Sunday Prayers

Hello, fellow spiritual travelers, my broken-but-working-on-it peeps. Life has been changing and things are delightfully good, and I’m so glad to be who I am, the age I am, and where I am (holy shit, yes!). And I am going to sink deep into this feeling, because it doesn’t come around often.

Where my heart is at these past few days…

 

“Tantra says sex is very deep because it is life. But you can be interested in Tantra for the wrong reasons. Do not be interested in Tantra for the wrong reasons, and then you will not feel that Tantra is dangerous. Then Tantra is life-transforming…

It has been asked, ‘what is the central subject matter of Tantra?’ The answer is you! You are the central subject matter of Tantra: what you are right now and what is hidden in you that can grow, what you are and what you can be. Right now you are a sex unit and unless this unit is understood deeply you cannot become a spirit, you cannot become a spiritual unit. Sexuality and spirituality are the two ends of one energy.”

Osho

| I’m not sure that I’d agree with all of this, because I believe our sexuality and spirituality nourish each other- that’s been my experience. But, yes, you are the central subject matter of Tantra. |

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“This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.”

Terry Tempest Williams

| This is how to have faith, and also to be alive. I think being alive is its own act of faith. |

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Life on Earth

Wild Horses

A Youth Written in Fire

| Snow Patrol’s new album is really different. And I like it. Gary Lightbody – former priest and current poet – hits some very deep places in his own psyche. It’s quite beautiful to listen to. |

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Images from my ‘beautiful’ board are inspiring me and keeping me grounded lately. Summer’s passion is finding it’s way into old frescoes and fields of poppies. When the humidity rests atop my skin, I pull my hair up from my neck, sweat with a smile in the shade, and dream of Paris in the Fall.

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Big love from this gorgeous, hot day and my happy heart,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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New Moon in Cancer || Eclipse Season Begins

Well, it’s a big energy cycle with this new moon in Cancer and eclipse season begins. Here’s what I got for ya!

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From MysticMamma.com

Solar Eclipse *NEW MOON* in Cancer reminds us that it’s time to come home to our whole Self.

Feelings that have been dormant in the underworld of our psyches, are returning to us like waves rising toward the shore.

The past is knocking on our door, not because it has come back to haunt us, but because it has come back to heal us.

There is a part of our lives that we have disconnected from because it has left a deep wound.

These are the imprints that we would rather forget as we continue to move rapidly into our future. But sometimes, the cycles of Life turn to bring these pieces from our past back into our present for reconciliation and healing.

The reclaiming of our past is our soul’s retrieval of power. It’s the reconnaissance of all our orphaned parts back into ourselves, back into who we are now.

And who we are now is precisely because of the past we have lived, not in spite of it.

As individuals and as a culture, we need to make amends with where we’ve been. Our histories are all marked with stories of abuse of power and we all fall somewhere within the spectrum.

This Cancer New Moon reminds us that with a compassionate heart, we can face and embrace all that has been and all that we are, and free ourselves from that which has had its hold on us. Thus opening the way for us to truly move forward.

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From EmpoweringAstrology.com

…Cancer New Moon focuses us on themes of home, family, and connection. But, seeing that this is a solar eclipse, too, we’re in the threshold of a powerful new beginning. 

Every six months we have eclipses, the time when the new and full moon lines up with the ecliptic. With a solar eclipse, the Sun is eclipsed by the Moon. With a lunar eclipse, the Moon is eclipsed by the Earth. Although this is a fairly routine phenomena, eclipses have a habit of bringing things in and out of our lives, like one door closing and another opening. Events feel fated, pivotal, or emotionally loaded. 

With the eclipse in the sign of Cancer, we’re entering a six month period of focusing on how we get our needs met, how we feel safe, and how we create homes for ourselves. Cancer, as a sign, also touches on memories, emotions, and the past. So this might be a bit of an emotionally charged time or one that speaks to our deepest instincts as well as our roots. 

 

 

Photo by karen kayser on Unsplash

 

From TheGoddessCircle.net

Eclipses turn everything upside down for a reason. They help us to see things in a different light and in a new way. They can offer new solutions to problems that seem like they have been ongoing forever. They can also clear away some of the “stuck” places and get things moving where they are frozen. They can show us feelings and shadows that are needing to be seen. They can also manifest powerful changes in our world.

