Featured

Emerging from the Mist with Marbles

Preparation for the journey.

I have been traveling through a dark mist for a long time.

That’s what it feels like, being in therapy. For me, at least. But then, I am naturally drawn to analysis and drama – Virgo Sun, Leo Rising – a clear indication for those of you who follow astrology that this blog is going to be all about my critical analysis of me. Mostly. But it’s a spiritual journey I’m embarking on, so a) it should be about me and b) this world and my life aren’t barren wastelands – others will be along shortly.

But, back to the point, I’ve been in a therapy mist for the last 18 months (incidentally, shout out to my VA coverage and the lovely men and women there who have to deal with me on the regular). I’ve been in therapy for MST (Military Sexual Trauma for those of you without an advanced training in military acronyms) or, more generally, for PTSD, which is the actual diagnosis. This has not been my favorite year and a half ever.

Why tell you this? Heavens, so many reasons! Right now, though this is to set the stage, briefly describing where I’ve been and why I’ve decided to embark on this soulful transit. So, describing:

PTSD is a way of relating to the world in the absence of healing after trauma – a sort of whole life generalized and extended fight or flight response, if you will. It’s fairly rare, though not as rare as we might like and that number depends on the statistics you pull and whether you believe those numbers to be accurate (I don’t). It can happen after one event or it can accumulate over time. Mine was over time, at the ages of 8, 20, and 22. All three involved very different relationships and types of trust. All three affected my view of myself and my faith in my ability to make sound judgments in regards to other people in one way or another.

And after several years of self-imposed isolation and more than a year of therapy, all three have taught me about myself, about thinking, about trust, about power, about observation, and about healing. It has been rough, it is still ongoing, but it has taken me to a place now where I finally feel capable of connecting with my deep inner truth and connecting with other people in a deeper, more compassionate way – all of which takes trust.

The wise and always candid Brené Brown went over the Anatomy of Trust on Super Soul Sessions with Oprah, which resonated so deeply with me. She equates trust with the concept of a marble jar, trusting those who have put in small acts of trust over time with the really hard stuff. After seeing how trust played out in her data, she looked in the research on trust and betrayal by John Gottman, and the first phrase she read was, “Trust is built in the smallest of moments.” And in these small moments is the opportunity to betray as well by choosing not to connect when the opportunity is there. So she set about studying what it is that makes up trust, what are the marbles we put in our jars. It’s amazing talk that I linked below, however, I have summarized for expediency and clarity:

Trust is a big word, right? …. I found a definition from Charles Feltman… “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else… distrust is what I have shared with you that is important to me is not safe with you.” … Do I know what trust is from the data? And I think I do know what trust is, and I put together an acronym: BRAVING… because when we trust we are braving connection with someone.

B – Boundaries: I trust you if you are clear about your boundaries and you hold them, and you are clear about my boundaries and you respect them. There is no trust without boundaries.

R – Reliability: Reliability is you do what you say you are going to do over and over  and over again. You cannot gain and earn my trust if you are reliable once, because that is not the definition of reliability.

A – Accountability: I can only trust you if, when you make a mistake, you are willing to own it, apologize for it, and make amends.  I can only trust you if, when I make a mistake, I am allowed to own it, apologize, and make amends.

V – Vault: What I share with you, you will hold in confidence. What you share with me, I will hold in confidence. … The Vault is not just about the fact that you hold my confidences. It’s that, in our relationship, I see that you value confidentiality… a lot of times we share things that are not ours to share as a way to hot wire connection with a friend.

I – Integrity: I cannot trust you… if you do not act from a place of integrity and encourage me to do the same… [Integrity is] choosing courage over comfort, choosing what’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values, not just professing your values.

N – Non-judgment: I can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by you and you can fall apart, ask for help, and be in struggle without being judged by me. Which is really hard because we are better at helping than we are at asking for help, … if you can’t ask for help and they cannot reciprocate that, that is not a trusting relationship. … You cannot judge yourself for needing help and not judge others for needing help.

G – Generosity: Our relationship is only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous thing about my words, intentions, and behaviors, and then check in with me.

One of the biggest casualties with heartbreak and disappointment and failure and our struggle is not just the loss of trust with other people, but the loss of self trust. … If braving relationships with other people is BRAVING connection, self trust is BRAVING self love, self respect, the wildest adventure we’ll ever take in our whole lives. … If your own marble jar is not full, if you can’t count on yourself, you can’t ask other people to give you what you don’t have, so we have to start with self trust.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewngFnXcqao

I know that there are some areas of self trust where I am doing well, but there are others where I have an abysmal track record. Specifically, honoring my own boundaries or, indeed, setting them at all, being reliable for myself, non-judgment, and generosity. I have to give myself opportunities to put marbles in my own jar.

So I have turned to my spirituality. I’ve always been the kind of person who is much more in my Mind than anywhere else, so it’s time to take that strength and use it to connect to my Body and my Soul, to temper my reliance on it with a more holistic approach to Self. To give myself chances to set goals and boundaries, so I can reliably work toward repairing the disconnect between Feeling and Thought and the Unknown.

