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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Wisdom Within: What is embodiment?

Katie Gordon

Often when I teach public classes, I see people going deeper and deeper into a stretch or into a pose as if there was a place to get to. In many movement practices, we view the deep stretch as the opening we need or the opportunity to explore intensity.

The more I observe this happening, the more I realize we often lean into physical sensation, desperate to feel something other than the intensity that's already there: our emotions and thoughts. The things we may actually need to feel and acknowledge.

As cliché as it may sound, you've got to feel something to "heal" it. And while the physical sensation may feel oh-so-good in the moment, most often it's a distraction from real embodiment. From presence. And from the scariest thing of all: our own power.

Our bodies can lead us right into the heart of our own light, our beauty, our shadows, our innate wisdom, if only we'd stop pushing and pulling, and simply feel how exquisitely intelligent the human body is. How much we can learn about our souls when we pay attention to what is already deep within us, waiting to be seen.

When I work with clients, we may explore some of those same things that bring you to yoga: tension, chronic pain, injury recovery, building strength, and flexibility. But that's not what this work of Embodiment really is.

You'll discover strength and space within yourself that you never knew you had! But it won't come from "hip-openers" and finding ever-deeper backbends.

Photo by Zé Zorzan on Unsplash

Photo by Zé Zorzan on Unsplash

You'll dismantle paradigms and transform the way you relate with your body and soul. But it won't come from doing a 20 minute headstand, getting into the perfect heart-opener, or finally learning that one stretch that will relieve that tension in your neck. 

It will come from committing to tending to your body + soul. It will come from presence. It will come from deep listening, learning how to translate the innate wisdom of your body, trusting and, most importantly, taking action around what this incredibly wise body has to tell you.

It will come from feeling the way every single bone in your body is in motion and where that motion gets stuck.

It will come from feeling the way grief has settled into your left ovary and before it will unwind, a story needs to be told.

It will come from exploring your boundaries and what it actually feels like in your physical gut to say no to things that are not for you.

The transformation that comes from embodiment only comes because you are constantly choosing that which will bring you from the old into the new.

How do the sensations speak to you?

This is the journey I've been on for 10 years now. 

Join me.

Yarrow: Magic of Blood + Spirit

Katie Gordon

Have you noticed there's been a lot of talk recently about boundaries?

It seems like everywhere I turn, sometimes subtly, sometimes not, I've been seeing books, articles, products, Facebook posts, newsletters, and conversations around boundaries. When I start recognizing patterns like that, I know it's something to pay attention to. And it makes sense! With all the seeming chaos happening in the world right now, setting strong boundaries is ESSENTIAL. 

Photo from herbwisdom.com

Photo from herbwisdom.com

Mabon begins the third cycle of Wild Medicine Bundles.

Two years ago, I began crafting these bundles to provide soul + body nourishment, simple rituals, and an invitation to explore the connection between the bodysoul and Earth's cycles. With each turn of the wheel of the year, I've fleshed out my ideas a bit more and trusted myself and the plants to speak in ways that feel approachable. In ways that look like: ritual skincare, teas, baths, anointing oils, and room sprays. 

For the upcoming Mabon Wild Medicine Bundle, Yarrow came forward as a plant ally in setting + holding boundaries, but it felt like there was another reason to feature Yarrow, a reason that was just hiding under the surface. After sitting with it for a bit, I realized what that reason was:

Yarrow affects and moves blood, and blood symbolizes spirit. 

What does that mean and what does it have to do with boundaries?

In traditional healing modalities, blood nourishes Spirit. So if there's stagnation, irritation, heat, or depletion of blood, it'll affect the person's Spirit, which often looks like anxiety, insomnia, depression, and issues around boundaries. Yarrow moves stagnation so that the blood can nourish a depleted, starved Spirit. But as a cooling plant, it can balance overheat in the Spirit, helping one to feel calm and grounded. For me, Yarrow brings me back to my center, reminds me who I am, what I stand for, and where my boundaries need to be in order to be of service in the world. 

Sounds pretty necessary right now, yes?

In each bundle, I've been including a specific meditation or guided journey to connect with the spirit of the plant, but also with an aspect of yourself for which this plant might serve as a mirror. Within your Mabon Wild Medicine Bundle, you'll find a spell. A boundary spell. I'll be guiding you through it, but you'll have lots of space to actually be guided by Yarrow and the other plants featured in the bundle to learn how to set boundaries for yourself. Because boundaries are loving, not just for yourself, but for the people in your life.

Yarrow teaches us about shifting out of being the Wounded Healer and into the Whole-d Healer*. Grab your Mabon Wild Medicine Bundle before September 13 to get the discounted rate of $50, the e-book with product descriptions, uses, and extra recipes, and the guided Boundary Spell. PLUS you get a chance to win the Samhain Wild Medicine Bundle for free! Get yours here.

*Whole-d is a term created by my friends Lola + Tigre at Wild Playground

Embodiment vs. Listening to your body

Katie Gordon

When someone says, "Listen to your body," what does that mean to you?

Do you notice physical sensations? Emotions? Do you notice what you're thinking about? 

Does it give you helpful information?

Despite the title of my previous post, as someone who's studied and taught movement and various modalities of healing arts for a long time, I find that instruction to be mostly unhelpful. 

Why?

Because often when we listen to our bodies, we're listening with our brain, with our projections, with our insecurities, and with a disconnection from the language our bodies speak in.

And that isn't wrong! We just need to be taught HOW to listen to our bodies.

Photo by Dave Contreras on Unsplash

Here's a story...

For years now, I've been experiencing pain in my hips in poses like Warrior 2 where one leg is externally rotated. I thought stretching would help. It didn't. Then I thought heat would help. That actually made it worse, plus created even MORE inflammation in my joints. I've worked on my alignment, I've used herbs, ice, essential oils, rest, bodywork, etc. Nothing worked to actually address the issue, which I couldn't even pinpoint. 

