Love as a Work in Progress

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If you’re like me, you’ve learned a bit about love over the years.  If you’re like me, you’ve had your perceptions bashed upon the rocks, the waves of life repeatedly making you pull them out and reassess.  If you’re like me, each success and failure has taught you a little more.  It’s hard to say if I ever truly believed in “romance” in it’s stereotypical fashion; love and relationships never looked like that for me.  But, my views on love received a major overhaul about five to six years ago, which started with my current relationship, and it continues to be in flux and flow.

From a young age, we are inundated with examples of “love stories” in films that are made for very young children (I’m looking at you, Disney), planting seeds of expectation of what we could one day receive as love.  Nearly every story I’ve ever consumed has some kind of romantic subplot.  It’s gets you to thinking about the romantic subplot you will one day have, even at a very young age, because, of course, everyone gets a romantic subplot, right?…

But then we grow older and learn love is not all sunshine and rainbows, it can be kinda awkward and piecemeal.  Sometimes nothing happens for very long years.  Sometimes a friend likes you and you don’t like them back.  Sometimes you freak out and break up with someone over the phone.  Sometimes you break up with someone to be with someone else.  Sometimes you feel ugly and alone.  Sometimes you make mistakes you can’t take back.  Sometimes you receive calls in the night from someone confessing their love.  Sometimes you learn people say things just to get in your pants.  Sometimes you make a fool out of yourself.  Sometimes someone lies to you.  Sometimes people stop talking to you.  And you never get that so-very-Disney fairy tale.

You learn fairy tales exist in all sorts of forms.  You learn love is not about the flashiness, and the how-can-I-Instagram-this?  You learn that love is the quiet dedication of coming home to the same person each night.  That love is someone knowing your favorite foods and weird moods.  That love is someone supporting your strange endeavors and whimsy.  That love is someone rubbing your feet when they really don’t like feet.  That love is someone always doing the dishes.  That love is a re-commitment each day, of time and listening.  That love is committing energy to another person, to being together.

The thing about love is there is no one size fits all.  Love looks different for, and to, everyone.  Love may not exist in a romantic form for you at all.  Maybe that Disney model works for you.  In the end, you have to listen to yourself, and listen to your partner, and chose what’s right for you.  Love is a work in progress.  Every day.

How have your views on love changed over the years?  How are they still changing?  Let me know in the comments.  This post was inspired by the above cards from the Slow Holler Tarot and Oracle of Oddities.

exploringly yours,
Alaina xx

Tarot Thursday Three: March 9, 2017

Another Thursday (that I missed, again!).  So, it’s after midnight, late Friday night/early Saturday morning, and here I am composing this post.  Enjoy!

1.  Does spell work have a place in your practice and if so, how?

I don’t do spells.  I had an interest in spell work (and still do, I guess), but I ultimately find it too complicated to be practical for my life.  Gathering supplies, casting a circle, calling down deities, etc — I just find that too much.  And I don’t see the space or need to call things in to my life (or banish them!  Though that could be useful…).  I like what Ania said about not feeling the need to affect reality in this way.  I feel like life is complicated, and I don’t know enough of what I want or need to ask for it specifically.  I feel like spell work in the traditional sense is something that needs to be practiced regularly for it to be effective, and I just don’t have the desire, or need, to practice spell work regularly.  However, I also like what Olivia wrote about her small spell and ritual work that she does, she made it seem very natural and intuitive.  I do like to hold intentions and affirmations, which I kind of view as mini-spells anyway.  And I do like doing ritual work, that is not quite spell work, but close.  I do this usually around the new and full moons.  I feel that this aspect of my practice is asking to be explored more, but I am not sure what that would mean in physical terms.

2.  What is the element you most identify with and/or enjoy working with and why?

As a through-and-through Aquarian, I live in my head and in daydreams.  I like to think through things, I create alternate timelines in my head (I maintain the idea that all possibilities exist in some realm), and I like putting word to paper.  I regularly have dreams of flying, where I literally kick off from the ground and float in the air.  Sometimes, the feeling is so strong that I recall it in my waking life, and I experience the desire to kick my feet into the air and float along in real life.  So I guess Air is really my jam.