In delving back into all of my more New Age-y interests, I have fallen into the deep well of astrology and I think it is a wonderful opportunity to share what I am learning (as I do believe we learn best through attempting to teach it) and to use it as a method of analyzing the multiple regions of my life and setting goals within them. Most people are aware of the Zodiac in the concept of “What’s your Sign?” Not everyone is aware that the question leaves out 95% of the process, focusing only on the Sun Sign, and that not always accurate if you are on a cusp. So a brief glimpse into the madness:

  • You have a Rising Sign, also known as the Ascendent, which is the exact degree of the sky the Eastern Horizon was at when you drew your first breath. To calculate this, you need your birth time and place of birth.
  • Each Planet, loosely named, has a Sign. They are the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto.
  • Each Sign has a planetary ruler (some share), an Element (known as a Quadruplicity), a Modality (Fixed, Cardinal, or Mutable), and polarity (Masculine/Feminine).
  • A star chart is broken up into 12 Houses, which are correlated with the constellations in the sky, so set on a 360 degree grid, starting with Aries. Each House represents a different aspect of life, which has a natural Sign and Ruling Planet associated with it.
  • Your Rising Sign sets the beginning of your Birth Chart, or Natal Chart, which means that each House, in addition to having a natural Sign and Ruling Planet, also has what is known as an accidental Sign and the Planetary Ruler of that Sign.
  • Aspects are the angles between Planets on the chart. Certain angles show benefits or communication between Planets, others show blockages or conflicts.

There are other points that can be taken into account for in depth readings, like points where the orbit of the moon passes the ecliptic of the Sun, certain specific stars or comets, and, of course, how your own birth chart interacts with another chart for your birthday each year or how it interacts with another persons chart. Relationships can have their own charts.

Mind-boggling and far more specific that you thought?

Well, I’m certainly not going to go into all of that, though I will bring up what I learn from time to time. If your interest is peaked, check out the resources in the widgets. Instead, I am going to commit to blogging at least once a week, on a topic in relation to the Houses. There is an order to them that is like a metaphor for the journey of life, so it seemed appropriate to use for a spiritual journey. The 1st House is in Aries, represents the Self and Identity, and is ruled by Mars, which represents our Passions and our Body. Also, as I’m starting this we are coming up on the beginning of the sign of Leo, which is my Rising Sign, so it seems an appropriate time for me to be starting this journey, especially in a public, yet self-directed way.

As with the beginning of life, I am choosing a name to use for this journey: Starshadow. It may be corny, but appropriately witchy for me and reinforces the astrology theme with the light side and shadow side of each Sign. The “Saharan” from my blog name come from my middle name, Sahara, which is Arabic for moon, also appropriate for astrology and the name my mother gave me, so represents my roots.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for joining me on this journey, however briefly you may stay.

 

The Crazy Train

Mars conjunct Uranus. The Daredevil Combination. Manic Energy. People with this combination include:  Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais, Robert Downy Jr., Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood, Lucy Liu, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For me, this combo is an endless source of pride and frustration. On the one hand, this combo gives me the passion and drive (Mars) to express (Leo House) my deepest thoughts and desires (Scorpio cusp) and philosophical standpoints (Sagittarius) and to own them without necessary imposing them on others (Uranus). I also attribute to this combo my ability to do things other people call brave without really thinking much about it, because I was in pursuit of something bigger – joining the Army during a time of war, joining the convoy security team and the QRF (Quick Reaction Force) team, studying abroad in Korea and bringing my 3-year-old son with me, walking alone at night (if I lost you there, that’s not really something women are supposed to do and many don’t). It’s probably also where I get my diverse taste in people and activities, including my sexual tastes (again Scorpio on the cusp and Sagittarius is known as the try-sexual sign).

On the other hand, some of the stuff above could be termed reckless. My Sun and Mercury are conjunct in Virgo in the 2nd House, which generally means I’m not into particularly risky things. I like to think things through and analyze the situation. But everything I described above didn’t feel reckless or risky when I was doing them. They felt natural.

I’ve mentioned before that maybe I don’t always make the best decisions in my love life. It probably comes down to impulse control. Funnily enough, I (generally) have pretty good impulse control in a lot of things: home, finances, work, shopping, homework…. but when it comes to school (and 5th House can represent your formal higher education – high school and early college), creative endeavors, and romance/sex…. I’m weird about that stuff. Both planets are energetic, independent, and somewhat impulsive.

Creativity:

butterfly pillow
It’s seen some wear and tear since 2010, but it’s still kicking. I used a suede pillow case and gold ribbon.

I will spend $50-100 at a craft or fabric store for supplies to make things I have every intention of making, usually by learning something I’ve never done before – it’ll sit in a bin forever or, maybe, I’ll do bits and pieces every so often. It took me years to complete a cross stitch butterfly and make it into a pillow. I did about 50% of it on the plane over to Kuwait my first deployment, picked it up now and again to do bits while deployed, let it sit in my packed up stuff for about 7 years, then finally finished it when I moved to La Crosse. I have a purse I’m crocheting for my best friend….. eventually. It’s about 2/3 done and I haven’t worked on it in almost a year. I have about 7 canvases waiting to be painted – I know what I want to paint, I have the stuff… just haven’t started… cuz, well, it’s work. And I want to get it right.

I have this amazing idea for personalized emergency spa kits for Christmas gifts…. I’ve had this idea for 3 years and the only reason I don’t have all the stuff for it is because I’ve managed to remind myself that I have about 6000 other projects and why would this one be any different? And I still have to stay out of certain aisles at Michael’s, so I don’t walk out with all the stuff. Seriously, last year I had a basket full of the supplies and I literally had to set it down and flee the store. I never do that – I always put back what I don’t intend to buy, but I knew if I didn’t leave right then, I would buy all the supplies at a time when I really couldn’t afford it.