Now, if someone had asked me to listen to my body, whether in a yoga class or not, to inquire within about the pain, I would've been left feeling frustrated and like a total failure. As would a lot of people! Because as students of yoga and spiritual practice, we're "supposed to be" sensitive, intuitive, and self-aware. So if we don't get a direct answer from our bodies, we must not be listening well enough. Right?

Wrong. 

Instead, I asked one of my teachers about it. He had me come into Warrior 2 on my Right side (the side that hurts less):

"Which way is your sit bone rotating?" he asked. "Internally," I said. "Good. Switch sides."

I switch to my Left side.

"Which way is this sit bone rotating?" he asks. "Holy sh*t! Externally!" I said, totally shocked. "Yep. There's your problem. Also, if you look at your femur, does it look straight?" 

Me: "Hm. No. It looks twisted."

Him: "Yep." After which he showed me how to unwind my thigh bone. (Yea, I get to unwind bones for a living.) 

How much more transformative, helpful, and mind-blowing is that than simply telling me to, "Listen to my body."

Why am I telling you all this?

Some of you who are reading this are yoga instructors, and it bears reminding that people coming to your class desire you to hold space for them. This means offering an opportunity for inquiry AND an actual container with substance and guidance. If they wanted to just "listen to their body" they could stay home. They're looking for answers within or at least to learn HOW to find answers within. This is a chance to educate people on HOW to listen, what to listen/look/feel for so they can walk away feeling like they have greater understanding of their body and its inherent wisdom.

For those of you reading this who aren't yoga instructors, inquiry within the container of movement can be potent work. While the symptoms, tension, injuries, and even pain you experience in your body might be maddening and confusing, it's a beautiful opportunity to go within.

Your body has answers.

That realization in itself can be incredibly empowering! No one knows your body like you do. While there are people out there who are more highly trained in anatomy, physiology, etc., YOU are the one who gets the ultimate say. You are the one who holds sovereignty over this human form you're currently embodying. You don't need to give your power over to anyone (yoga teacher or otherwise) to tell you what you should feel.

Seek out tools and teachers who provide guidance and encouragement to have your own experience in and with your body. Don't frustratingly settle for anyone or anything that tells you to "listen to your body." Your body speaks in a language all its own, but there are those who can teach you how to see, sense, and translate that language into something you recognize and can work with.   

 

What happens when you listen to your body?

Katie Gordon

Have you ever noticed what it feels like to completely ignore your body's wisdom?

Some of us feel that disconnect in our emotional body. For others, that disconnection is manifested in their physical body as tension, pain, and injury. Often we forget we even have bodies. Many of us go through our lives as if we're simply talking heads, floating in space with no feet to touch the earth. This isn't to say that ALL tension, pain, and injury is a result of either not listening or ignoring our bodies' inherent wisdom, but for many people, it's definitely a contributing factor.

I got really good at ignoring my body. Here's a little back story...

For awhile after finishing up my first yoga teacher training, massage school, and beginning my journey with Visionary Craniosacral Work, in the process of trying to figure out how to actually make a living doing my sacred work, I thought I needed to be some kind of "coach" in order to help people AND make money. 

I thought all my hours of training, practice, and experience had to somehow fit in and under the title of "[insert descriptor] Coach." I spent so much energy trying to figure out how to define myself and my work in a way that was approachable and made people want to say, "Yes!" to working with me.

Along the way, I worked with some business coaches who advised me to play on people's fears, pain points, and insecurities. Yuck! Even thinking back on it NOW it feels icky. I couldn't do it. It felt gross, inauthentic, and completely missed the point of what I was trying to create. 

Not only was there the ick factor in trying to market myself inauthentically, but the whole time I was trying to force this role, this construct on myself, my body was rebelling. Weird digestive issues, tension in my belly, odd recurring injuries. I even kept losing my voice!

Finally, I gave myself permission to let go.

breath of life.jpg

To surrender what I thought I should be doing and how it should look.

And it was a huge relief! It's exhausting pretending, isn't it?

It takes so much energy. I had done so much healing for myself, but there was a crucial piece I hadn't dug into yet: this idea that my work had to fit someone else's idea of being worthwhile or something people would pay for. 

So, instead of doing all the time, I started listening. Without even knowing what to listen for. I had to trust whatever it was that wanted to come through me. Just like I do when I teach group yoga classes. Trusting the words to come out, and that the students will receive what they need from the class. 

I stopped trying to "figure it out." I trusted that what wanted to be born from my unique combination of skills, gifts, study, and experience would make its way earthside. I trusted that I'd find the words to talk about it. That I didn't need to play off people's pain and insecurities. 

Instead, I'd trust my words to speak to the ones I could serve and be of benefit to. Trusting my words meant trusting my body (just like I teach others to do), as well as...

+ Beginning to notice when and where I was holding and letting that tension be an indicator of where I was trying to "make something happen."

+ Acknowledging that I didn't actually want to be a "coach," and I didn't have to be in order to be of service.
 
+ Believing that my gifts of holding space, of seeing energy, and of inviting people back to their bodies are worthwhile and even necessary.

+ Knowing that the healing people experience through these sessions I guide them through is and would continue to be profound.

One of the best things about these Embodiment Sessions? They're done virtually! 

Some people wonder if virtual sessions can offer the same benefit as my in-person, hands-on sessions. They ask if this work can be as potent if we're not physically together. 

I'd say, in some ways, they can be even more powerful. I used to leave therapy or healing sessions feeling light and somehow changed. But once I got back into my own space, my home, my ordinary reality, it felt like the magic faded. 

But when you're already in your space, the magic is more easily integrated into your reality. You come out feeling rooted, at home in your body and in your extra-ordinary reality. 

If you want to learn more about these Embodiment sessions, a blend of therapeutic yoga, guided journey, subtle-body healing, and visionary work, come visit me over here.

