I can't get enough of New Orleans sunsets
I know that it’s technically Fall now, but being in New Orleans where the temperature is still hovering near 90, it hasn't felt like what I typically associate with autumn. The leaves don’t really turn here either. The only indicator of a transition out of summer is how dark it is at 7pm. Everything else feels the same.
The last few days have been a little challenging for me. I’m trying to find the balance between showing the good parts of my new lifestyle and being honest about how difficult it can be. Some days I feel very peaceful and energized, able to connect to my soul’s purpose and use that to keep me going through the day. Other days, like the ones I experienced this weekend, can be deeply lonely and physically uncomfortable. Saturday I spent most of the day in my hot van exhausted and irritable, trying to take it easy because of my period. I have fibroids, which makes my menstrual cycle pretty hard. I have to be honest with myself and just let myself have a red tent day when it comes around. My self-judgement is turned up to 11 on those days too, so it’s one of my brain’s favorite activities when I’m bleeding to make myself feel bad for needing to rest. Then the next day, I woke up with excruciating pain in my upper back and neck, most likely due to the stress and anxiety I have been carrying about finances, what I’m doing with this work, and how to accomplish my goals.
So as much as I want to say that things are just great right now, it’s not that simple. As I have written before though, what keeps me going is knowing that I am a spiritual being having a human experience. A soul with a body, and not the other way around. I know I’m not alone, even when it feels like I am the most alone. And honestly, I'm not really alone. One of my best friends in the world lives here in New Orleans, and I am meeting new people regularly. As I mentioned in my previous post, this place is small, so I run into folks all the time. It's easy to be friendly here. Never mind, all of the friends I have around the country, just a text or phone call away. I know I am deeply supported and loved.
And here we are now in Libra season, where our connections to relationships, partnerships, and community are highlighted. As I single-mindedly pursue my dreams, I am full of questions. What is the value of partnership? What are we meant to learn through our relationships? How can we support each other as a community on both a human and soul level?
Along those lines, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we unconsciously play out trauma bonds through our romantic relationships, and even sometimes our friendships. It’s something we all do because so few of us are taught to examine what love is, and yet we are all taught to relentlessly pursue it. So much of our worth, especially if you identify as a woman, is tied up into whether or not we are in a long-term relationship, even if it’s a dysfunctional one. Is it not perfectly fitting that the time hilariously known in our culture as cuffing season falls during Libra? Libras get a lot of flack for being flirtatious serial monogamists and vain people-pleasers. But to me, through all of that fascination with how to connect to others, Libra is ultimately about trying to understand and become closer to the universal concept of Love. Ruled by Venus, Libra’s devotion to uplifting desire to a beautiful art form allows us the opportunity to look at what we find valuable about love - what makes our relationships work? Are we making space for both giving and receiving? What makes the loves of our lives special? What adjustments do we need to make to the way we develop attachments?
This week, I’ll be posting a meditation focusing on the Empress, the tarot card ruled by Venus, to invite us into examination of our desires and attractions so that we can become better stewards of Love both within and without. Looking forward to sharing more with you, and feel free to leave a note in the comments about how Libra season has been playing out for you thus far!
4 of Cups reversed, 3 of Swords, 5 of Swords reversed
Deck: The Fountain Tarot
Today, as we honor the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, and enter Libra season, we are invited to reflect on the nature of balance and how we respond to the challenging shifts that we are moving through individually and as a collective. The Fall equinox is a time of equal darkness and light, as the seasons change and move into the colder months. Libra is represented by the Scales, and is our invitation into harmony, community, and loving balance.
I tend to feel uncomfortable with the way we talk about balance, as if it is something that is elusive, practically unachievable. We are always seeking to attain it. But what if everything already is in balance? What if balance is seeking us? Our presence, our care, our awareness?
I pulled some cards around this and all three of these deal with balance in some way, especially as illustrated through the beautiful Fountain Tarot. Fours in the tarot are grounded and on stable footing - the 4 of Cups reversed asks: are we open to seeing it? Are we allowing ourselves the space we need to allow the messages and feelings that need to get through to speak to us?
