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




Why spiritual people do ‘crazy’ things

So, being a spiritual person and wanting to access the different realms of human experience…and also loving science and how that informs the world in which we experience our spiritual self…sometimes the spiritual experiences I and other people have are outside of what has been defined and verified by science. So sometimes being outside that ‘verifiable’ zone looks like we do, think, or feel ‘crazy’ (that is to say: not well understood) things.

I have very clear memories of my prayers as a child and adolescent. Praying to god (the white, male one) and asking for help or my heart’s desire or whatever. When I was done I often felt some kind of peace or grace (the sense that things would eventually be okay, even if they weren’t at this moment) or direction. I might open a book I was reading, or the Bible, and find some guidance that fit my situation (some call this ‘bibliomancy’ or ‘lectio divina’). Being a student of science and psychology, I often have to wonder if confirmation bias – the psychological precept where humans tend to accept information that confirms our ideas or preferences – was part of what I felt. I think that sometimes confirmation bias is at work in spiritual ‘insights’ and sometimes it isn’t. I think we have to know ourselves to understand what’s at play in our psyche and when (which is why meditation and therapy should be part of the spiritual path, if you ask me).

In my spiritual work, I receive many different kind of guidance. Sometimes I ask about two choices and the better choice is somehow different than the lesser choice- it might be brighter or clearer or something. Sometimes I will see a sign or symbol over and over again (might be a car, a song, a number, or some animal) and I believe it is guidance. Sometimes I ask a question in the ‘ether’ (a place beyond but including this world) and I’ll read something that is the perfect answer to my question. It’s weird, it’s unverifiable, and it can look ‘crazy’ to outsiders.

The thing about spiritual guidance, though, is that what truly comes from spirit, what truly comes from some place deeper and wider than this human experience, always (in my experience) helps us be better, grow, or heal. True spiritual answers are sometimes fucking hard to deal with. True spiritual answers are not always what we want or wish for. True spiritual answers are good for our soul, whether our ego likes it or not.

When I wanted an affair, the spiritual answer was super clear: my soul belongs with my husband. The spiritual answer was painful – let go. I didn’t want that to be the answer, but it was.

When I ask for guidance between two options, and see one is the path I should take, that doesn’t mean it’s a path I will like. But 100% of the time it’s been the path that was best for my growth and understanding the world in a new way or developing more compassion for humankind, which is what one would expect to be found in soul guidance.

Sometimes the answers are exactly what I hope for. I prayed for a daughter after we had a son, and that’s what we got. (Yes, also science! But there was something spiritual there, too. I didn’t know I was pregnant with her for 11 weeks.)

A few months back I was having a fight with my intuition, frustrated with it, and there was this really clear voice inside me that said, “You definitely deserve a coffee and a gluten free donut; go to that place up the street. But, like, go now.” I did. I got my purse and shoes and headed out the door. And while at the coffee shop, I met a couple from Seattle, my hometown. We talked about the ways in which Rhode Island is really weird, exchanged contact info, and later had dinner together. I would not have gone except for the insistence of my intuition. Which looks completely ‘crazy’ to some people.

I listen and look for little intuitive nudges and guidance pretty much all day. Sometimes I go a different way to work or home or whatever at the insistence of my intuition. And I can’t really say that those decisions have lead to some miraculous experience or shift. But I do know that my life has always lead to the right moment and the right experience for me to learn and grow- and so I trust that those little nudges have helped to create the moments that have changed me. What would have happened, for instance, if I hadn’t left my dorm room at just the right moment to watch my future husband walking across campus? A little thing that lead to big things later.

It’s taken me years to learn to trust my intuition and look and listen for its nudges and other types of spiritual guidance. It takes practice and trust. Every time I’ve begun to work with some new tool, it’s felt really strange and uncomfortable. Staying with the practices, learning them and integrating them, has taken the fear away, of course. That doesn’t mean weird shit – even weird to me – still doesn’t come up for me to work with.

Let me tell you a story.

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The morning of Tuesday, June 12th, I felt something really weird in my body while I was driving to a presentation I was giving. It was an enjoyable sensation, but also something that clearly wasn’t coming from within my own body. It was sort of like happiness bubbling up in my chest and throat. It scared me, even as it felt nice. As I was pondering what the hell it was, I began to suspect that it was someone sending sex magic to me.

Which freaked me the fuck out on a couple of levels. Who was sending? Why? Was I supposed to feel it? Did other people feel it when I sent to them? Oh, my god- what if they did? I started to wonder about one person in particular.

I emailed my teacher. “Is it possible,” I asked, “for two people to send and receive energy from each other and actually feel it- all of it- both their own sending and the receiving from another person?” She replied, “It’s not unheard of between couples practicing Tantra, but for two people who are not involved with each other, it’s very rare.” Great.

