Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Full Moon in Gemini: Bonding the Self

This morning I felt drawn to pull a few daily (or - moment -) cards from the Earthbound Oracle. As I laid them out they wove a clear story before me, and engaged with their tale I decided to take a look at the "shadow" card at the bottom of the deck - Luna - fitting for today's full moon.
But the cards, the central line of three, had much to say about where I'm at right now that also flowed with the fact that today's full moon is in Gemini.....

Death - Bond - Self

On the left, reflecting where I've been of late, Death symbolizes the deep transformations that have been flowing through my life on so many levels. The lemniscate over the third eye speaks to the endless cycles that we can perceive most clearly when we still our Selves. I like how purple ribbons curl upward, new sight being revealed. In many ways I am indeed experiencing new sight - a new way of "looking" at the intangible world, and even a new way of viewing and interacting with my environment at work due to a change in position. And just visible behind the skull, a full moon glows.....

To the right there lies the Self, an eye opened outward. When I was preparing for my recent interview I pulled a card from this deck to help me focus on my approach, and it was Self. Let them see your heart. Be you. And so that is what I did. And it was good. But now I am exploring new aspects of my Self. I have always felt that I was more an "individual" - not a follower, not necessarily a leader, but, well, perhaps a loner, though that carries a slightly negative connotation that I don't love. Yet I am a leader now. What does that mean to me, about me, for me? How does that impact my own sense of self? What natural characteristics will I cultivate and nurture and strengthen through embracing this new role?

In the center is Bond, bringing together Death and Self. The image appears to be an atom with an acorn nucleus and leafy electrons swirling about. Electrons have a negative charge and are bound to the atom's nucleus which is made of protons (with a positive charge) and neutrons (which have no charge at all). Opposites attract: how appropriate! And there is that the acorn, the seed of change, that tiny emissary of life that with just the right amount of rainfall, sunlight, oxygen and nutrients will grow ever stronger, up up into an oak tree. Change brings new sight, brings new possibilities. Change is one of our only constants in life, as ironic as it is, and change offers us new ways of understanding ourselves. (Funny, then, - or synchronistic - that I chose the 2 of Pentacles from two different decks this morning!) ;-)

Tonight's full moon is in Gemini, and describes it as a time of: 

"de-coding language; observing social trends; wearing many hats; the view from all sides; shaking up reality; playing tricks with perception; fascinating fragments of style and culture; getting the cosmic joke; being contradictory"


In my own time of bonding I am standing on a precipice looking both downward and upward. I see from where I've come; and I see that there is more ahead, though I may not be able to make out the details. I am no longer who I was, and yet I haven't entirely become who I will be. Sacred space. Ancient and natural. The current turns back on itself, as it always will, and yet never returns to the same place. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Winds of Oyá Blowing

I haven't been able to post as much as I've wanted to of late. I think about it every day and between teaching, managing, parenting, and doing many (wonderful) readings for (lovely) clients, I never have the time or the energy. But I'm making space tonight, to release some of this energy. Throughout the month of October much movement was taking place. I started to see 333 everywhere, and it's the first time I've ever noticed numbers like that, and felt its significance. Eventually I came to feel that it was an acknowledgement that I was in good (spirit) company, and I felt that attention quite pointedly. It was comforting.

I've already written about the crazy happenings with our car so I won't recount it, but I was both aware of struggle, and aware that there was something more transpiring. In those moments where the challenge of the moment felt sharpest, I kept this mind, and placed my faith in what I couldn't see, but what I knew was there nonetheless. I pulled a lot of 10 of Swords, but one of my more memorable draws was during the Shadow Work October challenge where I pulled Obatala, Elegua, and Oyá from my New Orleans Voodoo deck. It was a powerful line for me: my father, my best friend, and the sacred presence of Oyá; the shifts and transitions she brings along with her. 10 of Swords, Oyá.... the car died, my egun, Elegua, always Eshu-Elegua, 333 and 33.... so many things sifting through my mind.....
Oyá is called the "owner of the marketplace" and the "owner of the gates of the cemetery." These are often treated as literal, and they can be taken as such, but they are metaphorical first and foremost. Oyá is owner of change. The marketplace is Earth. The market is where we engage others, we barter for what we need, we pay and are paid, we argue and laugh, we learn about the affairs of others, we sing, we eat. We live. The "marketplace" is simply another word for the world in which we live, where constant change, upturns and downturns, is the way. There is a saying, "The world is a marketplace; our real home is the spirit world." Oyá is not the owner of the cemetery itself, rather the passage - the doorway - the portal between the marketplace and the spirit world. The cemetery is a physical place. But she ushers us from an old way of life into a new, encouraging us to let go, to shed our skins, and thus she governs the process of transformation of which death is a part.