The 3 of Swords and the 5 of Swords reversed further illustrate that the very idea of seeking balance is a product of the mind (swords=air, communication, thought, brain chemistry). We view our grief as a sign of our brokenness, our wrongness. We set ourselves up for battles, internal and external, that ultimately just lead to more heartbreak and frustration. Christ Consciousness and Oneness (aka the eternal principles of Love) teach us that when we see ourselves as separate from “goodness”, then we become locked in a battle of the mind, of ego, of thought. It’s a way to frame ourselves as if we are in need of fixing.
We are not broken. We are not inherently imbalanced. We have learned so many behaviors for the sake of survival and of coping. That doesn’t make us unworthy - that makes us human, learning to adapt to the challenges that we face as we grow. We weren’t born afraid or insecure. Our natural state is to be curious, loving, accepting, and open. The darkness is not here to suffocate. It is here to provide contrast, understanding, comfort, and deep, important lessons for our growth.
Make this equinox in opportunity to reclaim your agency. We only need to look to the seasons to understand the fallacy of imbalance. Do we perceive that nature is broken when she settles into the darkness of winter? Are the trees out of balance when they shed their leaves? Does the moon need fixing when she is new and not perceptible to our eyes? Balance is not something that has to be sought, it is something that we honor.
Battling and war can only take us so far. We can’t keep fighting and punishing ourselves in the same ways over and over again and expect new results. We have to choose to see peace as a solution. This doesn’t mean being a pushover or allowing injustice to rule. Peace comes from speaking and walking in truth. Again and again, choosing truth, even and especially when it feels hard.
So here’s a journaling exercise you can do. Write about what balance means to you. Let it come out without trying to get the language right or kind, just get out your honest thoughts about your relationship with balance. Then, look back at what you wrote and respond to it as your higher self. You can use Bunny Michael’s Higher Self series as a reference. What truth is lying behind your anxieties and insecurities about where you are in life, the state of the world, and your place in it? Speak truly from your heart. Let this be a way for you to practice speaking from a soul-centered perspective. Carry these lessons with you into your day to day life. Feel free to add a comment if you want to discuss more or share with others what your process looked like! And don't miss my previous post on my weekend in ritual around the autumnal equinox below!
I had the great pleasure of heading out to a new friend’s land in Mississippi this weekend for gathering and ceremony around the autumn equinox. I met Kezia just the week before in New Orleans at a full moon workshop she was hosting at Rosalie Botanicals. A practitioner who focuses on dreams, Kezia lead a beautiful soul-centered event that integrated the astrology of the day and ritual around uplifting our waking and sleeping dreams alike. We got to talking after the workshop and I told her about my travels, and she told me that she and her husband owned land on the edge of a national forest an hour and a half away in Mississippi. She invited me to join them and other friends for the equinox gathering the following weekend and I immediately said, “Yeah I’ll probably do that.” And I’m so glad I did! It was great to get out of the city and be out in the fresh air, connecting with nature and meeting new people.
Kezia and Jordan are currently developing their space in Mississippi, called The Burrow (named after the burrows of the gopher tortoises throughout the land). They plan to make The Burrow a retreat center and a place for learning about sustainability and permaculture. When I arrived, Kezia and I went for a short walk on just a slice of their 111 acres. The landscape is really interesting there. It’s very sandy, and just like in New Orleans, there is no natural rock anywhere. There’s some really diverse growth out there though - there are pine trees next to prickly pear cacti, next to yuca, next to wild blueberries and crabapple trees. The area is in the middle of a drought at the moment unfortunately, which seemed strange to me considering that this is the hurricane season. Kezia explained to me that it can be like that in the Gulf sometimes, either you are getting pummeled or there’s no precipitation coming at all. I've noticed it in New Orleans too. When I first arrived in early August, there was a lot of rain for a while, but it pretty much hasn’t rained at all for the last 2 or 3 weeks.
