even some unexpectedly familiar faces! We were quite busy heading up to the event (and even almost missed it by a day due to confused chaotic holiday scheduling on our end) but we’re so glad we did the hustle to get there! It was truly a testament to opening up to new connections, trusting and heading in with open hearts.

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Because… when you’re open to new connections, trust and head in with open hearts sometimes you come out well dressed, smelling delicious, warmed up from the inside and also vaguely sparkly from a fortuitous trade with a radical midwife who’s partner makes magical goodies like Unicorn Sparkle Balm!

Yup. You missed out. In fact I hesitated too long and missed out on the Dragon Balm! Life lesson: If someone, ANYONE, offers you a magical gathering and sparkly things in jars labeled after mythical creatures there’s no room for hesitation… I REPEAT, NO ROOM.

Lucky for you, though, dear reader, the magick women nurturing the collective, Kirsten + Alexis,  are continuing to busily create revolution in our local community with lots of new healing events!

Stay posted! We know we will! Check out links after the fold for holiday healing treats, services and revolutionaries!

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Traci is a patron of the lost art of mythical creature balm making, queer family building, community dreaming and naturally sweet smelling arm pits. She writes and dreams for COM|PASSionate REVOLT, facilitates mind/body summits through yoga and offers herself as a humble witness of process through her therapy practice COM|PASSionate REVOLT Healing.

REVOLUTIONARIES mentioned in, alluded to or complimentary to this post.

Califia Collective

Worts + Cunning / The Lunar Apothecary

Long Beach Apothecary / The Crazy Herbalist

Dreamwork for Survivors

Holistic Living With Kristy

Spinsters R Us

Taproot Midwifery

Dream Inspired Design

 

Califia Holiday Market!

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Special Announcement!

Please join us at Califia Collective’s Holiday Gathering & Market, tomorrow night!

The good folks at Califia are bringing me on board to teach with them, and tonight will be my first event with them. I will be there speaking about dreams, sharing a little zine version of the Litte Dreamwork Primer, and announcing my Dreamwork for Survivors course that will be debuting in the Spring! I’m so excited and pleased to be able to share this all with you. Our wonderful Compassionate Revolt team is going to be there too, sharing all kinds of lovingly crafted goodies and healing tools. This is a wonderful chance to meet, build community, support local healers, and get your little paws on some one-of-a-kind treasure.

Plus: FREE herbal elixir bar and make-your-own dream pillows!

So excited. See you there!

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A Dream Considered Through Personal, Collective, and Gaian Lenses

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Today, I’d like to take an old dream of mine as an example for one of my favorite ways of working with dreams. I don’t have a catchy name for this tool, and maybe it’s more of a philosophy than a tool, but I think it’s incredibly helpful.

Lots of folks talk about dreams as working on multiple levels. Jungians are maybe best known for this, and they break the levels down in various ways. The language that feels simplest, cleanest, and most useful to me is to think of dreams as working on 3 different levels: Personal, Collective, and Gaian.

Personal: this probably already makes sense to you. There are dreams that easily slide into this microscope, and you can gleam all kinds of information about yourself, your psyche, your history, your evolution…you get the idea.

Looking through the microscopic personal lens...a beautiful hidden world!
Looking through the microscopic personal lens…a beautiful hidden world!

Collective: this probably also makes sense to you somehow. On this level, we might talk about archetypal dreams, ancestral dreams, prophetic dreams, shared dreams, dreams where you receive specific information about something other or bigger than you, dreams that touch experiences that you share with many other people, and dreams where you are part of a larger drama.

The mind boggles.
The mind boggles.

Gaian: this may be where you’re cocking your eyebrow at me, because we don’t have much language about this in the dominant culture. This is the level where we acknowledge that humans are not the only carriers of consciousness, and that we are only a small part of the dreaming world. Dreams can be a field of communication with other phenomena – places, weather, animals, and the ways we all embody the larger organism which is Gaia. Dreams can be a place where we connect to the immense suffering of the world, and engage in the important work of grieving and creating new relationships with the Gaian world. If you’d like to read more about this, I refer you to the striking work of healer Deena Metzger.

