Going into Spring

Would you believe it’s nearly Ostara, or the Spring Equinox?  I cannot.  I feel like I just had my birthday (February 8) and the days are slipping past…. I can tell you this has been compounded by working a day and night shift rotation at work.  This serves to confuse morning and night and when I should be sleeping and eating and finding bits of time in between to work on my practice.

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But, here we are.  What have I been up to?

Well, February, the shortest month, of course, came and went like the blink of an eye.  Mostly, I recall the poetry that I made that month.  Thanks, again to Jodi for organizing this challenge!  She continued the challenge as a once a week thing (#pinpsaturday), inspired by tarot cards, and though I participated in the first one I have yet to write my second….. But, below is my favorite poem that I wrote in February (it was really hard to pick just one).  This poem helped to inspire my recent blog post on what it means to be wild.

what does it mean to be wild?
the seething, open expanse of my soul
the feral growling of my heart
the heady tingle between my legs.
do you see me as a beast, roaming?
do you feel my spirit, stalking?
come drink at water’s edge with me,
Orion shining on the backs of our necks.
transitory duality,
     the sense of self we refuse to apologize for.
the fiery snaps of passion.

In February, I opened my tarot shop and had a successful first month, in my humble opinion.  No, I do not expect to be raking in $50,000/year with my tarot side hustle (which Benebell somehow says is possible!…).  But I read for a variety of beautiful people, and at the end of the month donated 10% of my profits to The Trevor Project.  (If you’re interested in booking a reading with me click here.)

Also in February, I went to my first Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) meeting.  This local group is still quite new and I would be lying if I said that it was a wonderful experience.  As described previously on my blog, it is a group focused on getting white people involved in the fight for racial justice.  I think that the heart of this group is in the right place, but I also think that it is not quite the flavor of social justice that I’m looking for right now.  My next step is to make contact with the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, which is a local group and below is their mission statement from their website.

“Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice inspires, educates, and mobilizes people to unite across differences and to act from their shared ethical and spiritual values in pursuit of peace with social and environmental justice.”

I think this group might be more in line with my current path, as I’m feeling more spiritually inclined recently.

Oh, and, I’ve been reading more (as per my “what does it mean to be wild?” post)!  I finished Big Little Lies (a chick lit novel, that was just ok) and I’m working through Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman.  So far the book is not what I expected, though it is interesting to learn about Artemis and how her themes connect to the modern world.  I hope it gets better, a little more personal and spiritual, but we’ll see.  I’m also working my way through The Wildwood Tarot: Wherein wisdom resides, aka the guidebook for The Wildwood Tarot.  I recently purchased the deck, and it feels very special and different so I wanted to read through the guidebook completely before working with it (an idea from the lovely Ania).

Speaking of Artemis… She’s the first goddess that I felt an affinity for, that I felt had something to teach me.  She’s the goddess that helped/is helping me connect more with my wild.  And now, another goddess has made herself known to me: Cailleach.  I wrote a little bit about her on my Instagram, and she really deserves her own post, but I copied my IG summary here…  She is an ancient pre-Celtic (and then Celtic) goddess of the ancestors, wisdom, weather, time, shape-shifting, and winter.  She helps us with the cycles of life, provides protection, to release what no longer serves us, strength, trust, balance, magic, and transformation.  It is said that she created the rocky terrain of Scotland and Ireland by dropping boulders from her apron.  I’m just starting to learn a bit about her, but I feel she will be a powerful teacher.  Going into spring really isn’t her season (goddess of winter, hello), but her lessons feel applicable to where my life is now.

