Portable Fortitude!

I recently ordered a deck of “Portable Fortitude” cards by Corina Dross after hearing them described on one of my favorite pagan podcasts, New World Witchery.

The deck arrived today and I could not be more pleased!  I’m so excited and torn between that feeling of wanting to get one for everyone I know and wanting to keep them all to myself.  The prints are clean and crisp, the cards sharp and smooth, the images haunting, spirited, tirelessly honest and funny.  I was especially pleased to see my heroine Hypatia as the Queen of Spades (did you hear the discussion of her on Standing Stone and Garden Gate?? Wee!), and the author of my most beloved book, Virginia Woolf, as the King (Yes, KING!) of Clubs.  LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I’ve picked out a few of my favorites to spotlight below, but I’m enamored by them all.  I look forward to seeing her other artwork and continuing to support independent artists… when I can afford it!

In a burst of good luck today, I also got a chance to talk to the heretofore astoundingly quiet interoffice mail delivery guy who startles me every other day with sudden envelopes over my shoulder when I am not paying attention.  I discovered with perhaps slightly-too-unbridled glee that he is a kindred spirit as suspected, and a friendly conversationalist once the barrier is broken.  He is leaving me to go to grad school for library sciences (twin!), and I even worked up the nerve to ask him about his work back in the day on Mystery Science Theater 3000, that tremendously strange staple of my youth.  Hooray for wholly innocuous office crush!

May the fortitude be with you!

Love,
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Venturing Out, and a Shadow Moon Meditation

This evening I attended my first open group meditation at my local metaphysical shop, and I am so happy to report that it went extremely well!  Any of you familiar with Project Pagan Enough will likely understand my concerns about being accepted by my local pagan community, and since I don’t follow a prescribed traditional path, I have been hesitant about reaching out to the groups around me.  But tonight the local shop was holding an hour open meditation on the new moon in Cancer, and I finally decided to stick my neck out of the shell a bit.

I decided to bike there, and the weather was absolutely lovely.  It has been horrifically hot lately, but it was breezy and cooling down by the time I left.  What a relief!  I arrived a bit earlier than necessary, so I spent some time just wandering around the shop perusing the wares.  Luckily for my pocketbook, I did not find any “must haves.”  Gradually a small group of six or seven gathered in the back room, seated in chairs in a circle.

The High Priestess who was leading the meditation came in, dressed casually without intimidating ritual garb and welcomed us all warmly.  We all gave our names briefly, and Tracy started the exercise.  There were drums playing throughout, and rather than finding them distracting, I felt them draw me into my mind and they drowned out some of the mental distractions I tend to struggle with during meditation.

At first we simply focused on breathing, then visualized a column of light stretching infinitely upward, channeling down our spines and down deep through the earth.  This was our axis, and Tracy pointed out that we are each the center of our own universe.  This felt very empowering for me.

Next we visualized everything around us having a single color – first vibrant red, and all of our senses were engaged in that color, until gradually we moved into the next color, working our way through the rainbow.  Red tasted and smelled metallic like blood but felt lively and familiar; orange had a sound like a deep brass bell; yellow was joyful and textured like eyelet lace; green was smooth and calm and cool; blue was sparkling and clean and musical; indigo tasted like dust from the desert and coated my skin in bruise-colored beauty.  At last we came to violet, and I found myself in a shallow hollow carpeted with purple blossoms, surrounded by dense foliage but with a deep, open sky above studded with low-lying stars.  I remember seeing a candle lit, and a narrow waterfall.  “This is the place from which you dream, from which you journey, and to which you return.  This is a place that knows you as well as you know it.”

From this place we found a gateway — mine was a door in a frame standing alone in the field of blossoms with no walls connected to it.  You could walk around it without leaving the violet hollow, but going through it would bring you to a different place entirely, and not always the same place.  On this visit Tracy invited us to open the gate, and step through to meet Cancer.  I had no idea what to expect, and to be honest, I didn’t really expect to find anything else after her guidance had stopped.  I was in for a pleasant surprise!

Through the door it was very dark, without dimension, and unusually warm.  At first I just experienced the warmth and the darkness.  Then I see myself huddled in a black blanket, wrapped close about me by my loved ones, and I am tearfully overwhelmed by the loneliness I feel when surrounded by people who love me.  It seems that this is the loneliest I ever feel.  I realize in the darkness that the loneliness of being loved is eased when you open the blanket and wrap in it the people who love you, with yourself still included in the center.  The heat becomes less oppressive, the anxiety dissipates, but the warmth and the comfort remain.

I find myself repeating the phrase, “I am casting out my net, I am drawing it in.”  And with each breath out I am opening my blanket to surround more and more people, and with every inhalation I am pulling it in and all those within to be closer and connected to me.  The more people I gather in my blanket, the more comfortable and confident I feel.  I practice casting my net wider and farther, I surround the store, the city, the state, the region…  I cast my net all around, in every direction, up and down my axis like the graph of a hyperbolic function, then in a bubble-sphere, expanding and contracting.

Within my net I can draw people, energies, deities and aspirations.  My casting and drawing of my net goes on enduringly like my breath.  Gradually the expansions stretch smaller distances, and I ease into a healthy swell and relax, a tidal pouch, a marine plant.  Tracy guides us back to our chairs.

I returned to the circle relaxed, confident and thrilled with my new potential.  We parted warmly, and I went out to my bike with a strong sense of stability and strength, standing tall as though I could taste the dense evening clouds towering all around.  The Thunder Moon waxes, and a torrential rainfall begins just a few blocks from my house, drenching me in cool relief and playfulness.

I hope you all feel a little of the spirit of this brave new moon, and know that I have wrapped you all in my blanket!

Love,
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