Sexuality:

Cut out pin up

Both Mars and Uranus are about putting yourself out there in different ways – Mars does it through physicality, either putting your body in harm’s way or pursuing what you desire; Uranus does it through mentality, specifically on a spiritual and collective level by, more or less, owning your weird. I am very likely to approach the people I am interested in and not to feel personally affronted if they aren’t into me that way. I am much less comfortable the other way around.

My sense of romance is off beat and detached. I’m not a flowers and jewelry kind of girl. The sexiest things you can do are 1) show me something you’re intensely interested in but makes you feel vulnerable sharing, and 2) bring things to my attention you think I would be interested in because you’ve taken the time to get to know me. Nothing ignites my passion faster. That being said, most of the time, my interest doesn’t last long. I’ve had more than a few times where I’ve had a really electric energy with someone and an intense curiosity and, once that has been explored a bit, it’s gone and I’m just done with the relationship or experience. More often than not, I become more detached through physical experiences. The only way to keep me interested is to keep my mind engaged.

Education:

Sooooo….. I have a bachelors. Not too impressive, except that I got it while raising a child as a single mother and working a lot at the same time. But I love to learn and to go deep with it (that freaking Scorpio and Sag combo again). I love higher learning, philosophy, psychology, sociology, history, politics (I also hate politics), languages, cultures, physiology, biology, scientific inquiry and systems.  I have a knack for spotting patterns and making connections between the different subjects I’m learning. I’m not super into math, but taking Statistics was interesting because it applied to philosophy (Normal is only normal because it’s average and everything averages out eventually – it’s actually a Law in math).  

Running inside a brainThe problem with this is I have too many interests, I can see how things are connected and so I want to learn all the tangential stuff, too, and I don’t have a lot of time. For most of my college career, I had a double major and a double minor, and I still took classes that didn’t apply to any of them. Like Introduction to Computer Programming (I already had the math credits and an overabundance on the language credits). The semester before I graduated, at a meeting to discuss Student Teaching, I realized I was not going to be able to finish the Eds portion of my degree due to money (not schooling itself – living expenses, travel expenses, and the fact that you really can’t work during student teaching, especially if you have other responsibilities).

I dealt with this (after an internal rant on socioeconomic status vs education – a nice Mars-Uranus blend actually, and a candid conversation with the Dean of the School of Education) by looking at my options, reminding myself that having the Education portion of my English Ed degree wasn’t imperative for teaching abroad, and realizing I could graduate next semester if I switched to English: Writing and Rhetoric. And it’s a good thing I did that, because even cutting my 2 semesters down to 1 semester, I graduated with 159 credits. Had I done things differently, I would be 1 credit off a Masters. Also, had I continued on my then educational path, I would have run up against the school’s 160 credit rule and my tuition would have gone way up. Funny that none of my advisers noticed this.

Driving Ms. Crazy:

All in all, I don’t know that this is something that I’ll ever really have under control. It’s not an “in-control” combination. But, that being said, I think I can work with it. Since I have a lot going on here and the planets have a lot going on, one of the suggestions for balancing this energy is to incorporate energy from the House opposite, in this case, the 11th House, ruled by Aquarius. I see this as looking at my self-expression and creativity in terms of community needs, not just my own. Fortunately, social justice is a passion of mine. I’m hoping here soon, when I tone down my work life, I can really start to get more involved in my community and turn my creative pursuits toward that.

Also, several astrologers recommended physical exercise, specifically yoga or martial arts. I’ve been wanting to do that for quite some time, so I want to get a regular class in one of those areas in my routine, which will be perfect to do as part of my 6th House – the House of Health and Daily Routine.

Other than that, I’ll keep you posted on any crazy developments.

Abundance Anxiety

I’ve been meaning to finish up a few posts on the 5th House, but having a hard time getting down how I want to write about it (the first draft was too dry, the second is too dramatic) and, really, this week has been CRAZY.

So, horoscopically, I was supposed to have a good week financially. Here’s what happened:

Tuesday:

Literally 2 hours after I told my partner that I was having a difficult time not looking for a nice new couch because I needed to save my money for closing costs and rent for the next few months in case I can’t find a subleaser, my realtor texted me to ask if I’d be interested in a free couch – I would just need to pick it up today. As I could actually do that (a stroke of luck in and of itself), I said, yes, as long as I could put it in the garage at the new house, which was agreed upon.

I got a truck and ended up with a very nice, beautiful teal, cushy, large couch, a queen size bed with basic frame, and a twin size bed with a basic frame. The owners didn’t have room for them in their new place and the Salvation Army and Restore wouldn’t be able to get them for another week and a half. We took them to my new house and got to put them in the house because the Seller is almost out and it would just be easier (her words – I think she feels bad because she was supposed to be out already, but I’m totally fine with it.)

The Seller at my house stated she would need a little extension to be out (again not a problem for me) and asked to barter for it (apparently, after the initial closing date it costs her money to be there and, really, quite a lot of money). I had been hoping I would have enough cash to buy the lawnmower for $100, since I don’t have one and know I will need one. She is giving me the lawnmower, a nice ladder, some paint for the spare bedroom and bathroom (in case of any scuffs and such upon move in and for touch ups down the line), a bag of mulch for the garden (along with all the seed packets, so I know what is in it), a linen cupboard, and a large rug that probably cost between $70-80. And then her realtor offered me a nice lamp she was going to get rid of in a garage sale that she never ended up having.