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Along with this exploration of Cailleach, I’ve finally jumped in to watching the videos of the incomparable Kelly-Ann Maddox.  This was a recommendation from Sammy (aka @spiritandsaga on Instagram), and I’m working through some of Kelly-Ann’s older videos.  I can already tell her videos are a goldmine of resources and I’m inspired by how open she is about her path.  To be honest, I find it difficult to get through YouTube videos because I find that I can’t multitask very well when watching them.  Even trying to listen to one while blogging is a bit difficult for me…

By the way, did I tell you that I received the most beautiful reading from Sammy in February?  I shared some pretty personal stuff with her, and she took that and gave me an in-depth, insightful and helpful reading.  I’ve returned to it a number of times in the last month, and I’m so grateful for her words.  Go check out her shop — she has some truly creative spreads available.

And so, March.  I’ve been making art (something new for me!) with the #createthisoracledeck challenge hosted by Kristen (@otmoraclecards on Instagram).  I loved the way that the post-it note poetry made me feel: creative, but with no pressure.  That’s how I feel about this oracle deck challenge.  I’m using mostly watercolor, and really enjoying the experimentation and also the “writing” of the “guidebook” (aka the captions).  I’m a couple days behind but will hope to catch up this week…  Above are three examples of my cards, and also the mountain card to the right of Cailleach further above.

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Then yesterday, I pulled the Page of Pentacles from the Morgan-Greer Tarot and “curious” from the Soul Space Oracle.  These two decks together have astounded me so much that I don’t really want to use anything else recently.  I have been pulling one tarot and one oracle card from each deck, and there are always such wonderful reflections of each other.  Either simply in keyword, color, shape, or all of the above.  Here, the page of pentacles and curious go together so seamlessly, an interpretation doesn’t feel required.  The page of pentacles is the most curious page of the bunch — though, don’t get me wrong, curious is, indeed, a great keyword for all pages.  But this page, he’s about digging in, about exploring the physical world, he’s about taking a journey.  He’s curious about his dreams, he’s curious about growth and the natural ways we can manifest for ourselves.  He can be a harbinger of new experiences, including new jobs…

Which, do you remember my blog post about the full moon in Leo back in February?  I wrote of a some good news surrounding empire building?  OH YEAH — I’m starting a new job on March 27!  I’m moving to the labor and delivery unit in my current hospital.  I’m so excited for this new venture, as this new unit and type of care I will be providing seems much more in line with my personal and spiritual development over the last 2.5 years that I’ve worked in the operating room.  I’m so grateful for my experiences in the OR: it was a great way to begin my nursing career without immediately hating and being overwhelmed by my job.  It taught me how to be truly confident in my nursing care and practice.  I’m so thrilled to see where my career will take me from here.  And I’ll be working 3-12 hour shifts per week, full-time midnights, so that will be a big (positive) change for me.

And the moon, that big beautiful moon.  The recent full moon in Virgo has teased out some weird feelings for me, (I’ve been trying lately to identify how the moon cycle affects my feelings/body, but really all I come up with is “weird”).  Sometimes, it’s like I need change to happen immediately, I need to do something drastic to feel productive.  But, lately, I’m feeling as if all of my little changes are starting to add up.  I’m getting into the long game, the “patient manifestation” from my above Soul Space Oracle reading.  Recently, all of my readings for myself seem to be about the same stuff on repeat.  Remember that Tarot Thursday Three question about remaining unbiased when reading for ourselves?  Yeah, well, I’m having a hard time with that lately.  I’m not sure if it’s the full moon, or the Venus retrograde, or just my airy little mind, but….it’s weird.

Phew, alright.  I think that’s a nice primer on what I’ve been up to!  What have you been up to?  What is calling to you going into this spring season?  What plans do you have cooking?  Do you have any thoughts about what I’ve shared above?  Tell me all about it in the comments below!

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

I went to a protest.

Disclaimer:  I’m putting this baby right up top here.  This is my blog; this is me unlearning.  I want to make change, and I want to help.  But first — I need to unlearn some massive concepts, things that have simply been my way of life until now.  So if you come to my blog, and if, while here, you see something that I’ve written that is offensive or blatantly wrong, please help me to unlearn.  Yes, I understand this is my own duty, ultimately, but if you find yourself here on my blog, please help me to unlearn.

