Writing as Communing with the Page

I want the words to come easily, fluidly. I always want the words to come easily, fluidly. I want my thoughts to flow nicely and neatly, to coincide with my feelings in a symphony of expression and ideas, with a sense of understanding and nurturing development.

This has rarely been the case in my decades of experience with writing, or at least this is what I tell myself. Writing has felt like a sludging through thick mud on the way to a place I don’t even know if I want to get to.

But if I’m being really honest, writing has mostly been fluid and easy, nice and pleasant. This is why I’ve written so infrequently, so inconsistently — because I was waiting for writing to feel good.

What got lost in this waiting is the reality that I can find ease and pleasure in the midst of writing instead of waiting for it to strike me.

Much has been developing within me in relation to writing — understanding around what it means and how it works. This is in large part thanks to these women (thus far): Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg (side note: if anyone has suggestions for women of color authors on writing, please share!).

I’m not far enough into Natalie Goldberg to know for sure, but I can speak confidently that Elizabeth Gilbert and Julia Cameron view writing as a spiritual practice.

And wow, how liberating, to view writing as something divinely inspired as opposed to an egoic pursuit. Trying to be a writer in the conventional sense has often been depressing, discouraging, and seemingly hopeless.

At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be Ernest Hemingway. But then I learned he was kind of an asshole and (trigger warning), he killed himself. So, not exactly the ideal I want to work towards.

Even more relevant, I simply couldn’t work with this ego-driven perspective. I couldn’t feel sustainably inspired to write from a place of: my thoughts are important, are worthy of demanding attention. The “my” part made me cringe, made me turn off and turn inwards, away from sharing.

Part of this was insecurity and self-doubt, of course, but part of it was also a genuine and valid turning away from an overblown sense of self-importance. (I love the definition of humility as not making yourself too big or too small — it’s being right-sized. So, to be clear, I’m not against a healthy sense of self… nods off to AA for teaching me this one).

My writing feels important when it helps people. Everything else feels masturbatory, in service of me. Which isn’t to say I’m not here for journalling and solely personal writing — I’m saying if my goal is to impress people, to prove I’m smart and capable and articulate and can use big words, I’ve missed the point.

So, this new framework of writing really turns me on. It’s led to me writing every day, which I’ve only done rarely, in bursts, before it fizzles out. This perspective feels sustainable, and it also feels nurturing — writing has become a time for me to connect with Spirit, to listen deeply, to check my judgments at the door as I convene with the page.

I’ve also developed a deep gratitude for the page as a place of refuge.

The older I get, the more I realize my dad’s right that life is about relationships. And not just relationships with people, but relationships with everything, such as the page.

The page is kind to me. The page listens. The page doesn’t judge. The page is always here to receive me. And in turn, I do my best to honor the page and express gratitude and reverence for it. I mean, how lucky am I? That’s really how I feel at this point in my writing journey, which I’ve been on since I was a child (and am now 31).

Previously, the idea of being a writer felt like a goal forever out of grasp. These days, it feels like a calling, a given. It is the result of me showing up to the page and offering myself to it, and to Spirit, to be guided.

I mean, what a freaking relief, right?

depression as a heavy coat

when writing about pain, emotional pain specifically, it can be especially challenging to articulate the experience without sounding trite, vague, or both.

as i sit with the experience of depression in my body today, the analogy of feeling weighed down by a heavy coat comes to mind.

as someone who’s lived with chronic “mild” depression, or melancholy as an old therapist referred to it, the feeling is both familiar and oppressive.

today, it began with sleeping a lot and not feeling rested. it was the sense, upon waking, that i could fall back asleep for another 10 to 12 hours.

it is the inexplicable fatigue that makes just moving my body from one place to another a challenge.

i was listening to Tarot for the End of Times with Sarah Cargill today as she discussed the Temperance card:

this is a card i hadn’t previously had much of a relationship with, so my assessment of it was quite shallow. the traditional concept of temperance, of refraining from indulgence, is not one that resonates with me as someone in recovery from toxic Christian views that encourage denial of the body.