Wednesday:

I was offered the permanent position at my full time job, which means great benefits and more than a dollar an hour raise. It is also $3+/hour more than I was making at the job from October. I was very pleased to accept this offer.

I went to one of my part time jobs and got my first paycheck. I found out I’m making $2/hour more than I thought. Who knew?

I also talked with my mortgage lender and my closing costs had gone from a possible $800 I would need to pay on Friday to $377. I asked whether that was likely to change a lot in 2 days and was told ….eh, well, possibly, but hopefully will stay the same or go down. Hopefully. I sent out some quick good vibes and went back to work.

Thursday:

I received the final approval for my home loan. I got in touch with my mortgage lender to see what the final tally was on closing costs. $1787.00 was coming back to me. I had him repeat himself several times until he finally said, “Yes, they will be giving you a check for that amount tomorrow when you sign the paperwork.” Apparently, with proration and the Seller staying in the house the extra 3 weeks, it wiped out my closing costs and then some. I also found out my mortgage payments will be about $70 lower a month than I planned for and my first payment isn’t due until February 1st.

Friday:

I signed all the paperwork to close on my house and they gave me a check for $1787.00. That covers, easily, all the rent I may have to pay through May, connection costs to get my new house up and running, and repaying my mom for the initial Earnest Money.

I also found out on Thursday that a plethora of good news causes me to almost have a panic attack. I don’t know if it’s my morbid Scorpio nature hanging out on the cusp of my house of Joy, the fact that the optimistic planet of Jupiter is in the most pessimistic sign, or if my sense of balance just got punched in the face, but I could not accept that all of these things in my life were going right at the same time.

CrazyExWhatHappyFeelsLike

These are big things. Also, my love life hasn’t gone to crap. So I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was going to go horribly wrong. I was going to get to the signing and they were going to realize I owed the $1800. I would get all set up and then something huge was going to break (even with the insurance and home warranty, my imagination can come up with something to exceed both). I’m personally betting on my car finally going kaput, because, even with the extra cash, it’s not enough to rebuild the transmission or get a new car. There’s a worry whispering from the back about my grandma. Life, in general, doesn’t go this well. My life, in particular, does not go this well.

Truth be told, I’m kind of still in that zone, but I’m past the initial sense of dread and on to a cautious optimism. I mean, I have worked hard for these things… It’s just a really big change from 2 months ago. Part of me feels like maybe this is a reward from the Universe for being trusting and going through with the house and not letting depression stop me from interviewing right away after losing my job. Another part is arguing that the Universe is also probably laughing at me, watching my reaction to getting a bunch of stuff at once. These aren’t mutually exclusive, of course.

Crushing It

 

Sooooo, that’s been my week….. Abundant, like my 5th House. We’ll see how this goes in a couple weeks when I’m able to get in and start doing all my fixing and measuring – a very Virgo thing as I’m going into my Virgo House.

It’s been very difficult not to spend the money I just got and not all in bad ways, but I’ve noticed I’m swinging back and forth between really responsible and total shopping spree in my head. So far, I have put a month of rent and my first mortgage payment in my savings, I threw an extra $100 at one credit card and $50 at another, and I spent $150 at a new store in the mall for clothes that look fabulous on me, all work appropriate but still cute enough to wear on dates. I have to keep reminding myself that paying off all the credit cards doesn’t actually help the credit that much in the end and that I still have a ways to go with getting things set up and I need to take my time. There’s no reason not to leave that money right where it is. That being said, I am very relieved that I can buy Xmas presents this year. I wasn’t planning on being able to do much.

On another note, I think the panic set off one of the weird conjunctions in my 5th House. I have Mars and Uranus right next to each other. Some astrologist refer to it as the Daredevil Combo, but one of the combination qualities they site explained some weird stuff I’ve dealt with before: an abundance of electrical energy. The combination of Mars’s physicality and drive with Uranus’s crazy and electrical feeling creates a very electric feel to my energy and the tendency to get shocked or do the shocking. When I am in a state of high energy, I can and have shorted out electrical equipment. In the middle of some relationship trouble last year, I got an upsetting text and when I went back to my work computer, it promptly crashed and could not be fixed. Prior to that, just after I had a really big break through in therapy, it felt like I was defibrillating my own heart (yeah, that sucked). Thursday I started shorting out my phone.

 

 

 

Related to that, my energy gets heightened right before thunderstorms. During them is when I sleep the best, like the outside energy matching my inside energy is just really comforting. I have thunderstorm audio set as the background on my meditation app. I’ve been listening to it a lot over the last few days (when I’m not accidentally crashing it) and doing some deep breathing. The phone shorting out is calming down now that I am.

Because, even though this isn’t quite what happy feels like, I’m going to do my best to make the most of this sudden but inevitable betra- blessing. This blessing.

betrayal

 

Lights, Camera – Oh, Wait, Let Me Dig into This….

This post has taken a while. With three jobs and home loan paperwork and holidays, things have piled up and, now that I’m heading into my 5th House as a topic, my most crowded house, I’ve been overwhelmed.

The 5th House is the house of creativity, romance, performance, politics, children….

Here is what I have in this house:

South Node – Represents the past and lessons that have been mastered. Where we are comfortable.

Mars – The planet of physicality, energy, passion, aggression, sexuality. It shows what the native desires, how they will fight, and what they will fight for. It is also a minor malefic planet (meaning it causes friction).

Uranus – The planet of independence, freedom, rebellion, unconventionality, restlessness, innovation, fame, politics, adaptation, universality, technology.

