Playing With A Reality Filter

An art and hobby festival highlights the benefits of creative play; I offer attendees opportunities to fiddle with their experience of reality.


“I’m sorry, I had such a hard time getting here,” said the woman who looked a bit frazzled as she walked into the room. I was sitting at my workshop table arranging journaling prompts. I could tell that she had physically arrived, but she hadn’t really mentally arrived yet. “Well, now you’re here,” I replied. “And that’s all you need to be.” She sat down on an adjacent empty chair and looked at me with a face that said, “I’m listening.” I explained that Pluto, the planet and archetype of primordial energy and deep, slow-to-process transformation, was transiting and it might be making things a little hard for everybody right now. I live for moments like this, where the injection of new ideas alters the way a person looks at a situation and changes their experience of it.

The woman and I were at the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival, held in Marbletown, NY. The event, dreamed up by Allison Braun of Smell the Damn Roses, is meant to give people options to “try new things” and play. Presenters are display their hobbies, aka offerings, through hands-on activities at tables. The presenters are also given a time slot to do a workshop featuring their hobby aka skill. Allison has invited me several times to showcase EVOL because my offerings are a gateway to exploring inner worlds and applying play to self care. I ask attendees, “Who are you?” and often, the straightforward, unexpected question causes people to reflect. I set up my table to be a reflection workshop. I provide prompts, paper, and writing instruments for people to spend a few minutes having a conversation with themselves. Journaling is one of my favorite hobbies.

Setting up at the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival

My definition of self care is inclusive, too. I say that it is a practice that brings awareness to a state of consciousness. Self care as a hobby can improve your mental health because the practice plugs you in to the power of presence. Being present means you acknowledge the factors that are affecting your momentary experience. That could mean knowing (being informed) how environmental factors affect you physically or mentally.

Astrological factors and their related insight can have a major impact on your experience. Evolutionary astrology, which is soul focused and emphasizes the ability to transmute experiences through spiritual growth, is a body of knowledge I love to study and implement! Evolutionary astrology considers the framework that we incarnate at the exact moment that energies in the cosmos are going to give us the opportunities to challenge previous courses of actions (cause and effect, aka karma). Evolutionary astrology says that through transmuting aka integrating the lessons of the things that happen around us, we move toward different expressions of actions and reactions. The more aware we are of our tendencies, the more informed we can be to make conscious choices. If we choose differently, we break karma.

Jeffrey Wolf Green’s book Pluto: The Evolutionary Journey of the Soul is a foundational text in the body of knowledge of evolutionary astrology. He writes that

Pluto’s house and sign placement describe two simultaneous phenomena. One the one hand, the natal position of Pluto describes the … individualized patterns in identity … on the other hand, … Pluto points to the evolutionary desire.


Pluto was active in the astrological weather during May, which was a serendipitous coincidence with mental health awareness month. It provided a brilliant circumstance to be sitting at the table and having honest and authentic conversations with people during the Spring 2019 Art & Hobby Festival, like the one with the woman.

“Let’s look at your chart,” I told her. We looked at the placement of Pluto that was specific to her, and together we considered aspects, aka how the mix of energies of Pluto and the other planets moving through the sky at that moment were working off each other and giving her a certain flavor of experience. We talked about what her comfort zone (the natal position of Pluto) was and how to gently step outside of it, take mindful action, and grow (the sensation, force of evolutionary desire). It’s a psychological process that can be stressful as well as beneficial.

“Wow,” she said at one point. “I feel better knowing that I’m not crazy.” Her mood shifted and she left in a different mental place and with many things to reflect upon.
Astrology is a science of mixing and experimenting; each sign, house, placement (of celestial bodies) produce unique reactions when considered with other celestial bodies. The woman, by learning about her natal Pluto placement, was able to let go some of the “Why?” and move toward “What now?” as in, taking informed action. The reflections cause by our conversation will inform her self care if she sticks with and applies the practice.

I call EVOL offerings self care “practice” because that’s all we can expect ourselves to do—try it. Each time we bring awareness to our mental state, we can interface with the factors that might be influencing our experience. An understanding of our unique astrology within the larger cosmos can help us understand where thoughts are coming from. When the inner landscape, mental health, is more understood, movement toward peace, ease, and acceptance is greater. It all takes practice and it can change the way you look at yourself and reality. We learn to EVOLve through self care.

NOTE: Seek out a mental health professional when necessary. There’s no shame in getting help. Self care supports movement toward wellness, but no one does self care alone, and anyone can benefit from mental health care.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Listening and Broadcasting Online

An Instagram challenge lead to a lunar-cycle-long practice of listening in the outside world. The messages brought lessons about the interconnectedness of things.

