The day the sun didn’t rise

The day the sun didn’t rise

It’s Wednesday September 9, 2020, and the sun didn’t come out in San Francisco. Actually, it didn’t come out in the Bay Area at all. Cars are driving around with their headlights on and I have all the same lights on that I have on at night. My neighbors lights are also on. I went outside and it’s cold, a weird, eerie, creepy cold that I don’t think I’ve felt before. It’s chilly not because it’s actually cold like a normal cold day, it’s cold like it should be a hot day except the sun is being blocked by a massive cloud of smoke so thick that the light can’t get through and the day is not warming up.

It’s my mom’s birthday. She’s in Santiago de Chile and I waited to get a hold of myself before calling her cause I didn’t wanna freak her out about the end times feeling particularly dramatic in SF today. Chile is barely dragging itself out of a Covid induced hole that has been battering the country for months. There is a critical referendum in October. Also – strikes, economic downturn, the whole thing.

My bestie lives in Herzliya, 8 miles outside of Tel Aviv. I video call her so I can show her the shitshow outside my window, but I also know that Israel is going through a deep moment of intensification of their own shitshow. Israel has never been an easy place, but for those of you who follow world news, you know that right now Netanyahu is acting out. My bestie, her partner and their teenage daughters have been going to protest in Jerusalem every Friday for weeks. So I don’t keep my friend on the phone for long cause I at least try to condense my whining/ freak out sessions to the bare minimum. 

And the bare minimum is this: it is important to acknowledge the pain, to feel the fear, to worry about worrisome things, like the loss of NATURAL LIGHT to ecological collapse. But we can’t afford to dwell in those places. So what do we do instead? Well, I got up a bit before 8 am and have been working this morning. I have been reading the news, and sending messages to loved ones all over the globe telling them about what’s up here. Because there is something transformative in the act of sharing, and it makes it easier to have support from others. I sat at the altar, as always. Pulled a tarot card, so beautiful and filled with joy that it felt “wrong”. But in my experience the tarot is never wrong.

It’s true that my life right now is beautiful and filled with joy. I get to celebrate my mother’s birthday, at a distance, but celebrate nonetheless. I have so many friends in the Bay that I could literally spend the rest of the day calling them all. Actually, I may just do that. My phone has been filled with texts and calls from folks that are feeling confused, sad, terrified, angry… The best thing we can do right now is be together. We don’t know exactly how we’re gonna get through this, but we know we won’t do it alone. We will need each other, and not having all the answers right away has ALWAYS been the state of things for humans. It’s just that right now it’s slapping us on the face harder than it has since we can remember. Taking the next step together will then reveal the following one. And the following one. We will most definitely make it through. Se hace camino al andar. Don’t forget that.

As Within, So Without

As Within, So Without

The lovely Brian Truskowski interviewed me for his podcast “Illuminate”. In introducing myself, I found myself saying that I’m a witch, I work magic, and I have a bunch of spiritual tools that have allowed me to build a really beautiful life, one that I enjoy and I’m fortunate to have. And, I’m also an activist, I spend my days working on social change, and I am obsessed with the socioeconomic political context that affects us all.

These two things are core pieces of my identity, why and how I am a witch is a longer story, but I’m an activist because I can’t imagine being a witch and not wanting to influence the outside world as well. As within, so without.

In my conversation with Brian, I told him about three ideas that are important to me, that you’ve heard me talk about before but that explain my deep connection to both witchcraft and activism:

1. Paradox is the organizing principle of Life.

When I believe this idea, I can love more openly and I can love more fully. I believe that connectedness and embodiment of Love is what I need to be healthy and happy. Things that are seemingly contradictory can be true at the same time: I can be very strategic and very analytical and very sharp operating in a pseudo corporate environment and bring to it a decolonizing strategy lens, bring to it an open heart, bring to it a depth of intuition. That doesn’t make the strategy any less valid and it doesn’t make the magic any less magical. But that’s a lot of work: to incorporate seemingly contradictory things and to embody the Paradox. Owning the paradox means that I understand that I may mess up things but that doesn’t make me a messed-up person. You might not be the upstanding human that I want you to be 100% of the time, and that doesn’t make you any less human. Embracing this allows me to love you anyway, and to love you openly and with compassion. I can do this for myself first, and then for everybody else. 

2. Speaking truth is the path of liberation.

The act of speaking truth itself has magical powers. It changes consciousness, creates connections, transforms realities. There’s a reason a classic social change phrase is “Speak truth to power”. Because if there is no problem, there is no solution, and because we do certainly speak our reality into being, it is critical to search for the truth, speak, and when you think you found it, keep searching for it. Truth is direction of travel, not a location.

