Archive | Modern sacred texts

Nightswimming

For whatever reason, this time of year, I get nostalgic for my youth. My early adulthood. It’s the quiet nights and the return of the dark, I think. Summer is ending and so is the summer season of my life.

Last night my husband played the R.E.M. album Automatic for the People at dinner. We usually listen to 70s Lite Rock or the k.d. lang station on Pandora. But he put on that album instead. And “Nightswimming” came on. For whatever reason, I was 15 again, and taking my first swim at dusk. The sun setting, a fire near our campsite, my friends and I in the water. Sometimes splashing, sometimes quiet. I watched the stars come out floating in the water. And then changed into clothes, listened to Van Halen by the fire, and stayed up waaay too late laughing and flirting and talking shit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done that.

::: ::: ::: :::

|| “Nightswimming” by R.E.M. ||

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago
Turned around backwards so the windshield shows
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse
Still, it’s so much clearer
I forgot my shirt at the water’s edge
The moon is low tonight

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I’m not sure all these people understand
It’s not like years ago
The fear of getting caught
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away
Replaced by everyday

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming

You, I thought I knew you
You I cannot judge
You, I thought you knew me
This one laughing quietly underneath my breath
Nightswimming

The photograph reflects, every streetlight a reminder
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night, deserves a quiet night

::: ::: ::: :::

It’s time for a night swim again, I think. My 43 year-old self needs it. The quiet. The water. The stars. As an adult, friends have pools and waterside homes. But there’s a lake around, too. I just need to sneak in. At dusk. Nightswimming.

Love from the path,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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The book of ‘Nanette’

I have believed for many years that sacred truths which serve the best of our humanity will continue to speak even if it seems that we have no scribes or bards or druids to hear them, remember them, and pass them on. And while it may seem that we don’t have these guides in this modern age, I believe we actually do. Justin Bieber’s song writer did it. Britney, Christina, and P!nk have given us a fresh rendition of the Divine Feminine. And in this post I shared three writers who are carrying on the tradition of sacred truth, even in the midst of political chaos and no culturally guiding principles except fame and capitalism. These days I would add Alexis Morgan of the Church of St. Felicia to the mix; she tells the truth and gives no fucks, goddess bless her. The truth tellers are out there. The truth will live even if there are no traditional sacred places or people for it to emanate from. New ways will be found, new ways will be made.

I also believe that lots of things can be a Bible. Many books and TV shows are completely capable of being guides for good behavior, handling bad times, and providing us with archetypes for how to live our life. I am partial to Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Wars, among others.

Like a lot of people, I watched Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’ (on Netflix) a couple of weeks ago and was deeply moved by it. She said new things. She validated the experience of a lot of women. And she told a lot of truth.

Ms. Gadsby turned the trauma necessary to comedy on its head:

“Punchlines need trauma, because punchlines need tension and tension feeds trauma. I didn’t come out to my grandmother last year because I’m still ashamed of who I am. Not intellectually, but right here [points to heart], I still have shame. You learn from the part of the story you focus on. I need to tell my story properly.” 

And also this:

“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humor and I don’t want to do that anymore. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it come from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. If that means that my comedy career is over, then, so be it.” 

 

She spoke very clearly to men who feel uncomfortable in the MeToo era:

“Pull your socks up. How’s that for humiliation? Fashion advice from a lesbian, and that’s your last joke.”

 

Her words on public (and social media) interaction are wise and so very needed:

“This is about how we conduct debate in public about sensitive things. It’s toxic. It’s juvenile. It’s destructive. We think it’s more important to be right than it is to appeal to the humanity of people we disagree with.” 

 

For many women I know, Ms. Gadsby’s words about rebuilding ourselves after hardship (whatever it may have been) resonated deeply:

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

[Blessed be, blessed be, blessed be. Which is how pagans say ‘amen.’]

 

And this, which is for all of us who are broken:

“To be rendered powerless does not destroy your humanity. Your resilience is your humanity. The only people who lose their humanity are those who believe they have the right to render another human being powerless. They are the weak. To yield and not break, that is incredible strength.”

::: ::: ::: :::

I do not believe that just because something is popular it should be made sacred (far from it). ‘Nanette’ isn’t just popular, though. It speaks truth. It pulls back the curtain and shows the truth- bloody, messy, awful. But it also gives hope in the form of truth- that we can be kind, that we can rebuild ourselves, that we can be resilient and in that resiliency find our strength.

Ms. Gadsby’s words deserve a space in the modern sacred texts, a book in the modern ‘Bible.’ They are sacred because they are true. And true, perhaps, in a way we haven’t understood before. Or rather, true in a way we haven’t understood because these words were not allowed to live in the light before. Yes, that is why they are sacred- they tell a story that has always been true, but just not allowed to live openly.

Here is to your own sacredness and resiliency and truth.
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Oh, my, my. Oh, hell, yes.