but Sarah Cargill’s approach was much different from the conventional encouragement of moderation. instead, she approaches the card from a perspective of the healing.

she speaks to pain as a “symptom of dis-integration.” and she also speaks to her own healing journey with chronic pain and physical distress, and her resonance with “alternative” healing modalities, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

inspired by her story and analysis, i googled TCM’s view of depression and came across this assessment:

“According to TCM, depression is caused by stagnation, or blockages in the Qi (life force energy). It is usually related to stagnant energy in the liver, spleen, heart or kidneys. Liver Qi stagnation can cause strong feelings of frustration, stomach pain and digestive trouble, heartburn or tightness in the chest, and headaches. Heart or Spleen Deficiency patterns cause worrying, trouble sleeping, and poor appetite. Chronic cases of depression with anxiety are often related to Yin deficiency, which causes irritability, restlessness, poor sleep, and back pain. An acupuncturist looks at all of these symptoms and treats the appropriate pattern with acupuncture and herbs.” (source)

depression as blocked life force energy rings true to me, because that’s what it feels like — like something is standing in the way between me and experiencing my life fully.

i think about the experience of taking a walk earlier with a beloved, and how simply getting out into the world and moving my body seemed to work to move this stagnant energy.

but now that i’m back in a apartment, laying in bed, writing this post, it finds me again, that sense of deep tiredness residing in my muscles, blood, bones.

if i’m being completely honest, despite dealing with depression for as long as i can remember, it continues to scare me. i remain afraid of its potential to swallow me whole, for hours, days, weeks, months.

i’ve been practicing somatic mindfulness/embodiment, which involves getting still and sitting with what’s present in my body. and i’m consistently shocked by how often the experience sitting just below the surface is one of fear. often this fear is vague, not taking on any specific form. it seems as though merely existing in this world is fear-inducing.

i cried today, held by a beloved, and when asked what i was sad about, i couldn’t help but think, everything. “i cried today, held by a beloved, and when asked what i was sad about, i couldn’t help but think: “everything.”

the world is a scary place, being alive is hella intimidating, and grappling with the existential crisis of humans potentially going extinct sooner than later is freaking heavy.

i think about my craving for justice and healing, and through that lens, depression seems like a logical and valid response. that’s an aspect of depression that i find generally lacking from discussion of it — its validity.

there is always enough tragedy, whether personally or collectively, in this world to justify being debilitated by it. but on the other side of this equation is joy, which is equally valid. there are always reasons with which to be filled with a powerful sense of aliveness.

this reminds me of a story from Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning:

“The story of the young woman whose death I witnessed in a concentration camp. It is a simple story. There is little to tell and it may sound as if I had invented it; but to me it seems like a poem. This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. “I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard,” she told me. “In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously.”

Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, “This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness.” Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. “I often talk to this tree,” she said to me. I was startled and didn’t quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. “Yes.” What did it say to her? She answered, “It said to me, ‘I am here-I am here-I am life, eternal life.” (source)

what gets lost in the experience of depression is a sense of wholeness. i wish i could go back in time and tell my younger self, “it is not that your depression is wrong, it is that it is incomplete.”

a sense of despair and hopelessness is as much as a part of this experience of being alive as hope and optimism. but when experienced in excess, it creates a confirmation bias loop, seeking out all that validates its beliefs and ignoring the rest.

my depression, for much of my life, has made feeling joy seemingly impossible at times. this is largely why i’ve self-medicated with substances as a desperate desire to know what it feels like to feel good.

so how do we move through the internal blocks of depression? i’m very much still learning the answer to this. the most coherent one i have is the need to disrupt the experience, to agitate it. to seek out experiences that remind me what it’s like to feel alive, such as going on a walk in a busy city on a nice fall day.