Harvest Time + the Magic of Lughnasa

Katie Gordon

Since the last Wild Medicine Bundle came out for Midsummer, we've moved houses, opened a little brick and mortar shop for the apothecary, got engaged, I joined some other truly amazing women in the Earth Keepers Council, and I finished my 500-hr therapeutic yoga teacher training. To say it's been a busy few months is a HUGE understatement. 

You know those moments when you think the craziness will never end?

Rationally, you know it will, but there's a primal part of you that thinks it'll feel like this forever. In those moments, small rituals keep me grounded. Sacred moments like brewing a cup of tea, taking my time in the shower to feel the warm water on my skin, getting ready for bed, even washing the dishes.

The dust is settling now, and just in perfect divine timing for Lughnasa.

Lughnasa (pronounced LOO-nuss-uh) is a Celtic harvest festival (the first of the season) celebrated on August 1 and named for the god Lugh, who has been likened to the Roman god Mercury. It's the first time when people could really slow down for a moment, gather together, enjoy the fruits of their labor, and celebrate making it through one of the busiest times of the farming year. 

lughnasa.jpg

For me, the medicine of the harvest is slow medicine.

It's a return to my natural pace where I can take a little extra time with my morning cup of tea. It's a reconnection with those rituals that remind me where I am in time and space. It's the medicine that comes from the St. John's Wort oil that's been infusing for over a year and strained out under the Dark Moon in Leo. It's the time spent lingering over a meal with close friends and family. It's the medicine of your freshly sun-dried clothes after spending an afternoon on the clothesline. And it's taking an evening to cook a meal, light your beeswax candles, and revel in all you've managed to create, move, finish, paint, unpack, and arrange.

Deep magic comes when we allow ourselves to not only slow down, but to move at our unique pace. This slowness allows our creativity, our wisdom, and our insight to bubble up from somewhere deep within our bones. We're able to plug back into our fuel source, our well of inspiration. 

This deep magic is where the Lughnasa Wild Medicine Bundle was born from and is sure to inspire.  Crafted from Oregon Blackberries, St. John's Wort, and old world botanicals like Rosemary, Thyme, and Sage, each item in the bundle is a small ritual to help you tap into the deep, slow burn of your inner source of Light, your inner Sun.

Join the Lughnasa Medicine Keepers and purchase your bundle by July 20 for a discount, an e-book, extra recipes for potions that didn't make it into the bundle, and an opportunity to win the next bundle for free! 

Wild Rose: At the Heart of Wholeness

Katie Gordon

This Spring has been a time of big growth and profound synchronicities. It seems as soon as I wonder how something is going to work, an answer makes itself known. I hold the same trust for our human tribe. That while we're wondering how we'll get to the other side of the mess we find ourselves in, we know there is another side. 

At the same time, we all experience this incredibly deep and at times pervasive emotion: fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being hurt (physically or emotionally). Fear of unlived potential. Fear that we're doing it wrong. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of our darkness. Fear of our light. And that's okay. It's just one of the many beautifully complex things that makes us all human and able to relate to one another. 

Sometimes, though, that fear causes us to close off ourselves and our hearts. We put up walls to protect ourselves from being seen because that fear makes us vulnerable. At one point in your life, and maybe still, it was necessary to protect yourself. Our bodies & psyches have an amazing ability to advocate for and protect us. But sometimes, what was once necessary to keep us safe on one level or another gets ingrained in us as a pattern that doesn't serve us anymore. 

This fear response is a pattern I've been working with a lot. The impulse to close off and shut down, especially when my heart is involved, can be so strong sometimes. When I feel that impulse, Rose is my medicine to soften around the edges and tap into my deeper, wiser, inner fire.

Photo by Adarsh Ik

Photo by Adarsh Ik

I've heard Rose referred to as "heart healing," but I think it's not so much about healing, our hearts are always whole after all, as it is about reminding us of our nature. Rose is a heart salve. It calms as it brings us back to our truth and back to ourselves in moments when we forget that we're already whole. Rose teaches us about discernment. About when it's necessary to protect ourselves and when that sense of contraction is coming from an old wound and is an opportunity to re-member a part of ourselves. 

This year, the Midsummer Wild Medicine Bundle features Wild Rose and Hibiscus: herbs to calm, cool, and soothe {heart} heat, as well as an overheated, overstimulated body and nervous system. With touches of Sandalwood, Vanilla, Amber, and Ginger. As Summer Solstice is a fire festival, the bundle will explore fire magic and the medicine that the element of fire brings. In Chinese medicine, fire is associated with the heart, so we'll explore the physical and energetic heart, what it means to "heal" the heart, and what role plants have in the process of re-membering ourselves.

Order your Wild Rose + Hibiscus Wild Medicine Bundle by June 8th to be in the Midsummer Wild Medicine Keepers. In addition to getting your bundle for the discounted price of $50, you'll also get:

  • an e-book with a write up of each item, recipes for that I've tested but didn't make for the bundle, and a recorded audio/visual meditation to connect more deeply with the plant spirit medicine of Wild Rose
  • behind-the-scenes communication with pictures and sneak peeks into the medicine bundling process
  • an additional surprise gift to use in your Midsummer celebrations and help you connect with the Fire medicine of the season
  • a chance to win the a spot in the Wild Medicine Keepers for the following Wild Medicine Bundle (Lughnasa)

Curious about what might be included in the bundle? Read more here.

On Sacred Smoke

Katie Gordon

The word "sacred" is one we've come to associate with the otherworldly, the special, the non-ordinary. But sacredness is something we can find in each moment, in each embodied experience. From your morning shower to cooking to doing the dishes to the silent prayers you say to whoever may be listening to the afternoon cup of coffee or tea, these are all sacred moments. How do you marry the sacred to the mundane? 

One way I've found is to make things with plants. I've started making some specially crafted herbal smoking + incense blends for the Wild Medicine Bundles. At first, I wasn't sure how popular they'd be. Not everyone's heard of herbal smoking blends. Some people are confused about if there's tobacco or cannabis in them. Why would you want to smoke herbs? So I wanted to give just a quick overview of why you'd want to buy or make herbal smoking blends and what are some of the most common herbs you'll see in them or perhaps even like to use to craft your own.