Oyá's winds tell us that it is time to leave; to leave what we are used to, what wasn't working, to pack our bags and get ready to go. She helps us to peel away our old selves, she gives the courage and strength to burn down and rebuild, always better than before, always more than we could have ever really understood. She gives us the gift of change, a gift always meant to bless us when all is said and done.

In so many ways my life has changed in the last month alone. I've been scared, sad, anxious, speechless, furious, determined, worried. I've been grateful, moved, touched, thankful, speechless (again), honored, humbled, in awe, triumphant. My life has utterly changed. The reality I see as I look out from these eyes is not the same as it was a month ago. I have possibilities now that I never imagined. There is newness in my life that I didn't anticipate and could not have imagined.

I have learned a lot. And I realize that I'm somewhat inarticulate here; I am forming these words with the last dregs of today's energy, but it's been over a week that this has been calling for release. Hope and faith are everything. Trust is so important. To stay positive, even when the outlook appears dark, is the only way. It's not easy, but it's the only way.

Maferefun Yansa, maferefun todos los días.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I Know This Much Is True

Yes, you may have to face conflict, and I know that you don't prefer that.

But you have a panther inside of you.
Try not to suppress its essence; rather,
let it breathe with your breath.

Don't walk away.
Yes, you will have to wander through the deep unknown,
and uncover parts of yourself that you didn't realize were there.

You'll feel afraid from time to time, but don't give up.
This is death
and it is birth.
You are becoming you.

Your fire will lead you onward.

This is not a mask you must learn to wear;
it is a power you were always meant to wield.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Guest Post: To Be Loved Is to Be Given Life

Today I'm featuring a guest post written by none other than my mother, Cecilia Skidmore: licensed counselor, grief and change expert, former radio host, and MBTI administrator (to say very little!). To read a bit more about her click here, and to view her blog click here.


"TO BE LOVED IS TO BE GIVEN LIFE" - those words were written years ago by the artist wife of my minister and he used them as a Christmas card the year following her death. To be loved is to be given life -odd words for a memorial for someone who has died. What does that mean? Given life...

In our society, in relatively recent times, we avoid mention of death. We left the armbands behind, left the wakes held at home behind, left the formal mourning periods behind. Death is a spectre, just like on Halloween, hovering in the shadows of our homes, our lives, our minds, and we use a great deal of energy trying to find a way to shut the door on those shadows and seal them off forever.
When our childrens' pets die, we buy another. The illusion is that life is replaceable, that pain can be erased in the blink of an eye with a new puppy. When our parents die, we keep our children home from the funeral. We keep our tears and pain inside, so that they (and we) won't have to experience that so uncomfortable emotion, despair. It feels so out of control and so intense that we fear we might frighten the children. So, while we can't replace Grandma with a new puppy, we can act as if it's ok that she died. We might even pretend she's "away" or "asleep," common euphemisms for the word "dead." We can not talk about her; we can fill the space she had in our lives and in our homes with other people or more work - or a new car. Or a new love. The hole is not only a physical one (she's not in that chair anymore) but a spiritual one and a psychological one- and we race around desperately trying to fill it with everything and anything except the few things we really need.
Golden Tarot - L. Dean
We need a light to shine on those dark spaces in our psyches where death lurks. We need to look death square in the face--and when we do, we find that death looks very familiar. It looks like us. It looks like our loves and our hopes, but also like our failures and lost dreams. It looks final, though - like we don't get another chance. Perhaps that scares us the most. And perhaps it should. We need to say and do important things now - not after they are no longer here.

