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 ❤ ❤ ❤

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.

[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 ❤ ❤ ❤