Archive | Ritual

Solstice + Full Moon

Let me tell you a story about what it looks like when the energies of the year and the planets (and moons) hit people who are sensitive to them. It’s about the Winter Solstice today, the darkest day of the year, and the full moon that is happening on the same day. The dark and the light.

Yesterday was a shit show for me. The perfect storm of difficulties.

I am on meds that mess with my HPA axis and so I have been dealing with excess cortisol (by ‘excess’ I mean my body is being constantly flooded with cortisol. It makes me feel anxious, tired, scritchy, and I don’t sleep very well. This is not great for my attitude.)

I am prepping for the holidays. Anyone will tell you this is stressful, even as it’s fun.

PMS. (Enough said.)

We are getting our rescue dog tomorrow, which is also joyful-stressful.
(Oh, my god, she’s so cute!)

I engaged with the idiots. (I am forever trying to point out, “Hey, your life could be better if you’d stop X.” Surprisingly, it never works. <– That’s a joke. I gotta learn to stop; it’s a huge energy drain.)

Not enough meditation.

Not enough sleep.

Desire without grounding.

Not enough sensual practice.

That’s the dark. That’s the Solstice part. This day of the year is the day with the most dark, the least daylight, of the year. It’s a time when we turn inward, towards what is deeper in our hearts and minds. We all know that our internal landscape differs from year to year (and day to day). But this day is also for celebrating the darkness inside ourselves. I am particularly fond of this practice, but when it feels chaotic, like yesterday, it’s harder to want to turn inwards and connect with it all. At the end of yesterday, I thought “What the fuck is wrong with me?!?” Which is always a good way to know I’m looking at my darkness- the behaviors that make me wonder who I am, because they don’t fit the picture I have of myself.

 

Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

 

On the flip side is the full moon. Although, maybe it’s not the flip side. The full moon illuminates our lives- shows us what’s working and what isn’t. It is a place to see clearly into our deeper emotions, desires, needs, and fears. Again, sometimes this is beautiful and sometimes it’s not. It can also be the phase of fruition, or a reminder of our fullness.

I tend to get a little ‘buzzy’ around the full moon. My energy is heightened and I feel a little jolt of electricity all over – although, with the cortisol, who could tell the difference? Because of the dark, though, the moon is shining her light on where and how I understand my darkness and how I make use of it.

After the shit show of events yesterday, I meditated for an hour. It was very grounding. (There’s an old adage that says, “If you can meditate for 30 minutes, do that. If you can’t meditate for 30 minutes, meditate for an hour.” Meaning, if you can’t find the time to meditate, you probably need it worse. It’s true.)

I had a good cry. The kind that opens your heart.

I read something really beautiful about blow jobs and it helped me understand why I enjoy giving them so much.* (I’ll share it later, it really resonated for me.)

I watched The Sound of Music and the song, “My Favorite Things” reminded me that I’m most satisfied and grounded when I’m in my sensual practices. I made space for them last night.

A friend reminded me that I have no understanding of the magic that is retail scheduling, so maybe I should just chill.

I turned back towards a practice I found useful in the Sex Surge- to notice the difference between a superficial want -to see someone NOW- and my deeper desire -for connection and communication. When I connect with the deeper desire, the ego is less involved, and I can be far more patient. (The person I’m trying to connect with was also kind enough to stop by and let me know they are still there. It was noticed and appreciated.)

Enjoyed some super….slow…sex. Super slow. Squeezing every little bit of pleasure out of each movement and connection and it really helped me get back in the wholeness of myself- not just my mind, not just my body, but the fully connected whole.

The light of the full moon showed me what was and wasn’t working, what I needed to get back to, and that there was still a fullness inside my self that I could turn to, believe in, and use to support myself. My sensual practices, my delight in sex, the feeling of when I am fully in my body (not just my head!) all helped me to recover a sense of myself. That’s not to say there isn’t work to do on some of my dark spots- engaging with the idiots, lack of meditation, superficial wants- but that turning back towards my light gives me the strength and support to work on my darkness.