3. Politics matter.

The rise of fascism, of authoritarianism, of oppression and violence are real. I call it out every chance I get because the way these things happen at a political level is when we try to pretend that it’s not happening or we’re too scared of talking about it. I am terrified of the political situation in the US and while I can’t do everything about it, I can do something about it. This is not going to sort itself out, we’re going to sort it out. 

So if you think that we can love and light our way out of the current mess, please take a seat, and listen to the women and men that have been resisting for centuries and take a page out of their survival playbook. If you think you can green smoothie your way out of your spiritual thirst, you have a long way to go in your search and may I suggest your path will be clearer if you think about others as well.

You don’t have to be a witch to have spiritual power, but it helps. You don’t have to be an activist to be happy, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I wanna invite you today to do one thing that will get you closer to spirit, and one thing that will make the world around you a little bit better. And let me thank you for that on Life’s behalf.

 

The Liberation in Discomfort

The Liberation in Discomfort

Gentrifiers for social justice – one of life’s many paradoxes

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be uncomfortable and why folks are so terrified of the idea. The illusion of certainty (even if the certainty is not of something appealing) is reassuring, while the reality of how messy we are as humans can make us very uncomfortable.

For the last couple of thousand years we’ve done a phenomenal job of denying our nature, exiling parts of ourselves that would have made it impossible to develop an extremely patriarchal, misogynistic, racist, neoliberal capitalist system that has us struggling for liberation. We’ve bolstered a system that favors some kinds of ideas over others: the idea of being male, straight, able bodied, wealthy, being somehow superior. That system only works if we embrace the idea that some humans are better than others, and that we are all too different.

But no humans are better than others, and we are all the same. This is not about gender, race, sexual orientation, class, income, wealth, or any other category we put each other in. This is about the fact that putting each other in categories to the extreme that we have is toxic for our souls, and destructive to communities and societies. Only when we box each other as an “other” can we abuse and exploit the shit out of each other (which is how all “isms” operate).

And yet, of course we are all different, and those differences make life amazing.  Those differences also have made some of our lives a living hell for generations, simply because we are in the wrong box. My point is that we are not so different that some of us “deserve” better or more than others. Both things are true: we are all unique and we are all the same, we are all different and yet we are all one. Life is a paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable.

I’m deeply fascinated by the intersection of spirituality and activism, because we have got to embrace the paradox that I’m describing to make any real change. We have got to consider that we all have different visions, wants, and needs, and yet we are the same in that we all want a way to fulfill those visions and wants and needs. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe paradox to be Life’s organizing principle, and the only way I know to come to terms with paradox is spiritual practice.

My brain can’t easily accept paradox, not in the way my heart and my spirit can. The truth is, every single category that we use to alienate and abuse one another is present in all of us. Some people might look perfectly healthy and be struggling with disease or disability. I am a woman and yet have many of the characteristics that are traditionally associated with men. Men are also suffering from not being able to express their full selves in a system that discourages them from owning every aspect of their being. And all other genders under the sun are fighting to even be acknowledged and seen. What is wrong with us?!? I am horrified by what overconsumption is doing to our bodies and souls and the planet, yet I definitely have a greedy streak in my being. You do too. We all do.

So as long as we don’t get comfortable with paradox, we’re gonna continue to put ourselves and each other in tiny little constraining boxes of good vs. bad and us vs. them, forgetting that we are all victims and we are all perpetrators, that we are all divine and also evil at the same time. All of us. These boxes are not moving us towards liberation. At all. They are keeping us imprisoned. 

And yet, our identities are critical and sacred and we can’t lose them, and we shouldn’t lose them. But we really need to stop weaponizing them. We can’t hold who we are against each other. We need to keep the boxes in the way they elevate who we are and we must dismantle them in the ways we use them to abuse each other. Both are true. This is a paradox, and it can be uncomfortable. It’s more comfortable to hang on to the illusion of certainty than it is to accept the reality of paradox. Paradox is uncomfortable. But it is in that discomfort that we walk the path of liberation. I’m not suggesting you enjoy it, I just encourage you to get comfortable enough with it so that we stop self sabotaging our liberation. In this way, we truly are all in it together.

Two Magical Powers for Evil Times

Two Magical Powers for Evil Times

Magic is both nature and in nature

Because the times demand it, I’ve been very focused on the sociopolitical situation in the US for the last few weeks. These are atrocious, scary, shifting, evil times. Those are strong words but a string of lynchings in the US are at the very least evil. Today I want to share with you two magical powers that can help us all at the very least get through this, and hopefully even begin to heal and transform ourselves away from these evil times.

Magical Power #1: Paradox

The most powerful message I can share with you today is this: Paradox is Life’s Organizing Principle. 