On the New Moon:

Relationships.
Big change.
Imbalances shown.
Where are things not fitting?
Breakups.
Where is there no effort?
Done settling for less.
Looking for something deeper.
Move away from fantasy.
Moving away from unhealthy environments or people.
Reaching a breaking point. 

 

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From AstrologyKing.com

The new moon in Cancer is a partial solar eclipse. The solar eclipse is influenced by a powerful opposition to the minor planet Pluto. This indicates some sort of crisis with your self-esteem, a relationship, or an event. An equally intense fixed star brings the potential for neurotic distress triggered by a deeply buried subconscious fear of disaster. 

The solar eclipse brings the right time to transform something in your life holding you back from happiness and success. A fortunate Grand Trine configuration allows you to apply this transformation to your love life, finances, or creative work. Hard work and determination will unleash the potential and opportunity held within the grand trine to help avoid a personal crisis.

[This dude is a little specific for my tastes, but maybe it’s just what someone out there needs.]

 

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This one from The House of Twigs is great, but you need to read the whole thing to get it. Go, read!

 

I think what it comes down to is this New Moon is asking us to look at things head on and make the changes that need to be made. This might be something subtle, but it might be something big or obvious. Maybe what needs help is our relationships, work, finances, or creativity- but it comes down to being about our own work. Dealing with ourselves, changing ourselves is always where it’s at.

Big love from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Going the Distance

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that has made my marriage successful for the long run. In this modern age, in Western society, we ask a lot of our spouses (or partners, whatever level of commitment we’re at). We ask them to be best friend, lover, confidante, cheerleader, safety net, and also to split the chores. It’s a lot. And while my partner* and I aren’t all those things for each other, we play each of those roles at certain points in our relationship. Yes, he’s my best friend, but I also don’t have deep discussions about having a menstrual cycle and all the lessons that has taught me with him (that’s for my gal pals). He is sometimes my confidante, but not always; some things I hold inside myself for a while to process first. But we do well together, and I think there are some reasons why.

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We really want to stay together. There are a lot of skills that are necessary for a successful long-term partnership, but a lot of those can be learned if you don’t have them. What you have to have is the desire to stay together and the willingness to (be humble and) learn and do new things when needed. We have talked about getting divorced three times (over communication, values, and affairs), but when we came to the question, “Do I want you out of my life?” the answer was always “no” (and pretty clearly so). So we did whatever work was necessary to stay together.

I think the big thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes we feel like, “Jesus, this is hard work,” or “Fuck, I am so sick of you,” but that doesn’t mean we want to leave. And when someone does want to leave, I think we definitely owe it to the relationship to tell the absolute fucking truth about why it’s not working or what we want that we’re not getting to see if the other partner is willing to learn or change.

 

We do the work. I heard “When Doves Cry” by Prince today and the part where he sings:

Maybe I’m just too demanding/
Maybe I’m just like my father, too bold/
Maybe I’m just like my mother, she’s never satisfied/
Why do we scream at each other?

is so relatable for some of the work you have to do in long-term relationships. There were years when my husband would say something in a particular tone of voice and I would have this instant, visceral reaction and lash out at him. Turns out, his tone of voice was a direct emotional hit on something my mother used to do to me. I had to go to therapy to untangle that so our relationship could be easier. I had healing work to do from old wounds. The same is true for him. Long-term relationship is a path of development and healing. (If it isn’t, then LTR is a path of routine and numbness simply for the sake of safety. Some people dig that kind of routine, but I think it’s boring af. Who wants to be the same, do the same damn things for 40 years straight?) Sometimes that work is from places outside our relationship, and sometimes it is our individual stuff we have to work on. But, again, doing the work keeps what we have working as well as possible.

 

We support each other’s dreams and goals. My husband is a cyclist. Three years ago, he rode 10,000 miles on his bike in one year. The next year it was 11,000. And this past year (2017), he rode 12,000 miles on his bike. How did he do that? With our support. He wanted to reach those goals, so we helped him. (He also managed to destroy a pair of handlebars with his acidic sweat.) My husband has been 110% supportive of my work as a health educator for mid-life women. He sees opportunities to share my work in places I don’t even see them; and he’s proud to talk about my work. He supports my goals and dreams.

 

a set of bicycle handlebars that have been eaten through by acidic sweat

Will he do 13k miles this year? No. He’s learning to race.