Click here to access Deena Metzger's powerful essay Living By Dream, in the inaugural issue of Dark Matter: Women Witnessing
Click here to access Deena Metzger’s powerful essay Living By Dream, in the inaugural issue of Dark Matter: Women Witnessing

It’s important to note that these levels are not “kinds of dreams.” Personal, Collective, and Gaian are stances we can take toward any dream; they are attitudes and approaches. We can hold a dream and turn it carefully over, looking through each lens, one at a time, allowing the dream to express its multidimensional fullness. They help us to practice a multivalent awareness and to grow our understanding that meaning happens on many levels, in many ways, from many perspectives, all woven together. It is never just one or the other.

Here is a dream that came to me in Spring of 2010:

A dark, underground sewer. A woman has been floating down, and now emerges from, the muddy stream. She is brilliant red, glowing, bloody and screaming in agony because she has no skin, she is skinless. She will grow a new skin.

I first considered this dream personally. I thought about all the change and transformation I was undergoing, having been “in the shit” of my own healing for a while at this point. I thought about how painful this process can be, how in the disorientation of deep, healing change it can feel like you’ve lost your skin – feeling everything, feeling too much, having lost the old filters and barriers that helped you deal with all the shit you’ve been swimming in for so long. I thought about the brilliant red and the fact that the figure is emerging from the sludge, ready to grow a new skin, and I felt hopeful about my own emergence and new growth, even if it was still underground.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I was looking through my collage-fodder picture books and stumbled across this image:

From the Splendor Solis
From the Splendor Solis

It was the very picture of my dream! – only above ground, instead of below. This is the kind of thing that happens on the collective level. Like tuning into a frequency or tapping into a current, our sensitive psyches light up with stories and images that have been around for ages and ages of human experience.

This is an alchemical painting, and, to add to the synchronicity, a few days later I went to school where our evening training that session was in Alchemy. I spoke to the professor briefly about this experience, and she encouraged me to deepen my exploration of it as a collective dream. She saw in it a powerful image of the raw Feminine, so sensitive and so mistreated in our dominant American culture, violently expressing Her rage and pain – and calling me to help in the work of re-growing Her skin. I was being reminded that even in doing my personal healing, in re-growing my own embodied sensitivity and containing selfhood, I was helping anchor the same kind of renewal on the collective level. I am just one place where this re-emerging Feminine is happening in my culture.

Whatever we mean by “the Feminine,” it is something that has as much to do with what we call “the natural world” as it does with human women. Both women’s bodies and the earth itself have been subject to the same kinds of objectified exploitation. Understanding this figure as an expression of the Feminine is a way to expand even further, out into the Gaian stance. From this perspective, we can see the skinless woman’s screams as the pain and rage of Gaia, the living earth, engulfed in human sewage. I had this dream during the period of the BP Oil Spill, as I was becoming interested in ecopsychology and other methods of including the more-than-human world in healing work.

OilSpillBird

This dream was a major message for me that as I grow into a new relationship with my self, and with whatever the Feminine is in our culture, that necessarily includes my relationship with the more-than-human world of interconnected life that I now refer to as Gaian.

Of course, this is only scratching the surface of this dream and its story. But my hope is that this shows you how powerful just a single dream image can be, and how richly it unfolds when considered using different lenses. I love how each not only enlivens the dream’s message, but each layer creates new texture for the others, creating multiple points of access and meaning that deeply inform one another. I hope this becomes a useful tool for you in exploring the beautiful multiplicity of your own dream life.

Sweet dreams,

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.

Show Off That Wild Heart Of Yours

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Happy Tuesday y’all – this is a full week for me, rich with travel and rainstorms and teaching  and a sparkly full moon and rolling birthday celebrations, so today I bring you a wild and juicy little tarot meditation:

Apprentice of Bottles from The Collective Tarot
Apprentice of Bottles from The Collective Tarot

What if you wake up tomorrow and decide it’s time to dress up and show off your courageous heart?

Where would you most like to bring some charming extravagance to your world?​

And how big a splash can you make ​bringing it?

Your imagination defies gravity.​

Use it well!

xo

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.

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.