Personal Writings, Sister Summer, Socal Justice

#SisterSummer Week 1

The following are my initial thoughts from the #SisterSummer prompts from Desiree Adaway’s Sister Summer writing program focused on liberation. I’m sure there will be more to come from this prompt alone, but certainly from the rest of the weekly prompts.

Trigger Warning: This includes elements of my own story and journey, so it is inherently centered on my white, Christian, cis-gender, privileged experience in some sections. There is also a brief mention of abuse, and discussion of  many “-isms” within Christianity.

I’m really lucky. I’m white, middle class, and cis-gender in a heterosexual marriage. And I was raised Christian. I don’t have many systems and institutions to fight to survive because they mostly work for me, not against me.

But I think I feel that pull towards social justice not only because I believe wholeheartedly (and after much ideological change in some areas) it’s simply what we MUST do. But also because I have had to fight some ideologies and institutions from birth. I first had to survive within highly patriarchal belief systems, with a certain patriarch who abused and manipulated. It took years to fight back, recognize it enough to call a thing a thing, and then to forgive, to heal….and continue healing. I also was ingrained with fat phobia…and am now fat and body positive. I am finally learning how to handle the depression I’ve had all my life (most of it without knowing I was depressed). I have an internal organ that doesn’t work. And now I wonder if perhaps I’m not as heterosexual as I thought.

In the past year, I’ve shed many things, healed others, and am still on that wild ride of intense change. I’m now on a path of shedding the dogma and strappings of a religion I’m not even sure I recognize anymore. Or maybe my eyes have opened to what it is. It’s a tricky place to be in because my newfound spirituality is still based in many of the beliefs I’ve held dear all my life…many of the beliefs that led to healing and life-changing experiences. But I’ve come to realize those experiences are more universal and less exclusive than I was led to believe.

I’ve gone down an interesting path the past few years. The people and the religion I relied on let me down when I really needed them and it made me start to question more deeply. Around that same time, I came into a new awareness of what racism means, what white privilege and white supremacy means, and I woke up to what was *actually* going on in the world around me. Everything was not what I thought it was and I felt like I was unplugged from the Matrix. Rather than let it overwhelm me, I started to educate myself with voracious fervor. With a young child that needed me often, most of my education came to me through Facebook and Google searches. Then I branched out into the “real world” as much as I could as well.

And within all that I started to see how the systems I grew up in, including the Church and so many Christians, worked to support systems that Jesus would not have approved of. The cognitive dissonance was REAL. How could I participate in a church community where respected people obviously believed in racist, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, homophobic, and transphobic ideologies. I started to see the truth about people I thought were generous and kind, especially around the 2016 election. Granted, not all of my Christian friends believed this and I had many friends who also believed in intersectionality and inclusion, but I could not in good conscience be a part of a system that upheld those ideologies.

I considered finding a progressive church because I missed that sense of community, but on a personal level, I still had too much hurt of my own. I ended up finding that community in other ways, or more recently created it on my own.

Yet even within the spiritual/New Age community at large, I’ve discovered many of those same systems still come into play, but it doesn’t have the same structure and history of Christianity’s legacy. The manipulation seems more recent and a result of colonization and globalization. Ancient religions were more often colonized and oppressed by Christians than the other way around. So it seems a more fragile system that’s getting exposed more easily. I’ve found the people who believe what I believe, or who have helped clarify things…many of whom are marginalized and speak truth unabashedly.

My place in all this is still getting solidified, but this I know…I will always stand for the liberation the wild selves of EVERYONE, which means standing for the marginalized and oppressed. I don’t want to enhance my life on the backs of Black and Brown people, continue to suppress and oppress LGBTQ+ communities, disabled communities, people from other religions and cultures, etc. It does us no good. It weighs us down because we bear the weight of oppressor and colonizer. But when we help others get free, we free ourselves in the process. Not in a selfish way, but because when we’re all free, we are our best selves and can give to the world what we’re meant to give. I would rather set the stage for future generations by humbling myself and bending down to lift up marginalized folx than to break their backs by walking all over them (and teaching my daughter the same values).

I dissent from a lot of things I used to believe, or blindly participate in, and my dissent is showing up stronger and stronger not only in my social media presence, but more public avenues such as my blog, my business, and within my work itself.

I dissent with the obvious isms, the oppression, and the white supremacy. But I also dissent with society’s expectations in so many ways. Who defines success? Who says we need to “have it all”? Perhaps true success is being grateful for the abundance we have, sharing it with others according to our purpose, and working to help our fellow humans and our earth.

I feel that I have a lot of “causes” and a lot of areas where I continue to grow and expand in my knowledge and understanding, but the core of it is this: recognizing each others’ beauty, humanity, and struggles. And then choosing to lift up and center any marginalized person who enters my sphere.