 

We communicate until we understand each other. After twenty-two years together we have really grown in our ability to communicate well and also to understand each other. But we still have fights. The other day we were talking about something and I said, “We have always been different than other couples, and I need us to keep being different.”  And a few minutes later, he was telling me what heard me say, and it was, “We aren’t being different.” To which I was kind of stunned, because I was thinking, “that’s pretty much the opposite of what I said!!!!!” But we went back and talked until I knew that he understood what I was saying in the same way that I did. (To be fair, earlier in the same convo, I said to him, “Okay, what I think you are saying, is….” and he replied, “Yes, after two years, you get it.” We are both guilty of misunderstanding, but we both want desperately to be understood. And don’t we all want that in love?)

We also meta communicate, which means we talk about how we talk to each other. It’s not just “Let’s talk about why you hate doing the laundry so much,” it’s also “Let’s talk about why I don’t want you to call me a bitch when we talk about why you hate doing the laundry.” (He doesn’t do that. He would never.) Sometimes it’s what you say and sometimes it’s how you say it, and both are fair game for fixing issues.

 

We share about our growth as individuals. I think a lot of couples get worried when one partner grows and the other doesn’t. And this is a reasonable fear. So, one person shuts down because they are afraid the other partner is growing away from them and the other pretends not to notice until it’s too late and they either don’t like each other any more or they become ‘roommates’ or ‘players on a team’ together. My husband has had tremendous professional growth over the last 17 years and I have had tremendous personal growth in that same time. We’ve also had two kids and weathered some scary shit. It makes us see the world differently, but as long as we keep talking about how we’re changing, we have a much better chance of staying together.

 

We have fun and make great memories. We both love to go to concerts. We go together and we go alone. We love to travel and get the fuck out of small-minded Rhode Island. We travel to Quebec, England, and this year, France. We love to go out for quick dates (our kids are older). We love super quick make-out sessions in the laundry room and on walks around the neighborhood. One of my beloved’s favorite pictures of me is when we went blackberry picking years ago. We watch TV shows together and we laugh about crude jokes we would never tell other people. We make these memories and we relive them when times are tough- or just when we’re laying on the bed together, chillin’. (Which we also love to do.)

 

We try our best not to do the bad stuff. We don’t manipulate each other. We don’t gaslight each other. We don’t yell unless we’re expressing the intensity of our feelings. We don’t hold each other hostage emotionally (which is coercing by saying one partner must prove their love by doing xyz). We don’t lie. A few girlfriends before me (in college), my husband dated a manipulative woman. “If you don’t do all the housework, I can’t finish school, and I’m working hard for us.” She engaged in gaslighting– which is when your partner says things like, “no, that didn’t happen,” or “no, it happened like this…” (which is blatantly untrue), when they deny your experience or perception, or invalidate your feelings, among other things. These are hurtful, immature, and psychologically damaging tactics and they aren’t  part of successful long-term relationships. We keep away from them.

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I’m sure these aren’t all the things that have helped us stay together long-term but they are a good list to start with. Check back, I’m sure the list will get updated, knowing how my brain works. But these are the things that came to mind first, and they are the things that I go back to when I look at why and how we were successful. Now, that doesn’t mean these will be successful for everyone, but I think it’s important to at least talk about whether these measures are important in your own relationships.

Okay, my brain hurts. I love you all and hope you’re well. New moon soon!
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

* I find that I’m much more secure in sharing about my husband and our relationship now. In years past, I was deeply afraid that my desires would hurt him, would hurt or kill our partnership. But now that he knows everything, everything, I’m not as worried. I think I’m starting to spitball about relationships here so that I can look back, see what insights I have, see if they are applicable to others, see if they’re ready for my other website and work there. (It only took me three years to share this post over there…) You’ll probably be seeing more of this here because he’s the person I’ve learned all the good and bad stuff with.

 

 

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The sensuality of safety

Do you know where you feel most safe?

Try remembering a time or place where you’ve felt safe.

What was it like?
What were the circumstances?
What were the smells, sights, sounds, textures that helped you feel safe?
What was happening around you?

Think about it. Sink yourself into it.
Notice what happens when you feel safe.
How does your body feel?
How does your mind feel?
How does your spirit feel?

Safety is an important part of our psychological and physical health.

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Everyone knows that people who engage in sexual bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism have something called a ‘safe word,’ right? We all know this from porn and Fifty Shades of Gray? Okay, good.