Sarah Cargill refers to tears as the salt that’s needed to bring out the full flavor of our souls. so i’d say the release of crying is also a part of it.

i remind myself that hope is a practice (or a “discipline,” as Mariame Kaba puts it). and when i’m depressed, practicing hope can feel like trying to lift a car off the ground. so many times it is an exerting of effort that seemingly has little impact. which is where trust comes in — a belief that it’s all valuable, that progress is happening even when we cannot yet see it.

i’m reminded that external manifestation is often the final stage of healing and change, which helps me to nurture patience.

there is nothing easy about healing, or the irony that things often get worse before they get better. all i can do is trust, believe, practice. and when all else fails, i dig deep inside myself to find compassion for the hardship of this lived experience.

❤ ❤ ❤

spiritual trust // rational skepticism — a practice of non-duality

“if you go looking, you’ll find evidence for both” — which do you want to quest for?

and also, how can you practice non-duality? so that these seemingly opposing forces can coexist with each other?

HOW do i create space for both?

let’s talk a walk through my recent tarot spread since i’m struggling to grasp what i’m trying to say. which is okay because i’ve been instructed to let go of logic for a while. so maybe it works for me to be scattered, to be piecing together a quilt of which i have no tangible vision. to choose intuition over striving. if i just surrender to the page, allow instead of “come up with”…

first we have The Fool, which represents setting out on a journey with a childlike sense of optimism and wonder. if you look at the card, you’ll also see someone blissfully unaware of the fact that they’re about to walk off a cliff.

so there’s a couple of messages at play here — is the fool, well, a fool? or are they all of us when we choose to embark on something new and exciting?

dramatic changes require risk, and to some extent, naive optimism… if you decided you wanted to open a business, get married, have a kid, it’s probably best to focus on the rewarding aspects of the venture versus all the draining, mundane, frustrating ones. if you focus too much on all the scary, hard, boring parts of change, your rational mind may convince you it’s better (read: more comfortable) to just stay where you are, even if it’s killing your soul a bit.

next up is The Moon, a truly lovely and mysterious card. for obvious reasons, when i look at this card, i immediately think of Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

there’s a lot going on symbolically in this card — femmes worshipping the moon with wolf/dog masks, their subconscious emerging from the water behind them.

this is a place i think many of us might be confused by. or, to be more clear, it’s a place that confuses me. i both know this place of deep mystery, and i don’t. it’s like, unless i’m in it, i can’t really fathom it. which maybe makes sense considering it’s inherently mystifying nature, similar to the experience of dreaming. it’s those experiences that take place in the cover of darkness, that we struggle to name…

it’s a stirring from deep within to commune with something wild and ancient, to embrace the chaos of existence. i find the way i access this place is typically through my body, especially if i can really let go dancing, allowing myself to enter a more trancelike state. in this way, i can connect with something primal. and oh boy is it cathartic and invigorating.

last in this three-card spread is the King of Cups. like any tarot card, there are multiple ways you could interpret this as far as the ideal expression of masculine emotionality. which at first i was like, oh, that’s stoicism. or maybe meditative practices in which you allow the emotions to come and go without becoming too attached to them…

but then i read an interpretation by Sabrina Scott that i found to be much more captivating. which caused me to question, what does strength and power, from a place of action, look like in relation to our emotions? to which she explains,

To feel feelings deeply is a form of expertise: hard won, gained over time through practice and intention. This card has big emotions, thick like the ocean. And it has just as many gifts for us, just as much solace, just as much beauty…

This King embraces a different type of masculinity, a different relationship to gender and strength and intimacy. Each round of tears is an initiation into freedom, a fuller expression of how we feel who and how we are.

the place where ideal action meets intense emotionality is the practice of feeling. there’s a lot of courage involved in giving yourself over to a big and scary emotion, to trust that, in the end, it will not destroy you. [talking to myself here.]