This is the second post in my Unlearning series.  If you’re interested in following my entire journey, please start here: “Yes, I am a white woman.”

Since trump’s inauguration, we’ve experienced a deluge of increasingly worrisome news about his administration.  Recently, trump issued an executive order that curtails the refugees and immigrants that are allowed into the United States.  The ban targets seven Muslim majority countries and Syrian refugees.  (This has since been blocked.)  So… I went to a protest, my first protest, last Sunday, January 29.

In less than 24 hours, a group of four local, Detroit women mobilized an estimated ten thousand plus people to protest trump’s Muslim ban at the Detroit Metro Airport.  There were protests in cities and airports across the country, and we were just one of them.  It was beautiful, and large, and loud (and cold).  There were people from all sexes, races, and ages.  There were uplifting posters, angry posters, and one massive papier mache Donald Trump head.  The crowd would intermittently erupt into cheers of “no fear, no hate,” “no ban, no wall,” and “this is what democracy looks like,” among others.  Except for one guy from a group of anarchists who got tackled by Homeland Security Police, it was very peaceful.

I felt proud to be there, among so many people who were standing up for what is right.  I am happy that my introduction to proper protesting/activism was part of such a successful, local movement.

But… It’s not enough to stop there.  This is just the beginning.  For one, I will begin attending meetings of the Showing Up for Racial Justice — Washtenaw chapter, the first one being February 19.  The group’s mission statement is below.

SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. Through community organizing, mobilizing, and education, SURJ moves White people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for justice with passion and accountability. We work to connect people across the country while supporting and collaborating with local and national racial justice organizing efforts. SURJ provides a space to build relationships, skills and political analysis to act for change.

Until that first meeting, I’m working to balance educating myself on what is going on in this country and distancing myself from the rampant toxicity.  Earlier this week, I read this article (via Little Red Tarot) about staying outraged without losing my mind.  It gave pointers like take a break from the news, make activism fun, and a list of ways to take care for yourself.  I nodded along with the article, but kind of pushed it to the side.  (With self-care that’s so easy to do… am I right?!)

Yesterday, I pulled a card from the Slow Holler Tarot and the Okanagan Oracle:  the Ten of Branches (wands), and Mindful.  The collective message here was to be mindful of our energy and where we’re directing it.  It’s so important to build up positive habits, to take time for self-care.  Even working non-stop to educate ourselves, or fighting 24/7 for social justice issues can be harmful and constricting.  That heavy feeling, that angst and outrage?  Self-care is what is going to combat it: take a walk, draw a bath, stop reading the damn news, get in some yoga flow.  *sigh* I’m trying.

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Today, my partner pointed out to me that I’ve generally been in a foul mood for the last couple weeks.  I can’t exactly pinpoint the source, but I know that trump and his shenanigans are not helping.  Either way, I know self-care needs to become more important.  I wrote a recent post about my resolutions/affirmations for 2017, and holy crap if January wasn’t a bust on all of these fronts.  In January I did set up everything for my tarot shop, so it wasn’t a complete waste, but self-care was pretty lacking.  But, hey, my word of the year is practice so, I’ll try again in February and….I guess I’m off to a good start to 2017, then.

On February 1, the day before Imbolc, I took a long walk outside.  The weather was mild and it was a bright day.  Spring was on the air.  It was a tangible reminder to plant seeds for the coming season, to prepare for blossoming, to dream and plan, and begin co-creating — what Imbolc is all about.  I feel that this sort of mindful, directed self-care is a kind of protest in it’s own way.  Do what you enjoy, make the magick you believe in, embrace your weird and fringe qualities, and give trump a big fuck you by living the life of your dreams.

So, I’m trying.  Not all of my efforts will be successful and grand, but I’m trying.  I’m thinking and processing, and — hey — just opened my tarot shop, which while not “self-care” exactly is something for myself about which I’m so excited.

How are you faring in this new world?  How have you been doing with self-care lately?  Are you getting more locally involved in protest/activist efforts?  Let me know in the comments below.

Exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Meditation for the Highest Good

Friends!  I’ve met so many amazing people through social media (primarily Instagram) who share my interests of tarot and exploring spirituality.  We all have different specialties, or areas on which we like to focus.  Because of this, I’m bringing on some awesome guest bloggers at Exploringly Yours to share their knowledge of different topics on which I’m not particularly well-versed.  Today is the first guest post, from Leanna — she introduces herself below, so I’ll just turn it over to her….

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Hello!  I’m Leanna Christie from Clarity & Calm.  I’m truly blessed to have connected virtually with Alaina on Instagram, and we now co-host the #virtualmoonrituals there and on Facebook (*you can view our past rituals at the “Virtual Moon Ritual Collective” link above).  I love writing and speaking about meditation, as I believe it’s truly a universal tool for connecting to our clear and calm centres.

Meditation can be a tool for many outcomes, and the one that I’m exploring today is how to collectively achieve the highest good.  The highest good would be the outcome that is beneficial to all.  It would be something like the universal principles of love, kindness, or non-judgment.  When we focus our attention on anything, we send energy there.  When we as individuals choose to focus our attention on something in particular, our brains love it.  They love paying attention.  And when we repeatedly pay attention to one thing in particular, our brains start to form new neural pathways, like little rivulets of water that grow deeper and stronger every time we focus there.

So, if we focus on one theme — say the theme of loving-kindness to all beings — repeatedly, we create a path of ease that, in a sense, allows us to return our thoughts there with ease, any time we wish.  Now, the effects of this focus are greatly multiplied when it’s not just ourselves placing focus on an area, but a collective group.  Focusing our collective attention on the greater good, on loving-kindness, creates new collective neural pathways, that are ingrained in the energy of an entire society.

With focused attention on a common theme, especially when done at the same time, collectively as a group we can make waves.  We can bring new energies to the world.  We can shift the collective programming to a more loving, inclusive, peaceful way of being.

How to get started?

As an individual, you can place your focus during meditation on a theme of love or inclusivity.  Each other individual who also brings their focus to these themes, even across space and time, will contribute some energy to this outcome.  Gradually we can build new habits not just in our own lives, but in our larger societies.

Your practice

Starting a meditation practice is a very personal thing.  You’ll know best what time works for you during the day.  Try to choose one or two times that you can consistently show up for, and schedule them into your day.  Make a commitment to your future self to meet them at that set time, and show up.

Choose an area of focus that feels really important to you.  You can look up guided meditations on that theme, or simply sit in quiet contemplation on your own.  You can pull tarot or oracle cards for insight on the theme.

Bring your focus lightly to the theme you’ve chosen.  Allow it to really fill your body, and mind.  Allow it to sit deep within you, and notice how it begins to change you from within.  Send loving energy deep within yourself, and let it grow outwards until it both fills and surrounds your body in space.  Send that loving energy that grew outwards out towards all beings.  Mentally wish for all beings: May all beings be safe.  May all beings be happy.  May all beings live with ease.

After you’ve sat in meditation for however long you like, take some time to journal or record any thoughts, feelings, or ideas that came up from this loving space.  When you meditate, you are tapping into a deep inner wisdom.  You may find yourself at your most creative immediately after sitting for your practice.

Taking Action

Use the ideas or energies you’ve awakened during your meditation to affect your daily life and the lives of others in a positive, strengthening way.  Take the loving energy you’ve built and treat complete strangers as though they are dear friends.  Take the creative energy you’ve built and design beautiful art that makes people weep.  Take the world-changing energy you’ve built and stand up for the freedoms of all.  There is truly no limit on your potential to affect change.

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Thank you, Leanna, for these suggestions on meditation.  Tapping in to the collective highest good is certainly important in today’s political climate.  Head over to Leanna’s site for more info and support on getting started with, and continuing, your meditation practice.