Certainly, this is the essence of the Solstice- to be drawn inwards, to see the dark, but also to find comfort and warmth and connection such that we can deal with the darkness. There is a reason these ‘festivals of light’ happen at this time of year- it is to remind us that we are in the dark, but that the light still exists. It will probably still take me a few days to get back on top of myself, but that’s also the beauty of the Solstice and the full moon- the energy lasts for a few days; it gives us time to work with things.

Tonight we will be having our Solstice meal by candlelight and exchanging handmade gifts and finding gratitude for this darkest day of the year. I hope you find your dark and your light on this Solstice + full moon night, too, fellow travelers.

Big love from the inside of the mess,
Joanna :: xoxo

* If you read any of my posts and think, “OMG, a woman who likes sex and blow jobs!” and you think friending me on Facebook is a good idea, let me just say: nope. I don’t accept friend requests from dudes I don’t personally know. But also: I talk about these things not to excite men, but because I believe ALL women should be able to talk about their sexual needs, likes, dislikes, preferences, expression, etc. – and not have it be a big fucking deal. I (or any woman) should be able to say, “Jeeze, I really need an orgasm today,” in line at Starbucks and not have people laugh, cringe, or freak out. I talk openly about my sexuality because more women need to do it so it’s fucking normalized. If women don’t feel safe talking about their sexual needs in front of you, you might wanna ask yourself why. Also: I have a husband and he’s the only one getting any of that action from me for the foreseeable future (because safety). If you wanna talk to me, there is a contact form and an email address available to you.

 

 

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Crap Day? Christmas Songs!

I think it’s time for a new post, and this is all I could come up with. Today has been a day where, quite literally, everything has slipped through my hands. A pot of boiling fudge (which did not set and I can’t figure out why- also: way fun cleaning burnt sugar off the stove. Ugh.), a large knife, the opportunity to connect with someone, plans for shopping, and I also had to update my operating system and reboot some devices. It’s not like my life imploded, but it was just one of those days where there was a theme, and the theme was not good.

So, tonight I am sitting on the couch, trying to recall the good from this week. A lunch invitation from a flirt at the battery store (it’s nice to know you still got it sometimes!). The non-setting fudge still tastes pretty good. Rediscovering “7” by Prince and the New Power Generation- I forgot how damn cool that song is. Dancing my ass off to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” while I made dinner (there is now teriyaki sauce on the cupboard door- whoops!). This warm cup of vanilla and rooibos tea next to me. Sleeping in this morning. And Christmas music.

With that, I shall commence sharing with you my List of Unsung Heroes of Christmas Music. Or, rather, Songs I Like But No One Else Does. Here you go:

Christmas Wrapping | The Waitresses

Listen, from one perspective, this is total cheese. But I don’t care. I love it. I have since the first time I heard it. It’s endearing and honest and fun and I listen to it about 12 times over the holidays.

 

Stop the Cavalry | The Cory Band

I dig this song because it sounds like something from the Trans Siberian Orchestra (all Christmas-y), but it’s actually a war protest song. Love.

 

Celebrate Me Home | Kenny Loggins

When I get down about being away from Seattle during the holidays, this song expresses what I feel.

 

Auld Lang Syne | Dan Fogelberg

The older I get, the better I understand, and empathize with, this song. It’s lovely. And true.

 

Christmas Is Coming | John Denver and the Muppets

I love this whole album, but I especially love this exchange between Miss Piggy and Grover:

Miss P: “Piggy pudding? Did they say, ‘piggy??’ ”

Grover: “No, it’s ‘figgy.’ It’s made with figs…”

Miss P: “Oh, okay!”

Grover: “…and bacon.”

Miss P: “…what?!?”

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

The Best Christmas | Christopher Cross

I love this still, but it was especially poignant when my kids were small.

 

Wintersong | Sarah McLachlan

This is for the grief that comes with the holidays. The people we can’t be with (for whatever reason) even if we want to. It is a reminder to think of them at their best and happiest. If I need to cry, this is the song.