and the only way to build this trust is to practice, over and over and over again. it is the courage to allow yourself/your heart to be broken and mended back together, endlessly. it is the work of a king willing to truly show up for all that is at play within their [inner] kingdom.

to show up for myself emotionally is one of the hardest practices in my life. i still feel so new to it, far from the expertise of this king.

so to sum it all up: limitless, naive optimism –> communing with that place of deep mystery, surrendering to it –> the courage to brave the storm of emotional turmoil and hardship, trusting we’ll come out stronger, freer, and more in touch with our personal knowing and power

much love, good luck out there ❤ ❤ ❤

the act of writing as self-validation

“if I meet myself, if I am holding my own pain, naturally it’s easier for me to hold yours as well. I’m not waiting to be saved by someone else’s validation. I’m validating myself. Writing has been that journey for me, and though this process, I’ve made some of the most intense connections of my life.”

Who is Wellness for? – Fariha Róisín

I’m holding 2 ideas inspired by this excerpt:

  1. learning how validate myself and hold my own pain
  2. the ways self-compassion ripples outwards/extends towards others

i heard ashe phoenix on Dear Jessamyn talking recently about her experience being poly and navigating the hard emotions of multiple partners (and i’m paraphrasing here) — “when i start with ‘it’s not my fault,’ i can begin from a place of much deeper compassion for the other person.”

(once again, that wasn’t the exact wording, but that was my sense of her message.)

the way that landed for me is: if i can refrain from seeing another’s hurt as a reflection of me and my worth, keep myself from entering that defensive position, i’m much more open to simply receive their pain. [this makes me think of the harm of white fragility]

there are certain spiritual/psychological truths that my human brain struggles to wrap my mind around, such as the idea that if i did something that made someone feel some type of way, their hurt is not about me. see, where this gets tricky for me is that we are accountable for our behavior and in turn any harm caused by it.

so now we enter that space of holding two seemingly contradictory things as true. to quote don Miguel Ruiz from The Four Agreements, “Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally. Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

i’m especially thinking about this in relation to a partner who shared with me that they’re struggling with a lack of affection from me…

so i have two options:
– fall into defensiveness, make a strong argument for all the ways i have been affectionate
OR
– start with not taking it personally and simply be present for the pain they’re feeling. not feeling enough love and care from a partner can be extremely painful, i know.

once i get past the “nuh-uh!” phase of the conflict, i’m able to get into the juice of the matter. and in-turn, i get to validate the pain i’m experiencing caused by feeling like i hurt someone i love, like i’m failing, like i’ll never be good enough (without blaming them).

“You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about ‘me.’”

don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

ultimately, taking things personally, like someone feeling hurt by my behavior, makes their pain about me. it’s an act of humility and compassion to be able to start from, “it’s not about me.”

it’s makes me think of the difference between someone calling you something you know you aren’t, and someone calling you something you have insecurity or shame around.

for example: someone calls you a slut and you’re like “ha, that’s not even true.” but then someone calls you stupid, and because your intelligence is not favored by capitalism/society, you question it.

the only reason one lands painfully when the other doesn’t is because one’s a personal wound and the other’s not. so even in a situation where you feel hurt by something someone said to you, it’s not about them. because only the things we’re willing to believe about ourselves can penetrate.

[also, because i’m perpetually fearful of seeming like i’m victim blaming… this point makes me think of the adage, “the wounds aren’t your fault, but your healing is your responsibility.” and as much as that can seem like it sucks, it’s ultimately empowering. it puts the power back in our hands, away from those who have hurt us.]

anyways, i’m feeling kinda preachy now and that’s not at all my point. i’m ultimately grateful for the division because my internal work and another’s. i’m grateful to be given permission to start with, “it’s not my fault.”

especially since i’ve spent a lot of my life feeling very responsible for how others feel and adapting to accommodate them. i’m continuing to learn the difference between taking responsibility for my actions vs feeling responsible for how my behavior makes someone feel.

