I’ve talked about these topics at length, as well as of my favorite book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. In this book, Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks about the cycle of love in a new, and yet, ancient way that speaks very clearly to me.
In this book she dissects old fables and explains how they inspire the Wild Woman Identity. In one in particular, entitled the Skeleton Woman, she describes the Life/ Death/ Life cycle and how you need to die in order to be reborn.
In love, from what I’ve come to understand, is that a broken heart is your death cycle. But rather than being a tragic occurrence, it is more of an opportunity. Much like the Death card suggests, it is the gift of rebirth, rather than the mourning of a loss. When you “die,” you are given a low platform, a new angle from which to learn. And once you do, it is then that you are allowed to live again.
Once you reach this new ability of living, you are given a new age of innocence and vulnerability. This is not to be confused with ignorance. Your death cycle has taught you well, and you know now more than you did before. This new innocence, on the other hand, is an act in self trust. Because your knowledge is more advanced, richer, you are able to trust yourself to move through a new relationship in a way that is wiser.
Further, when you live again, you will come across more opportunities to die and reincarnate. There is not just one cycle. In life and love you are constantly learning. And whether it is with the same lover or someone new, if you are not constantly moving through Life/ Death/ Life, you are not living at all.
Life includes pain. But it is what we do with this pain, how we grow with this pain, how we mold it to strengthen us, that creates the new life and all of the blessings it has in store for us. To sit quietly in bliss does not breed knowledge. To focus on pain does not help us grow. We need constant and fluid movement to live fully and experience everything with a wise knowing that this is how we reach the Wild Woman within us. Get moving and stay witchy ( *)
The Eight of Swords depicts a feeling of powerlessness, and nothing will make a person feel more powerless than sexual trauma. It’s an indescribable feeling of emptiness from abuse, but it is not the way one has to feel forever.
When one holds sexual trauma in their body, they will react to triggers. I’ve written about triggers before, but when you have been abused in a way that involves sex, intimacy with a partner is going to be a bit of a struggle. It can look like an unquenchable thirst, a sheer reluctance, or an all together abstinence. And with one of the definitive qualities of a sexual relationship versus a friendship being, well, sex, that can prove to be a bit of an adjustment.
First and foremost, anyone who has been sexually assaulted must seek out help and support however and whenever they can. It is a complete must and the avoidance of it will show up in very compromising ways. Mine showed up as codependency, as you’ve read in my previous post. But what if you’ve sought out the help, have been doing the work, and you get triggered during sex with your partner? What then?
Well this may come as a no-brainer to most of you, but it certainly wasn’t to me; in that very moment when you are triggered, you must stop whatever sexual act and breathe. You need to step away from the situation and take a minute to give yourself some time. Your feelings are perfectly valid and you need to re-calibrate yourself with the reality that you are in now. And as soon as you’ve given yourself some time to get to a calm state, you must have a conversation with your partner.
Whether they know about your trauma or not, whether you want them to or not, you need to set a boundary. Maybe the act was too hard, too fast, maybe he/ she said something that acted as a trigger, whatever the case may be, you need to express that you did not like what happened and that it is not allowed to happen again. This will be an act in self protection and self respect, and I can think of no where more deserving to be respected than in the bedroom. This is a place of safety and intimacy, and though you were wronged and abused in the past, you have always deserved that.
Now you don’t have to completely spill your heart out and tell your whole story, but if you want to then you should. Your partner should respect your wishes and listen to your boundaries, and if it becomes an argument, I suggest finding another partner. Your body is sacred, and it took me a long time to figure that out.
You do not owe anyone sex. And after a sexual assault, you’re going to need some time to work back into a feeling of safe intimacy. It is a confusing process, but creating sexual boundaries and honoring what you need from your partner will help you to get back to a safe place.
It is imperative that you feel comfortable with sex. Sex is a beautiful and natural act, and with someone you love can be completely fulfilling. And wherever you are in your recovery, you will find that unless you feel comfortable, it should not exist in the equation. Take care of your beautiful bodies and stay witchy ( *)
Over my few months of writing here at WitchyWisdoms, I’ve come to notice a pattern in some of my posts. When trying to prove a point, through examples and comparisons, I’ll throw my past self under the bus and shame her for the “mess” that she was.
And in being quite frank, I did look like a mess from the outside. But shaming myself for what I did with what I had is like judging a homeless person on their outfit. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right, for my growth and yours.