After we got back from our walk, I was excited to see another van pull up, plus other folks began to trickle in as well. We had a delicious dinner cooked over the fire and had a check in about the weekend and where were/how we were feeling emotionally and spiritually. I met a fellow Chicagoan, Snow, who was our photographer for the weekend. We ended up talking late into the night about the stars, astrology, and the role of technology in spiritual evolution.
The next morning after breakfast, Snow, Kezia, Eli (the other van driver), and I went for a hike where we saw a lot of the aforementioned natural growth and burrows. Kezia was in the middle of asking me if I had ever seen a golden orb spider before when we literally almost ran into one with their baby and massive web! It was pretty much impossible to capture the beauty of the spider or the web with my little iPhone camera, but it was breathtaking. The threads of the web were shimmering gold, and the mamma spider was so big and fierce looking. Totally harmless to humans, and a sight to behold.
After the hike, we took a dip in the pond on the land. The water was perfect, just the right temperature, and cozy feeling enough for my comfort zone while still being large enough to kayak in. We then had a totally unplanned and amazingly liberating photo shoot - we all stripped down out of our bathing suits and Snow took photos of us playing in the water and connecting with the land. It was so freeing and comfortable, and perfectly magical. Snow is really talented - I’m excited to share some of those photos soon.
The afternoon brought lunch, resting, and chatting with folks in the camping area. I got to talk with Sivani, who was one of the three women who were leading the ceremony in the evening, while laying in a hammock and reading. That evening we had a group photo shoot on the nearby sand hill, lead again by Snow, followed by a delicious and hearty vegan dinner prepared by Eli and Damon, one of the carpenters building the structures on the property.
Then came the ceremony. Kezia, Sivani, and Jamila, whose birthday we were also celebrating, built an altar to honor the Goddess on the Equinox. Gathered around the fire, they lead the group, numbering around 15, on a journey of reflection on the land, harmony, balance, and community. The ritual lasted for 2-3 hours, I don’t remember exactly how long. But I do know that I felt so very grateful to be able to be in sacred space with such thoughtful and spiritually engaged souls. It’s not easy for me to be in groups of people, especially such a big group of folks that I didn’t know at all, but I know that that was the best place I could have been that weekend, surrounded by the beauty of Mother Earth, with the cicadas buzzing and the sounds of coyotes howling into the night.
I honestly could have stayed on that land for another week. I think they would have let me, if I volunteered to do some labor in return. But it also felt right to head back to New Orleans and return to working and writing there. I gave Damon a ride back to his spot in the Lower 9th Ward and we talked the whole ride about divinity and the interplay between light and darkness.
I had been feeling a bit isolated and uncomfortable over the last few days, and the community that I found at The Burrow was just the medicine I needed. Thank you so much to Kezia and Jordan for hosting, and to Sivani and Jamila for leading such a beautiful ceremony!
New Orleans streets at sunset
I can’t believe we are coming up on the autumn equinox! The fall equinox, or Mabon as some witches honor it, is the date when day and night are equal once more as we ready ourselves for winter. This year Mabon falls on Monday, September 24th. I have already begun to notice how much earlier it gets dark than it did when I first arrived in New Orleans 7 weeks ago. While I do love heat of the warmer times of year, honestly my least favorite part of the colder months is the early darkness. It’s something I am going to have to keep in mind for my van too, as it’s a 100% off grid machine. My fridge, stove, lights, fans, everything inside is run by solar power. When I’m in a less urban environment, I’ll probably buy a small portable propane based stove so I can cook outdoors too. I’m honestly really looking forward to being outside of cities soon. These first few stops of my travels have been centered on cities where I know people as I get used to my change in lifestyle. So sticking around in New Orleans this long has mostly been about me getting acquainted with all the demons around self-employment and loneliness that I knew were bound to come up.