Neptune – The planet of oneness, health and healing, romance, unselfish love, creativity, inspiration, tolerance, serenity, idealism, sensitivity, empathy, intuition, longevity, escapism.

Jupiter – The planet of expansion, luck, spirituality, truth, justice, knowledge, judgment, higher learning. It is considered a benefic planet (gives support and help).

So maybe the best place to start is with the broad stuff.

The House is ruled by Scorpio. None of the planets are in Scorpio, so I see it as lending an intensity, passion, protection, and introspection to all the things this house rules. Perhaps it even lends an element of power and secrecy. It could also mean, as my South Node is here as well, that, while I may have many planets in this house, the experiences I have here might feel so natural to me (because the planets are in Sagittarius) that they are almost unconscious and mysterious.

In physical interaction (Mars), whether it’s exercise, combat, or sex, I’m intense. In terms of social issues and independence (Uranus), I’m intense. In terms of healing, creativity, and idealism (Neptune), I’m intense. In terms of spirituality, justice, and higher learning (Jupiter), I’m intense. In all of these aspects, I tend to be fairly direct with my views, unless I know it’s going to harm me, because I’m also very aware that people operate out of their own views and, especially in terms of work, that can have negative effects on my life – all Scorpio tendencies.

In addition, I think Scorpio probably flavors my taste in entertainment. I enjoy a variety of movie and TV genres (Sagittarius), but the kinds of entertainment I enjoy most are psychological thrillers, documentaries, mysteries, and anything that takes an interesting and unconventional view of the deep subjects like death, rebirth, power, the occult, and change. Also, I love heist and con movies, which probably has to do with secrets and exposing them.

Mal

The thing is Scorpio also flavors what I create. That’s not a bad thing, but with most of my planets in Sagittarius I have a desire to blend the light-hearted with the dark aspects and I have a hard time doing it on command. I spend a lot of time on details and research – I don’t think I’ve ever created an art piece or a story where I haven’t looked up something. When I was working on some noir drawings, I spent about 5 hours researching late 1940’s San Francisco. Reflecting on it, I think some of my best pieces have been done when I was on a time constraint or with very strict guidelines. It cuts out a lot of my tendency to overdo the background work.

Now, I don’t really have the time right now to actually do much creation. I’m working roughly 50-70 hours a week, leaving little time left over. However, I do want to adjust how I approach creating and, judging by the amount of crap I have in this house, it’s obvious that I need to create. So, I plan on doing little mini things. Still keeping to the deep, dark, and interesting, but in snippets as opposed to going down the well. There are several writing prompt threads on Tumblr I will be exploring to help with that. We’ll see where that gets me.

The other thing I need to look at is my approach to my son. I probably overshare a lot on the darker aspects of life with him and, in all honesty, I can’t blame his morbid curiosity on his own personality. It’s not that I want to get rid of having conversations with him about the tough stuff, but it might do for me to simplify some of the concepts. At least for now. It’s a difficult balance, but I think it’s something that will probably help with his understanding in the long run.

It’s something for me to think over.

 

Glow in the Dark

I’ve been sick for over a week, so this post has been a bit in coming and I am going to keep it brief. I think my foray into cemetery psychology went pretty well.

As a recap, I went to a cemetery at midnight on Halloween to meditate on the correlation between the fear of darkness and the fear of the unconscious self, those aspects of the self that we don’t like to look at too closely and that we hide. I cast my circle, lit a candle and some incense, made an offering of bread and alcohol, burned the slip of paper with a few qualities that I would like to see change, and sat in the dark with myself in a somber and tingly mood.

For the most part, it was quite peaceful. It was close enough to the full moon that I’m not sure it really qualified as meditating in darkness; it made the headstones almost glow. I breathed in the kinda freakin’ cold night air and enjoyed the solitude.

It bordered on boring.

However, there were some tense moments and one was illuminating. It wasn’t the moment when I almost burned myself on my less shining qualities. It wasn’t even the moment when something rustled and someone may have walked through causing me to hope I wasn’t about to be raped or have my throat slit. That was just standard reactionary fear, not entirely unfounded. It was actually the moment I left the car and donned my cloak, heading into a cemetery at midnight without any real knowledge of whether it was technically legal for me to be there or what I would say if I was stopped.

And, really, that correlates pretty well. I may not like all of my flaws and secrets and mistakes, but I am generally self-aware enough to know what they are and know that I am working toward a better me. I know that fear of my own darkness doesn’t help bring anything into the light. The fear comes in when I think someone might see me out of context and make a judgment based on misconceptions.

So, I’m back to things I can’t control. There would not have been much I could do if a cop came by or a group of kids traipsed through the cemetery. Maybe I would have been discounted as weird, maybe I would have been arrested. But I’m still glad I went. I can’t say it’s something I’m going to do every year, but it gave me some insight and, despite the fact that I couldn’t control the potential reactions, I am proud of myself for going anyway and not chickening out.

Fear Itself

Learning to pay attention to my emotions and heal my emotional body. And a Buffy episode synopsis – spoilers!

I’m a big Buffy, the Vampire Slayer fan. Indeed, a big fan of any of Joss Whedon’s mid-90’s to mid-2000’s work, actually. In addition to the exceptional ear for language that permeates his work, there is a talent for metaphor that reaches into the depths of what common experiences feel like, regardless of the actuality of the situation.

