Before you plan your summer trip/retreat...

 Eclipse Trip Aug 2016 by my sweetie  @mattrixdaytron

Eclipse Trip Aug 2016 by my sweetie @mattrixdaytron

I took an unplanned absence from my Tarot work online and I want to tell you why and offer you some hard-earned insight from my experiences.

I needed to care for myself first and without interruption.

I will explain:

I partook in a medicinal ceremony in which I learned--and healed--so much about myself beyond what I could ever verbalize or write. (I will give a more detailed account of that experience in the future; for now, I will say it is very deep work and not necessarily for everyone and I recommend preparation and research before engaging in any kind of life-changing, ceremonial medicine. I observe the utter profundity of the medicine still working on and through me and I feel deeply grateful.)

I was not expecting this experience to be so quickly and intensely transformative. My life before this experience seems like a distant memory and in a way, I had to put myself back together. What Jung calls integration.

Integration is becoming whole
or perhaps more accurately, becoming whole again
...and again.

When we do deep shadow work, the process is like any transformation:
a death,
a letting go,
a surrender of the ego must occur before renewal or insight alights us.

Ego death--or even just a shift in perspective--can put a person in a wildly receptive state. That state of heightened receptivity is where the wisdom of surrender gets in, and it can also leave one feeling raw and tender and too open to handle the pace and volume of the outside world.

In the past, I’ve made the dire mistake of embarking on life-changing work without proper psycho-emotional-spiritual support in place before I left.

And when I returned, I struggled to integrate.
Hell, I struggled to operate.

The weeks after a life-changing experience were often my lowest, most despairing points of depression and *please note* I am not only talking about heroic doses of psychedelics.

Low points can (and did) occur after my yoga-teacher training,
after traveling,
after a breathwork workshop,
because I did not know what I know now:

Integration takes time, space, strength and patience to go
on the wide-ranging psychic ride that it will inevitably take you;
after the highest-heights catharsis, the pendulum will swing the opposite way
as we return to our normative life.

So maybe, like me, you’ve embarked upon a journey of a transcendent experience and then you get home and everything is more difficult than expected.

Surprise! There is a second leg of this journey!

I hope you brought your water bottle because this is the hardest, longest slog of the whole trip, and the most important slog because it is the part in which we learn how to integrate our newfound wisdom into ourselves as we exist in our everyday life.

We bring the lessons of the healing into the everyday, careful not to compartmentalize our new insight; compartmentalization can lead to even more difficult disintegration.

The second part of this journey can happen with less suffering if the seeker preemptively prepares for the pendulum swing. Simply put, plan on needing:
more time alone, more quiet, more sleep,
reliable tools/practices for processing (like journaling, movement, creativity, meditation, soothing music, or a good listener/therapist, whatever you vibe on),
more attention and gentleness to the body (water, sleep, vibrant, supportive foods),
more unscheduled time, more walks outside.
Did I say sleep? Sleep.

Of course, we cannot always prepare for a transcendental experience. Sometimes the unexpected teacher visits in rapturous awe or blindsiding pain or a mix of both.

This is why prioritizing daily practices, even small simple ones, is mega-important.
The little ritual tools give us a foundation to return to when the mind spirals out due to overwhelm or despair.

As you make your summer plans, I hope you also plan (mentally, emotionally and practically) for the care of your newly transformed self. I hope your summer trips (psychedelic or not) are full of spiritual breakthroughs. I hope you dance under the moon, and swim in water you just met, and laugh until the tears come and you encounter the crushingly warm gratitude that comes with unapologetically feeding your soul, with all the nuance and discomfort and joy that such trips can bring.

I hope you peer into your darkest darks and lightest lights
and when you come home,
remember how to gently hold both.  

0 : The Fool

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Openness to Experience, Vibrant Energy, Total Possibility, Naivety, A New Journey, Delight in Seeking, Flow of Synchronicity commonly referred to as Beginner's "Luck", Releasing Control, Embracing the Unknown, Potent Potential Energy

Maybe you've experienced this: while traveling, you find yourself near a shimmering body of water with people who will become lifelong [facebook] friends, dancing and laughing, admiring the native plants; a full moon rises to crown the experience with transcendent silvery light. Through joyful (MDMA-induced?) tears you wonder, "How did this happen? I am so lucky to live this life!"* 

One cannot plan that experience; the universe simply bestows it upon you. You trust. The Fool trusts because everything about this journey is currently unknown: the highs and the lows cannot yet be seen or imagined.

Your openness and lack of cynicism allows you to easily flow into synchronicity and discover new knowledge about yourself and about your cosmic path. No need to feel rushed, no need to accomplish, because no itinerary exists for this journey. Admire the flowers and bask in the gratitude that seems to come effortlessly.