if something i’m doing makes someone feel threatened, it’s then on me to do the internal work of figuring out if my behavior is problematic, or if that’s something they’re projecting onto me.

cause to quote a famous AA saying, “feelings aren’t facts.” they’re valid, yes, but they’re not necessarily telling the full story. we can’t constantly shift our form to keep people comfortable (which is different than safe), because we’ll eventually become a nebulous being with no grounded sense of self and worth.

we need to be uncomfortable to grow. as far as lessons i’m continuing to learn on this healing journey, one of the biggies is the necessity to show up for discomfort. and the odd irony is that when we stop resisting, avoiding, running away from, the feeling/experience becomes much more manageable, less terrifying. [this makes me think of how i feel in a dream when i finally stop running away from the monster chasing me and just face it – relief]

which isn’t to say it’s not hard. some things, when we sit with them after avoiding them for years [trauma], feel like they could rip us apart. which is why having support, feeling resourced, and practicing things like titration are so important.

this healing is a lifelong journey; there’s no need to rush the process.

plus, i recently got a new therapist who specializes in trauma, so i’ll also try and pass some helpful nuggets along.

clarification moment: the ideas presented are meant to be applied on an interpersonal level, not in relation to systemic issues of violence and oppression. not taking white supremacy personally does not liberate a person of color from its impact.

also, i feel like there’s an argument to be made that self-help is generally made by resourced people for resourced people [essentially, folks not struggling on the day-to-day to survive]. this is where spiritual truths can get tricky — without rigorous discernment and paired with a sense of collective responsibility, they won’t necessarily free [all of] us.

individual and collective healing needs to be an interconnected process. if your healing hurts another, that’s not it. the healing is in finding out why/how something that makes you feel good causes another harm. [talking to myself here — thinking about my yoga practice, cannabis, white feminism]

anyways, just needed to throw that in there for balanced perspective type vibes (i mean it is Libra Season).

good luck out there ❤ ❤ ❤ much love, y’all

a word from Fariha Róisín — bodies in revolt

excerpt from Who Is Wellness For? [annotations by me]

Finally understanding that I had to give words to all these things and let them sit in my system, giving my cells the lifeblood they had been starved of for so long, allowing myself to claim the space that I had never been given, was a difficult point to arrive at, and I wonder if it’s a place of constant arrival. Every day I gain further clarity of myself and my body’s alchemy–all its mysteries and wonders–understanding that healing or wellness is not a stagnant state. For some of us with bodies in revolt, it is a state of unraveling that’s necessary for the rebraiding to occur and reoccur.

Life is an upward motion dance, and along with that, I’ve realized, wellness is, too. I used to get so upset by the slowness of my path, at how difficult it is to be in my body after all these years of trying. The work is glacial; it’s punishing, too. The only thing that has taught me any calm is to surrender. To embrace all of it and let it unfold as it must.

Starhawk on For the Wild podcast – this shit says it all

We know that to name these things as sacred is an inherently political act, for what is sacred must not be exploited or despoiled. We also know that action in the world in the service of the sacred is one of the core expressions of our spirituality.

A Working Definition of Reclaiming by Starhawk

“I think that what you’re describing, this ritual and prayer in collaboration with action is full and holistic, and one without the other is incomplete. And I think talking about the decay of cultural ceremony has accompanied the rise of hegemony and capitalism.

You know, most of us grow up deprived of traditions that ground us in the Earth and our communities and our unique gifts. And resultant is a disconnected fog that blankets our society.