And the reason folks into BDSM use safe words is because why?

It’s because that word allows them to have the power to stop when they feel unsafe.
Because feeling safe allows a person to relax and dive deep (or fly high) into what they most desire.

Safety allows desire to rise and speak its wishes.
Safety is a handmaiden of fulfilling our desire.

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There are three places I feel most safe in the world.

By myself. Just me, doing whatever, alone. Near people, far away from people, either way. As long as I’m alone and simply responsible for myself, I feel quite safe. (Mostly. I still carry my keys like Wolverine in dark places at night.) If I’m at a bookstore or library, I am especially at ease.

At the cabin. I haven’t been there in years, and it is almost done falling into the sea, but it is a place I felt safe for years. If I need to remember what complete safety and relaxation feel like, I remember the cabin. The 1960s purple polyester couch, the wooden stairs, the musty smell, the old books. In a moment I can remember these things and feel safe.

The third is in the arms of my beloved. If I need a place to immediately let down, cry, relax, or feel protected from the world, I will ask him to hold me. This is something that happened fairly quickly after we met, but it has also developed over 22 years together. It is the weight of him against me. The size of him and that I feel protected. It is his emotional and physical strength, something I can feel running through his entire being. (I also return the favor, although it’s slightly awkward because he’s 6’4″ and I’m 5’4″ and it’s hard to spoon a man that large; but we do, because men need to feel safe and protected, too.)

What happens in all of these places is that I feel safe. I am not worried. I am not fixing something for myself or other people. I may have responsibilities, but they don’t weigh on me. My whole body feels calmer- the slight electrical current that seems to live atop my skin goes away. That is the feeling of safety to me.

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This is a tattoo of my children’s birthdates. [Yes, it’s cryptic. It’s meant to be. If you can figure it out, I’ll buy you a beer.]

I placed the tattoo on this spot on my arm because that is where they rested their tiny heads when they were babies and I would hold them to sleep or feed. This is the first place my children were safe.

True internal safety is created when children are very small. Zero to five years old is the developmental time when ‘normal’ is established deep in the psyche of humans. If there is a lack of food or clothing or safety, this will register as part of ‘normal’ for that child. If there is lack of attachment or kindness or care, this will also register as ‘normal’ for the child. (It also creates failure to thrive in children who are severely deprived of touch and care.) If there is fear, cruelty, or abuse, this can also register as ‘normal’ for the child. Because this ‘normal’ is developed at a time when the child can barely speak, it is often very hard to change these patterns and establish a healthier sense of ‘normal.’ (It can be done. It is hard work. It takes years of therapy and personal warriorship. But it is worth it, and it is often deeply healing.) The result of children who do not feel safe is often adults who have attachment and bonding difficulties with other adults (which is why you see the rise in people talking about attachment styles and relationships lately).

A felt sense of ‘safety’ is incredibly important in the psychological life of children.

And when we take children from their parents- whether as a form of punishment for legal immigration activities or due to unfair and racist prison sentencing- we are hurting the formation of their psyches. And this is wrong.

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“Us and Them is the opposite of God.”
– Gregory Boyle.

In Tantra, one of the goals of sex is union- the yin and yang combining and making a whole. And that is achieved through safety and trust.

In BDSM, the ‘safe word’ allows for trust because it establishes safety for the most vulnerable person in the interaction.

In spiritual development, safety allows our hearts to be held in forgiveness and grace. When we rest in the safety of the Divine, we are united with the souls of our fellow humans.

Safety is a necessary ingredient in all of these activities. Safety is necessary to healthy human development. And every human deserves to have some place they feel safe. Most especially children. Keeping families together, keeping children safe, is some of the most sensual and spiritual work we can do.

Creating a world where children are safe is also how we make a better world. We have to be better to be safe. And children who have a deeply-instilled sense of safety and security are healthier all around, across their entire lifespan (read the research). Safety is necessary; all humans have a right to it. And, when it comes down to it, creating safety is one of the most life affirming, sacred (and sexy) things we can create for each other.

 

 

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Full Moon in Capricorn

Hey, lovelies! I hope you are doing well!

It is a gorgeous day here in New England. It’s dark and rainy like Seattle, but warm, like an East Coast summer. Just the way I like it: hot and wet.

The full moon tonight, known as the Strawberry Moon, is full of energy. Lots of ideas on this one. Here you go!