If you often play the role of taking charge, The Fool may be asking you to stand down and allow someone else to take up responsibility. Sometimes "playing the Fool," i.e. releasing expectations and control, can be beneficial to another person's growth. It may give you (and your ego) a much needed break while allowing someone else to build their confidence and skills. Do not be agitated by your lack of influence; instead, find joy in the little things you once took for granted. 

You are beginning a journey; you do not have to know HOW it will work out, only that it WILL. You do not have to account for every possible outcome (that mindset can limit flow before it starts) but keep your wits about you, stay tapped in to your intuition, and notice the beauty of your novel situation. One foot in front of the other. Have no fear, you are safe. 

The shadow of the Fool is foolishness: the purposeful ignorance of common sense or an active disinterest in your own precariousness. Stay present. Be mindful of the ledge. Bring a jacket. Dance while on drugs, don't dive into unknown water while on drugs. 

The Fool's energy is a blessing to seekers of any kind: artists, travelers, psychonauts, philosophers, eternal students.

Go forth, young pup, expand your consciousness! Blaze a rainbow trail! The Universe smiles upon you! Stay open and stay alert. Be carefree not careless. 

*If you have yet to experience this, get yourself on a trip! Put yourself in a position to be the Fool, to be out of your comfort zone and in the unknown. 

Journal answers to any of these reflections questions that resonate with you:
What are you excited about right now? Where is your potential energy?
Are you aware of the new journey you are on?
Is there a situation that you need to see with fresh eyes?
Is there a situation from which you need to step back and "play the Fool?" Is it time to let someone else take charge? 
Are you open to your own possibility?
How do you want to expand?
Do you feel excited, vulnerable, both?
How do you hear from your intuition?
What do you hear from your intuition? 

Spring Equinox Spread to Support Your Possibly Awkward Growth

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We had a new moon in Pisces on March 17 and the Spring Equinox beckons on the 21st. This is a potent time to set intentions and witness our own growth. 

Us spiritual folks loooove to talk about growth. Everything is an opportunity for growth, I hear murmured over and over again from self-assured yogis with their hands clasped in front of their flat stomachs.

Uh-huh, of course, I nod, but am I the only one feeling this damn uncomfortable?  

The axiom that everything is an opportunity for growth is absolutely true, but sometimes its flippant delivery is like one of those nice tea bags with a fortune on the tag. It's nice and now it's going in my compost because a happily chirped maxim cannot contain the realness of my feelings right now.  

Growth: augmentation, sprouting, stretching, heightening,
evolution, enlargement, extension, expansion, expression...


I hope you rested this winter because that. shit. takes. energy...and surrender.

Growth can be a beautiful blossoming, but prior to the sweet release of flowering, our movement may be frustrating, awkward, unwieldy. In the process of becoming something new, we must be willing to look inexperienced, to look like a fool, to experiment, to push out on our own container with sustained effort.

In my experience, the longer or more potent the discomfort, the more profound the effect. 
Enter magic.
Transformation inevitably calls to the depths of our desire.

We purposefully change because we consciously desire to do so
-or-
the great unknown creates a circumstance in which we seemingly have no choice but to change; 
though momentarily unconscious of it, the soul desires--and answers to--its true nature.


See it through, babe. You are almost there.

Find a moment to reflect.
Here is a 3-card spread as you set intentions for this new season:


I like to pull one card at a time, reflecting on the question and the card
before moving to the next one. 


Card 1: What do I need to release?
When you identify the energy that needs release, thank the energy for its time and for its lessons. There is no wrongness, no shame, no blame.
Thank yourself for the willingness to shed skin. 

Card 2: What am I healing in this moment?
I am healing my relationship with...
What does your healed relationship look like?
What are you like on the other side of this transformation?
How do you feel, act, and think in your new embodiment? 

Card 3: What do I need to call in?
You are powerful beyond what you imagine and any aid you need will surely arrive at the right time. If this card seems puzzling, let it simmer and remain curious. It will surely become clear as life unfolds.
 

Temper your discomfort with extra care:
season changes are the most important times to
eat well, sleep well, breathe well and tune into the body.
Connect with your BFFs who support your spiritual growth.

Create a container for yourself in which to honor your own sea changes,
even if that means saying no to screens, to social engagements, to demanding schedules. 

What you are stretching towards, you already are it.
Happy flowering.  

MARCH MONTHLY MEDICINE : Trust the Process

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Seven of Swords + Ace of Cups + Three of Cups

Last night's full moon sets the tone to reset. The Seven of Swords asks you to get honest about your work. The work. The work that moves you, the work that the world desperately needs. Maybe this work is your book, a gardening method, a workshop, nursing, or an app. This work is bubbling in you, effervescent with potent experience and insight. Why do you sneak off from your tribe with your sharpest ideas? Are you purposefully obscuring your shine

The Seven of Swords suggests a fear about showing your creations. It is much easier to stay cloaked, to never share yourself, and thereby never be subject to criticism or feedback. Your ideas can stay safe in its baby form, tucked safely under your arm as you sneak off to comfort.