Yes, I had many bad habits and made many reckless decisions, but underneath all of that were the bones of a survivor, and through every bad experience I made it out to the other side with a little bit more knowledge than before, and finally I’m at a place of self awareness that allows me to work on myself consciously.
I may have forgotten some creativity to drugs, sex, and alcohol, but it was never lost. It always lived in me and I have to remind myself that the sad girl in the past just didn’t know that. She was told it went away forever, and that made her sadder.
Once women have lost [the Wild Woman] and then found her again, they will contend to keep her for good. Once they have regained her, they will fight and fight hard to keep her, for with her their creative lives blossom; their relationships gain meaning and depth and health; their cycles of sexuality, creativity, work, and play are re-established; they are no longer marks for the predations of others; they are entitled equally under the laws of nature to go and thrive. Now their end-of-the-day fatigue comes from satisfying work and endeavors, not from being shut up in too small a mind-set, job, or relationship. They know instinctively when things must die and things must live; they know how to walk away, they know how to stay.
This excerpt is so empowering because it highlights that all women have the ability to find their original wild woman and excel, and though you may not be in that part of the journey yet, you are one step closer to her because every experience peels back a layer to let her shine through just a bit more.
I am deeply sorry for all of the judgement I cast. I had all of the same traits that I possess now, I just didn’t have the tools. As a child I was free and unashamed, as a teenager I was curious and experimental, as a young woman in my early twenties I was ambitious and tough, and rounding out the later years of my twenties, I can say I have all of these characteristics working in tandem, but with mental health as the glue.
I apologize fully to my past self. She went through hell for me, and she made my present state possible. I love that little sad girl, because the fire within her was always of tenacity and passion. She lived honestly within her means and she survived. She continues to survive, but she blossoms and flowers with the strength of her Wild Woman identity.
I can say now that I am still finding my way to the Wild Woman, but she is visible in the distance. When earlier I did not know which direction I was headed, I ended up back on the path that I belong. Every heartbreak, overdose, sexual victimization, binge and purge, starvation, maxed out credit card and penniless night was not in vain. Though it was not the easiest route, it was the one that we chose, and through it I am able to help others and speak from experience.
So when you reflect, when you compare yourself to how you were a few years ago, do it in a way that is enlightening, but also kind. You don’t need to bring internal shame, because you are here now doing what you need to do as she did years before you. Stay kind to yourself, and stay witchy ( *)
The Eight of Wands can signify air travel in a reading, and for me, it is 100% accurate!
I have never been outside of the country. Even living in LA, I never even went to Mexico. So last years New Years resolution was to make one big trip a year to see the world and immerse myself in different cultures across the globe. And when I heard my baby sister was going to be living in Bologna, Italy for 6 months studying abroad, I knew I had to seize the opportunity to visit.
She is now done with all of her finals so we have the entire month to spend eating and drinking our way through Europe. We are traveling from Bologna, to Florence for a day, Rome over Christmas, Berlin for New Years, and then to Budapest, Brussels, and Prague! I’m so excited to have such an awesome opportunity bestowed on me and made possible by my employers, friends and family.
That being said, I may miss a blog post or two. I am excited for the chance to write abroad and to get inspired, to really learn and gain clarity on a month long sabbatical, but due to constant travel I may not be as diligent as I would normally be.
And guess what? That’s how it should be!
So don’t miss me too much. I’ll be writing and living as much and as best I can. Happy holidays and stay witchy, my beautiful friends ( *)
The Moon tells us about our fears, anxieties and illusions. They work from the inside. And when we project them, we can alter our reality.
In order to make sense of what is going on in the world around us, our minds will create wild fairy tales to help us feel like we can get every side of the story. We start assuming what we don’t know as a half-assed attempt to control what is uncertain. This is dangerous for a lot of reasons, but at it’s core, it is dangerous because it is almost always negative.
Approaching the unknown with a positive mindset is scary to us, because we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure. We were always told “Don’t get your hopes up,” so now we sabotage our thinking process into making everyone around us malicious. We are trying to protect ourselves and keep ourselves one step ahead of hurt, understandably. It is easy for us to tell a friend that they shouldn’t think that way, but we can very rarely do that for ourselves.