It is absolutely critical that you develop the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual practice of becoming comfortable with paradox. For example: we are all part of the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Death is absolutely inevitable. Yet that is no reason to be apathetic about the systematic killing of people. Here is another example: You will most likely make absolutely no difference, but you absolutely cannot not try. Because we never really know what will actually shift things, you have to consistently throw all your love and mind and energy and resources at it, not because of the outcome, but because your contribution to chasing it will eventually get us all there. Last one: You must put yourself first so that you have a good life and the only way to have a good life is by being of service to others. Both of these statements are true, and finding a way to embody them is the key to liberation and happiness and it takes most people a lifetime. Many don’t even try, they get stuck in selfish soullessness or they become martyrs for causes that didn’t need more martyrs. Don’t be that person.

Magical Power #2: Nature

Second Magical Power to handle these evil times: remember you are an ANIMAL. A Human animal.

This means that you are in and of nature as much as dogs and trees and the ocean and your favorite musician and your most detested politician and rats. And that means that you are part of the elements and the elements are part of you. Staying connected to the wind, the fire, the water, and the land is critical for your sanity and wellbeing. It will also help you align your mind, energy, emotions, and body, and connect to the Earth and the Universe at large. Realizing that you are just another animal on this planet is quite liberating: you are simply playing a part in the larger ecosystem and you’re not that big of a deal. You need to eat, sleep, fuck, feel safe and connected – it’s not that complicated. Yet, following Magical Power #1, the paradox is that you’re not just an animal, you’re a Human animal, which means you have the capacity for thought, spiritual evolution, agency, and choice. You can choose to live a whole life. You can choose to live a loving life. You can choose to demand human rights for all. And a bunch of other things that our kin in the animal kingdom don’t get to do in the same way. The more you surrender to the paradox of your insignificance as just another beast on this rock, the more important your role as a human will become, and the more meaning your life will have, and the happier you will get, and the bigger difference you’ll make for others and yourself before your time is up. 

And these powers of accepting paradox and understanding nature and my part in it, are a sweet little taste of what magic is about, and how it can help us through and transform these times.

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

Witchy Tips to Talk About Race with your Racist Loved Ones

tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones

Witchy tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones.

I believe that change happens from the inside out, and from the outside in, that we need systemic transformations as much as personal evolution, that all we can do is what we can do today but that we can’t not do it. You with me?

So this week Imma tell you about how to handle your racist loved one. This is NOT instead of doing your part on the systemic change: being an active civic participant at the local and federal levels, buying from Black-owned businesses, protesting, signing petitions, etc…you can find so many resources online on how to engage in this moment. Make sure you do that as much as possible.

But today, I’m focusing on helping you survive the next family gathering, or tonight’s dinner, with your racist loved one.

 

Tip #1: Listen (people rarely change their minds because they’re told to).

When your loved one says some fucked up shit, it’s usually to serve a purpose – that idea has a function in their life. It’s a way of making sense of the world, of justifying how messed up things are, of feeling better about themselves. Just listening for the subtext of their racism will help you deal better with their idiocy (remember, we’re talking about loved ones, you’re even bothering engaging with these people because love is love). It will give you some insight about what fear their racism is actually masking. On occasion, it seems like some people just wanna hate for no reason. However, no baby is born racist, we all had to learn it. There is something else going on beneath that racism. Listen for it.

Tip #2: Empathize (people wanna feel understood – even racists)

Once you get a hold of what’s actually going on that’s making your loved one say unspeakably fucked up shit, you’ll be better equipped to engage in true dialogue with them. Reassure them that you are understanding the underlying fear/ need/ worldview that is leading them to speak as they do, despite the fact that you disagree with it 100%.

Tip #3: Find common ground (people want the same things, we just disagree on how to get there)

From Tip #2 you should have a good idea about what the underlying fear/ need/ worldview your racist loved one is holding that’s feeding their racism. For example, they want to feel safe, they want to have financial security, they want a bright future for their families. Make sure you share with them about your own desires and aspirations, fears and needs, and agree that these are all very human needs to have, but…

Tip #4: Offer new ideas (people can and do learn)

…being racist is not gonna make your life any better off just by fucking up someone else’s. Human rights are not pie, we’re not gonna run out if we all have them. Make sure you’re versed enough on the basics of systemic racism that you can build a compelling argument about why not being an asshole won’t hurt them.

Tip #5: Know when to STFU (people sometimes need to be left alone)

Some people don’t really wanna listen -yet. They’re not ready to evolve. That’s cool. You wouldn’t shame a sapling for not being a tree, but the water and sunshine you bring to them will in fact come in handy down the road. Just trust.

