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So I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to post this, but I decided to go ahead and say “Fuck it.”
There were a variety of reasons why I wanted to keep quiet about my sobriety. The biggest being that it’s only been about two months since I quit drinking, and a little voice in my head said “Wait until at least 6 months so you know you can stick with this.”
A bigger voice said “Believe in yourself.”
Quitting drinking was something I had explored in my head countless times. I have had a DUI in the past, before I turned 21, and it was clear that I wasn’t treating alcohol recreationally. However, because of my age, I distanced myself from that idea because “That’s just what you do in your 20’s.”
I grew up in a big drinking family, so alcohol has always been even more normalized to me than even society made it. It’s just what you did. You get home from work, make a drink. Had a bad day? Make a drink. Had a great day? Make two!
You know how it goes.
In addition, I worked in restaurants since I was 13. I’ve always been surrounded by alcohol, and the line between recreational use and being a straight up drunk was always “seeing double” -level blurred.
Oh, and did I mention I have addiction in my past? Being a former meth addict who quit cold turkey was quite an accomplishment, but even in recent podcast interviews I’ve explained that jumping from meth to eating disorders to men was just replacing one addiction for another.
And I just never realized how much alcohol was added into that equation.
Sure, I knew my habit wasn’t great, and I always had a deep sinking feeling that I wasn’t treating it the same as other people, but that didn’t start to become clear until much later.
Like 2019 later.
This year was really complicated. I had multiple failed relationships, my business hit me in the face a few times. I gained weight. And my depression spiked like crazy.
From the beginning of the year I had a few thoughts about slowing down. I loved going out by myself; it was the main way for me to meet men and socialize and I couldn’t accept the idea of never drinking again. I had this fantasy of me stopping at 3 drinks and going home feeling glamourous. Just fully having it all.
Yet all year I faced blackouts, got sloppy, and dealt with problems in my relationships in ways I just wasn’t proud of.
Not to say that any of these relationships should or would have worked out, nor do I pine for them. They were all lessons, and honestly had I not pressed the gas pedal so hard while drunk-dating they probably wouldn’t have escalated at all because I could recognize the red flags. But instead of avoiding a dead end relationship, or even talking about issues in a calm manner, I would end up getting frustrated, get drunk, yell incoherently, and end the relationship.
Not the classiest move. Especially not three times in a row.
But I digress.
My final relationship of 2019 is one I’m probably most grateful for. I dated a bartender for a couple months, and we drank HEAVILY. I was drinking like a sailor most nights of the week, and I was seeing pieces of my business disintegrate. I could feel myself losing control.
When I finally ended it in a drunken tirade, I leaned into the idea that alcohol just wasn’t for me. I went back to my fantasy, where I could put a strict cap on my drinks for the night, and call it a day.
My family was supposed to come for my birthday, so I couldn’t start then.
Then it was my actual birthday. So I couldn’t start then.
Then it was Halloween. Duh.
And finally I decided that Sunday was the day. Something went off in my head and said “Shawn, if you can successfully drink 3 drinks today and go home, you can do this. But if not, you’re quitting for good.”
And I ended up drinking until 2 am.
Monday morning, tired and hungover, I downloaded a sobriety app, and I haven’t had a drink since.
And again, a tinge over a month may not seem like much, but during these 45 days I’ve saved $1814.96 in going out, not to mention countless drunk ubers and hangover food.
I’ve also lost weight and gained strength because I have ENERGY.
And I’ve had my most successful month of business yet.
Wanna know what I call that? Alignment, mutha fucka.
And truthfully, this has been surprisingly easy for me to do. I don’t want to stand here on my pedestal and say quitting drinking is a piece of cake- I played mind games with myself for a decade before I pulled the trigger.
But once I made the decision every piece has fallen into place. I can FEEL the universe backing me. I have only positives. And here’s the kicker:
I don’t have shame. No guilt. I don’t drive myself into an anxious frenzy thinking about what I may or may not have said or done, or how a person perceived me when I was 5 Negronis in.
I wake up early and go to bed at 10 sleeping through the night like an angel. My anxiety has almost disappeared. I get to explore things in therapy that don’t stem from dumb decisions I made.