We need education. Sit with someone who is dying, as I have done at Hospice. When you spend time with a dying person, you find they are Person first. Not a spectre. They live, often better than before. They find great pleasure in people, in children, in animals. They still find joy in reading, in smelling fresh cut grass, in watching the birds on a snow-covered pine. They are thoughtful and less concerned with things tangible - like money or possessions, except as a legacy they might be leaving a loved one. But they are very real, very human - very alive.
5 of Water - Gaian Tarot
Joanna Powell Colbert
We need to ponder what comes after death. (I firmly believe in reincarnation until someone I love dies - then the thought of them embarking on a new life when I've just arrived in Heaven seems so sad - so I revert to the safety of clouds and harps.) We need to read books, talk about it with friends, and weigh what we learn. A firm belief in something greater than ourselves, or a firm belief in the natural cycles of life and death on earth can be comforting.

We need to learn about grieving as well. It helps to have a belief about life beyond death - but usually that's not our biggest concern when a loved one dies. An incredible amount of the pain of grieving comes not from worry about where they are, but from the fact that they are not here with us. Grief can be an emotional, psychological and physical maelstrom. So much is unanticipated, unexpected. We experience a gnawing in our guts, a weariness in our bones, a breaking of our hearts. When my mother died, some thirty years ago, I wrote a poem:

"This morning when I woke up, I found my heart had been ripped from my body....What I want to know is... why am I still alive?"

We become forgetful, losing moments, hours, names, faces, appointments. We see things: the look of our beloved on a stranger in the hardware store - or visions that are so real, but impossible to explain.

We hear voices - or we are visited in our dreams.

We remember and remember and remember - with others, on paper, in our daydreams and our night dreams. We relive so many moments, trying to keep them alive and here with us. We are so afraid to forget.
Vision Quest Tarot
And people, other loving, fearful people try to push us forward, to get us (and themselves) away from the pain. So gradually we have our lost loved ones in our lives (so it doesn't hurt) and we gradually talk less about our beloved - so it doesn't hurt. But the hurt comes from a deep would and deep wounds take a long time to heal.

So we need to know about grieving and how long it will take. Hiding from the spectres of death and grieving leave us unprotected from the turmoil they bring. If we know, we can take care of our needs, learn to share our pain and not be overwhelmed. Grief happens all our lives, if not from death, then from divorce, or job loss, or moves, or aging. The grief experience is the same, and it carries compound interest from all the others before it. The more we know, the more we can help ourselves and our children.

At last we can take the time and energy to begin to understand who we are now - after.

When someone dies, they are transformed. Some faiths believe our souls go to a heaven of clouds and harps where we live happily ever after. Some believe literally that God's house has many mansions where we will all go,, and other that only they will receive everlasting life. Some believe in a seemingly endless cycle of life, learning, death and rebirth until we reach oneness with God. People who don't believe in a God or afterlife acknowledge that at least the body becomes part of the earth again, fertilizer, renewing other life.

The reality is, when someone dies, they are transformed - whatever you pay attention to.
Earthbound Oracle
But so are we - we who are left behind. The person we were when our beloved was alive changes - in sometimes very subtle, sometimes profound ways - always viscerally. So when the time for mourning and grieving has passed, when we awake to a new morning, free of the deep pain, we are newborn.

We are a fresh creation.

But we have not left our beloved behind. We have not forgotten. If death is like a shedding of our outer skin, a metamorphosis, grieving and healing from grief is like communion - an absorption into our living flesh, our changing psyche, our evolving spirit - of the essence of our beloved.

It's hard to understand - ask someone who has grieved. Those parts we thought were gone forever have now become part of us. And with that transplant comes a new human being - broken, but stronger at the broken places, as Hemingway said. Malleable, but firm, solid and real, but transcendent. All those cliches about dawn after darkness, spring following winter - are real, true.

