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