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Gettin’ ya old shit out the door, from Mystic Mama:

FULL MOON in Capricorn seeks to gift us CLARITY by calling forth the Elder within us to rise.
She invites us to step into our center and meet the teacher within the within that embodies our center point within the karmic wheel of life.

We have in every new moment of the present, the ability to shift what has been and create a new action with new ripples.

We are being asked to embody our responsibility as human Beings and meet whatever is rising.

Not with old fangled reactionary impulses, but with an open presence that can intersect the past with new understanding.

Elder medicine teaches us that cultivation of wisdom is born out of accountability of our actions and a compassionate understanding of their effects on others.

We gain in wisdom every time we step through that threshold. We mature and our roots grow deeper each time we consider the effects.

And clarity dawns her light upon us, when we let go of the mental constructs that bind us, and align with the broader understanding that lies just beneath the surface. 

 

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From The Power Path:

No side stepping here. If we’re avoiding important issues in our lives, living too long in an emotional rut, we just may get a knock on our door with a subpoena to show up for some lessons in setting some adult intentions, clarifying just what we want to build in our life, and set some new boundaries about what is and is no longer acceptable.

Saturn can help you crystallize into new reality what has just been hovering below the surface.

Chiron is squaring the Sun and Moon/Saturn. That’s significant, challenging, and a call to the internal, emotional depths.

When our lessons arise, old emotional patterns get triggered, suffering arises (along with whining and blame), we have an opportunity in the emotional crisis handed to us to step up to this initiation and challenge to learn acceptance and surrender to a deeper, fuller human experience.  

 

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From The Goddess Circle (via FB):

This very powerful Full Moon is reminding us to focus on what counts, what is real and relevant. This is a time to look with the eyes of truth towards what is important in our lives.We are looking at where we are wanting commitment on a deeper level and to create security and foundation. This can be a call to look at relationships, situations, or environments that do not support what we are needing or wanting. We are feeling the need to let go of old fantasy, illusion, and limiting beliefs so we can build something strong, rooted in the authentic. This is a time of great change as the ground on which we stand shifts. This is a good time to get finances in order and to plan for the future. Remember that where your attention goes, energy flows, and this is much intensified during this powerful upcoming Eclipse cycle.

 

many sizes, colors, and shapes of Legos, waiting to build something

Take down what doesn’t work; build something you really want.

Photo by Rick Mason on Unsplash

 

From Empowering Astrology:

Happy Capricorn Full Moon! It’s the time in the lunar calendar when we shine a light on responsibility, maturity, and achievement. And for that Capricorn not only sets a high bar for us to reach for, but pushes us to build something of ourselves in this life. With that in mind, the full moon is exact on June 28, 2018 at 12:53 am EDT, 6 degrees Capricorn/Cancer. That’s 9:53 pm Los Angeles on June 27, 5:53 am London on June 28, and 2:53 pm in Sydney.

Capricorn is the polarity of Cancer, which means that the signs sit opposite each other in the wheel of the zodiac. There is both a tension of opposites as well as a complementary energy between the two. If the Sun’s journey through Cancer teaches us about the importance the home as well as having people around us who are like family to help anchor and nurture our connection to life. There’s a reason that Cancer forms the foundation of the natural wheel of zodiac; it connects us to the very roots of existence.

Capricorn, by contrast, pushes us out of the nest and into the world. It’s the highest sign in the zodiac wheel and represents what we strive for, what we want to be “when we grow up.” It speaks to our responsibilities to ourselves, the world, and maturity needed to take on these responsibilities. To that point, Cancer supports Capricorn, providing the fuel to reach great heights.

When we have a full moon in Capricorn, it’s one of our annual check-ins with this process of growing up, getting older, and making something of our lives. How are we doing? Ruled by the planet Saturn, it’s not unlike a meeting with a parent or a boss and getting a progress report. So this full moon may give you a lot of feedback on where you’re at in life. Full moons also force the issue. They show, they reveal. We can’t avoid the matter at hand. It’s either a left or a right.

 

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And, just because I love them-

Chani Nicholas and her weekly horoscopes 

and

The Tarot Lady and her take on the full moon

Alright, beauties, that’s it for today. If you’re in my neck of the woods, enjoy this rain and thunder and lightning. I sure am! And for the rest of you, big blessings and lots of love.

On the path with you,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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