I eliminated a huge toxin from my life and it feels RIGHT.
Weirdly enough, I’ve encountered so many more sober people through this decision. Which, again, goes to show how the universe throws people in your way that are aligned with your path/ vision.
This decision has instilled an immense clarity that my clients are feeling. I am able to be so present in a way that I couldn’t before. Not that I wasn’t always a kick ass coach, but this is a whole new level. Boss Mystic 2.0
I’ve also seen that my tolerance for bullshit is waaaaay lower than I had previously thought. I don’t enjoy a lot of things I thought I did because I’m not drinking. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Like when people talk about stupid bullshit. Now that I don’t have a glass of Bordeaux, I just say no to hanging out. My boundaries have been reinforced with steel beams and I feel unstoppable.
I also enjoy my own company so much more. I am an aggressive person by nature *queue my success in business* so I’ve engaged in activities that compliment that. Boxing and spin have been incredibly meditative and have increased my focus.
My biggest hangup was the social aspect, which is why it took me so long to actually quit. I was afraid I wouldn’t have any friends, I’d never be able to date, and I’d stick out at events. But honestly, it’s so freeing to be able to enjoy a coffee or seltzer out and leave early. I still do all the things I used to, I’m just more present, clear, and I look better (not a hot ass mess.)
I go to coffee shops and work, and then I window shop. I still take myself to lunch or dinner, but instead of 10 cocktails till close, I have a coffee, mocktail, or lacroix, and go home guilt free to do some skin care and sit pantsless on my couch, enjoying the amount of money and empty calories I’ve saved.
It’s the best decision I’ve ever made for myself, and even though I quit during the holidays, it has felt so effortless because I KNOW in my bones this is the path for me.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself that you might have a problem with drinking, or that you want to try a dry week or month, give it a shot! It’s different for everyone, but give yourself the gift of the challenge. If I can do it, you certainly can to.
There’s only positives to look forward to!
Are you struggling with drinking? Have you been trying to quit? Here is a list of resources:
The app I use to track days, calories, dollars, etc. is NoMo. Seeing the tangible savings has helped immensely.
Use code WITCHY at tonicvibes.com for 10% off CBD products if you use alcohol to self medicate (as I did.)
Use this URL to get one free week of therapy if you need the extra guidance: BetterHelp.com/witchy
Healing Baths Enjoy this video on how to perform intentional bath magick!!Read More
Natalie is a Tarot reader, Medium, and a student of Astrology. She is a Priestess in several traditions of Witchcraft, and enjoys all variety of plant medicine, sigil magic, and ecstatic ritual. She spends her time traveling between the veils, studying the dark arts and crafts, and creating ritual goods and self care items for her online store Skeleton Key Shop. Her favorite moments are spent making magic with her coven Deam Lux and snuggling with her bunny familiars.
Santeria, also known as Lucumi or La Regla de Ocha is an initiatory religion with origins in West Africa, that was brought to Cuba, Brazil and other regions of the Caribbean during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Centered around deities known as Orishas, that were often syncretized with Catholic Saints in order to preserve the practice in secret.
I am a Priestess of Yemaya in the Lucumi Tradition, more commonly known as a “Santera”. When you come into my home it looks mostly like everyone else’s. You won’t find huge altars full of statues and candles, or chicken feet hanging from the ceiling. In fact my home looks pretty ordinary besides my penchant for crystals, apothecary jars, and the spaces reserved for my Ancestors and other practices which are usually kept out of sight.
You wouldn’t know what I practice unless I specifically told you, or if you too were a practitioner and able to read the subtle signs. A certain charm on my necklace that is only prescribed during ordination as a priest or the bracelets I always wear that match with none of my outfits. My close friends know that certain foods are taboo for me. I also try to avoid getting wet in the rain – also a taboo for me. Sounds strange, but becoming deathly ill twice after getting caught in the rain makes you realize that your Abuela is sometimes right! My point is that the Lucumi religion is a highly personalized practice that is fitted to the individual. What is medicine for one person can be poison for another.