Do you have a regular meditation practice?  How do you feel about tapping in to the collective to affect the highest good?  Share any questions or ideas in the comments below!

Exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Yes, I am a white woman.

Disclaimer:  I’m putting this baby right up top here.  This is my blog; this is me unlearning.  I want to make change, and I want to help.  But first — I need to unlearn some massive concepts, things that have simply been my way of life until now.  So if you come to my blog, and if, while here, you see something that I’ve written that is offensive or blatantly wrong, please help me to unlearn.  Yes, I understand this is my own duty, ultimately, but if you find yourself here on my blog, please help me to unlearn.

A lot has happened in the last week.  We got a new president in the United States, and then millions of people from around the world protested the day after.  I myself did not march in the Women’s March on January 21.  As much I wanted to be out there with a sign, cheering and chanting and fighting for my rights as a woman, I wasn’t.

But in the days following the march, in the soaring joy and hope I felt at the massive success of the march, it was quickly apparent that I, as a WW, I have a very narrow, limited experience in the issues that face women in this country and around the world.

Yes, I need feminism because sexist comments are common in my workplace.  Yes, I need feminism because my maternity leave at my job just isn’t long enough.  Yes, I need feminism  because men’s voices are continually considered more important than my own.  Yes, I need feminism because I want my reproductive rights.  But, as I said, it’s become quite clear that my struggles are laughably simple in the face of what women of color (WOC) experience in the United States.

There are few things in my life that are absolutely certain.  Two of those things are that I am white, and that I am a woman.  I am a white woman (WW).  I can’t help that, and I can’t apologize for that.  And so I am trying to unlearn what that really means.

To be sure: I am privileged.  I have read a lot of people around the internet talking about all the “hard work” they have put in to being successful, but — let’s be real — working an after school job for 12 hours per week in high school, studying real hard for your college midterms, going on a couple unsuccessful interviews is not the kind of struggle that is relevant here.  Hey, I’m happy that you’re successful in life, but guess what?  If you consider the above examples (and other similar examples with slight variation) “hard work,” you’re not really the targeted demographic of the recent Women’s March.

You’re not really the targeted demographic, and you may not really understand why such a fight is necessary.  You may make the above “hard work” argument, you may state that there is no “problem,” that you’re able to take care of your family, and that your rights are not trampled upon day in and day out.  You may even be a woman who mocked and belittled the Women’s March and its participants.

The Women’s March, and feminism in general, is about ensuring human rights are honored for women the same as they are honored for men.  The Women’s March, and feminism in general, is about equality across the spectrum of the sexes.  It’s about all women: Black women, Native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women.  It’s about LGBTQIA rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice (see the Women’s March’s principles here).  Feminism is about you and your rights, whether you believe that you, and this country, this world, need it or not.

There are articles and activists around the internet blatantly calling out WW on our obvious lack of concern about such issues until November 8, 2016.  Of course, there were WW activists prior to trump’s election, however, if I’m using a blanket statement, I might as well just do it: white woman are just not politically and social justice motivated.  Why would we need to be?  I just outlined my experience as a WW and it sounds pretty fluffy compared to the extreme experiences of WOC.  Bottom line is that I have never been scared for my life because I am a white woman.  So, yeah, I’m in a position to do more work here.

There are articles and WOC activists around the internet stating how tired they are of carrying WW on their shoulders during political and social justice fights.  And I don’t blame them.  I am woefully under-educated in this sphere.  I’m quick to post something to social media, I am quick to make comments and calls — but beyond that, I have no idea what I’m doing.  Am I supposed to rely on WOC to show me the way?  How is that any better than before.

And that’s about where I am in my unlearning.  I am a white woman, and I’m trying to figure out what this means in this new political nightmare.  Stay tuned to this space for more unlearning.

What are your experiences with feminism and the Women’s March?  How has this changed since November 8, 2016?  And, most importantly: can you recommend me any reading to help with my unlearning?

exploringly yours,
Alaina x