People have smoked plants throughout history for a variety of reasons including recreational, medicinal, and ceremonial purposes. Different herbs have different effects on the lungs, and smoking them can have a different effect than if you were to take it in a tea or tincture. Even moistening herbs (such as mullein and marshmallow leaf) have a hot/dry effect when they're smoked. Do some research on the energetics of the plants you want to make your smoking blend with. I shouldn't have to say this, but I'm going to anyway:

It's important to make sure the herb(s) you're smoking is safe to inhale.

Here are some of my favorite plants to use in smoking blends: 

Mullein Leaf - A classic lung herb, I use Mullein in tea, tincture, and smoking blends. Mullein is mucilaginous, or moistening, and is wonderful for soothing inflamed, irritated mucous membranes, such as lung tissue. Because of its soothing actions, Mullein actually prevents coughing until the inflammation (or even infection) is improved, and then acts as an expectorant to promote a "productive" cough to actually move any stuck mucous out of the lungs.

Skullcap - A relaxant nerve trophorestorative, basically means it rebuilds the nervous system while relaxing tension, Skullcap doesn't just sedate the nervous system. It actually nourishes and strengthens it. I like Skullcap when I'm feeling stagnant or stuck in that more nervous/excitable/can't-calm-myself-enough-to-actually-relax state.

Spring Rites Smoking + Incense Blend

Spring Rites Smoking + Incense Blend

Marshmallow leaf - Similar to Mullein, Marshmallow leaf is a demulcent and expectorant. The two of them actually make quite a nice pair. What I really love about adding Marshmallow leaf to my blends is how smooth it makes the smoke. My lungs are fairly sensitive and Marshmallow leaf adds body while soothing that hot irritation I often feel when smoking.

Peppermint - In my experience, smoking peppermint can increase circulation and relax the nervous system, as well as clear the lungs and open up the respiratory passages. And even though I said above that the effect on the tissues is hot and dry whenever you burn an herb, there's still that cool pepperminty sensation.

Damiana - Calming and uplifting, Damiana is one of the few things (smoked or consumed) that relieves tension headaches for me. For some people, nervines on the sedative end of the spectrum can actually increase tension. Damiana, while a relaxant, is not a sedative and so it allows energy to move freely through the body rather than suppressing it as many sedative herbs do. By allowing the flow of vital energy and relaxing constriction, we're better able to maintain emotional and physical balance.

Mugwort - Not medicinal per say, Mugwort (my favorite of the Artemesias) is a visionary herb. So, in that way I suppose it can be powerful medicine. Mugwort shows us what we often can't or won't see. When we get in our own way and our vision isn't clear, Mugwort invites us to see more clearly from our heart. When we try to turn a blind eye to what might be outside of our comfort zone, Mugwort firmly yet gently, sometimes in visions, sometimes in dreams coaxes our inner eye open to see what we might otherwise not see.

Don't take my word for any of this. Plant medicine is about cultivating your own relationship with the plants and learning about how you can serve one another. You can check out some of my own blends here, or start crafting your own!

Elder: The Queen of Herbs

Katie Gordon

My life has basically become one giant Wild Medicine Bundle as I've been exploring the energetics and plant medicine of Elderflower. I've been wanting to make magic with these soft, creamy flowers for a long time, but lately, the Elder tree has been calling more loudly than normal. So, I listened. 

Most of us are used to using the berries from the Elder tree for their immune-boosting effects. And while the flowers have some of the same benefits, they felt more mysterious to me. Enigmatic. And so ethereal. 

I first started working with Elder plant medicine last fall when I got an Elderflower essence from Casandra Johns over at House of Hands. She says, "Elderflower opens us to the liminal, crepuscular spaces between waking and dreaming, here and there, life and death." What caught my attention, though, was on the label: A somatic experience of spacious surrender.

Surrender... Something I've been feeling into and trying to understand from deep within my bones to have an embodied sense of it rather than just as an intellectual concept. Surrendering not in the sense of giving up, but in the way of following what you know to be true. Saying yes to your yeses and no to your nos. Acknowledging that when you feel like you're banging your head against the wall, there's probably a better way. Tapping into and being guided by your inner knowing. That kind of surrender.

Elder is strongly associated with the Feminine, which is quite comfortable with surrender, and one with ancient magical symbolism. Many folkloric traditions speak of the Elder tree with fear, with tales of witches, death, and the devil. But if you look deeper, Elder tells the story of beginnings and endings, death and regeneration, and transformation. Elder spirit guards the crossroads, the in-betweens, the thresholds. Death is actually a symbol of rebirth, change, transmutation, and initiation. A shedding of the old to make space for the new. And what a perfect time to invite in the new than at Beltane, when the Elder trees are in flower, when the belfires are burning hot to purge away anything no longer serving who you are at your core. 

What are the herbal energetics of Elderflower?

Elderflower is a relaxing diaphoretic, which means it stimulates persperation and increases peripheral circulation (i.e. circulation throughout your limbs) to not only help cool the body, but also relaxes the exterior. Meaning, if you have a bunch of trapped heat in your center, a relaxing diaphoretic like Elderflower can help release that trapped heat out through your pores. Have you ever noticed that, often, when you're anxious your hands and feet get cold? Me too. Elderflower is one of my favorite herbs for that because rather than simply telling your nervous system to relax, which rarely works for many people, it goes straight to where the tension is held and releases it. Cool, eh?

But one of my favorite ways to work with Elderflower is in skincare. The flowers of the Elder tree are incredibly anti-inflammatory, which leaves us with a BROAD range of medicines to make with it. Infuse it in a carrier oil like Sweet Almond oil for a massage oil for achy, swollen joints or make the oil into a face cream for irritated skin conditions like rosacea or eczema. I've been using Elderflower tea on my scalp and the hydrosol to hydrate my skin (which has a hard time in the in-between of seasonal transitions). 