GachnarTucked away in Season Four’s inconsistent story telling (which I feel works for a season about Freshmen year at college) are several episode gems, including the Halloween episode “Fear Itself.” Essentially, one of the frat houses has the “awesome” idea to use this occult symbol from some old book on the floor of the attic for their annual haunted house party and, in a coincidental plot mechanism, some blood is sprayed on the symbol during a speaker repair that begins to activate it, creating a semi-portal for the Irish fear demon Gachnar, the Dark Lord of Nightmares.

Gachnar wreaks havoc on the house quite subtly at first, but as each character’s internal and deepest unconscious fears are drawn out, it begins to affect their reality until they become separated and are each forced to deal with their fears on their own. This episode departs from the Season One fear episode in which the lesson is to face your fears. Rather than the simplicity of punching a clown in the face who scared you at your birthday party, the fears center around the much harder to face feelings of invisibility, inadequacy, isolation, and loss of control. The kinds of fears that, when you start punching the people who make you feel them, the fears become reality.

The episode resolves comically and simply – Gachnar is (accidentally) brought physically into the dimension and turns out to be quite tiny, easily squished by the Slayer’s Red Riding Foot. We could say that by acknowledging the fear, it is defeated, however, in my opinion, they may have slayed the demon, but they do not deal with their fears. They blame it on the singular situation and those themes come back throughout the rest of the season: Oz does lose control of his inner beast leading to a painful breakup and departure from Sunnydale, while Willow, Xander, and Buffy drift farther apart until it takes only a few words from a known antagonist to have them fighting and off on their own. They hash out some things for the finale, temporarily putting those fears into remission. But they come back in various forms throughout the series – Willow becomes addicted to magic in order to deal, to “fix” things; Xander leaves Anya at the alter and struggles to find his niche; Buffy gets into an abusive relationship and shoulders ever more responsibility.

These fears are universal. They are insidious. And we often ignore them. We medicate or we “fix the problem.” Feeling lonely? Go out with friends, have a drink. Not sure what to do with your life? Try harder, work harder, network more. Something didn’t go your way? Do your damage control and control for it next time.

And sometimes this helps. Maybe for the short term, maybe for longer. If often depends on how deeply rooted the feelings are and whether we’ve addressed them in depth. And they are never truly overcome. We will feel them again and again, in various situations and iterations and intensities.

The key to getting through all this is a more healthy and connected state, achieved through vulnerability. I know this logically. I know this! But it is so easy to wall up or disconnect.

My challenge this week is to really sit with these feelings, to acknowledge them, to know the situations when they come up and what is triggering them, and to accept these feelings as they are without judging them or judging myself for having them. Just like telling someone with depression that they have so much to be happy about or that things could be so much worse doesn’t help and actually harms, I’m not going to tell myself that I shouldn’t feel isolated because I have so many people around me or that it’s really my fault I feel that way in the first place. It doesn’t help. It’s not productive. It isn’t actually true because that’s not how isolation operates. Instead I want to dwell in the concept of being there for my feelings, to allow them to express, listen patiently, and remind them I love them. Because they are part of being human, part of existence, and, though they may not feel pleasant, experiencing them in their fullness allows for healing and the opportunity to connect with others.

This is the heart of shadow integration.

One blogger that I follow mentioned an actually scary Halloween idea: go to a cemetery alone at midnight with a candle and a stick of incense, thank the spirits of the land, and pay attention to your relationship to the dark. Based on the principle of “as above, so below,” our relationship with actual darkness mirrors our relationship with our own darkness, our subconscious, and that needs to be addressed to be whole. In order to be whole, to be empowered, we cannot simply dissociate from the things we don’t like about ourselves. So, that’s my Halloween plan – I going to spend some time in the dark and figure out what is there, love it, work with it, start to pull it back in. I’m going to try letting go of control and discipline for a bit. I’ll keep you posted.

Blessed Be.

samhain integration

 

Home, Sweet…. WTF?! Really???

Challenges and a salty dose of reality. Breakthroughs and a dollop of optimism.

Fucking Pluto. And fucking Saturn, too.

Pluto is an intense planet and often has a bad wrap as a malefic planet. Why? Because he is about obsession and compulsion, hidden depths and secrets, fears and desires, destruction, sex, death, power dynamics, and straight up power. He’s not all bad. This planet is about all that lies beneath the surface and using it to transform and regenerate, it is about facing your deepest fears and hidden longings. Birth and death are difficult, scary, and necessary processes. They are powerful processes and, like all power, it comes at a cost. Wherever Pluto is in a chart, this is where the intense powers of creation and destruction lie for you and where, through struggle, you can be empowered.

Saturn, too, is an intense and classically malefic planet. Saturn is about limitation, restriction, harsh realities, responsibilities… he represents the stern parent (usually the father), but also government and law. He is cold and logical, interested in the long term and the traditional, building solid foundations over time and in the right way. With Saturn, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way. He governs achievement, maturity, wisdom, and how you are perceived in the public eye, particularly your career. He is the planet of taking responsibility for yourself and others. He is the planet of hard work and karma. He is the planet of harsh lessons and delayed gratification and all the benefits or lack thereof, if you don’t do the work.

These are powerful, but not fun planets. Both are slow moving planets, so their processes take time, although Pluto also governs sudden and catastrophic changes that force you to rebuild or perish.

And then they are both in my 4th House, the bottom and root of the chart, the midnight of the soul, the place where you come from and will inevitably go to whether through joyful reunion, peaceful repose, or fall from grace. It is home, both physical and metaphorical and the deepest personal unconscious and instinctual reactions. It is cyclical like the Moon which rules it. It is opposite the House of Career, so when something upsets one, it often upsets the other.

