Archive | Sacred pop culture

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.

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|| “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

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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.”

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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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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. |

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

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. |

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

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.

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

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

 

 

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Learning to read again.

Hello, ya’ll! I know it’s been a bit of time. I’m sorry I haven’t had much to say here, but life has been busy and really good. And I figured I should post something before the new moon on Wednesday. So, here we are.

I have been learning to read tarot cards. Maybe as part of my witchy skillz, but maybe just because I find them a fascinating divination tool. Probably both. In any case, I’m learning a lot and having a lot of fun with it.

In the past I have used my iPod as a tool for divination. You can read about that in this post. And while you may find that weird or funny, it worked well for me for years. In talking with a spiritual guide, she said there was an old Greek divination practice of asking yourself a question that needed solving, and then heading to the marketplace for the day, noticing if there were any pieces of conversations you were drawn to, or words you heard repeatedly, perhaps sentences that seemed insightful to the question. And in that way, you found clues to your answer. I think my iPod oracle is sort of like that.

So, as I’ve been learning the tarot I sometimes check in with both tools- asking the same question- and seeing what the results are, how they differ from one another, and how they differ from the actual outcome. It’s kinda cool to watch and learn from.

I also sometimes work with oracle cards, which are not like tarot at all, but are a deck of cards with archetypal images that share some bit of truth to help guide you. There are literally hundreds of oracle decks which cover just about any topic you can think of: plant medicine, angels, the great mother, animals, feminism, crystals. Pick your pleasure, there is a deck of oracle cards for you. But they are not like tarot, which is a very particular set of cards with meanings that have not changed over the years. I like the power that resides in having millions of humans invest their energy in the tarot cards over the hundreds of years they have been around.

So, anyway…in my personal work, I draw one card from a very typical tarot deck (called the Rider-Waite deck). This deck I use for ‘daily’ kinds of questions. The cards feel very much like daily tools for asking and answering questions, seeking guidance, and just hanging with the energy of general life.

One day last week I drew the Five of Swords, reversed (when they show upside down, it’s called a ‘reversal’). I don’t typically use the cards as hard and fast rules about guidance or somehow knowing what’s ahead. They are more like energies I should be aware of, or be prepared to use, during that day. Sometimes it is totally spot on, and sometimes the card is only vaguely related to what happened. I think this is just because the tarot and I are getting acquainted. I hope the guidance will become clearer as time goes on.

 

The tarot card, The Five of Swords, upside down on a table with a candle and a bowl of salt

Five of Swords, reversed.

 

The Five of Swords, reversed is a reminder to step away from the conflict and drama; to accept loss with grace; and sometimes to understand that “all lies come out into the open.” For me, this was clear guidance to lay some groundwork on preparing my friends and family for my upcoming book. Two weeks ago I was granted a trademark on the phrase, “The Sex Surge” and my book should be coming out in late Oct/early Nov this year. And while I’ve not lied about things, I haven’t always told the whole truth, and now it’s definitely time to do that (I’ve had practice recently. The hubs got the whole, final download about 40s guy – there were 3 things I left out- and all the writing and emotions about Younger Guy. We had some things to discuss, but it all worked out well- see below). Knowing the truth is what actually protects our loved ones from harm.

So, you see how the tarot could be used as a guidance or divination system. Of course, sometimes what we perceive as ‘divination’ is also just us looking for confirmation of what we believe (called ‘confirmation bias’). I think that working with divination systems also requires you to have good self-awareness (so you’re less likely to bullshit yourself) and a connection with your own intuition or internal way of knowing.

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

In my practice I also use other decks for deeper questions or broader time ranges. For instance, last week I pulled this set of cards. Two are from The Wild Unknown tarot and two are from the Inner Hue oracle deck (which I like because it uses archetypal images and all of the chakras).

 

a table with two tarot cards and two oracle cards on it with a plant and a small cup nearby

Ace of Swords, Two of Pentacles, Abundance, and Healer.

 

The Ace of Swords is about letting truth lead the way (interesting to be coupled with the Five of Swords, reversed); being courageous and assertive. The Two of Pentacles is about weighing our options, making comparisons, and getting a handle on things while remaining very flexible. The Abundance card is about…abundance, but also just being open, light, and receptive. Then, the Healer card- also very obvious to it’s meaning, but it also felt like a grounding of that energy within myself.