But let’s get real: do you want
your work,
your ideas,
your thoughts to grow?
It needs the light of day as much as your people need your insight.

The Ace of Cups brings a spiritual reset to this struggle. The feeling after a good, long cry. Exhaustion. Bleariness. Sweet release.

Let it flow.
Trust the process. 

The struggle is over and attachments to the pain finally drop away. The Ace of Cups ushers in a wave of peace that naturally follows catharsis. It’s like a dirty cup held under a waterfall. The strength of the water’s movement clears anything stuck inside; let this Piscean dream season wash away your fears of being seen. 

Your hand holds the Ace of Cups. What will do with your newly cleared spirit space? Your cup is blank and you can consciously create what fills it; use your refreshment to garner yourself for more beautiful lessons to come in the realm of your hidden work.

The Three of Cups is a celebration of your newfound emotional clarity as we move into the fire of Aries and the joyous expansion of Spring.

Surround yourself with the sisters and brothers
who allow you to change and grow,
who honor your spiritual autonomy,
who know you beyond your internet persona.

Call in the trusted friends who encourage you
and celebrate with you,
who can keep you in check when your fear runs wild,
who call you back to your Truth.

As you explore the depths of your process, remember that your spiritual/creative/emotional growth does not have to look a certain way; it does not have to be perfectly cohesive, nor perfectly presentable, nor perfectly conformed with any particular political correctness du jour. Birthing something new is messy.

Your truth exists beyond your identifiers.
Like a waterfall in a cup, your power cannot be contained.


xoxo, Elise

FEBRUARY MONTHLY MEDICINE : BECOMING

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Ten of Cups + Eight of Cups + Queen of Swords

February’s spread asks where you to reflect on your process of BECOMING.


Becoming : to begin to be.

“To begin to be” brings back a scene: I am 12ish, and I am [finally...gah, mother!] allowed to wear makeup out of the house. It’s the 90’s, so I put on my choker necklace, pull my bangs down to frame either side of my face and unironically glaze my lips in a blue-iridescent lip gloss. This. is. not. a. costume.

I breathe in and look, somewhat pleased, at my reflection. I am the closest I can be in my pubescent mind to utter sophistication and worldliness. I move my face from side to side in the mirror and think “THIS. This is me now.” In a matter of minutes, I simply became a person who wears makeup.

Of course, my own self-expression through adornment took many twists and turns through the next two decades (and don’t we brown girls have some extra turns to work through?) but that first moment is particular: it beckons from you courage to try something new, to leave an old skin of yourself behind, to step fresh into a new way of existing in the world.

It may garner attention or misunderstanding. Your little brother insists loudly you look like an alien. Or perhaps it is an interior expansion, hidden under your normal days, stretching into discomfort, into an awkwardness of not knowing exactly how to do it.  How do women live life without getting makeup on everything, you wonder, noticing blue on the sleeve of your hoodie.

This is a scene of beginning to be something new. You may as well settle into the discomfort of not knowing, because this month you are embodying a new, previously unimagined form. The Ten of Cups is the end of a cycle; you may not notice this end as it is harmonious and full, a springboard from which to grow. The Eight of Cups insists that you cannot stay in the same comfy place. You must turn towards a call, toward the journey into deeper understanding of yourself and your purpose.

It may not be easy to embark on this journey, as the Eight of Cups suggests that you may have worked hard for this current state of ease; maybe you are finally comfortable. Moving toward new growth from a state of acceptance and harmony is the best time to go forth into uncharted depths. When one expands from a wellspring of curiosity rather than escape, the upturned ground is fertile for deep inspiration and abundant, rich growth. This call comes in sync with the full blue blood moon in Leo at the end of last month, which may have brought to light your sacred work which is both deeply inspirational to you and from a heart of service to the collective.  

The Queen of Swords encourages a reconnection with what you hold as your highest Truth. She can be a prickly presence to encounter in a reading if you struggle with boundaries. She asks, what is unnecessary? Cut it out. What derails your focus, your precious time, your limited energy? She is ruthless in her quest to clear out any weeds that threaten her discretion with confusion or apathy. She knows how to maintain her space, her time, her clarity of vision.

In a collective time when healing is so desperately needed, The Queen of Swords knows our own wholeness is power; she shows us what Queens inherently know: your healing and your maintenance come first. Caring for yourself unapologetically is the only way to effectively care for others.

As you step away from the cozy familiar, away from that which you once celebrated, into something new, remember that you are like a new plant, unfurling. New growth requires a tenacious will and strengthened boundaries from that which can choke out a sweet new tendril. You may be uncomfortable as you begin to be the new You: more powerful and confident, more deeply connected to your Path.

Grow on, babes. You got this. Your lip gloss is POPPIN'.