My 4th House is ruled by Libra, seeking partnerships, but both planets are in Scorpio andBottom chart my Pluto is at 0° 1′24,″ which means it is very intensely Scorpio. Pluto also rules Scorpio. Almost all of my planets on the right side of my chart trace back to Pluto as does my South Node, which covers past lives, mastery, stagnation, and comfort zones. It makes close sextiles to my Jupiter and my Neptune and looser ones with my Sun and Mercury (meaning there are opportunities for major transformations in those areas of my life, if I work at it). It is literally at the very bottom of my chart near the middle of that House.

So, what does that all mean?

My role in the home has always been as the harmonizer and/or authority figure, which caused major issues for me when my parents divorced and again when my father remarried. I was probably maddeningly difficult to parent with authority, even though I generally followed the rules as long as they made sense. The few times that disciplining me was required, I argued. A lot. My primary home was strict and filled with tension between what I was told I should believe (so much church – 3 days a week and occasional weekends) and what I actually believed. There were points were I was isolated from friends or events, because they believed I was gay. And, even though my relationships with my parents have 100% improved since I have left home, there is still anger and resentment there.

Those major control issues that I mentioned back in my first couple posts all root back to this planet hanging out in the depths of my soul and it affects almost everything, especially my ability to connect with other people and form partnerships. It means I’m at my most comfortable when I’m in control of my environment, yet acutely aware that control of my environment is an illusion. When faced with uncomfortable issues, I will dig into them, but through intense and often dark introspection, which I will nearly always keep to myself, so that I can go on caring for others from a place of projected strength and apparent harmony, while also secretly being frustrated that there isn’t anyone I feel comfortable leaning on and allowing to care for me or to truly partner with. Which is because I don’t let anyone all the way in. And that is deep down enough that it took me a long time to recognize it.

And with all that going on, it’s not surprising that one of the places I feel the least comfortable is at home. Home is a place of responsibility, secrets, and power struggles. When I’m falling apart, I hide at work or at school because hard work sustains my home and learning sustains my mind; I have always been able to put aside whatever I am feeling, to “leave it at the door” so to speak, and get to work or dig into learning. There is comfort in the clinically clean lines of problem solving at work or in theories. Feeling could always wait until later.

Until last Spring when I was suddenly let go from a well paying job while I was in the middle of therapy. Feeling was the work I was supposed to be doing and it took time away from my job and then, as much a surprise to the company as it was to me, a contract we had been counting on wasn’t awarded and the work, already difficult for the region I was given (honestly, still not sure if that was a vote of confidence or sabotage by my team lead), dried up completely. After being told repeatedly that not getting the contract wasn’t going to affect anything, most of our group was let go without warning.

It was a rough couple of months. There was nothing to do, but put in applications and feel. I started on anti-depressants. I considered hospitalization. I had a few instances where it was physically difficult not to start cutting, something I had never thought of doing before. I started meditating and going to yoga when I could. I wrote some angsty shit. A huge secret that wasn’t mine to tell was outed and I took the brunt of fall out.

And that was the turn around point.

Being called some harsh and horrible things and given some unreasonable demands by someone whose anger I understood (misdirected as it was) but which definitely fell in the category of complete hypocrisy gave me the push back my Pluto needed to, with difficulty, remain kind but firm in my stance, and which also allowed me the chance to break out of the shit I had been blaming myself for in regards to the sexual assaults I had experienced in the past. Weird, right? Total upheaval, breakthrough, peace. But at no point did that transformation not suck and it didn’t mean the work was over.

So, fast forward to last week. I’ve been looking for a house and I found one I really like. I’ve been waivering on it because it is a big step and I would be looking at overlapping payments between a mortgage and rent for a little while, but, after some calculating and a little bit of faith, I decided that, between my two jobs, I could handle that with some strict budgeting. I signed the contract on Saturday, October 14th.

I lost my full time job on Tuesday, October 17th.

despair
Internal me in moments like these.

The catalyst was my fault – I pissed off the boss by venting about an issue that came up where she was actually in the wrong, but I definitely could have handled my frustration better and less publicly. In fact, I usually do, but frustrations had been piling up, it wasn’t the first time the same kind of issues had come up, and I needed to vent, so I could put it out of my head and continue working. So, I vented on Facebook. I didn’t use names, but with questions asked, if you worked there, you could probably figure it out. I assume either someone on my friend list is friends with them, too, or it’s possible they heard me talking to my supervisor about the issue in the office and saw it later. That being said, they didn’t fire me for that. Instead, they went looking through my Facebook and through my work for the 6 weeks until they could find something that could be bent to constitute a fire-able offense. I have several friends who know the industry I was working in who state that it was not a fire-able offense and I should talk to a lawyer. I’m looking into it.

Funnily enough, I do have Pluto transiting (meaning this is where Pluto currently is in the sky compared to my birth chart) my 6th House of daily habits and work. Here’s what the horoscope break down had to say:

PLUTO CAPRICORN IN THE SIXTH HOUSE:

(House of Virgo and Mercury or Chiron) An overhaul of work life. Getting to fundamental health issues. Taking responsibility for the whole self — mind, body, spirit. Exploring healing modalities that go deeper.

Turning away from toxins toward what’s natural. Finding power to be a clean machine, in a polluted world. Dedication and service, volunteering or becoming a healer.

Yeah… either way, upheaval, and it destroyed me for about 3 hours.