According to the lore of this practice, which is purely oral tradition, we are all born with our ORI. In new age terms, this is our higher self. This higher self is connected to our life’s path and comes with an innate knowledge of certain things. It has its own power, or ASHE. Although we have free will to make our way through life, it is our ORI that repeatedly nudges us in the direction of our best life, whether this is through people that we meet, or a seemingly random chain of events. These moments and people change the entire course of our lives, as it did mine.
“You wouldn’t know what I practice unless I specifically told you, or if you too were a practitioner and able to read the subtle signs.”
I was born into a family that suffers from Bipolar disorder, Depression, and Schizophrenia. Unfortunately, some of my family members committed suicide. My mother attempted suicide when I was just two years old. She had gone off her medication during pregnancy in order to carry me at great risk to herself. As we know, postpartum depression is very serious. It is even more so for people already living with mental illness. Miraculously, she survived what should have been a fatal injury. Still, she was hospitalized with a fractured spine. For the next three years, she would relearn how to walk and perform basic motor functions. During this time, I was cared for by my grandmother. Abuela was a priestess of Vodou, as practiced in the Dominican Republic. She was also a nurse at an elderly care facility. Every day, I would watch her pray, work, and help the streams of people that came for her assistance. She would sit me at her altar – in this case and practice, there were many statues and candles – and taught me how to pray. I prayed every night for my mother to come back to me as she was, although I was warned repeatedly that she may never walk again. Against all odds and prognoses, she made a full recovery. Though I went back to my normal life, I never forgot my introduction to this world. My innocent prayers were heard by these mysteries, as they were called.
Fast forward to my early 20’s. After years of solitary practice, I found a pagan path where I was exploring traditional witchcraft and being offered initiation. Coincidentally, I was presented with an opportunity to read tarot in a famous New York botanica (Nudge.) At this time, I had absolutely zero interest in the religions of my culture. Yet, I was suddenly immersed head first into this world. Instead of crystals, pretty talismans, and perfume oils, I was surrounded by Catholic statues, camphor, cigars, Florida Water, and images of the Orisha.
A close friend and colleague had been seeing someone whom she called “Her Padrino.” She was super secretive about her interactions with this person, which I found rather creepy. Sometimes, she would show up to work dressed completely in white and be eerily silent most of the day. She was my polar opposite, as I was wearing all black and blasting My Chemical Romance each morning. I was the one that customers would gravitate to for hexing and separation work. Looking back, I realize that I was ANGRY with a lot of things in my life and that this was a perfect outlet at the time. Though my tireless work was effective, my aura was dark.
A particularly cool shipment of statues came in one day, and my High Priestess presented me with an extravagant gift, a large statue of the Orisha Yemaya. She was a brown skinned, bare breasted mermaid with a pink tail, a jeweled crown on her head and holding a silver star in her hands (Nudge). This was odd as I was being trained in Initiatory Wicca, which has absolutely nothing to do with Orisha practice, or other African Diasporic religions. (This is the realm of usually ill-informed eclectic witches and a whole separate topic). She said simply, “You should have this. This is you.” I laughed, thanked her and accepted the gift, as alien as it was. Truthfully, this lovely statue stayed in her padded foam box for several years as I had no idea what to do with her.
“Instead of crystals, pretty talismans, and perfume oils, I was surrounded by Catholic statues, camphor, cigars, Florida Water, and images of the Orisha. ”
Around the same time my colleague and fellow Bruja invited me to a drumming. An Orisha drumming is not anything like a pagan drum circle. It is normally reserved for initiates or for members of an Ile, a temple or house of Orisha. I don’t know how this even happened, but I went to the event.I could hear the drums before I even entered and they immediately gave me a faint queasy feeling, like butterflies in my chest. When we entered the large room, the air was surprisingly thick and humid. To the left was a huge altar called a Throne. It was adorned with fabric, fruits, sweets and other items gleaming in shades of gold and pink. Three drums were set up in the front of this room. As the drums were played, my friend and I stayed plastered to the back wall hoping that no one would ask us who invited us, or why we were there, as the girl who had extended the invite in the first place was a no show.