 

Photo by Frank Flores on Unsplash

 

The Serpent Manifesto

Woman-
Go now and build a madness nest
a treasure chest
a place to rest
so every woman who is seeking solid ground can land her feral dancing
can wail her prayers and chanting
her no apology passion
and her sacred, soulful ranting

This is our demand
This is the voice of snakes
and the psalms of hands
All your sisters before you- they knew
All your sisters before you- they walked through this fire, too
They faced the shaming and the shunning
Yet they fanned the holy humming
Then they welcomed a new coming

We need your wildness, Woman
We need your wolf howl, Woman
We need your deep scowl, Woman
We need your truth vow, Woman

We need it as much as we need
your care taking
We need it as much as we need your love making
Because Kings and Queens- they’re one
Because divided kingdoms are done

The world needs all of you, but more importantly- you need all of you- the rushing river cluster star loud scream soft melt hard thrust slither kiss ALL of you

YOU need your wildness, Woman

And it’s not going away
it’s not giving up on you
it’s hunting you like a focused warrior
Ruling you like a golden empress
Rocking you like an ancient cradle
Injecting your life with
holy
healing
venom.

| Jocelyn Edelstein |

::: ::: ::: :::

When you want some of this magic,
when you think you might be ready to beg for it,
come find me.

Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Modern Hymnal: We Belong

I haven’t thought about the modern hymnal for a long time, but this song came on the radio tonight, and I knew I wanted to add it. There probably should be a whole section in my modern hymnal for songs about rain; I’ll have to write that post sometime.

Tonight we had a lovely thunderstorm at my house. The sky was almost a charcoal gray, waiting for the rain to finally gather itself into fat drops and begin the short deluge, like angry water balloons splashing all over you. There was lightning and thunder and when it was all done the eery yellow light that seeps from the ground and gradually opens up to the sky as the clouds part. It was the kind of perfect rain that makes the heart of this Seattle girl feel at home in this strange land.

And Pat Benetar’s wonderful song was playing while all this happened. Always a favorite and glad to add it to the modern hymnal.

What’s in your sacred, personal hymnal, friends? What songs always delight you? Or fill your heart? Or remind you of something important, beautiful, or lost? I wish we could sit down together and talk about it.

 

Photo by Joy Stamp on Unsplash

 

We Belong

Many times I tried to tell you
Many times I cried alone
Always I’m surprised how well you cut my feelings to the bone
Don’t want to leave you really
I’ve invested too much time to give you up that easy
To the doubts that complicate your mind

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together

Maybe it’s a sign of weakness when I don’t know what to say
Maybe I just wouldn’t know what to do with my strength anyway
Have we become a habit? Do we distort the facts?
Now there’s no looking forward
Now there’s no turning back
When you say

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together

Close your eyes and try to sleep now
Close your eyes and try to dream
Clear your mind and do your best to try and wash the palette clean
We can’t begin to know it, how much we really care
I hear your voice inside me, I see your face everywhere
Still you say

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words we’ve both fallen under
Whatever we deny or embrace for worse or for better
We belong, we belong, we belong together

We belong to the light, we belong to the thunder…

| Songwriters: Daniel Anthony Navarro / David Eric Lowen |

Find the video here.

::: ::: ::: :::

G’night from a happy girl, sitting in the rain.

Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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this all ends.

One of my favorite things to do in divination is set my iPod to ‘oracle’ (which is to say, “random”) and say, “Tell me what I need to know.” And it does.

And dear hearts, I just want to remind you that this all ends. Someday you will no longer exist, so live as much as you can, in your own way, as many days as you can. Whether your greatness is being kind to people as they walk the aisles of Target or whether your greatness is Oprah-level influence. Do it. Because once it all ends, you will know: it doesn’t fucking matter what you do, so do what you want.

If the last few days have been hard, old wounds have been touched, old hurts, old demons have arisen- you’re not alone. And it will shift by Saturday. Stay with it, face it. Whatever is hurting or painful is here to help you heal.

There is an old question on various social media platforms that I sometimes ponder: what would you attempt if you knew you would not fail? I think it’s an admirable question. But I prefer this one today: what would you leave if you knew it would not hurt? Because, of course, it will hurt. But the most painful thing is probably the one that needs the most healing. And that means we must face it, feel it, and reconcile it. (My favorite question to begin this journey? “When did I first feel this way?”)

But this is all to say: let go of whatever is painful. Find your freedom. And live in the best way you know how, as many days as you can. Because this all ends.

Some tunes for the journey:

Sound the Bells | Dessa

Bicycle tricycle | Rosie Thomas

Prayer of St. Francis | Sarah McLachlan

One Life | Hedley (for something uplifting)

Skankin’ to the Beat | Fishbone (because it’s such a great song for going crazy and saying “FUCK IT!”)

Big love, fellow travelers, for all that you are and all that you wish to be.
Joanna :: xoxo

 

Photo by Dustin Scarpitti on Unsplash

 

 

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