One thing I emphasize in my work with plants is Right Relationship. Meaning, it's not about what I'm getting from them or what they can do for me. That kind of thinking is short-sighted, and for those of us who are working for a paradigm that is more Whole and holistically healthy, looking to herbs for their health benefits falls flat. Instead, the real medicine comes from spending time with the plants. Listening to their wisdom. Asking questions. Observing how they exist in the world in the most perfect balance, which means ever-evolving. 

Elder has been teaching me about death. About its surrender, its beauty, its space, and about the careful cultivation of life that necessitates death. That the in-between can be (and often is) uncomfortable, sad, frustrating, and confusing. And the waves and contractions that we feel are there to propel us forward and reveal potential. 

If you're curious about working more with Elderflower in all its various facets and forms, the Beltane Wild Medicine Bundle is available until Wednesday, 4/19. After that, it'll go into hibernation until after Beltane. 

If you purchase the bundle by the 19th as a Wild Medicine Keeper, you also get:

  • $10 discount on your bundle
  • E-book with product write-ups, ideas for Beltane rituals, recipes that don't end up being made for bundle products, and a guided journey with Elder
  • Behind-the-scenes emails with photos, bloopers (yes, there are occasionally accidents in the apothecary), and you'll hear from me sharing a bit about my creative process for making the bundles.
  • An opportunity to win a space in the Wild Medicine Keepers for the next Wild Medicine Bundle, a Midsummer celebration!

From Surrender to Transmutation

Katie Gordon

I've been playing with fire. Burning things down. Clearing the space I've been craving so that I'll have the energy, time, bandwidth, and desire to do only what's meaningful, soulful, heartfelt, and necessary. 

What does that mean? 

It means there are about half the number of products in the Apothecary. I chose only the items that I love making, wrapping, and mailing off to you all. The items that bring me JOY to dream up, create, share and talk about. 

It means I'll no longer be doing tarot readings publicly. Yes, I'll still read for friends, myself, and clients who come in for Shamanic Craniosacral Sessions and even some Embodied Yoga Sessions. But I won't be offering one-off tarot readings through my website. 

And...

...it means the Wild Mystic Mentorship has been laid to rest. This was a really difficult decision for me to make. At least it was for my brain. My body and soul had withdrawn their energy from it awhile ago, given me all the signs that I was complete, but my mind couldn't let it go. It said, "There is so much good content here! Just set it up as a self-study course to bring more women into the Wild Mystic Tribe! Why would you NOT keep doing this?"  But one morning last week, I woke up and knew I was ready to let it go. 

What does it feel like when your bodysoul says one thing and your brain says something different?

Tension. Stuckness. Stagnation. Like you're talking yourself in circles. Your heart + gut say one thing and your mind keeps saying, "Yeah, but..."

It feels like banging your head against a wall. An attempt to force something that doesn't work but you don't know why.

Ultimately, it feels like nothing can move forward while you're still staying entangled in a previously woven web that you've outgrown. When I thought about the mentorship itself, it felt like clothes that no longer fit. In the letting-go process, I realized why it can be so scary: we don't know what's next. We're left in that inbetween space of wondering what's coming next. We ask ourselves, "Is anything coming next? What happens if nothing comes? What happens if I'm left with this big empty space and I don't know how to fill it? What if my creativity is gone forever and my connection to Spirit is totally severed and I can never dream up another beautifully sacred, profound space again?" 

So I let myself sit with that for a bit. And I realized something...

That has literally never happened. In my whole life, the Universe has never ever left me hangin'. Well, not for too long anyway. Sometimes we need to hang and be with our Selves long enough to allow the next thing (whatever it happens to be) to bubble up from deep within us.

I don't know yet what that next thing will be. I have some inklings. I've seen some things and had some dreams. So, I know it's coming. And I know whatever comes next will be potent and profound.

So I can surrender.

But this lesson in trusting, waiting, trusting, waiting, and then waiting a little longer and trusting a little more is where the medicine lies for me. Because now comes the gathering of bones, the stirring of the cauldron, integrating, examining, writing, and dancing with the pieces which desire to come through. When I till and tend the fertile soil of my soul and imagination.

I'm in the cocoon. Awaiting the transformation, transmutation, that can be painful and uncomfortable and oh so beautiful.

Lavender: An Old World Medicine

Katie Gordon

I've been busy testing recipes for the Lavender + Labdanum Wild Medicine Bundle, in honor of Imbolc, a festival of Fire and Light. I think I have it narrowed down to the 4 items that'll be included, but in the process of crafting and coming up with new ideas, I realized Lavender is a plant that seems to be both overlooked in favor of "sexier" herbs and simultaneously still serves as a go-to for so many issues from stress and depression, burns, wounds, and skin conditions to difficult labor, fevers, and digestive difficulties. Lavender has been widely used for thousands of years from the early Romans luxuriating in lavender baths, early apothecaries preparing freshly distilled lavender for their eau de Cologne, until now, when most of us have a bottle of lavender essential oil in our medicine cabinet or a lavender candle next to the bed. 

To me, that says there's something not only timeless about Lavender, but something that speaks to us as humans on a primal, physiological and psychological level. Something about this ancient plant that heals us in ways we perhaps don't understand, but still feel drawn to. Like we know there's something there for us without knowing what that thing is. After spending time researching Lavender from a standpoint of aromatherapy, herbal energetics, and Chinese medicine meridian theory, I still don't know. But I know a bit more about Lavender, "The Oil of Paradox and Renewal," according to Peter Holmes, my Aroma Acupoint Therapy teacher. 

I love paradoxes. Seeming opposites are bridged by something often subtle yet powerful. Paradoxes force us to wonder how two things can exist in one space that are so vastly and completely different. This reconciliation of opposites seems to me to be a place of profound medicine. Lavender guides us into those places of profound medicine. 