I watched the people dance, their methodical steps giving way to abandon and wild movements at times that frightened me. A woman danced alone in front of the drums, her clothes plastered with sweat and her face beet red. After a time she was ushered away, only to return with a glistening blue and silver shawl around her neck, her hair wrapped up in another lovely fabric, and several younger people escorting her where she wanted to go, as she seemed to move through the room like a butterfly, speaking to some and ignoring others. I could see the people present crying and I did not understand why.
I honestly felt a pang of panic at this time and I wanted to leave. When I told my friend this, she flatly said that it was too late to leave. Once an Orisha had joined the event, possessing an initiate, it would be considered extremely rude to walk out the door, and there was no way of doing it sneakily as they (the Orishas) were capable of seeing and hearing everything in the room at once, including our thoughts. Now I was truly shitting myself and broke out in a cold sweat, when this woman immediately made eye contact with me and walked straight in my direction. At first I returned her gaze, but the closer she drew, the more unsettling it became and I shifted my eyes down towards my feet.
She came right up to me and grabbed my chin upwards. At this moment I was being yelled at by my friend who was trying to show me how to properly greet The Orisha, but I was frozen to the spot and her grip on my face was not soft. As per the woman who appeared by her side to translate, this was the Orisha Yemaya who was speaking to me (Nudge). She proceeded to speak about my mother’s accident (I had never shared this with anyone at that point in my life as I was too ashamed). She said that the spirits of my homeland had heard my prayers saving my mother and myself from living out that tragedy, but that I ultimately belonged to HER, and to all of them. I opened my mouth to ask how and my friend shook her head rapidly at me with bulging eyes. Instead I nodded and crossed my arms, bowing my head a little, as I had seen others do. She passed her beautiful embroidered cloth all over my body, and I felt the crackle of energy like electricity as all the hairs on my arms and head rose. Her last words to me were “Don’t worry, you will see.” I did see.
“Once an Orisha had joined the event, possessing an initiate, it would be considered extremely rude to walk out the door, and there was no way of doing it sneakily as they (the Orishas) were capable of seeing and hearing everything in the room at once, including our thoughts.”
The chain of events to follow were less like nudges and more like blows upside the head! I chose to share this to show something that few share on Social Media. The magic of these Orisha goes way beyond spells and altars, and deep into ancestral healing and realignment with one’s destiny. It’s an experiential religion that creates deep, personal growth and change for each person it touches. To those seeking the Orisha, I advise you to really SEEK them, so that you can have these life-changing and miraculous experiences for yourself.
I was recently moved to tears and brought to my knees in front of an Orisha, Babalu Aye (syncretized with Saint Lazarus, Patron of illness and disease) after hearing that a member of my Ile, an elder and sister to me within this practice, was now Cancer Free. This beautiful and humble Orisha not only alerted her to the unknown illness in her body but also CURED her, through his prescriptions and guidance of her elders, in a time span of only several weeks. These stories and experiences are the truth about this religion and practice. This is why practitioners spend so much time, blood, sweat and tears working ceremonies with our spiritual community as well as with seekers needing help and guidance. If your Orisha practice consists only of spells on an altar, or selfies of your beaded necklaces with cigar in mouth, then I am here to tell you that you are missing out on so much more. There is a whole world out there, just waiting for you to dig a little deeper.
Yemaya N’Agbe O,
Jenna Fox is employed as a writer and educator described by her community college students as “sympathetic, but with a blunt sense of humor.” As a queer adult adoptee, reuniting with her biological family has helped her reclaim the ancestral witchcraft practices of tarot and folk herbalism native to Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Czech/Slovakia. You can listen to her podcast Leo Rising: Living Tarot & Creative Intuition, on any major podcasting app. To schedule a tarot reading with Jenna, reach out on Instagram @leorisingtarot or her website: www.leorisingtarot.com.
Is the white sage used for smudging practices actually endangered? Is using white sage, or palo santo, as a practice, actually engaging in cultural appropriation of spiritual traditions that are not my own? If you run in New Age spiritual or witchy circles, you’ve probably at least encountered the practice of smudging with white sage, if not encountered these two questions.