 

As a former Christian, this time of year still feels a tiny bit weird. I remember when I really believed deeply that this holiday was about the birth of the Christ-child. It seems silly now, but that’s just spiritual growth for ya. (I still think Christianity is plenty useful for some folks, just not for me.) And I return to traditional songs like “Joy to the World,” “O, Holy Night,” and “Carol of the Bells” during this time as well. I wouldn’t be where I am today without that part of the journey, but it is like looking at an old photo of myself- I know I’ve changed and it’s not who I am anymore.

One thing I love is how music can transport us to any place in our life in just a moment. It makes time travelers of us all, which is kind of cool. I hope your holiday memories are sweet, this year and always.

Big love and going to bed,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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Happy New Year’s Eve!

It’s Halloween, or Samhain (please, say “sow-in”- that’s how it’s pronounced in the original Gaelic), and it marks the end of the year for pagans.

I haven’t danced much this year in the new house, I realized today as I was struck by a song on the radio and stood there, still and calm. It was “Breathe (2 AM)” by Anna Nalick and I closed my eyes as I listened. The sun came out and I turned towards it and felt the heat on my face and how it looks like your eye lids are all lit up when the sun comes through them while your eyes are closed. I was not dancing, but it was magic nonetheless.

When the song was done, I went to meditate. I lit the candles and got the sage smoking (that’s not a euphemism) and prayed to my ancestors. Both sets of great grandparents, now long dead. My Papa, who died a few years ago, but it still feels like I saw him last week. And to a newly dead great uncle- a very loving man who raised very loving sons and made the world a better place with his smile and corny jokes. The veil being thin this time of year, I thanked them for how their lives brought me forth and for the ways in which their spirits guide me every day.

I thought about the year past. Mostly it was difficult things I thought of. How I felt ridiculous and immature and incapable and not ready for so many things that happened. But also how I felt glad that I’d taken risks and been stupid and learned things about myself and my life and what I want to be and become.

That is probably what I like best about this ‘end of year’ versus the traditional New Year’s Eve: we recognize and celebrate the darkness in ourselves. We let it out to play. The part of us that might murder, the vengeful place inside our hearts, the seductress, the cruel one, the clown, the dead parts of ourselves- they all come out as Halloween costumes and we celebrate them. We reward them with candy, even! I think it’s incredibly valuable to recognize these parts of ourselves during this celebration and love them up, because magic doesn’t come from being good, it comes from being whole.

So, I sat at my altar and felt all the things: how feeling ridiculous is exactly like when I hit my funny bone in my elbow, but spread throughout my whole body. How I’d given bits of myself away and began calling them back. How it felt to remember things from long ago- painful things- and letting my heart hurt again. Regret. Regret sits like a mask atop my eyes but also drops down into my heart. I’m glad to have regret instead of wondering, even if it does feel like a weight. The various other feelings that needed space to be recognized and felt stopped by, too. It was sort of an ego death* parade.

I also took a few moments to send good wishes to those who had helped me in some way this past year- helped me learn, grow, understand. Even those who helped me feel regret or ridiculous- because they helped me know myself better.

And then I asked my ancestors to speak to me. The veil between the worlds is thin today and the next few days, so I believe their energy and messages come through to us living folks more easily, if we are open to them.

After it was all done, I took a very long, very hot shower. Not as a means of cleansing, but as a way of stewing in all of those things I felt. Today isn’t the day for getting all pretty and clean and free- it’s the day to recognize how dirty and broken and deliciously fucked up we are, and celebrate it anyway.

It turned out that the song I listened to was exactly right for today. “Just breathe,” she sings. Whatever comes, we accept it. And we breathe. Today I let all the ugly come up, watched the year march through me, and accepted all of it. Tonight I will celebrate it.

Much love to you, fellow travelers. I hope your Halloween is full of fright and fun- and I hope you get to be yourself, your whole self.

Joanna :: xoxo

 

Photo by Kento Iemoto on Unsplash

 

* Ego death is not what Jason Silva talks about on Facebook. Ego death is when we realize that something we’ve been attached to or believed strongly in (usually something that defines us) is either not true (as in, it’s actually a lie) or is no longer true for us. Examples:

  • I am a good person.
  • My marriage is safe.
  • There is a heaven.
  • I can have what I want.
  • I’m not broken.
  • I have a long life ahead of me.
  • God is only masculine.
  • If I am good, I will get what I want.