I haven’t worked that much, specifically and pointedly, with any element.  I love to burn candles and incense, I love to collect bits of earth in stone/gem form, I love ritual baths… I have been told (by Benebell, no less!) that I should work to connect more with the earth element.  She gave me a pretty good overview on this, but to be honest, I don’t really know why or how to do this.  So, beyond placing a bunch of grounding rocks on my bedside (a big chunk of Mookaite!), I haven’t done much about that…

3.  Besides the cards, what are you favourite tools for divination and/or ritual?

As I said above, I love to burn candles and incense, but I don’t use this in a divinatory sense, more to set the mood — uh, so I guess for ritual!  However, I do this outside of ritual as well, and to be honest, I haven’t sat down and practiced any kind of ritual lately… I really love to use poetry collections (primarily Mary Oliver) for bibliomancy/stichomancy, and I’ve had some really great results with that.  I love to write, and I’ve been really into writing poetry (thanks to Jodi and her poetry challenge!) and making art (thanks for Kristen and her create this oracle deck challenge!), so I’ll be trying to include more of making both poetry and art into my practice.

At the time of publishing, here are the other posts that I’ve seen (and referenced above :))…

Julia

Ania

Olivia

Do you use spells in your practice?  What is your favorite element to channel?  What other stuff do you use in divination/ritual?  Let me know in the comments below (or let me know if you’ve made a post yourself!).

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Tarot Thursday Three: March 2, 2017

Hey all!  Another week I’m behind on the prompts…. Sometimes the days just get away from us, eh?  This week, Julia also shared a really cool spread by Kimberly, @fablesden, entitled “A Tarot Spread for a Tarot Reader.”  Here, I answer the blogging questions, and include my pulls for this spread.

1.  What was it that initially sparked your interest with Tarot? 

As previously recounted, I was formally introduced to tarot at a costume party.  I purchased my own first deck shortly thereafter, but didn’t dive in to the hobby until years later.  I remember I was in Edinburgh on a solo trip, I had just purchased some crystals while in London at the Natural History Museum… I had a lot of time on my hands… And I guess it must have been the magical feel of the city, but the metaphysical was on my mind.  In Edinburgh, I purchased a labradorite ring, and not long after being home, I purchased my first working deck, The Wild Unknown.  I cannot recall what exactly pushed me to do this, really.  Maybe it was the striking art of the deck, to be honest.  But I’m not sure how I even really came upon the deck… I should look back in my journals and see if I wrote down my actual logic……

2.  Is it what you expected it to be and if not, in what ways were your expectations defied?

Yes and no.  I guess my initial exposure to tarot made it seem really mystical.  When watching the tarot reader at the costume party, she was getting shocked reactions from the people she was reading for.  People she didn’t even know!  She read the tarot very intuitively and I got the sense that she had never actually “studied” tarot, but it was just something her parents exposed her to and she just kind of knew.  I hoped my experience would be like that — HA! — and so in that way, my expectations were defied.  While I’m regularly bowled over by the readings I do and receive, I’ve learnt that tarot is more a reflective tool than a tool with inherent magical powers.  They are, after all, just cards.

3.  How do you primarily use Tarot? I.e. for divination, self-reflection, analysis, shadow work, ritual or something else?

My tarot work, at this time, is primarily reflective work.  I like to use the tarot for guidance and for analysis of what is going on in my daily life.

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And now, my spread.

1.  Why do I want to read for others?  VII of Swords.  To help others see the paths laid out before them.  To help others analyze the energies of what is going on in their life and to make an informed decision of what happens next.  To help others see the risks/benefits of putting a plan into action.

2.  What is my biggest strength as a tarot reader?  VIII of Pentacles.  There is a pride and love that I have for this kind of work.  I’m honored that people come to me and find value in what I have to share with them.  I view this work as a process of discovery for myself, while shining a light for others on their own path.

3.  What are some negative attitudes or beliefs that may hinder me as a reader?  II of Wands.  While the two of wands is about making a choice, and boldly following my bliss, as an answer to this question I feel the reversed aspects of this card are applicable.  Second guessing myself, comparing myself to others…

4.  How can I continue to grow and improve as a tarot reader?  The World.  Continue on the cyclic journey of learning; there is always more to learn and improve upon.  Enjoying the journey, and finding ways to learn in new places.

5.  How does my practice help me grow as a person?  Knight of Cups.  Tarot reading, and especially reading for others, helps me to get in touch with my intuition and to trust the softer sides of myself.  I do not like to feel vulnerable, but when you are putting your work out there, for others to purchase, it is an extreme exercise in vulnerability.  It helps me to feel out my emotions, to share my concepts and ideas that do not otherwise have an outlet.

At the time of publishing, Julia’s is the only other #tarotthursdaythree post that I’ve seen!

What sparked your interest in tarot?  Did your expectations change as you went along?  Did you try out this spread?  Did you make a post this week?  Let me know all about it in the comments below!