Imperial Gem Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Imperial Gem Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lots of people use Lavender for stress, so let's look at that as an example. There's such thing as productive stress and unproductive stress. Productive stress is a normal part of life. You need to be alert and on-watch when you're driving. If you were feeling completely and utterly relaxed, it probably wouldn't be safe for yourself or those around you. However, the stress you feel when you can't sleep because you're thinking about all the things you need to do and your mind jumps from one catastrophe to another, and then you get stressed out that you're stressed out and can't sleep, which only serves to keep you from sleeping even more? That's unproductive stress. It can stem from either the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. That kind of stress leads to, among other things, nervous tension, pain, irritability, feeling mentally distracted or unfocused, muscle spasms and cramps, heart palpitations, etc. Symptoms associated with being chronically in the fight-or-flight response. 

Lavender selectively inhibits certain sympathetic OR parasympathetic nervous system functions that cause those symptoms because it works with with the individual's constitution, so the body responds to the plant according to what it needs. Because Lavender works adaptively like this to modulate the nervous system, it doesn't interfere with the good/productive stress, which is a normal part of functioning in life.

Here's an example of Lavender's paradoxical power:

Let's say that habitual behavior or addictions, feeling stuck in a rut, repeating unhealthy or unproductive patterns, is on one end of the spectrum. On the other end of that spectrum is an acute crisis or spontaneous, sudden change such as an accident or trauma, surgery, family crisis, or the stress that comes with giving up an addiction (completely new patterns and behaviors that seem to us to come on suddenly). Lavender can help us both to move OUT of old, stuck patterns, promoting renewal and opening us to new possibilities, while also helping us to accept painful situations or the fear that comes along with sudden change and crisis.

Another place we see Lavender's paradoxical and harmonizing effects is how it can exert either a heating or a cooling effect on the body according to the needs of the person. For a person with a hot condition (fever, inflammation, often acute), Lavender would have a cooling, sedating, and anti-inflammatory effect. On the other hand, for someone with a more chronic cold condition (chills, exhaustion, cold hands and feet), Lavender would act as a stimulant, generating heat and activity in their system. 

Lastly, let's look at the energetics of Lavender for a few more clues to understanding its nature and effects. The Lavender shrub grows best in a hot, dry climate with a thin layer of rocky, well-draining topsoil. Lavender, tempered by these elements of Earth and Fire, expresses this rugged strength by reconciling contradictions. Just like we touched on above. Unproductive and productive stress. Habitual patterns and crisis. 

However, here we go with another contradiction, as far as fragrance classification goes, the scent of Lavender is largely considered to be the water element - cool, soft, fluid, sweet. It has harmonizing, calming, and refreshing properties, making it a plant of renewal through water as well as strength through fire. True transformation.

And if we look at the name, Lavender derives from the Latin lavare, meaning to wash. So, yes Lavender was used in and associated with bath houses, but the washing it really refers to takes place on the mind/body/spirit level, allowing the psyche to open up, and the heart to soften.

If you need some Lavender in your life, it's featured in the Imbolc Wild Medicine Bundle - crafted with Lavender, Labdanum (an ancient oil used in medicine and ceremony), and a bit of Clary Sage in honor of the Celtic goddess Brigid. Learn more or purchase yours here. They're available until tomorrow and then they're gone!

Labdanum: ancient medicine + sacred perfume

Katie Gordon

Labdanum is one of those scents that has been haunting me for the last couple months. It had come as a sample with an order of essential oils. As soon as I opened the tiny bottle it came in, I was transported to an ancient temple, surrounded by sacred smoke curling up from ritual censers. It smelled both familiar and foreign at the same time, as if it was waking up memories from long ago held in my bones rather than in my brain.

censer.jpg

Something about Labdanum ignited a new curiosity about botanical perfumes, which I'm already enamored with, but this was different. It was almost as if this oleoresin brought a piece of me to the surface that had long ago been buried and forgotten. 

So I started getting curious about Labdanum.

What is it? What plant is it distilled from?

Labdanum, not to be confused with Laudanum (a tincture of opium), is a dark, stick, brown resin that comes from a couple species of the shrubs in the Cistus genus, otherwise known as Rock Rose. These beautiful + aromatic members of the Cistaceae family grow primarily in temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin. 

Labdanum has an ancient history of being used in various cultures from Hebrew, Assyrian, Arabic, and Greek traditions. Egyptians used it in their Kyphi mixtures and it's even referenced in the Bible as the Balm of Gilead. It's said the Ishmaelite caravan coming from Gilead to which Joseph was sold, was transporting labdanum.

Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. - Genesis 37:25

It's believed the "myrrh" in this verse actually refers to a mixture of Myrrh resin and the resin of Rock Rose.

Similarly, the combination of Myrrh resin and Labdanum oleoresin has been documented as a food supplement to support the immune system, protecting against bacteria and fungi. Even Hippocrates prescribed it for sores, and the Romans used it to treat worms, the common cold and cough, and various infections. 

The fragrance itself is incredibly complex with balsam-like notes, with hints of oakmoss, leather, amber, smoke, and plum. Earthy, green, and woody. It's said that this complexity is one of the reason for Labdanum's strong affect on the subconscious with its grounding, warming, and sensual aromatherapeutic actions. 

Labdanum mixes beautifully with Lavender, a combination featured in the Imbolc Wild Medicine Bundle, as well as other green and earthy fragrances.

 

Shadow-walking: An exercise in trust

Katie Gordon

I've been writing again. In part because I love it (and sometimes hate it) and in part because I've realized when I give voice to the shadows within, I also give voice to the light. Words are the most fundamental way I expose myself. Which is, of course, why it often feels terrifying. But my jaw has been aching. Dark, earthy, serpentine Lilith has been feeling snarly and demanding to be heard. So I sat down this morning, and this is what came out...

Photo credit unknown

Photo credit unknown

Cracking open is beautiful and painful. I've been doing my best to be with and witness it all. To really examine my triggers and emotions from a heart-centered, soft place because that is the only way I know of to reclaim disowned pieces of my Self. To see my critical thoughts as simply that: thoughts. Not identities. Not truths. More as questions. To see my shadows as just another aspect of my human experience. Not something to fix or heal or change. But to sit with and listen to.