So when do we make up stories? What exactly does that look like? Well, for example, if someone you’re dating doesn’t text you back right away, it can look like this:
“Ok I must have done something wrong. He’s over it. He met someone else. I should have known that it wasn’t going to work out. Etc Etc Etc”
See that spiral? It happened so quickly!
This is a defense mechanism. Faith and the unknown are terrifying, and coming from a past pain may leave you assuming the worst. But the problem here is you aren’t actually protecting yourself. You’re sabotaging yourself.
I work a lot with energy here, and energy is input/output. If you put in negative, you will receive negative. And while it is a vulnerable spot to sit in positivity and expect nothing but great things, you can also prepare yourself to bounce back from the negative (if it happens) with all of the inner work you continue to do. Don’t let your fairy tales rule you. Don’t let make-believe monsters manifest in reality. Live in a positive light, and stay witchy ( *)
The Five of Swords is a card of victory through betrayal, or a sore defeat, depending on who you identify with in the reading. Unfortunately though, with this card, there is no real winner. Either you isolate yourself with a dirty triumph, or you lost after sticking to a battle that wasn’t yours to fight.
Pride pays an important role with this card. Either being too proud to acknowledge other’s feelings to win at all costs, or too proud to accept that you need to play by different rules in order to survive.
This is something I struggle with now more than ever before. When is your loyalty to your values and your belief in standing up for yourself, your conviction, getting in your own way? When is it time to bow your head, play the game, and accept defeat?
I think it is all situational. If you are in a bad position, lets take at work for example, and you have the means to leave, then you need to start looking for other employment and move out of what makes you miserable. Yes, every job has its pros and cons, but if you are feeling your soul getting sucked out of you the minute you walk through the doors, it is a huge sign to take action and change.
See, I don’t think that that is losing. I think taking yourself out of a place of misery is victory, and when done gracefully, you can walk over an un-burned bridge to a happier life. I think the saddest defeat, in all actuality, is bowing down and letting people walk all over you because you are afraid of change.
Ultimately, we need to pick our battles. But if you are continuously depressed at the thought of going somewhere you spend most of your time, after exhausting all of your resources to make it better, it’s time to get out of dodge. Employment is not always easy to find, but it is imperative that you are at least content doing what you need to do to survive.
Being proactive is the best way to win a clean battle. Don’t leave anyone behind by winning with malintent. And don’t be a sore loser either, by letting your pride get in the way and putting yourself in a bad situation. If what you are fighting for is really worth it, there is a way to go about it that you can be proud of. If it isn’t suck it up and make good with others. Be respectful, stand up for what you believe in, and stay witchy ( *)
The Three of Swords is indicative of painful separation and heartbreak, and if you’ve ever been through a devastating breakup, I’m sure you’ve experienced the physical responses that feel like you’re going to die.
Well, interestingly enough, I learned today that the love responses that we feel are actually from opioid receptors in our brain. So when we feel abandoned by our person, we actually go through physical withdrawal. This explains the loss of appetite, depression, and even flu like symptoms.
In a post titled Shock, Trauma, and the Awesome Feeling of Acceptance, I touched on the physiological response of seeing my ex on the street. There was a moment of shame, where I was beating myself up for not being over it and walking away like nothing happened, and then I accepted it and forgave myself.
So basically what happened here is that the bond of pain from my ex, what I was used to, made a unique and important impression on an opioid receptor that lives in the Amygdala, or the part of the brain that experiences emotions. Working in tandem with the mammalian brain that protects us from danger, we get these boosts of anxiety that tell us “fight or flight.” While the mammalian brain only knows survival or death, and thinks in extremes, the Amygdala associates the past pains and ramps up all of these emotions in an all too familiar whirlwind of trauma. As a functioning part of our human body that is built to keep us alive and out of danger, it gives us these responses that we find hard to rationalize.
Even further, when going through a toxic relationship or breakup, your opioid receptors will try to ease your pain by pumping out a chemical to nurse you, and in return, you can become so accustomed to this feeling that you rationalize it to normalcy or even get addicted to it (i.e. codependency.)
And so now you’re thinking, OK great, so WTF do I do to prevent that from happening? Or am I a slave to these auto-responses every time I get faced with something unsavory?
Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Your mammalian brain is doing it’s job by sensing danger and telling you when to get the fuck out, but humans have evolved to have that emotional Amygdala that fights back and forth with it and confuses us behind the scenes. The good news is, however, that we have also evolved our frontal lobe, where problem solving, judgement, and awareness live, and we can train that part of the brain to be stronger and smarter than these other two guys.