And the young people of today are left stumbling for a purpose, yearning, perhaps even unconsciously, for guidance from their elders.” – Ayana Young

source: Homebound: The Roots and Shoots of Earth-based Community with STARHAWK /182

inner turmoil as training ground

i did a tarot pull while holding the question, “how can i grow my relationship with cannabis?”

i drew the hermit + five of wands:


(they were both reversed, which depending on my mood, carries significance. my general sense of reversal is that it indicates tension — blocks around the energy the card is speaking to)

musings:

i often struggle with my relationship around cannabis — constantly coming back to a desire to be intentional with my practice, making sure it’s sacred instead of compulsive, numbing or escaping.

cannabis has been in my life for over 10 years at this point, and so we’ve grown a lot together. and i, inevitably, worry about falling back into old habits, ones that don’t serve me.

and to be honest, i’m not sure how much i’ve grown externally with my practice of cannabis. i think in a lot of the ways, i practice her similarly, with some adjustments. it’s almost as though the way it’s the way i relate to her that has really changed. i see her more as a sacred sacrament than a “drug.”

generally, the cards are letting me know that this turning inwards about it, this internal conflict over it, isn’t inherently a bad thing. together, they’re reminding me that this is often the place of growth – intentional contemplation and allowing for/moving through contradictions, the parts of ourselves that seem in opposition.

the other side of the five of wands, of these people sparring with each other, is that it’s a training ground; conflict is how we grow, how we get stronger. in turning inwards and holding these many parts of ourselves as they combat each other, we learn that it’s less about one winning/claiming domination over the others, and more so about learning how to create space for all of them. how do we let the contradictory parts of ourselves coexist? how do we nurture a sense of belonging for all of them?

there’s a part of me that truly believes cannabis is one of the kindest practices i’ve integrated into my life. and another part feels like it’s often be a crutch or distraction, something that’s more compulsive than anything else. part of me believes that cannabis is a sacrament, not a “drug,” and yet i find myself partaking in her in ways that treat her more like “substance.”

i can’t remember the exact wording, but it makes me think of ashe phoenix referring to a “conscious practice of cannabis” — the reality is that cannabis is in and of itself neutral. or maybe it would be more apt to say that as a spiritual sacrament, she’ll bring the medicine, but it’s up to you what you do with it.

this also makes me think of something else ashe said in relation to cannabis justice:

all cannabis use is medicinal.”

ya, so it’s tricky.. cause even when i’m using cannabis to escape, to distract, to comfort.. can this still be reaching for medicine? i guess that’s why they call it self-medicating. it makes me think of how all behavior, even the most destructive and shameful, is serving a purpose a purpose — we wouldn’t reach for it if it wasn’t.

i do have such deep reverence for cannabis. and that’s one of the main reasons i want to make sure i’m aligned in my relationship with her. i want to always treat her with care and respect and appreciation.

the work of the hermit and the five of wands is to surrender to the internal conflict, to let it be, to show up for it. to understand that going through this turmoil leads me to the other side of clarity. the grappling with is an integral part of the learning/growing process.

and yet internal conflict can feel so wrong when it’s happening… waking up this morning, having slept a lot (like 10+ hours), i was wondering if it was because i smoked too much last night.. and showing up for that consideration honestly can be hard, because it’s triggers insecurity and shame — makes me feel like a “loser” or “failure.”

like, “again, Becki, again? you still haven’t figured this shit out?”

and there’s another layer to this as well — i often use weed as a scapegoat. if something in my life isn’t going right, if my energy is low, i blame it on cannabis. and so i both blame her and reach for her. this makes me think of my friend Katie describing people’s toxic relationship with money, like “i need you but i hate you.”

i don’t want to blame cannabis for my problems, because she’s always been kind to me.

holding consistent turmoil, such as my conflicted feelings towards my cannabis practice, is exhausting. i understand why people reach for binaries, all or nothing thinking. it’s the irony of the middle way, one of moderation, often being the hardest option. it requires consistent check-ins with self to make sure we’re moving in alignment.

it’s the hard work of daily dedication to a path.

i tell myself that if there’s a time i need to walk away from cannabis (again), that knowing will arise in me without forcing. but it’s important to note that in order to be able to hear that call (or any call for that matter) requires a practice of honest listening, one without judgment or restrictions.