What if I told you there was a way to embrace smoke cleansing that was rooted in traditional European folk medicine/witchcraft ancestry, that was both sustainable and not appropriative? Wouldn’t that be lovely?! And what if it was as easy as going to your local grocery store? Would you be into that? Who wouldn’t want to jump on this easy, sustainable and conflict free form of spirituality?
So, a few years ago, a trusted witch friend from high school posted on Facebook about her practice of smoke cleanings (smudging, without that label) using traditional European herbs, and I was intrigued. I love the practice of burning sage, but hadn’t thought deeper about the fact that many tribes were criminalized until the 1970’s for these very same spiritual practices.It seemes wrong that my 20-something spiritual white girl body was able to do these practices without a second thought about the bigger picture. The more I sat with my friend’s words, the more I was impacted by the colonial mindset that had permeated my spiritual practice of smudging.
And thus, entered my experiment with “returning to my roots.” There are many herbs that were used in ancient and medieval Europe for the same spiritual and practical purpose that white sage and palo santo are used by new age spiritual communities today. And so I began my own practice of tying and burning herbal bundles that my witchy ancestors would have used. Some grocery store versions are:
- Garden or cooking sage
Yes, just like the song! Cheesy, but maybe the hippies were on to something…
Below I’ve outlined a step by step guide for tying your own herbal bundles from ingredients easily found in grocery stores. And for those that are more foraging inclined, herbs like mullein, lavender, or mugwort were also traditionally burned to clear spaces of negative energy.
Step 1: assemble materials. I use cotton twine for “sausage making” found on Amazon, scissors, garden sage, and rosemary.
Step 2: Identify size of herb bundle that you want to make. Remember, it shrinks when it dries!
Step 3: Tie a knot at the bottom of the bundle, begin winding the twine around the bundle, tightly packing the herbs together.
Step 4: Once you’ve wound all the way to the top of the bundle, wind back down and tie off at the end. Leave some room on the string to hang it to dry.
Step 5: Hang to dry in a sunny window. I choose my kitchen window because blinds are so handy for hanging. It take a week or two to get fully dry!
Once they’re dry, they can be burned just like a white sage bundle. Make sure to have a bowl/dish below the bundle to catch any ash, and don’t leave unattended!
There are so many different traditional herbs that can be used for this spiritual smoke cleansing practice, so feel free to experiment (but do your homework and be safe!). I’ve found this practice of connecting with my ancestry, rather than just easily adopting a spiritual practice that comes from a different lineage, to be really rewarding for me. Not only do I feel more connected to my lineage, I also feel more connected to the plants. There’s something amazing about the smell of sage and rosemary lingering on my fingers for hours after I’ve tied my last bundle, and the reward I feel when I take one of my dry bundles and light it to clean my house. Short of growing these herbs myself, I’ve had an intentional hand in the tying, drying, and frying of them, which leaves my house smelling great and feeling light and free.
Rebecca M. Farrar, M.A. (aka Wild Witch of the West) is an archetypal astrologer, revolutionary, lover, and general wackadoo living in San Francisco, California. She offers astrological guidance with a down-to-earth approach utilizing her studies on the evolution of consciousness and psychology. While she considers herself a witch and an intersectional feminist, she also realizes her whiteness, cisgender, and able-bodied privilege is a constant process of uncovering. In 2013, she received her Master’s in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness. Her thesis, titled “Stargazing: Re-enchantment Through Language,” combines philology, consciousness studies, and enchantment with the stars. When not staring at her transits, she can be found wandering Ocean Beach, curled up with a good book, or “force” cuddling her kitty, Freyja.
Virgo and the Astrology of Virginity
Recently the Sun has made its annual move into tropical Virgo, the symbol of the woman and refers to the word virgin. While our modern minds think of virginity as referring to sexual experience and specifically valuing chastity in women, this common definition has strayed far from the word’s original meaning.
Virgo comes from Latin meaning “unwedded girl, maiden.” It wasn’t until around 1300 that it was used to denote a lack of sexual experience or imply chastity. In Greek translations the word virgin meant “one unto herself.” Similar to many words in English, the original meaning became lost as our Western culture became more and more patriarchal in nature.