I really had no sense of what this meant, but I trusted that there was guidance in it. Turns out it was exactly what happened last week. I let truth, my truth, the Truth, lead the way in some places I wasn’t opening up to. Into Tuesday and Wednesday I was dealing with work stuff and balancing a schedule that would be chaotic by week’s end. Thursday I figured out how to slightly re-orient my business to make it more profitable. And Friday I spent doing a lot of healing work through clarifying words and concepts and making space for all shades of mental health.

So! Super cool that the cards were kind of showing me the layout for the week. Now, as stated, I don’t know that it always goes this well, but it was interesting to watch the week unfold and see how the cards related to the events. Other weeks, I’m sure, won’t be as clear, but it was cool to have this one just work.

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

In comparison to all this, on Saturday I set my indoor bike trainer up, got on my bike, put my earphones in and said, “Please just give me whatever guidance you have.” I hit ‘shuffle’ and started to pedal. This is what I got:

I Like Me Better by Lauv 

I Hate Myself For Lovin’ You by Joan Jett and the Black Hearts

So, this is obviously about Younger Guy. I Like Me Better is his song in my energetic dictionary. I have no idea whether I Hate Myself is to be taken literally or just some piece I missed or what (not that I love him or hate myself for any of it; I think this is about him). What’s also curious is that Younger Guy has been gone for 6 or 8 weeks now. I sometimes think he comes around in stealth mode, but I don’t know enough about him to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ on what I see. So, this is very weird that I should be getting guidance on anything about him.

Immediately after this was:

No Envy, No Fear by Joshua Radin

All The Right Moves by OneRepublic

Also weird because No Envy, No Fear is a song I associate with 40s Guy. It’s a very old energy I used to sense he was capable of, but now I know he’s not. (He’s a terrible kind of human: he is in pain, and he causes others great pain, because he refuses to deal with his pain. And he knows it.) The second song has a super clear meaning to me because it’s about a particular aspect of the place we used to work together. So, I think this is a message about his work and his feelings for it. (I called him out on something a few weeks ago and since then it’s been very interesting to watch is behavior; he’s playing games he doesn’t understand and it’s kind of funny.)

[Complete aside but interesting here: one thing I have learned from Younger Guy and 40s Guy and a lot of the married, hetero dudes I know is that once a guy is satisfied in his relationships, he doesn’t seem to bother other women. I have sent much good juju to Younger Guy that he would either find his person or be put on the path to her; I hope his absence means it worked. 40s Guy is still unhappy, I would guess, based on his behavior. If he was happy, he would be focused elsewhere, he wouldn’t give a shit about bugging me. Human hetero men are so weird and so interesting.]

Then:

Just Like a Chap by Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer

Too Lost in You by the Sugababes

Crack the Shutters by Snow Patrol

Ah, these are all about my husband. Just Like a Chap is most definitely a song I associate with him and only him*. The other two are relevant to our relationship (Crack the Shutters is one of my favorite, playful love songs; totally reminds me of our first, very poor, years together).

So, this is the ‘guidance’ my iPod gave me. Because of what the guidance was about my husband- either pointing towards how he’s feeling about me or towards more love and depth in our relationship- I suspect that the other songs have something to do with my relationship with those dudes. Maybe it’s also just simply an indication of where they are at, how their lives are going. I don’t know, but I’m willing to learn by listening to this energy.

In cases like these, I tend to let things play out and see what happens. I’m not making any big or definite decisions based on what I’ve been given for guidance. If I was concerned about any of this, I would ask the cards or the Ipod a more specific question and see what came up (I’d probably also do it over a series of days to see how things averaged out). I have also wondered if the iPod is slightly less effective than it used to be because I’m hanging out with the tarot cards now. Shifting connection and energies isn’t always a clean process.

Learning to read tarot cards, their guidance, has been a fun experiment so far. I will definitely keep going with it. The tarot cards are really just a symbolic map through the Hero’s Journey (or, Life), and I like that idea. My iPod has a lot of variety, but it doesn’t have a specific map like the tarot does. (But maybe that’s something to play with, as well- finding a song for each tarot card. Ack! Fun! Imma do that!) I hope that with time and practice I will get better at reading the cards, their energy, and sussing out what that all means in practical terms. Until then, I’m still part science and part woo woo.

Hope you’re doing well, fellow travelers. See you again Wednesday.
Big love,
Joanna :: xoxo

 

*’Chap’ is a sub-culture that enjoys a return to some of the more refined times. You can read Gustav Temple’s How To Be Chap, if you’d like to know more. It mostly involves a lot of tweed and putting it together in well-curated outfits. The Chap Olympiad is also fun to look at.

 

 

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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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