For my personal life purpose, that also means helping people express their true and authentic selves as freely as possible. Too many of us have had our voices muffled, shot down, dismissed, muzzled, or been told it’s not good enough. Who are they to determine that? Unless you’re spouting hate speech, no one has the right to tell us how to use our voices. Sing imperfectly, shout out loud, howl at the moon, speak from the depth of your soul.

Will I always do this work perfectly? No. But I’ll keep working at it day by day, moment my moment, till the day I die.

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By the Seat of My Pants

I admit it…I tend to do things by the seat of my pants. I’ve tried to overcompensate in the past by planning to the gills (and spent more time planning than doing), but then I’d get other inspirations that didn’t go along with my plans, so those plans I worked so hard on would fly out the window.

I recently had a Soul Empowerment reading with Simran N’golet of Get Real with Your Soul and she mentioned that I’m someone who figures things out by DOING. And she totally nailed it. She encouraged me to cancel and throw away that need to plan things out, ignore the people who say I need to make a master plan, and just keep doing things my own way. Cause you know what? IT WORKS FOR ME!

So often we have this tendency to fit ourselves into the mold that society has created. But we are all unique and have something special to offer. Maybe the mold was created with you in mind, but maybe, like me, you don’t fit. Why try to force yourself into it?!

When I try to force things to happen within a detailed goal map master plan, I end up feeling frustrated, anxious, and like I’m trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It just doesn’t work. I might eke something out, but it ends up being soulless. However, when I wait on Spirit to guide me, and wait for those intuitive soul nudges, everything falls into place perfectly. The words come easily, the things I need arrive right on time, and inspiration flows. I am so much more productive this way!

Our family is starting to venture into homeschooling in an official capacity in the Fall. I was recently reading an article about unschoolers who went on to pursue higher education (unschooling is a style of homeschooling that takes a child-led approach versus parent/teacher-led). I realized yet again that I am an unschooler at heart, even though my family took a different approach to homeschooling. I have a wild heart that I am learning to embrace. I love learning and will follow my passions with fierceness until I’m satisfied and ready to move on to the next thing.

The past few months I haven’t done much planning ahead, despite moving on from one business to launch something totally different. I’ve been gradually letting go and listening to my intuition and doing things when I’m lit up about them. I’ve been discovering I have passions that were in “hibernation” because I felt I had to fit into a box in order to do them. Writing is one of those things (expect a lot more from me in that department!).

Even though I’ve launched my business officially, I’m still learning more (I’m currently in an Akashic Record Reading certification course with Satwinder Simone Isser and am always continuing my anti-racism and social justice education), I’m still working on new offerings (a more expansive self care program will be launching by the Fall), and listening to intuitive nudges about other things to work on (like an oracle card deck). I’m also hearing a lot about what to let go of. I’m letting go of everything that doesn’t serve me, even if it’s painful. I’m learning to be still and listen to the quiet voice that guides.

There is wildness, there is abundance, there is freedom, there is gratitude, there is joy. I have not felt this free in a very long time. And my hope is that anyone who encounters me and my work in any capacity is led to more freedom. I want my clients and customers to grow beyond what I can give them – to flourish in their own wild abundance.

How are you learning to embrace your wild nature, your freedom, and your unique self in this moment? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

(PS: if you’d like some healing and empowering work to help you on your journey, I would be honored to have you in my safe and sacred space for a Free Your Voice session.)

Moon, Prayer, Rituals

New Moon Rituals

The new moon is a time of new beginnings. It is a time to start fresh, create intentions, and an excellent time for manifesting, and working with the divine to start on a new path. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, we see that the moon has it’s cycles – the cycles that God/the Universe/Source/Allah, etc created – along with all the other natural cycles of the day, seasons of the year, menstruation, and life itself. These cycles align with the creative process as well.

The cycle is:

Birth, spring, waxing moon, sprouting plant, follicular phase of menstrual cycle

Mid-life, summer, full moon, fruitful plant, ovulation

Old age, Fall, waning moon, decay, luteal phase

Death, Winter, New moon, gone to seed, bleeding phase of menstruation

In the creative process, it’s the same thing:  The inspiration or birth of an idea, the fruition of an idea, the completion of an idea, and what Kate Northrup has dubbed the “fertile void”.

In order for a sprout to grow, a plant must go to seed. That seed must be buried, like in death…except the seed still carries the possibility of life. Life energy resides in that tiny seed. So even when you feel that you can’t move forward or you are stuck and don’t know what to do…that seed is there, waiting for some sunlight, waiting for the ground to thaw, waiting for the warm showers of Spring.

In the cycle of the moon (and possibly your menstrual cycle if you have one and it is aligned), right now is the season of the seed. It is the time to plant your intentions, to trust that your ideas and your goals have life force behind them, and that they will come to fruition in time.