With this evolution of language in mind, virginity then actually indicates freedom, self-sufficiency, and wholeness. One of my favorite authors, Nancy Qualls-Corbett goes on to say a virgin is “untouched by man, or…the laws of man.” In this way, virginity is not something that a person could “take” or “give away.” Virginity instead belongs to each of us as an expression of wholeness and divinity and the stories of the virgin goddesses remind us of the power of our own sovereignty.
In Greek and Roman traditions there were often three main virgin goddesses: Vesta/Hestia, Minerva/Athena, and Diana/Artemis. Regardless of gender or GNC, I believe each of these goddesses speak to an aspect of our own wholeness and virginity. Understanding these archetypes in an astrological context gives us important clues about how their archetypal energies show up in our lives and our soul patterning.
I enjoy working with the asteroids and dwarf planets as they are often named after goddesses and invite a complexity not found with just the more popular planetary bodies in our solar system. While the names are gendered, I don’t think of them as unique aspects to any gender and instead different energies that move through us at different times.
How can we work with these archetypal, virginal energies throughout the next month? For me the answers lie in our natal Vesta, Pallas Athene, and Diana asteroids. Both Greek and Roman, though largest in the solar system, all in these asteroids orbit in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Here’s a rundown of each of their meanings in the collective and personal astrology charts:
Asteroid Vesta // Named after Greek Goddess of Hearth and Home
The second largest asteroid discovered in 1807 and was more recently in the news because the satellite Dawn completed its orbit around the asteroid. Currently at 23 degrees Sagittarius trining Pallas Athene perhaps igniting the sacredness of expanding our horizons both mentally and physically.
- Claim to fame: Vesta the goddess refused to marry Apollo or Poseidon, though may have taken them as lovers. The Vestal virgins of ancient Rome who kept the sacred fires burning and were honored for their chastity.
- Aspect of virginity: Represents how we channel sexual energy and the blending of both the sacred and profane
- Astrological energy: What we hold sacred, how we connect through spirit with ceremony, routines or personal rituals, sexual potential or sacred sexuality practices such as Tantra
Asteroid Pallas Athene (Athena) // Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Craft, Poetry, and War
The second asteroid discovered, in 1802, and third largest asteroid, goes by Pallas or Pallas Athene named after Athena. Currently it sits at 22 degrees Leo next to the Sun shining a light on our desire to learn or highlighting our unique version of genius.
- Claim to fame: A warrior goddess born from Zeus’ head in full armor she event had an entire city named after her (Athens). She fought with Jason and the Argonauts and wore Medusa’s head on her breastplate.
- Aspect of virginity: The light of the intellect and ability to think for ourselves as well as the internal balance of masculine and feminine energies and head and heart
- Astrological energy: Our ability to perceive and understand patterns, which require the integration of both intuition and intelligence…as wisdom. Can reveal gifts of creativity or identification with the “know-it-all.”
Asteroid Diana // Named after Roman Goddess of Hunt and Nature
Discovered in 1863 by a German astronomer, it is small compared to the other virgin goddess asteroids and isn’t even within the top 20 when it comes to size. Diana currently sits at 21 degrees Aries, creating a grand trine with the other two virgin goddesses. Together, these two asteroids in such a strong fire sign uplift and empower feminine energies.
- Claim to fame: She begged her father Jupiter to liberate her from marriage and motherhood, though in Greek mythology she had 50 daughters with the handsome shepherd Endymion. She also had the power to talk to and control animals in the forest and there is even a branch of Wiccan dedicated to her.
- Aspect of virginity: Freedom and the relationship to our wild nature as well as the connections between women as a part of our unity under patriarchy
- Astrological energy: Where and how we yearn for our own freedom, perpetual “hunt” for something, our ability to nurture “sisterly” relationships, connection to the wildness in ourselves
Virgo and the asteroid virgin goddesses remind us of the power inherent in our own life force energies and self-possession with or without our sexual relationship to others. A facet of self that beckons us into being whole, complete, and unfettered by the man-made laws and expectations of the gods or patriarchy. During this virgin season may we our inward experience and attitude that isn’t dependent on others for definition or happiness…whole unto ourselves. The way Vesta, Athena, and Diana would have wished.