measuring progress

My vulture medicine altar had been up for a good long while, and not only did the things I want to transmute and release come, but all kinds of challenging aspects of my personality I wasn't quite done with arose too. You know, those things that feel so intrinsically part of your personality that when someone challenges you about them, you rise up and say, "BUT IF I CHANGE THAT, I WON'T BE ME!" I have heard friends (and myself, perhaps) say that about drinking, smoking, eating chocolate, drinking coffee, about gossiping and cynicism, about anger. In my experience, that is the first thing I probably need to change. Bugger.

 The Vulture medicine is not for the faint of heart, but it was necessary. I don't always want to look at certain aspects of myself, let alone release them. Those old ways of being are comfortable, worn, tried and true. And yet they are serving a pattern that fires me up and makes me feel shame. Discomfort often precedes spiritual shifts.
I spent the day canning bushels of Asian Pears and tomatoes from my parent's garden and orchard. Farm work is often tedious and consuming. Like I said in my last newsletter, I have had some shizzle arise, and it has been occupying a large amount of brain power. In fact, I am shocked at how much it has consumed my thoughts, how distracted I am, and how often I have to call my friends and spiritual advisors just to discuss it. Mind you, it is not actually happening to me. I'm just thinking about it. As I peeled and boiled and milled and mashed, I thought about how much I don't want to think about it. The baby crawled around my feet, trying to eat dropped pieces of fruit, and the children danced by with fairy wings and giggles. All this life I have is so beautiful. There is so much I am grateful for. I want to release this damnable thinking. And then I would find myself thinking about that thing again. Then back to how I want to release the thinking and how it is not serving me and besides, I AM DONE WITH IT! But then that old thought, "But I have always worried about this stuff and this person. If I don't worry about it, will I actually be me?"
The Full Moon rose above the neighboring horse farm this evening.The moon illuminates the horses, then the fields of wildflowers and the barns, and then our bamboo grove, then our home. As it rises, we feel the light enter the room, like a person. We were putting the children to bed, and I heard a hawk screech. I yelled to my husband, "Check the chickens, I just heard a hawk." The chickens were fine. My husband laid out a blanket under the moon where we could sit out with a cup of tea and talk after everyone was asleep. As I steeped our tea, I looked at my altar. Suddenly, all the vulture medicine felt wrong. I needed different energy. I pulled one of Pixie's animal painting cards (at the right), and Hawk arose. AHA!! That was the screeching we both heard. Hawk wanted to come screeching into our lives right now, helping us with vision and intuition, focus and staying present.

Hawk medicine is also about healing the heart, Pixie wrote. My husband and I created the altar together. We choose two oracle cards and both were Quan Yin--compassion and let it go. We set an intention, and I verbalized that I want to release this issue I have been talking and thinking about all week. In fact, this week we celebrate nine years of beautiful marriage. This is what should be occupying my mind. And so my intention became clear after reading the Quan Yin oracle card from the Goddess Oracle deck, "Transform harshness into gentleness by refusing to see anything but the shining light that is within each person and situation."
Later, as we sat outside talking about our lives and our future and our relationship, I began to speak once more about the situation and stopped myself. "No," I said, "I'm done talking about that situation." My husband reassured me that I could talk about it. And I said again, "No, I don't want to talk about it." And he just nodded and said good.
People often ask me how to release things no longer serving. It is part of what I help people do in my moon cycle coaching circles, in crystal healing sessions and in my tarot readings. I often use ritual--burning slips of paper, burying items, giving away others. I create altars and crystal grids. I wear stones that help my intention. But the work of release isn't simply all of this facade of release. Our progress arises through the way we interact with the world. When we set intentions, we often don't receive immediate, monumental relief from our ways of being that no longer serve, we begin with gentle curiosity and a subtle awareness of our behaviors. We pay attention. We decide to change one conversation we could have, one way of criticizing the world, one moment where we are not present. Through those thousands of very small decisions, we create profound changes. That is the extraordinary release we are granted, if we do all that tedious and consuming work of paying exquisite attention to ourselves.