When Sabrina Monarch (Monarch Astrology) and Cici Cyr (Abundant LA) invited their Instagram followers to an Instagram challenge, I went all in! The energies that shaped the time period of the lunar cycle (March 4 to April 6) were the following: a new moon in Pisces (the goddess) and the entry of Uranus (the electrifier, the shock, the Internet) into Taurus (the material embodiment and all things sense-sual). The purpose of the #uranusintaurus challenge was to explore these energies and allow for insights into how they (the energies) affected us individually. The task aka the way to receive downloads was to connect to go outside, listen, and share the experience on Instagram. Here’s what that looked like for me.

There were two significant features that shaped my experience: I was in California when the challenge started, and I would be in New York (aka home) when it ended. A variety of environments, including not-home and home turf, would give me a range of messages, right? I was participating in some Christian rituals, since Ash Wednesday happened during this time, too (on Wednesday, April 6). I’ve found connection with my ancestral women through religion, so looping in the rites of the liturgical season added a layer to the reflection.

Ash Wednesday harkens an entry to silence—silence through which we listen to the divine. I was in Los Angeles that morning, and I took a walk in the rain—no umbrella or poncho—and let the wetness melt into my body. I like this pic, which I used in the challenge, because you can see the drops. When I received ashes (from an Episcopalian priest who was also outside, standing under a small portico of the boat house in Echo Park, where I was staying + where I went for my walk), I thought “star dust to Earth dust” as he recited “dust to dust”—and the rain spread that down my forehead and into my face. Immediately, I became aware of the infinitesimally small space I occupy as a human in a vast cosmos. The greatness of a natural order that is beyond me, supersedes me, forces me to remember that I am given the gift of existence. I felt my ancestral women within me at that moment, too, many of them in spirit, whose bodies were buried in the ground, who no longer felt the pleasure of rain on skin. The divine was present within my thoughts as the cycle of life and death brought a mood of humility. I am not just mind (that needs to process and makes sense of the transmissions). I am spirit (that understands the greater web of being intuitively); body is here to house my human experience, the reason I am here. I find myself thinking that the Internet, an ethereal body, connects me to community, individuals, out there in the world and embedded, enmeshed, intertwined in a network of fibers in a digital fabric. I imagine hyperspace as a quiet place, too, as bits of information that turnover and transmit silently.

By the time the challenge had come to the end of the cycle, I had arrived in New York.

#uranusintauruschallenge: home dirt! This is a walk on our go-to trail near Onteora Lake, New York in the Hudson Valley. The trail winds through a bluestone forest between Kingston and Woodstock. It’s also one of those places for me that, upon entry, I get lost in time. 2hrs here feels like days and seconds. I have a lot to organize and arrange rn, but I prioritized this session in the woods today. … I communicated with the trees—the same trees that listened to my pre-roadtrip desires … I said hello to the pieces of trees still stuck in early spring slush. I said hello to the moss and rocks. But each time I did, I felt like I was saying hello for the first time, like these beings were new to me and they didn’t recognize me. …

And then I realized that I had said hello to the physical things for the very first time that afternoon. I had walked the trail many times before, but I never walked in co-existence with the sentience of all forms: the trees, the moss, the rocks. I had been to that place (Onteora Lake) before my trip west, and I returned feeling like I was not recognized among the physical things there; but I felt at home with the community of people online who were also exploring the effects of the astrological transits. I’ve spent a while considering what this all means (and, what I would like it to mean for me), and I find myself coming back to the idea of my ancestral women—how humbling it is to know that bodies that once walked the Earth are now inside it, spirits going back from whence they came and bones and skin breaking down. Star dust to Earth dust. It is an odd thought to think that long after I am gone, these words will hang in hyperspace for anyone or no one to read them. It is an even stranger one to know that as I say hello to the Earth and all her beings, I say hello too to the ones who are inside me. Shared rituals (old and new, Lent and Instagram challenges alike) renew the connections. I attribute the disorienting sensation of time (-lessness, -distortion) in the woods to stepping out of a body that I had long inhabited—one of words, language, and communication with other human bodies—and out into a world beyond those bounds. And: home is everywhere through the physical body, spiritual body, and communication body. The transmissions are out there; you just have to know to listen.

Clearing the Fear in Capricorn Season

I have a practice of consistent self reflection inspired by astrology, aka archetypes informed by celestial bodies and attributed characteristics, and it’s been fruitful for personal growth. This process has plugged me in to the collective growth, too.