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

What does it mean to be wild?

One of the newer buzzwords I’ve seen going around is “rewilding.”  I think it, in part, stems from Women Who Run With the Wolves, and a host of other literature and forms of media.  But this post is not about tracing the trend, it’s about exploring what it means to me.  And I’m going to be honest: I didn’t read WWRWtW (started it but didn’t finish — story of my life), or any other published work on rewilding, so I’m really just exploring what it means to me.

This is a beginning of a journey.  This is my ideas right now.  I want to read all the books I can on this subject, and this is my starting point.  I’d like to thank Kim and Jessi for recent posts on their Instagram feeds, and Ania for her recent YouTube video on quitting (or not..) your day job.  All of these women pushed me to give wings to this topic, and make some changes in my life that I think will be productive.  Here are some excerpts from their posts that I enjoyed…

Kim…

“Life’s not going to happen to you; it’s up to you to make it happen for yourself.
Dream big and live even bigger.
Dare to go after what it is you want and live the life you so desire. If you’re not sure what that looks like just yet, live life and you’ll figure it out along the way.
Stop waiting for life to begin and realize that yours already has. Grab hold of it, embrace it and live the fuck out of it.”

Jessi…

“I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “rewilding” lately, mostly because it keeps cropping up in unexpected places. Why this desire to let go, to abandon our cultivation for something more primal? I’m a lover of arts and culture and of cultivation–I think it’s important to build and to shape and that the desire to do so is uniquely human. Yet, it can be argued that the pendulum has swung too far–we’re being asked to contort ourselves in ways we don’t bend, and the result is anxiety, stress, and confusion.

The glorious @joannadevoe did a video some time ago where she mentioned a quote that wormed its way into my brain: “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” I’ve recently adopted this as a mantra, and it’s speaks to my notion of freedom–of following a path that deeply vibrates with my core. For me, this is my “rewilding” process, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.”

Ania…

“I think that if you have a day job, where you get out and you meet people, you also have like a different mundane kind of spirituality going on…how do you show your spirituality?…is it by actually meeting someone out there, being able to comfort them, to hold space for them, and to talk to them from a place of your soul.”

To me, rewilding, or being wild, is not about hunting, foraging, running through the woods naked, etc.  Those activities are just not accessible, nor entirely appealing, to me.  Maybe the above activities are part of what rewilding is about, I don’t know.  To me, rewilding is about shaking things up and getting back to my true center.  To me, rewilding, at its core, is about self-care.  It’s about listening to your intuition, listening to what your soul is singing.

And, to be honest, I’ve felt a bit blocked lately.  I’ve always prided myself on being very “me” but lately I don’t feel like I’m “living my truth” (not a huge fan of this particular buzz phrase, but it’s accurate in this situation). Right now, I’m just feeling so off that I feel I need to pull everything out emotionally and change it all up.

So, this is what I’m thinking….

  • More books.  Not purchasing more books (though that will inevitably happen, I’m sure), but I mean more reading of books.  I’ve been very, very bad about not reading the books that I purchase.  This is somewhat of a complex goal for me because to spend more time reading means that I must, inherently, not spend that time doing other things… A sort of flex goal for me is to read 12 books before I purchase more.
  • More prayer.  Prayer is deeply personal, sacred, and connects us to a greater whole.  Prayer is like poetry for the divine.  I’m feeling called to more moments spent in prayer.  Inherently, I feel this includes more moments spent meditating.
  • More hair.  It’s time to commit to this experiment of growing my hair to see how long I can really get it.
  • More meat.  Oh my goodness, this one I’ve struggled with.  This issue could have it’s own blogpost, but, here’s a summary.  As you may know, I used to be vegan (for a year).  I stopped when I went to Germany last September because I didn’t want to worry about it on the trip, but then I never went back.  Since then, I’ve been treating my body consistently worse.  I enjoyed eating vegan, but never got my body where I wanted it to be.  My partner agreed to do Paleo with me (and he would never have agreed to even be vegetarian full time).  So we’re going to give it a 30 day (from today’s date of publishing) trial.  There is this amazing little Farm Stop shop near my apartment that has tons of local meat and eggs, so that will be the only place that I purchase meat/eggs.

This list could continue on, but these are my main points so far.  The over-arching goal for me is to spend less time on my phone and on the internet.  Yes, the tarot/spirituality community on IG is a lovely thing, and it’s helped me in so many ways.  However, I’ve found that some times it create undo pressure and expectations for me that is not productive.  Instead of doing what I can, or continuing to do what I do, I see XYZ on Instagram and want that instead………. Not good cycle.