The following rituals can be done individually, or all together as one. You may light a candle when you begin, and blow it out when you are done, whether it’s just one, or all of them. Make them your own!

Gratitude Ritual:

  • Light a candle if you wish, or diffuse some essential oils that make you feel good.
  • Write down all the things you are grateful for, especially from the past 4 weeks.
  • Write down all the things that have gone well, no matter how small.
  • Then sit in the feeling of gratitude for all the blessings in your life.

Prayer:

“Thank you [insert deity/universe here] for your support and for your blessings. I am grateful for the cycles of the universe that are an example of how I can live and am grateful I can tap into them for support. I am grateful for how you bring me what I need when I need it, for the challenges that help me grow, and the blessings that support my passions and purpose in this life. [You may repeat your lists here if you’d like]. I release the things that do not serve me. I release the things that hold me back from pursuing my purpose, taking time to feed my soul, or giving to the world. I release the distractions, frustration, discouragement, and clutter. I release them down into the earth so they can be reborn into something new that will produce good fruit. And so it is. Amen.”

Blow out the candle to seal your ritual.

Intentions Ritual:

[Many elements of this ritual are inspired by rituals described in Moonology by Jasmin Boland]

  • Light a candle, or keep it going. A green candle is a good choice if you have one since it signifies growth, new beginnings, and abundance.
  • Take out a journal and tap into your imagination. Write out all the things you wish to see come to fruition in your life, even if they feel impossible. Let your imagination run wild!
  • Make a list of the top 10 things you wish to see happen in your life, no matter how realistic you feel they are. The more specific you are, the better.
  • Take time to imagine your life as if those things DID come to fruition. How do they FEEL? Feel the gratitude and the joy.
  • To solidify those things in your mind, take some time to draw, color, or beautifully hand write your list.
  • Write out the steps you will take during this lunar cycle to bring those things to fruition.
  • Spend time each day visualizing the manifestation of your intentions, and feeling grateful for them. If you wish, you can say a prayer of gratitude as well (your own, or the prayer above).
  • Add the steps to your calendar or planner!

Self Care & Self-Forgiveness (Ho’oponopono) Ritual:

This includes a very basic Ho’oponopono (“to make right”) Hawaiian forgiveness process combined with water to cleanse away negative energy. To learn more about it, check out this article. This ritual is also inspired by Laureen Mally’s new moon rituals from The Woo Collective.

Take the time to wash away the past lunar month and start fresh!

Take a few minutes to meditate or journal about the past few weeks. Think about things that have come up for you either within yourself, or within your relationships with others. Don’t judge it, just observe what comes up. Allow yourself to feel whatever feelings come up. Cry or be angry if you need to.

Optional: Before bathing, prepare a bowl of warm water by adding natural salts, herbs, and/or a few drops of essential oils. Use what you are drawn to, or what you know can help support your intentions for the month. Bring your bowl into the bath or shower with you. If you are taking a bath and use essential oils, mix them into natural or epsom salts first.

  • Before bathing, bring a bowl (or one filled with herbs) into the shower with you or have it nearby.
  • When in the bath or shower, say the Ho’oponopono creed three times:

“I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you.”

Notice anything else that comes up emotionally and forgive yourself or others. Forgive yourself and release yourself from focusing on “negative” about yourself, and instead fill yourself with love. Love the imperfect parts of yourself. Send love to others.

  • Imagine surrounding yourself with a pink bubble and fill it with love.
  • Imagine the people you need to forgive, surround them with a pink bubble, fill it with love, and blow it away.
  • Take your bowl, fill it with water if need be, and pour it over your head, allowing it to wash away anything else you need to release. Say the Ho’oponopono one last time, really feeling into the words.
  • Open your hands, palm up, and imagine loving white light from God, Source, the Universe, to fill you up with through the top of your head and your hands.
  • Thank the Divine for supporting you and finish your shower.
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My Inner Lioness

My Inner Lioness – A manifesto of my spiritual journey

I wrote a story for you.
 
This explains where I am now in my spiritual journey and I felt was important for me to share before I start my new business in earnest. I need to be 100% authentic in order to full share my unique gifts with the world and a lot has changed in my spiritual journey.
 
I was a teenager/young adult when I started to discover my charismatic spiritual gifts. I would pray for people and see images and sense their meaning for the person I was praying for. I would sometimes sense messages without an image. Looking back, I have often felt a stronger connection to the Holy Spirit (the unseen, guiding, and intuitive characteristics of God). There were no dad issues to cloud my relationship, as the Holy Spirit didn’t have a clear gender like Father God and Jesus. I certainly prayed to the entire trinity, but I just related to that ethereal aspect of God on a different level.
 
I went to a charismatic conference and went up for a prophetic word (message from God) for myself, and what stuck with me most was that she said I would be a spiritual leader like Deborah (the only female Judge and leader before Israel had kings), that I was strong like a lioness, protective, and someone who would be an example to others.
 