before i did this tarot pull, i thought to myself, “i hope the cards don’t tell me i need to stop/take a break from smoking…” these are the revelations i need to be rigorously honest about — my deep attachment to smoking, at how often i reach for her, and the fear that arises in her absence. i guess you could refer to this as dependency.

and admitting that brings up feelings of shame, of failure. because i feel like i can either admit that and stop or not admit it and keep going. as opposed to admitting it and not stopping, which then just feels like self-aware dysfunction.

my trauma therapist, when i told her about my cannabis use, said it makes sense. and that she wouldn’t just ask me to stop out of the blue, because it’s obviously serving me in some way. there’s a sense of irresponsibility to taking something away without having an offering in its place.

i don’t really have clarity around my relationship with cannabis, because it’s many things. it does not fit neatly into a box of “good” or “bad.”

and ultimately, cannabis is loving. i’ve thought numerous times, if i needed to walk away from cannabis, i’m confident she’d understand. i don’t feel as though she‘s manipulating me, holding me back.

i also don’t feel as though she is truly the problem in my life. but i do have a lot of discomfort around the compulsivity that can arise in me with her. that’s the part that really irks me, that makes me feel “bad” or “weak.”

anyways y’all, i worry i might just start going in circles at this point.

i guess like many things in life, to be continued…

i’ll keep y’all in the loop with as much honesty and courage as i can muster.

much love and good luck out there ❤ ❤ ❤

“What if we thought of life less like a problem to be solved and more like a mystery to be unfolded?”

This is a quote from one of my yoga instructors in New Orleans. I can’t even remember the context that she offered it in, but it was powerful. It washed over me in the way that universal truths tend to, poignant and esoteric, the type of thing you can’t grasp too firmly with your mind, cause it’ll ruin it lol.

notes on Femme Spirituality

femme spirituality: “Spiritual practices and interpretations of sacred texts that honor the divine feminine, Mother Earth, sacred sexuality and LOVE above all else.” [source]

[image source: https://www.ouvra.com/femme-spiritual%5D

i need femme-informed spirituality. i’m tired of this masc shit that’s all about the brain (often ignoring/denying the body), control and restriction, anti-pleasure.. i believe there’s ultimately a need for balance but i need to tip the scale in the direction of femme-dominant for now.

i need practices that don’t run away from, deny, or shame the shadow. ones that teach us how to look at it head-on, study it, learn its dimensions (Women Who Run with the Wolves type vibes)

paganism is femme – earth-centered spirituality: sexual, sensual, erotic, pleasure, death, rebirth, ritual, celebration, connection, nature, embodiment (listening to vs denying the body) — witchy vibes

complexity/moment of nuance & clarification: i struggle to speak about the concept of femme spirituality without it seeming inherently exclusionary. this isn’t about anatomy, it’s about having more options in the realm of understanding, celebrating, and working with the mystery of life.
i also don’t want to encourage binary ways of thinking, especially in relation to spirituality. we are all everything all at once, always, and i understand that’s too much for our human brains to hold. anyways, i digress.

here’s an excerpt from Holly Whitaker’s Quit Like a Woman to break down the contradiction between masc-informed spirituality and feminism.

AT THE ROOT
[bolded/italicized for emphasis by me, along with some reformatting]

At the Root of This Longing is a book written by the author, scholar, and educator Carol Lee Flinders. Flinders holds a doctorate from UC Berkeley in comparative literature, with a focus on medieval women’s mysticism; she has lived for most of her life in a meditative co-op under the tutelage of Eknath Easwaran, an Indian-born spiritual teacher. Flinders is a feminist and a deeply committed meditation student and teacher, with a profound depth of knowledge about women mystics. Her life is devoted both to the telling of silenced women’s stories and meditative discipline, and she set herself on a course to understand why her feminism felt so at odds with her spiritual practice. In doing so, she identified four key areas where feminism and spirituality contradict each other.