I sat and stewed about it for a few days. I didn’t want this connection. I mean, I will grant you, it’s kinda cool to know that two people have a strong energetic connection, but I didn’t want it with this person, you know? And what if they were sending because they felt me sending to them (which I had done)? I didn’t know what to do. In the moment of not knowing what to do and feeling worried and weirded out, I felt the nudge to meditate. So I sat my ass on the cushion and meditated. It was helpful, full of grace and peace. It helped me stop overthinking and I went on with my day.

A few hours later I felt this weird desire to go look at Facebook. I look a few times a day, see what’s up, keep in touch with the algorithm, etc. But this time, a particular ad for a local university came up, and it was as if a waterfall of information fell into my brain and things began clicking together like a puzzle. In spiritual circles, we call this ‘a download’ because it feels like you’re getting a complete thing, a complete picture or guidance or even an entire class outline, that is downloaded into your brain, complete.  That ad was not because of my husband (who also works at a university), it was because of this person I feared I was connected to.

I began to think about how many times I’d seen that damn ad. It was a lot. I checked my little notation system. Sometimes that ad showed up multiple times a day. This person had been around a lot more than I suspected, and recently, too.

But the waterfall wasn’t just that realization. Other pieces of the puzzle clicked together. Back in September and October of last year, I would wake up in the morning, roll over, and feel like this person was laying next to me. It wasn’t a fantasy – something created in my head. It was the same as when you’re next to someone, but you close your eyes, and even though you can’t see them, you can feel them there. I wondered if we had been connected in this energetic way even all those months ago. He used to look at my picture on FB late at night- was he looking before he went to bed? And because we have this connection, was I picking up that energy the next morning? I began to realize it was not out of the realm of possibility. It’s fucking weird, and unverifiable, but I think that may be what happened.

And then, as I began to think about some of his other online behaviors, other puzzle pieces clicked into place. There was mutual attraction between us, but I realized that he used to come visit my Facebook page at times when he was sad, filled with grief, or feeling intense, unhappy emotions- because I think I felt those, too. When his friend died, when another friend was killed, months later when a semi-relationship failed, and again when the six month anniversary of one friend’s death came around. I think it was his grief I felt when I wrote this post. And the thing is, I don’t think he was looking at my picture multiple times on those occasions because of sexual desire. I think it had more to do with the desire for comfort, safety, or support.

So, here I am. Presented with this clarity about what this person I’m connected to was doing and why. My teacher says it’s quite possible for this type of energetic exchange to happen between two otherwise unconnected people. And while I was glad to have the clarity of knowing what went on, and perhaps why, I still didn’t want to be connected. I thought this person had left my online world in late May, but I realize now he hadn’t, in fact, he’d been trying to get my attention the day before all this happened (June 11th). I just hadn’t seen him because I was done and not really looking for connection anymore. Part confirmation bias and part energy shit is weird as fuck.

What’s even more weird is that now, with some of this new info, I had the opportunity to find him online. Just type the things I knew into Google and – boop! – there he was. It literally took me three days to decide whether to click on the Facebook link. Did I want to know? Did I want the burden of more energy connection? Did I want to know more about him? What good would it do me, or him? I decided to find out.

There was not much on his profile, but what was there confirmed a lot of things for me. Reasons besides physical attraction that I might have been interested in him. Things about his sense of humor that I recognized from other places in my life (a familiar energetic pattern). Even a weird thing I had been thinking about for almost 30 years showed up on his page (I have known, since I was 15, that I would have a set of boy+girl twins when I was 42; he has a twin sister, and we met when I was 42). It was both confirmation for a lot of things, and also a deep dive into the ‘crazy’ part of spiritual guidance and knowing.

I needed to talk to my teacher again. “What do I do?” I asked.

“What do you want to do?” she asked in return. “Do you want this connection?”

“Ha! Nope,” I replied. “Not in the least. First, he’s not attractive to me anymore (the beard, the immature behavior, he doesn’t know himself well yet). That’s always a big sign that things are over on my side of the equation. Second, he’s definitely his age which means not nearly enough life experience to have insight or wisdom, so that’s also a ‘no’ for me. It’s kinda funny…he sent me this energy on 6/12 and I was upset that it had anything to do with twelve, which is my favorite number, but now that seems totally right on because six is half of twelve, and he’s got half the years and half the experience I do. I don’t need an unbalanced energetic connection! Also, I think he can feel me just plain, old meditating sometimes, and I do not need that. Third, looks like he’s doing things and people that are age-appropriate, and I sure do not want to get in the way of that train, considering it took him months to let go…although, he still really hasn’t. But he’s getting better and I don’t want to interrupt that at all. He’s also afraid of me, and even if he found comfort or safety or whatever in looking at my picture, he never needed anything more than that, never reached out for any of that, so he’s also clear about what he doesn’t need or want. Lastly, it’s been almost a year since we first talked, and this seems a good time to return it back from whence it came. There’s just really nothing there and I don’t want to take the time or make the effort to create something, even if the energy is rare.”