When we have an ego death, it’s a usually a horrible surprise: something we didn’t expect to be true, is. And it shocks us into a new reality. A reality where what we wanted or needed to believe is clearly no longer true. The part of our ego that was attached to that, that really, really wanted it to be true, has to die in that moment of understanding. So, ego death is the shock that opens us up to greater truth (even, probably especially, when we don’t like it or want it). It’s an incredibly valuable process. It’s better to seek it out than avoid it, if you ask me.

 

 

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moons and seasons

I know I post about the moon regularly, and that certainly helps keep me in my own loop about where I am physically and emotionally in this ever-changing world. But I keep wanting to go back to a couple of practices I used to share here. Namely, noticing the seasons and naming my sensual pleasures and supports. I think it’s time to combine them. And because today was the ultimate in transition (see pictures), I’d like to start today.

Today, April 2nd, at 9 am.
It was the kind of snow you wanted on December 24th- fat, fluffy flakes floating downward.

 

Today, April 2nd, 4 pm.
This was also the kind of snow you wanted on December 24th- the kind that
cleans itself up by the afternoon commute.

 

One thing I’d like to do with this practice is list what sensual supports I used and enjoyed in the previous/ending season, and then list what sensual supports I hope or plan to use and enjoy in the coming/beginning season – and then see what I actually end up enjoying. So, here we go!

Winter’s Sensual Supports

black tea with too much sugar and cream
flannel sheets
nubby wool socks for bed
crocheted afghans
Star Wars
70s Lite Rock on Pandora
the sunshine of this song
putting up pictures
dreaming of Paris
gluten free oreos
longer, hotter showers
heavy black, leather boots (rainbow laces!)
laughter and snuggling
prayer + meditation
candles
the big silver earrings that ‘tinkle’ all day when I wear them
extra sweatshirts
homemade beef stew
hot bread with butter
popcorn!
listening and helping
building fires
the sound of them crackling
day trips with good friends
the feeling of being warm enough
watching the sun come up on my bike
books about witches
naps!
cleaning off the altar
daydreaming while I read
sorting through my feelings and letting go
the OMD concert

 

Sensual Seeds for Spring

first day with the windows down and the music up in my car
leather jacket + sweatshirt (instead of winter coat)
running outside again
green tea
ee cummings poems
Irish soda bread and Guinness stew
opening the windows
the blue bed spread
reading William Stafford (although, he’s really best in the Fall)
Snow Patrol station on Pandora
Snow Patrol’s new album (there’s nothing quite like poetry from a former priest)
short-sleeved white t-shirts + jeans
naps in the papasan
crocus’ arriving
licking the bowl
nights that are warm enough to sit outside in the dark
the smell of Spring
rain (I’m the only person in Rhode Island who loves it when it rains)
the sound of water running and children laughing
walking to the bus stop
cleaning out books (to make way for more, obvs)
prom
a new corset
almond-scented lotion
first glass of lemonade
touching fingertips
watching new green things push through the earth
growing peas

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

This is where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I hope to go. The pleasures of this life I hope to delight in. What are yours this coming Spring?

Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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when prayer doesn’t work

‘nope. fuck that. your body is still your body. your arms still wings, your mouth still a gun. you tragic monster, misfiring bird. you have all you need to be a hero. don’t save the world, but do save yourself. when prayer doesn’t work: dance, fly, fire.’

Danez Smith || “Director’s note: a note on the body for my 20 year old self.”

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

Sometimes prayer doesn’t ‘work’ because we don’t get what we want. And sometimes it doesn’t work because we can’t connect to Center, to The Something. I have had years of being disconnected, when prayer didn’t work in either of these ways. And it was always the body that carried me through. Something within me that would not let go- call it ‘faith’ or ‘heart’ or ‘soul.’ There are always paths to the sacred when prayer does not work: body, arms, mouth.

How do you save yourself, fellow travelers? When prayer doesn’t work, what is your path?

Big love from the trail,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

 

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