They are true because love and grief are inextricably bound. We don't grieve what we never loved. We grieve only those things or people who have enriched our lives and given it meaning. When we love deeply, we grieve deeply. But we do not forget. And in our remembering we keep our loved one alive.

To be loved is to be given life.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Contemplating "Home"

Since writing the Samhain post about honoring my grandfather, Giuseppe, the other day, I've been thinking about the concept of "home." He moved around a lot, was an immigrant a few times over, and when I was younger I found some sense of pleasure out of the description my mother gave our family as "nomads." Yes, we have appeared to have a sort of "itch," it seems.

Since our immigrant ancestors, we've ever been on the move. At first perhaps it was due to the pursuit of better economic conditions, but is there something more? A constant search for a feeling of "rightness" and belonging?

Last night I was watching an episode of the Originals (a vampire show) and the topic of "home" popped up. Two of the characters were discussing how fiercely they would defend their right to live in their home city, and I thought, "I don't know what that feels like." To be so connected to the place where you live that you would fight to stay there. So I decided to pull some cards about it. I didn't ask a clear question, I simply held this idea in my mind as I shuffled ("What is home, and how does a lack of home impact me? How do I find home?"). I pulled:

8 of Grails/Cups - Judgement rx - 10 of Skulls/Pentacles rx
Tarot of Vampyres
The 8 of Grails was fitting, since it is a card of movement, of dissatisfaction or lack of fulfillment. It's about going on a journey. There is something here of the nomad experience. The 10 of Skulls is the quintessential "family legacy" card - what do you pass down to future generations, and what have you received from your own ancestors? It's a card a closely associated with the essence of a family's material being and presence. And in the center lies Judgement, provoking so many questions I don't even know where to begin.

I live in central Florida now, but I was born on the east coast, and spent my early years between Connecticut and Rhode Island. At about kindergarten age my natal family moved to Michigan, and for nine years I lived in one town, moving to another (very different) city for the next eighteen years. Then my husband and I packed up our things and our kids, and drove into the deep south. You might think that Michigan would have been that "home" for me, but I felt discontented there despite having lived in that state for most of my life. It didn't feel like home, though it was certainly very familiar.

And while there have been many wonderful aspects about life in our "new" state, I don't feel at home in Florida either. So I ask myself:

Will we always keep moving on in search of a place that feels right? If so, we will never provide that land-rooted legacy for our future generations; instead ours will be a legacy of the nomad, the pilgrim, the wanderer. 

And if we always search, are we destined never to find? 

Is the answer in the act of deciding to stay rooted to a place, to not move even when we feel discontented? 

Is the answer in the realization that our legacy moves within us and doesn't need to be anchored; that perhaps our legacy itself is in our movement?

Is there perhaps no answer at all? 

Perhaps this is the legacy of all immigrants who lose their connection to ancestral lands. There is something to be said for the "family oversoul" - those gentle energetic ties that connect us to our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and beyond. As I did a cursory search of my own blog I found that for last year's Samhain post I had a "conversation" with my grandmother (who passed on thirty years ago) and the 10 of Pentacles was the heart of the draw. It's interesting that it has come up again almost exactly one year later. In the context of that post the focus was on honoring and reuniting family - the idea that home is where the largest grouping of multigenerational family is. A year ago we were considering moving back to Michigan since my mother and step-father are still there. And yet we are still here, with no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

I sometimes imagine how our family's oversoul impacts me, us. Does my grandfather's wandering nature wield a more forceful vibration through the generational lines? His children, whose American bloodline epicenter lies in Connecticut, are now in Michigan, Tennessee, and Florida. Two of them are fairly regular world travelers. Their children are in England, New Zealand, Alaska, Saudi Arabia, Boston, Florida, California. The net is cast ever wider. Most of those are world travelers as well.

So is "home" in the people, or in the land? Is it in both? How do we recapture a sense of belonging - to each other, to a particular part of the earth? Or do we not? Do we simply restructure, rebuild, reconfigure family "legacy"? Do we start over, honoring the past and releasing it? I don't know, but I'll be sitting with this for time to come.