According to Flinders, all religious and spiritual traditions and specifically meditative practices—because they were built by men and for men—promote the following:

  1. self-silencing;
  2. self-naughting (destruction of the ego);
  3. resisting desire; and
  4. enclosure (turning inward, sealing off from the world).

As a feminist, naming these four requirements of transcendence troubled her. “I realized that however ancient and universal these disciplines may be, they are not gender neutral at all. Formulated for the most part within monastic contexts, they cancel the basic freedoms—to say what one wants, go where one likes, enjoy whatever pleasures one can afford, and most of all, to be somebody—that have normally defined male privilege” (emphasis mine).

What she is saying is that the underlying precepts of a spiritual path—in every lineage from which there is a path—seek to define a degree of spiritual freedom through reversal of status. And who has had that status in societies all over the world for the last few thousand years? Men. “Women, on the other hand,” she wrote, “have not been in a position to renounce these privileges voluntarily because they have never had them in the first place.” In fact, “they are terms of our subordination.”

When I read those lines in her book after that conversation with Cath, every hair on my body stood at attention because finally, finally, someone had put into words the thing that had been screaming in me since I was first told that my failure to submit to AA was really my ego run amok. Finally, what I read was: It makes sense that a woman might entirely refuse a program that asked her to give up something she’s not only never had, but was finally just grasping: a sense of self, a voice, a sense of her own desires, freedom in a world not made for her.

The opposite of these precepts, as argued by Flinders, is to
(1) “find your voice; tell your story, make yourself heard”;
(2) “know who you are. Establish your authentic identity or selfhood. Identify your needs and learn how to meet them”;
(3) “reclaim your body, and its desires, from all who would objectify and demean it, whether it’s the fashion industry, pornographers, or even the medical establishment. Recognize the hatred of the female body that pervades contemporary culture, and oppose it”; and
(4) “move about freely and fearlessly. Take back the streets. Take back the night and the day.

❤ ❤ ❤ much luck out there; take care ❤ ❤ ❤

navigating liminal spaces

there’s a saying i learned when i was in AA — “the only way out is through”

like many AA sayings, it might not have originated in AA, but that is now my association with it. it came from a woman in a meeting after she described a deeply dark period of heavy drinking and chronic pain in her life.

i’d like to adapt this saying in relation to liminality — “the way through liminality is curiosity.”

i’ve honestly felt like i’ve been in a liminal space since the start of the pandemic. it’s like i’ve been in a perpetual limbo, uncertain how/when to take action.

the thing about the prince of liminality card in the tarot is the figure hanging upside down, hooked by their ankle is cool as a cucumber. not only that, they’re rocking a halo.

so the question becomes, how do you find a sense of calm amidst uncertainty, confusion, dissatisfaction, or a sense of stuck-ness? we become curious about it. we let go of the internal resistance to it (i like to think of this type of resistance as getting in a fight with reality).

anyways, long story short, it’s about acceptance, expansion. instead of attempting to control or change, we relinquish ourselves to it. and in that place of surrender, we find peace.

side note: it’s hard for me to describe something that feels like wisdom without grappling with the sense that i’m spiritually bypassing the inherent human struggle of it. like being like, *in lazily fancy voice* “oh, alllllll you have to do is accept it, my dears”

let me be clear: i will attempt to control with a chaotic vigor before i attempt to reach anywhere near acceptance.

i feel like there’s this idea, and i’m not exactly sure where it came from, that acceptance of reality, of something we don’t want or fear is like giving up. when in actuality, acceptance is always the first step towards true change, right? (can i get an amen?)

the irony of surrender is that it’s actually quite liberating. letting go of control, allowing ourselves to simply be another human trying our best is actually quite relieving.

this reminds me of another AA-ism: Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show.

sometimes when we’re in the in-between, it’s simply because we need to be there. and when i’m feeling truly connected, i see it as Spirit getting us ready for the next step.

alright y’all, i’m gonna end there ❤ ❤ ❤