And boy, have they come up. Some days of this trip have been really amazing - I particularly liked the journey down here from Chicago, with my stops in St. Louis and Memphis. I’ll probably write more about those days here soon. But being in New Orleans has been challenging for me in a lot of ways. It’s an intense city, with lots of palpable magical energy. A lot of the roads are beat to hell, so driving is always bumpy. It’s a small place (did you know that New Orleans has a smaller population than Wichita, Kansas?), and people are always low key (honestly sometimes high key too) in your business. It’s a party town, people are walking around with cups all day every day. It’s hot and humid as fuck, which like I said I usually love, but makes hanging out in the van challenging. That’s just external stuff, though. I knew what the city was when I decided to come here. It’s a strange place, with an endless amount of character and excitement.
Internally, there’s a whole other world of challenges I am facing. So many questions about what I’m “meant” to be doing and if I’m doing it “right”, plus fears about money, belonging, and self-discipline. All of the things that would ordinarily arise when making a major life change, I’m experiencing ten-fold here it feels like. Never mind the fact that I don’t drink or do drugs, I’m taking a break from smoking weed, I’m currently celibate and not dating, and I don't even drink caffeine! My only vices left are food and Youtube. I don't fit in to the party atmosphere here at all. I’m like the black weirdo-witch-alien version of a small town Christian teen - “have you heard the good news about Christ Consciousness?”
So lest you think that this life change, as beautiful and expansive as it is, is coming to me super easily, let me tell you, there is so much I am still learning. Mostly around self-discipline and letting go of my emotional attachments. It’s incredible how much I’ve been feeling while I’ve been here, and how those feelings end up externalizing in the form of synchronicities and responses from Spirit. Something that I’ve noticed is that New Orleans is a place that is surrounded and immensely impacted by water, but it’s not a place where people are swimming or playing in the water. Instead it’s experienced in the forms of storms, flooding, gator sightings, etc. The water is cleansing, but not gentle. That’s how it’s felt here the whole time. Cleansing, but not gentle.
I’ve been pulling the Death card and 5 of pentacles a lot these past several days. Yipee. I had a little breakdown about it this morning. It’s fine. Just wailing about responsibility, nothing to see here. Just tantruming about how hard it is to let go, no big deal. But once I got it out and faced the reality of everything, it was like hey, yeah let’s get to work! Let’s write about presence! Let’s write about release! What it do, Equinox baybeee!
Click "Read More" below to check out what I was divinely guided to understand and share about habits, balance, and letting go. And feel free to share in the comments what you have been working through in this waning moon phase and what you are hoping to shed as we move into harvest time!
Cards of the day: 10 of Cups, 3 of Cups, and Death
Deck: The Fountain Tarot
Happy Friday the 13th! What a positively magical day. Not only is it a full moon in Pisces, but the moon is conjunct Neptune, while a powerful Sun-Mercury-Venus-Mars stellium in Virgo sits opposite that dreamy joining.
As we consider the impact of the Virgo-Pisces energy present in the polarity of today’s astrology, we see that both signs are concerned with the nature of the Whole. Virgo represents our presence with our earthly selves, the tending to the ins and outs of our bodies, in service of finding harmony within a greater whole. Pisces, on the other hand, represents the ethereal nature of that desire for harmony, the feeling and being of Oneness itself.
This full moon in Pisces reminds us that there is no separation between the celestial and the human. That we are too part of the cosmos. That we travel on a galactic journey of wonder and awakening. And it is our humanity that is the gateway to our magic. Indeed, embodiment is not a curse or punishment put upon us. It is a choice to awaken and evolve through our human communion with Spirit.
Today’s message from Spirit is that if it is meaning and healing that we seek, then it is our job to remember that we are the magic; to dissolve any illusions of separation between what we dream and who we are. It is our responsibility to draw our magic out from the mists and ground the work it takes our to make our spells become our reality. Whatever it is that we dream for our lives, now is the time to make room for the transformations that must take place to allow them to blossom.
As Alan Oken writes in his book Soul-Centered Astrology:
“The Ancient Wisdom Teachings tell us that there is no such thing as death; that is, utter and absolute annihilation. There is only mutation and transformation of matter, and the subsequent release of consciousness and spiritual essence for the purpose of creation. Pisces teaches the lesson that when the lower self is sacrificed…there is a continuum of life by which loving redemption - that is, the recognition and identification with the Soul - carries us into the transcendental life stream of immortality."