I got a similar prophetic word from someone I knew who saw me leading people up a mountain, looking like Joan of Arc. At the time I had hair about 2.5-3 feet long, and I took it as a sign I was meant to cut my hair (I feel more like my true self now that my hair is short again!)
 
No matter what church I was in, I often had a place of leadership of some kind, most often leading musical worship in some capacity. I’ve been using my musical gifts in church pretty much my whole life.
 
Nearly four years ago I started learning and educating myself about systems of oppression and racism in our country (and the world in general). I saw how the “system” of Christianity didn’t always align with Jesus’ teachings as I understood them. I saw how so many churches and prominent Christian leaders rejected people in both obvious ways (rejection of LGBTQIA+, women in leadership) and not so obvious ways (supporting people and political ideologies that perpetuate systems of oppression). I was involved in churches that were closer to allyship, supported women in leadership, and whose leadership ideology supported anti-racism. But stopped short of open, full support of progressive social justice. This isn’t to say the work they do isn’t important for some people groups, and they are able to reach people earlier on their journeys towards dismantling white supremacy. But I couldn’t continue being a part of something with such a huge cognitive dissonance between the grace and social justice work of Jesus himself, and the fear and oppression inherent in conservative mainstream Christianity. How could I possibly be a part of something that was starting to go against my journey towards dismantling my internalized white supremacy and work towards leveraging my privilege? So I slowly backed away.

I went through a period of shedding the patriarchal and oppressive elements of my faith until I got to a core of who Jesus is. And I began to open myself up to other ways of thinking within Christian tradition. I discovered Christian mysticism, Contemplative Christianity, and the idea of nonduality – that God isn’t “out there”, but a part of us. That seeking to transform our minds into the mind of Christ is to become one with Christ in the truest sense.

Through this, I also became more open to other forms of connecting with God that conservative Christianity often views as “evil” or “witchcraft”. I found that connection to the earth by paying attention to the cycles of life and the world (phases of the day, lunar cycles, menstrual cycles, and yes, even astrological movements), and utilizing God’s creation to support my physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual well being (herbs, essential oils, crystals), helped me feel more in tune with myself and supported my spiritual growth. I discovered that card reading, such as Tarot and Oracle cards, could be used to connect with God and hear the Holy Spirit much in the same way as casting lots in the Bible or spirit-led prayer (and that more Christians utilize them than you might think).

Ultimately, I’ve shed the judgment and spiritual assumptions made about Christian spirituality that have become commonplace in Western mainstream Christianity. I am passionate about supporting oppressed and marginalized people groups. Who am I to judge how someone connects to God or the Universe? The Holy Spirit guides us and speaks to us all individually. I’m done saying “This is the way it is”, because God is bigger than my and my capacity for understanding in this human existence.

I realize that this may alienate me from some people. That some of my Christian friends may think of me as a heretic, a “lost” Christian, or that I’ve fallen away from the faith. But I can tell you that after years of feeling far away from God and like something was missing, I am more connected than I have been in a VERY long time. I have a stronger sense of purpose and clarity on how I can serve people.

If you don’t resonate with my words and don’t want to be aligned with me, that’s okay. I wish you well on your own spiritual journey.

If you DO resonate with my words, I hope that I can be of service to you! My services can be adapted to fit your current level of comfort with spiritual things. Don’t want me to use crystals during a session? Totally fine! Only want me to use my Jesus Oracle cards (with Scripture verses on them) during an intuitive reading? I can do that!

Ultimately my goal is to help YOU connect with your own spirituality and inner voice, and that’s going to be different for every person. The more we connect to ourselves (our inner Christ consciousness, the words the Holy Spirit speaks to us when we are wholly listening, our higher selves, or whatever language you use) on a deep spiritual level, the more we are able to come alongside our brothers and sisters on this earth with us. The more we are able to connect in true equality to create support systems and community the more EVERYONE gets free. The more we connect with our inner voices, the more we are able to bring our unique gifts to the world and we ALL need to do that in order to rise up in love for one another.

Keep an eye out for some of the ways I plan to support equality through my business:

* Inclusive marketing (ie: not just cis skinny white people)
* Scholarship program for intersectional activists and POC/LGBTQIA+ folx who serve others (ie: spiritual leaders, doulas, etc)
* Centering POC/LGBTQIA+ voices and services, including a recommendation page and continuing to share their public work through my communication outlets.
* Paying POC/LGBTQIA+ spiritual leaders for services and supporting them through Patreon, etc (ie: not just taking their emotional work that they do for free).
* Continuing to do the emotional work of educating white/cis people about issues of privilege.
I am so excited to be on this journey!

Humbly and with Love,

Marieke
[Photo Collage by Marieke Schwartz]