“You’re pretty clear on all that,” she noted.

“Yes, I am. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks now. And, to be honest, I’d already processed through so much of this months ago. What do I do, though? What do I do with this, now that I know?”

“What do you want to do?” (By this time, I sort of hate this question.)

“I want to let him know that he’s got interesting energy and good magic and that he can touch what he wants if there’s an open channel, but that he probably needs to be clear about his intentions when he does this. My intention was always for his healing enough to leave me behind. I have zero idea what he was sending his magic to, except maybe to be noticed. Maybe to keep something so he could find the comfort or safety he was looking for. But he has that now. So I just want to move it along and let it go.”

“Then thank the Universe for letting you know what’s out there and do your work,” she told me.

“I will. It’s quite interesting to think about, when it comes down to it. We can communicate with other people through our minds and our energy. It’s very cool. But it’s time to set the boundaries. I can take the necessary steps and start with small spells. I know he knows better than to cross me too far. Yes, that feels right,” I said.


“…the spell’s begun…”


Today marks about the time we met a year ago. And so it seems a good day to tie off the ends of what no longer needs to be connected. I’ve been setting boundaries and today the small spells began. It is a thing science does not understand, but something I feel to be exactly right, energetically. Luckily, this time, it is both what my soul requests and it is what I want (a rare thing also). That’s how the spiritual life goes, I think. We listen. We trust. We try. Even if it looks ‘crazy’ to other people.


“Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.” 

Arthur C. Clarke




One Night at the Temple

This summer is the return to my musical roots. I have seen Depeche Mode (for the 18th? time) and will see two other acts soon. Last night, though, was a night at the Temple for a group special to my heart: Erasure. They are a pop-synth duo from England (aren’t all synth-pop duos from England?) and we played one of their songs as the recessional at our wedding. Some of their lyrics are tattooed on my husband’s shoulder as a tribute to me (and I also have lyrics on my shoulder as a tribute to him).

I had never seen them before, my husband had only seen them one other time. The lead singer, Andy Bell, had a cold, but he sang his heart out. The backup singers were gorgeous. The crowd was full of people who knew the music (so, no one under 30) and it was one of the best, simplest shows I’ve seen.

You can catch their playlist here. It was a good mix of old and new. But my faves are below. Enjoy!

Breathe | Video

Stood the test of time
Though I treated you rough you were always kind
I let my head rule my heart now I’m feeling so lonely
And I feel it’s the deal
You’re letting me go, gonna go

Breathe and I breathe
Hollow without you, I can’t live without you
And I’m in love with you


Blue Savannah | Video

Blue Savannah song
Oh blue Savannah song
Racing ‘cross the desert
At a hundred miles an hour
To the orange side
Through the clouds and thunder

My home is where the heart is
Sweet to surrender to you only
I send my love to you


Erasure: 2018.
(If you know the owner of these images, please tell me
so I can properly attribute.)


Chains of Love | Video

How can I explain when there are few words I can choose
How can I explain when words get broken

Do you remember there was a time, ahaha
When people on the street
We’re walking hand in hand in hand
They used to talk about the weather
Making plans together
Days would last forever

Come to me, cover me, hold me
Together we’ll break these chains of love


Love to Hate You | Video

For every Casanova that appears
My sense of hesitation disappears
Love and hate what a beautiful combination
Sending shivers up and down my spine

And the lovers that you sent for me
Didn’t come with any satisfaction guarantee
So I return them to the sender
And the note attached will read
How I love to hate you
I love to hate you
I love to hate you
I love to hate you


I Love Saturday | Video

If they’d ever have told me that I’d find true love in every way
Would I cry ’til tomorrow? Would I keep the non-believers away?
Was I shy? Was I good? With this foolish heart
Did I try to deny we would fall apart?


Erasure: Oh, the 90s!


Angel | Video

See how much you mean to me
You’re my electric symphony in blue
Just one look in your eyes, maybe I was hypnotized by you

You told me on the telephone of a picture so serene
And the beat goes on, feels like a fever burning & I say

Yes to your love and there’s no secrets
High and ascending, delving deeper
Fly like an angel wings unfurling
Fanning the flames of love eternal


Always | Video

Open your eyes I see
Your eyes are open
Wear no disguise for me
Come into the open

Always, I want to be with you
And make believe with you
And live in harmony, harmony oh love


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That’s it for today, fellow travelers. Big love from me in the bathroom at the House of Blues, yelling at my kids, that “I love (them), but I’m at a concert!!!”

Joanna :: xoxo

PS- Just because we’re visiting the 90s, I will also add Dancehall Days (by Wang Chung, I know…). “Take your baby by the wrist, and in her mouth an amethyst…”




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.”


| 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




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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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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…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



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:

Big change.
Imbalances shown.
Where are things not fitting?
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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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