In a way I guess these ideas are in line with my new year’s affirmations…

  • My goals are not a chore; they are so that I can be a better me.
  • I spend my time and money in beneficial ways.
  • Practice is a part of ritual and learning.
  • I nourish and care for my body appropriately.
  • I give myself space to relax and open up.

And I suppose February 28, on the cusp of March, is a good time to pull those out and reexamine the progress  that I have made (or not) on those fronts.  Just another reminder to constantly refinine my practice (my 2017 word).

Anyway, I apologize to anyone if I’m totally off-base about rewilding.  And, if you’ve gotten this far in the post: congratulations!, it was a bit long.  I’ll wrap it up by briefly discussing my cards of passing and upcoming month.  For March (one from my twelve month forecast by Benebell, and one pulled by myself): knight of cups and the architect of vessels (from the Slow Holler, the king of cups).  Both cups, and both of the court!  It looks that I will have a watery, intuitive month.  I will admit, I don’t identify very strongly with the suit of cups, but we’ll see what it brings.  So far, the idea of re-centering myself emotionally and focusing on self-care seems right on point.

As for February, the four of pentacles (my card for February from Benebell) followed me around a bit, and still encourages me to make a plan and seek the treasure(s) within and to subsequently share them with others.  The nine of vessels was the card I drew for myself, which I feel is kind of an ambivalent card.  But I did enjoy my month — perhaps a bit too much — which is why, maybe, I’m feel called to scale back and focus on appropriate self-care in the next month.

What do you think of rewilding?  What do you have going on in March?  What are you card(s) for March?  Let me know in the comments!

exploringly yours,
Alaina x

Tarot Thursday Three: February 23, 2017

Heya!  Another round of #tarotthursdaythree coming at you.

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This is really big, so you could see the LotR Tarot art….that is really small 😦

1.  If you could have your likeness immortalized on any one of the 78  Tarot cards, which would it be and why?

Hmmm well, I guess I would say the Queen of Swords.  I liked Olivia’s and Julia’s ideas because they picked cards that are not typically depicted by women, but the Queen of Swords just always does it for me.  I identify with her, I get her, she’s my significator, and I think she’s pretty badass.  Also, how awesome is this interpretation of her from the Pagan Otherworld’s Tarot?

2.  When reading for yourself, are you able to remain unbiased and if so, what tips can you share for others?

Of course I’m biased when I’m reading for myself!  To be honest, I think it’s a good thing.  How else would I be able to apply the reading to my life?  Intuition is important, but if I want a reading to truly mean something to me, I need to make a connection to what is going on in my life.  Aka, I need to be biased.  For example, if I pull the Queen of Swords, I know she’s saying wisdom through sorrow, “wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure,” etc. etc. but that means nothing if I don’t put a little personal spin on it!

I feel the same way about reading for others.  I actually find it really difficult to continue to come up with vague unbiased statements to provide a full, cohesive reading to someone.  For email readings, I love when someone asks a pointed question, or provides a little more information about their life to me.  This allows me to connect the card, or what I’ve written, to them personally.  In person, I love when my friends ask questions (“Do you think this could be talking about *blank*?”) or that I can relate the cards to what is going on in their lives.  This is why I like pulling an oracle card, particularly with one card readings, because that almost always gives another angle that allows the reading to remain “unbiased,” yet focused.

3.  What is your least favourite deck in your collection and why?

I feel so bad about this answer, but, the Lord of the Rings Tarot (see above).  I feel so bad because my partner bought me this deck for Christmas, just a couple months after I started reading tarot.  I thought it was so sweet!….but then I opened the package.  This poor deck.  The art is actually awesome, but wtf is the rest of the shit on this card?  I guess you can also play a card game with this deck, which I actually should really try.  Maybe this tarot deck will find a new life’s purpose as a playing card deck!  My partner brings the deck up from time to time, to make sure I still have it I think (haha), because he knows I don’t ever really read with it.  Oh how I wish he had found the Hobbit Tarot instead of the LotR Tarot…….

At the time of publishing, here are the other #tarotthursdaythree posts I’ve seen….

Julia

Olivia

What’s your least favorite deck in your collection?  Omg tell meeeeee…I wanna know which decks to avoid 😉 tell me alllll about it in the comments!

Do you think bias is a good thing in a reading?  Did you make a post this week?  Let me know in the comments.

Exploringly yours,
Alaina x