And what is it to really sit with my shadows rather than avoid, fight, argue with, condemn, change, or ignore them? What does it feel like in my body? Because I know intimately what it feels like to ignore them. Even to tell them to fuck off. It feels like deep, seething anger. Like tension in my neck, jaw, and the back of my heart. It feels like bone-deep hurt. 

But inviting them in? It feels like a soft wave of grief that comes in, floods my being, and then subsides. Like the tide. It feels like tender vulnerability, those moments that hurt until I can share it and share my darkness out loud with someone and hear them tell me they love me FOR that darkness and not in spite of it. 

Roberto Ferri

Roberto Ferri

A dear friend, soul sister and fellow wild mystic articulated a truth to me. That we can't make ourselves heal or be ready to heal or force things to come up to be healed when we want them to. They come when they have space. Often spontaneously. Unexpected. We can tell those shadows and ourselves all we want that we're ready and willing to do the work. But I really see more and more that it's not up to us (our egos). It comes when our soul is ready. When we've actually done the ground work, the gritty hard stuff. When we've prepared the earth of our bodies and hearts, and the soil of our psyche is fertile for the healing and opening to occur. Our minds don't get to decide. 

And so I've just been sitting with the questions. The feelings. The fear of, "after I've sat with and felt it, then what?" The unknown. The thing most of us are afraid of. That we won't know what to do next or how to clear what comes up when we ask the questions. One word keeps coming up over and over again when I ask the questions. 

Trust.

Trust that the healing happens when we ARE open. Trust that the words and answers come when they're needed and when they're ready. Trust that it's not all for nothing. Trust that our bodies and hearts DO heal. That our highest expression of humanness and soulful embodiment in this earth body is as a healed, whole person. Trust that if I keep digging deeper, uncovering more and more of my own wounds and allowing them to be exposed and held and loved that I'll eventually reach my answers and that I won't just keep uncovering hurts, but that I'll uncover treasures and light and divine grace within. 

This trust is guiding me in reclaiming my shadows, those beautifully hidden and rejected parts of me. Those parts I see mirrored in those around me. The most challenging relationships and the deepest emotional triggers. The sensations that flash for just a moment before I used to shove them back down. What would it be like to let them be seen for just a moment longer? And then another moment? And another? My breath tethering me to this world while I explore my own inner Underworld? It feels like a cracking open. As if all the armor, all of the scars are breaking apart and falling away and I'm being revealed.

W I L D R O S E: Behind the Veil

Katie Gordon

My journey with Wild Rose has been one of deep trust, discernment, and acceptance. Not the “I guess this works for me” kind of acceptance, but the kind of acceptance that makes you say, “Oh. Right. I get it now.” The kind of acceptance that allows you to sink deeper into your physical and emotional body with gratitude for the journey and the love that has perhaps left us bruised and bleeding, bowing deeply to the light and shadow teachers on our way.

She’s been one of those friends you realize has been with you all along, in the most subtle ways. A spirit that has reflected to me my grace, strength, and delicate power in the moments I needed reminding. Rose keeps opening my heart to trust: myself, my voice, the rhythm of the universe, and the unfolding of it all. Wise in her ways of boundaries, compassionate in her full, open, clear, strong heart.

So the other day, I wandered off into the woods to commune with her. Along the McKenzie, they’re just now barely in bloom. Walking along a tree-covered path near my favorite bridge, to my left I see a hollowed out tree that looks like one I used to imagine as a kid to be a portal to the land of the fae. Behind the tree is a steep hill, and at the top of the hill, I see the Sun just poking through. A voice from somewhere deep in my roots says, “We’re going up there.”

I’ve never felt so clear in my footsteps and strong in my legs. Knowing full well I’m on the right path. But to what? I have no idea. As I get to the top and look around, there’s Wild Rose everywhere. And interspersed with the Wild Rose is Yarrow, another of my favorite plant spirits.  Just hangin’ out together.

wild rose.jpg

You know that feeling you get when you’re in a strange or foreign place, a bit disoriented, when all of a sudden you see something familiar and you immediately feel pulled back into your body? I think for most of my life, I’ve felt like I’m in a foreign place that I don’t understand, and don’t understand why I’m even here when nothing that “normal people” aka muggles do makes much sense to me. So when I stepped into that sunny patch of an otherwise rainy forest to be met by these two, I sat down to listen. And in her typically soft yet grounded, wise way, Rose says…

Hold space for trust. Slow down. Like, way the fuck down. Feel into your rhythm. Your time. How does your body and soul want to move? What does She want to do? Or not do? How can you love yourself more wholly?

And I realize: This connection is beyond me. This is more than Katie. This relationship is ancient. We have known one another through lifetimes.

Trust and all will be revealed.

Allow yourself to be held.
By the Earth,
by other awake souls,
in the vibration of love.

You don’t need to allow in fear, hate, or judgement.

{She says…}

Hold your space from a place of trust & compassion.
There’s nothing to prove.
Nothing to do.

Let your soul speak to & through you.

Trust yourself, your feelings.
No, they’re not permanent,
but they are
revelatory & real.

Listen.

Trust.

Wait, if you need to.

When have those whispers been wrong?

In honor of Wild Rose, in honor of deep self-trust, the Midsummer Wild Medicine Bundle will be crafted with the intention of bringing you into communion with the beating of your own inner wild heart and the whispers rising up from within. Wrapped in gold in honor of the Sun at its highest point of the year, these packages will be sent out in time for you to play with during your Midsummer night revelry.

Blessings of the Wild,
Katie

The Belfire burns hot...