But then, I dried my tears, I talked to my part-time boss, the realtor, and the temp agency I used to work at, and I applied for two jobs. I got to have last week off, which was weird, but needed, and I’ll make more money from it due to vacation and sick pay having to be paid out. I have nearly full-time hours at my other job for this week and an interview for a better paying job today.

I can’t get out of the sales contract for the house unless the appraisal or the home inspection reveals something huge (I’ll have to pay for both of those) or I don’t get the loan, which is a possibility now.

But, you know what? I will be ok.

I’ll either get the house or I won’t. If I do, then this is the universe’s way of saying I was going to need more than I had to make it work and it’s time to take the scary steps to keep what I want. If I don’t, I already have a back up plan for May and I don’t have to pay for two different places to live. Saturn usually doesn’t grant things until about the age of 35, so perhaps I’m just two years too early – I’m kind of impatient like that. Or maybe home owning is not for me and I’ll be presented with an opportunity that would have required moving anyway. We’ll see.

Truthfully, I wasn’t happy doing the work I was doing, even though I had awesome co-workers. I had even planned on asking my supervisor last Tuesday to go over some of the rules and practices I was having trouble with, because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to continue there unless I understood why those rules were in place. And, honestly, it’s their loss. I worked hard, I was diligent and observant in my work, and I caught some fairly important mistakes before they became larger issues. I had my criticisms, but I am loyal. I accidentally and unwisely wounded the boss’s pride and they have the right to feel how they feel about it. Whether I press litigation or not, if they continue in their current behavior and reactions, they’ll eventually capsize their own company. And, honestly, I usually know better than to vent publicly. It serves as a solid reminder that, if I feel the need to take on authority, either be bullet proof or do it covertly. If I feel like I can’t do that, it’s time apply elsewhere, even if it feels disloyal.

Even more than those realizations, though, is this: I would have stayed there until I burned out. However much I may hate a job, if it meets my needs and I can adjust my home life to fit around it, I’ll keep at it. Like a dirty, cheap security blanket, I’ll cling to it and I won’t look elsewhere until I have to. So, now I have to. Thanks, Pluto.

Earlier this year, I decided not to go to grad school just yet. Things just didn’t line up. I said I was going to give myself a year to find a job I wanted in higher ed, so that I would have the opportunity to do the program online while getting paid a living salary.  I logicked myself out of it, saying I had too many responsibilities right now.

coffeebook
My happy place…

And maybe that’s still true. But, I have the Wisconsin GI Bill and the university has an awesome book rental program, so it would mostly be registration fees and since the Wisconsin GI Bill works off credit hours as tuition forgiveness, I don’t need to be a full time student to take advantage of it. It’s a marvelous benefit that fear is holding me back from. I can take a class as a non-degree seeking student in foreign language or sociology or women’s and gender studies – anything that brings me joy and makes me a more well-rounded human being – anything that helps me decide if I want to work in International Education or Diversity Studies or advocacy in the field of law – anything that makes me more attractive addition to a university or legal setting. And I’m going to apply to the jobs I want even if I don’t feel qualified. I’m going to apply to jobs I want in places I’m not 100% sure about. And, maybe most importantly, I’m going to apply for jobs I actually want, not ones that are kinda, sorta, maybe related that I can maybe make work. It’s time to live without the safety net.

Alright, Pluto? Saturn? Fuck it, let’s do this!

The Dark of the Soul

For the most part, I will keep this blog about me and my journey, but tonight I thought it relevant to bring up the journey of another beautiful, brave, and influential person in my life: My sister.

I feel it’s appropriate to bring her up into this for two reasons. 1) I’m moving into the 4th House, which is the House of Home and Family, the Soul, the Mother, ruled by Cancer, protective and intuitive, in ancient times called the “dark sign” because the constellation was partially obscured and the sign itself is ruled by the Moon, with her effects on the tides and people. My little sister, maybe even more than my son, brings out the mother in me in a very positive way (I’ll come back to this complicated bit in more detail in another post).

And 2) I am moving into this warm and dark House on what would have been the 1st anniversary of my sister and her soulmate’s wedding, and he was lost suddenly and too soon. I did not get to know him as well as I would have liked – I, like many, made the mistake of thinking I had more time – but I knew him enough to know that he ignited her passion, lifted her up, and made her feel safe at the same time. And I feel incredibly blessed to be one of the first people she shared her crazy and unexpected love story with.

I miss him. I miss knowing that, while they had their problems, she was the happiest and most secure she had ever been.

And, in a lot of ways, that is what this House is about. The safety and security that is found both in another person, whether it be your mother, caregiver, soulmate, or child, and also in yourself, when the soul is at rest.

There’s a reason we are so protective of it. Deep down, we know the flip side is loss. The moon is beautiful, but she waxes and wanes, whether we want her to or not. And sometimes we can’t see her at all. It’s easy in the darkest of times to feel abandoned.

I will never stop wishing there was a way to make those dark times easier. And not just easier, but easy. I wish that was something I could do, and, especially, for her.

I can’t.

So, tonight, I will have a Dziak-tail (a shot of Four Roses, a slap in the face, and a hug – a wonderful interpretation of my dear brother-in-law), remember him fondly, and toast to the knowledge that something beautiful and rare existed for my gorgeous and talented sister and that, of all the people I know, she is the most wise and well-equipped for dealing with the intense and complicated emotions that I can only guess at. And to the knowledge that, when she needs me, I’ll be there.

Blessed Be.

quotes-of-grief