Today, make this sacrifice joyous. Call in your soul coven, cultivate your magical gifts, and make the dissolution of separation between Spirit and self an act of community. Get weird with god and be willing to be released from fears and limiting beliefs around your connection to Divine.
What can you celebrate today? How do you cultivate magic within yourself and within your relationships? How do you like to connect with your guides? Who is part of your soul coven? What limiting beliefs around your emotional self can you let go of today? Do you have any rituals or spell work planned?
Ever wish and dream and hope for something to come your way and then once you finally get it, you are suddenly freaked out by the responsibility of it? Hard same. This meditation is about stepping away from playing small and honoring your truth by living your message. It's meant to resonate and motivate, even through challenges that you find repeating themselves over and over again in your life.
When you become a member, you can access all of the meditations through this link. You can learn more about the Taking Up Space member site here!
I’ve never been particularly good at crafting a cohesive self-image. That’s what I tell myself at least. Behind the social media posts, there’s a lot of doubt that I have had to face. I can spend a lot of mental energy worrying about the precision, correction, and authenticity of my messages. Is this what people want to hear? Is this the right thing to share? What can I do to get people to like me? To see me?
Like many people, I find myself searching for mirrors, someone to tell me “Hey, I see you! I know your value!” To hear it from someone else is to make it true. But to consistently embody those thoughts myself? That’s something different. Arrogance is a quality I have loathed since I was young. The nerve it takes to loudly proclaim who you are has always been deeply suspicious to me while simultaneously something I have desperately wanted to be able to perform myself. See, I know the shadows well. I know the tactics to keep myself just barely visible. I disappear into my thoughts and feelings as I walk down the street, hoping not to be noticed. I hide in my home, laying down in the darkness so that I am not seen. What gives me the right to take up space? Who the fuck am I? To share my thoughts, and stand by them? I am always afraid of seeming like “too much”, too loud, too opinionated, too sensitive.
But guess what? I am all of those things. Loud, opinionated, sensitive, and thankfully, deeply rooted in my trust in the power of Spirit.
Who the fuck am I?
I am a soul that chose to be born into this world. I am darkness transmuted into light. I speak and magic happens. I create and abundance follows. I am supported by angels and ascended masters alike. I am powerful, I am worthy, I am valuable, I am love.
The only thing standing in the way of my greatness is me.
What keeps me going even through my challenges? My unwavering belief in Oneness, Spirit, and the power of love. My faith in my ability to transform and my worthiness of divine support. I have been shown over and over and over again how much is possible when I let go of my fears. The greatest gifts and changes in my life have come from not asking for permission first but from being what it is I want to see in the world. Anyone can tell me they find me interesting or worthy; good for them for recognizing it - it is my job to believe it and act on it. No one else can do that for me.
This is why I am here, on Earth, on this journey, in this form. To take up space. To show that risks are worth taking and that challenges are worth facing. It’s why I chose to go this route, to create my own membership portal. I am not here to blend in, or be one of many. I am here to disrupt systems, to create my own way of being, and to invite others to do the same.
I can tell you this because I have lived it: Your darkness does not define you. It is just one way that you have chosen to learn in this life. You are immensely capable, profoundly loved, and deeply needed. Learn to be your own champion. To listen to your power, not to fear it. To trust in your knowledge. To free yourself from self-judgement. If you’re here, you’re curious. All it takes to begin is the willingness to transform.
I will be right here, sharing my journeys, both internal and external. Sharing the connections that can be made from our beliefs and our collective evolution.
And I want to hear your journeys. How do you connect to your value? What have you learned through your challenges? What are difficulties are you still facing? What are you celebrating? Feel free to add comments to the discussion below, or email me.
I’m so glad you’re here.
Alia Walston is a traveling writer and intuitive making connections between the challenges and ecstasies of our evolution