Tip #6: Let go of the outcome (people do change the world, but rarely in the way they think)

The point of talking about race with your racist loved one is not having them become anti-tracist overnight, but of you being the best anti-racist you can. And who knows, a few years down the line this convo might be remembered by them as the first step on their own journey for liberation.

Tip #7: Keep going (you can’t change the world, but you can begin to change it)

Again, we have no idea what actual role we’re playing in life. We don’t know who we are helping change. We can’t tell how far our love will reach. We just do the right thing anyway, because being that way is the best way to be, and not because we get a cookie at the end.

So there you have it, 7 tips to talk about race with your racist loved ones. If you want to join the upcoming workshops with way more tools and resources to do this gracefully, let me know here: 

3 + 2 =

Productivity: Personal & Political

Productivity: Personal & Political

When it’s macro, this is what the solution looks like

I’ve been thinking a whole lot about productivity recently. For one, it seems to be in the ether – given the pandemic, people are trying to figure out how to “do it all”. If you are fortunate enough to still have a job that you can work from home, how do you get it done while juggling housekeeping and childcare? Or if you need to still go to work, how do you stay safe and keep your family healthy? If you no longer have a job, how are you gonna make ends meet? Folks are struggling with a terribly long and challenging to do list.

I am in the ridiculously privileged situation of having work to do, doing it mostly from home for years (pre-dating the plague), and living alone. Which means that right now I don’t have to travel for work at all and I just get to stay home and work, cook, work out, eat, work magic, sleep, whatever. All from home, but with no distractions other than the ones I choose for myself.

And yet, I’m having a really hard time “getting it all done”. So I’ve been sitting with the question of what “it all” is, and what the value of getting it done actually is. For me it looks like this:

Everyday, I need to sit at my altar. I pull a card, I journal, and I meditate for 20 minutes. Sometimes I work on other witchy stuff as well, but those three actions are non-negotiables, which means that I sit at the altar for at least 30 minutes everyday. I do this because my relationship with Spirit is what guides everything else in my life. Also because if not other people are more likely to get The Look™ from me, usually for no good reason. So I do need to start the day with spiritual alignment and mental and emotional hygiene.

A month ago, I started working out at home. I did a 30 day challenge of working out for 15 minutes e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y and I actually completed it, so I graduated to the 90 day version and while I’m freaking exhausted all. the. time. I’m going for it. Because I know I wanna be able to reach my knees 20 years from now, and also the endorphins do help the mental health. It’s boring and I hate it but I do it anyway cause I trust it’s the best thing for me in the long run. So I’m looking for a way to really build this into my routine. Today I got around to it at 3pm. Ha.

My consulting work has me working with folks that wanna get the current clown out of the White House and reform democracy in the US, and another group that wants to accelerate global ecosystem restoration. I love both ideas, I’m happy to help, feel great to be able to contribute…and they pay my bills. So this takes a whole lot of my waking hours. As it should.

I also want to write more, do more tarot readings, finish the online course I’m developing, sell the script I FINALLY completed after talk to my mom, see my little niece online, hang with my friends, spend time with my partner. All of this feels like a lot to fit into a day or a month. And I don’t even have the added burden of having to look after a family or have to look for a job or feel at constant risk of getting sick (not any more than anyone else following all the precautions). And yet the feeling that it’s all “too much” is still real.

A smart friend once told me that if you’re not happy with something there are two options: the problem is micro, at the individual level, in which case get help (i.e. go to the shrink, a support group, read self-help, work magic, etc.) or it’s macro, at the systemic level, in which case – organize!

I believe that right now the transformation underway is asking us to look at our lives from both perspectives. From a personal standpoint: what do you really care about? What do you actually need? What do you value most? Is your life set up to deeply nurture those things? How can you get support? From a systemic perspective: you are not imagining it, you are a pawn of the powerful, your needs are not being considered, and you are in fact being asked to do the impossible – and somehow you are doing, holy shit you’re awesome! But enough is enough. 

Please consider what is feasible, and what is definitely asking too much of a human, and decide if you need to address it at the individual level or at the macro level. Do not be afraid to share with others where you feel at your capacity – chances are others are feeling it too. Do not feel inadequate that you can’t “do it all” – no one can! And why would you want to? For me, I’ve realized that a lot of what I really value most are things that don’t pay the bills, and that most folks would consider a waste of time. Luckily, I have been able to find ways to support myself financially that I don’t mind at all, and I am free to spend the rest of my time witching the fuck out, not having to justify it to anyone. But the logistical work to get here on the practical level and the emotional work of getting right with myself to value what I value and like what I like and do what I do was not easy. Or fast. And so worth it. Still, we have a shitton of work to do on the macro level. See you there.

en_USEnglish
es_CLEspañol de Chile en_USEnglish