Using tools like therapy, self help, group meetings, and communicating with your coven can all increase self awareness and over time, help you to distinguish fight or flight from an actual emotional connection within you. Your brain is powerful, but it is only one component of your being. And while I know this post was really sciency, I think it helps to understand what goes on up there so we don’t shame ourselves for what our body was built to do. So exercise your frontal lobe, understand your cerebellum, and stay witchy ( *)
The World signifies wholeness; a complete circle. And that’s what we are all shooting for, right? To feel complete?
Well, after seeking out some less than desirable traits I possess and the woman I would like to become, we have finally come to the last segment of this three part exercise. Hopefully, if you got inspired and decided to do it along with me, your personal obstacles were brought to light as well as the goal you’re gunning for. Bringing this awareness to a surface level presents choices for you at many different times of the day. Now lets explore how to go make the right decision based on my shortcomings versus my inspirations.
Starting with self pity, if I found myself getting sour faced and ready to throw my hands up, I would take a breath and remind myself of Strength. It might seem dark, but through strength and patience you can endure. And the way that I would switch from self pity to patience, was through the work of repeating mantras to myself.
Blocking my heart and setting up walls is another fallback that I exhibit. But as the Ace of Cups reminds us to be open to intimacy and trust our intuition, we must break through the fear of being hurt first. To work through this, I have set intentions for the day, and when a choice faces me, I do my best to act openly and honestly, rather than working with anger and aggression to ward off harm. This one is a big one. But waking up and setting a true intention helps to keep this practice alive. It is very powerful.
The fear of having a lack of direction is a pretty complex one, because it isn’t easily pinpointed. The real problem is the anxiety surrounding the issue. The Queen of Wands lives a busy and active life, and since I want that for myself, I set goals throughout the day to achieve. I must go with the flow during the day, but setting a plan to achieve daily goals helps with the anxiety. Deep breaths help with the rest. Day by day.
Succumbing to anxiety is a big player in my pitfalls, but if I am ever to be as bold and original as the Two of Wands, I must first learn to trust my capabilities and be confident in them. There is no reason not to be; by this time I feel like I have proved to myself how much I can accomplish. But sometimes those voices in your head are better at keeping you down than lifting you up. So in order to combat this, I made a list of all of the times in life I felt that I had overcome something and then wrote how I did it (much like this exercise.) To see everything laid out on paper was visual proof that my anxieties are not as strong as I am, and reminding myself of that when I start to get anxious helps to quell the feeling.
Lastly, taking impulsiveness and taming it with moderation has proven to be a bit easier to do than previously thought. If I feel like I absolutely need to do something, I give myself 24 hours to sit on it. If I still find it to be just as pressing 24 hours later, than I will go through with it. But 9 times out of 10, it just isn’t that important.
These were my findings throughout the week. It proved to be very enlightening to me, and having everything come out so clearly by defining it out loud really helps to make the change. I hope you found some clarity in this exercise as well.
Now in closing, I want to share this awesome quote by Linda Evangelista:
“No one is born with perfect eyebrow.”
I love this quote because not only is such a great metaphor, but its so imperfect in it of itself ( It’s eyebrowS, Linda.) Your whole life is a journey and the way you want to live it is up to you. I intend to live my life up to my full potential, so when I see room for improvement, I go for it. Do I intend to be perfect? Absolutely not. But do I want to find happiness by minimizing my own negativity? You bet. So get your shapers out and start stenciling your perfect brow, because these are my findings from this week. Start finding yours. Stay witchy ( *)
Today I want to talk about a podcast that is very near and dear to my heart. After a life changing relationship, I went to therapy and practiced yoga very regularly in order to heal myself. When I came to a point that I no longer felt therapy was necessary, I stumbled upon this podcast that has kept me doing the work and staying conscious about my emotional states.
Andrea Owen is a Southern Californian life coach and has incredible guests on her podcast. She’s big on women and self love and her guests give amazing advice and have such interesting stories.
When I’m on the train or go for a jog I turn on this podcast and it literally gets my fist pumping with agreement to all of the practices they preach. I HIGHLY urge you guys to check it out, especially if you feel as though you’re in a rut.
She has over 100 posts with a range of topics, has some solo shows and most of her guests have amazing credentials.
You can find her at the your kick ass life podcast and I highly recommend that you do!