Beaching it in Baja

I started writing this in January—Capricorn season. The end of December (around the time of the winter solstice) till the end of January is governed by Capricorn, an archetype that is governed by Saturn. Capricorn implores structure, authority, and (a reckoning of) consequence of actions. It’s a sign that is connected to Earth, which makes the overtone of Capricorn season one that encourages level-headedness that comes from being rooted in structure, authority, responsibility.

Capricorn season is the time of the year that I have struggled the most. I had a lot of fear come up in prior years. Fear of my level of self responsibility (as a solopreneur)–if I don’t hustle my work, I don’t have an employer who will fill in the gaps. It’s a risky business venture. And, my identity as a successful solopreneur is intimately connected to my identity an independent woman in the business world. If I am not successful as a solopreneur, am I less successful as a woman?

As I navigated the yoga of this relationship (woman, responsibility, fear), I had a a major breakthrough: I learned that my individual identity as a successful solopreneur woman is intimately connected to the collective identity of women that is an uprising of the divine feminine. It’s not about being equal to men. It’s about being able to handle ourselves as women, honoring the explorations and vocations that feel good to us. The Capricorn in all of us asks us to build, and what we build is a combination of individual and collective efforts.

Archetypes of the zodiac

I’ve previously written about my determination to support myself as a solopreneur. This year’s round of reflections were done while I was on a sabbatical in Mexico. The ability to do this (take time and be in a foreign place) mirrored the gifts of self employment: I have time and location flexibility. I decided to take the month of January to do minimal work. I focused on light writing projects rather than heavier editing ones. It wasn’t vacation; it was simply a time of working at minimal capacity. This ease in workload would be rejuvenative.  I went to a location that allowed me to be close to the land and water, which I also found rejuvenative, and camp in my truck with solar equipment. All of this was purchased with the financial gain from my successful labor as a solopreneur. As I traveled down the Baja peninsula to the beach, people asked me: How can you afford this traveling lifestyle? And: Where is your husband? Who supports you? I always replied that I work as I travel. I am location independent.  And I ignored the other question. Women don’t need men to support them financially (or give them permission to do what they want to do).

As I sat on the beach, I found my thoughts taking me back to a memory: When I was in eighth grade, a few neighborhood girls and I were hanging out. They wore makeup and made out with boys and didn’t spend their afternoons doing homework. I liked them. They were fun to me. They accepted me. One afternoon, bored with talking about bands and eating Ritz crackers with icing (our regular afterschool activities), we needed something else to do. I’m not sure how we came up with the idea, but we decided to use a pin, a pen (to make an ink mark), and card to pierce our belly buttons. The next day at school, I was pulled aside by several teachers and told that if I hung out with “those girls”—it was a bad thing for me. I was told that there had been an incident, and that one of “those girls” had pierced her belly button—”A dangerous stunt,” said the woman teacher. “You’re a straight-laced, straight A student, you are a good influence for those girls. Do you know anything about the incident?” the teacher asked. “No,” I lied. “Oh, good,” she said. “I knew you were too smart to do something stupid.” If only the teachers had asked me to lift my shirt, they would have seen that I too had pierced myself. It was boredom. It was rebellion. It was pre-teen angst. At the time, I was just happy to not be in trouble, but that transaction stayed with me.

As I was on the beach reflecting on Capricorn, the structures we inherit, I wrote: Who the fuck gets to define what a good girl does? Good girls don’t rebel? I asked rhetorically. And what else don’t they do?

I realized that’s part of the reason why Capricorn tweaks me

Good girls don’t strike out on their own financial/career path.

Good girls don’t challenge the existing structure of things.

Good girls don’t define their trajectories because there is already a trajectory defined for them.

I’m all about breaking that outdated structure.

Thing is, I’m not looking for equality with men; I’m looking for solvency. I think the highest expression of empowered womanhood is the ability to chart your own course and break even there. Thrive through those relative circumstances.

As I sat on the beach, I realized how this reflection took me under the hood of the relationship I have with the Capricorn archetype. It was me melting my fear, one that told me I can’t handle this vocation. Me realizing that I can, and I’m doing well at it, even if other people still question or judge. Me realizing that I embody some of the old and outdated patriarchal standards, and I need to offload them.

EVOLving is meeting all parts of your experience with LOVE. Then let them go.

I wrote declarations in my journal:  I’m not in business as a female solopreneur to prove a point. I am in this occupation because this is the lifestyle that I want to have. I’m interested in meeting other women who honor the urges they follow. It’s about achieving my goals as an independent person. It’s about achieving our goals to be women who define our own roles.

A month later, upon writing and offering this blog, I feel clearer than ever on my  relationship to Capricorn and the structures that be. I feel more rooted in my true self. I feel convinced that the collective women uprising will create the structures that will allow women to be whatever girls they choose to be.

 

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