Katie Gordon

Can you feel the fire building, dear Wild One? The Sun + Moon have both entered Aries, the first fire sign of the year, and it's revealing new aspects of our Selves we either haven't seen before, or have long since been forgotten. The element of Fire is that which burns away the "impurities', the old patterns, identities, and stories which no longer serve this new version of ourselves that was birthed at the Spring Equinox. 

image from Pinterest

image from Pinterest

In the last month I've been in transition. Not only in physical transition (I've now moved twice), but even more profoundly, transitions in relation to relating. Who I choose to be relating to and how. How I relate to myself. How I actively choose to speak and love. I've been choosing out of living and relating situations that aren't in alignment anymore. Yes, transition is scary. AND it's often where we discover our hidden power. We discover facets of ourselves, beautiful, mysterious + brilliant, that we'd never known before. And we learn to fall in love. We learn about the sacred marriage within each of us that joins our own masculine and feminine and reveals our wholeness. 

art by Susan Seddon Boulet

art by Susan Seddon Boulet

At it's core, Beltane is about unity and how fire, in its myriad manifestations, burns away (often not so gently) the stuff that keeps us from union/communion with our Selves. I've been sinking into my soft, powerful, vulnerable, open heart to more deeply honor the sacred inner marriage contained within her, and this Beltane Wild Medicine Bundle is an invitation for you to do the same. Hawthorn, Elder, and Vanilla teach us about the relationship between heart, our inner fire, and the process of stepping further into our own light.*

A friend sent me this poem the other day, and it seems appropriate for this time of fiery transformation.

Bones and Flowers

There is something
flowing inside of you,
growing, rooting from your bones.

I know you do not know what it is.
Neither do I,
but I know there is something there

It is fucking beautiful.
It does not leave you alone.
It follows you, trailing
behind you like a comet.

Burning and stretching.
Lighting the sky, haunting it.

I can see you in the darkness.
I can see it moving.

No matter how far you go.
It is there.

Do not fear the things inside you, my love.

It is beyond the dirt.

Bloom like the flower
you were born to be.
- Robert M. Drake


From my Wild Heart to Yours,
Katie

*While available to purchase until April 20, it will sell out, so I suggest getting it sooner rather than later.

3 Skin Rituals for Spring

Katie Gordon

Spring is a weird time for my skin. It feels as if a layer is being shed, like a snake sloughs off its skin, each year in the spring and again in the fall. It's a time of transition, sort of the inbetween. In the spring, our body's naturally want to purify and clear out old sludge, which it does partially through the skin. So it's important to be supporting that purification process by doing things like drinking lots of water and incorporating more greens into your meals. Herb-infused vinegars are a fun way of moving liver qi and also getting liver-loving herbs like nettle, sage, and rosemary into your diet. You can use them to make homemade salad dressings, add them to soup/broth, or make it into a sweet + sour sparkly beverage by adding sparkling water and fruit juice. 

But, I always love trying out new homemade skin care products and routines. And I believe in skin care as a ritual. So here are 3 ways to help your skin make a smooth transition from winter to spring this year:

  • Wash with Honey - That's it. Spoon a nickel size of honey into your hands, warm it up a bit by rubbing your hands together, and spread it over your face in light circles. If you want to get really fancy and add another purifying element to your skin care ritual, you could add a bit of fine sea salt (not course sea salt!) to your honey for a bit of exfoliation. 
  • Wakame + Aloe Vera Facial Mist - Seaweed (like Wakame) is wonderfully moistening and nourishing to the skin. That tissue that's trying to emerge from under the snake skin is going to love the combination of sea vegetables and aloe. To make this, put a bit of wakame in a jar and cover it with rose water or any hydrosol. Let it sit for a day or so (or even an hour) strain it, and add a bit of Aloe Vera Gel. Side note: I use about 3:1 hydrosol to aloe ratio. Seaweed smells a little...oceanic. So you may want to add a few drops of a skin-soothing essential oil such as lavender. Mist over your honey-cleansed face, allowing the seaweed and aloe to soak in. 
  • Make your own facial oil - I think people get a little overwhelmed when trying to decide what carrier oils to use, how much of each ingredient, what's right for your skin type, etc. This time of year, I like to use lighter carrier oils so my skin can breathe. I suggest equal parts of jojoba and grapeseed oils, with a half part of argan oil. You can leave it at that, or add a few drops each of rose, lavender, helichrysum, and vetiver essential oils. Shake it up in your dropper bottle, and you've got yourself a pretty dang good facial oil. Now, part of the ritual is actually making your facial oil because creating = magic! But if you can't be bothered with making your own, (hey no judgments here, we all have stuff to do), I've been using the Luna Face Serum No. 2 and my skin's been loving it!

Pandora in Leo

Katie Gordon

Artist: Odilon Redon ca. 1914

Artist: Odilon Redon ca. 1914

I am Pandora. 
I tried closing the jar once it was open,
but couldn't. 
I can't take it back,
and don't want to.
And, I wouldn't even if I could.

Those ills are gifts to humanity.
That darkness brings wisdom, deep love, 
compassion,
grief,
ecstasy,
joy,
art,
such beauty.

That box of darkness
gifts us with the full spectrum
of what it means to be human.
Blood, love, desire, soul, fate.

Darkness is our life blood.

Fuck all you thought you knew.
Fuck your comfort, your togetherness, your perfection.
Fuck your purity, expectations, assumptions. 

Your Clear Heart matters.
Your authentic, messy voice matters.

Listen to Your Voice.
That of Soul, of Earth.
The voice of Red.

The Call of the Wild Soul

Katie Gordon

Our inner Wild is the place in us that's untouched by trauma. 
photo courtesy of Rebelle Society

photo courtesy of Rebelle Society

Over the last few weeks I've been busily soul-storming, writing, and creating the container for Embodied Creative Self Expression: The Heroine's Journey with my wild mystic partner in crime Lindsey O'Neill. And the deeper we get into the whole process, the more I'm waking up to the fact that so many of us experience the call to soul, the call to descend and embark upon the Heroine's Journey, but don't realize that we're being called. We think we're experiencing depression, intense emotional or energetic upheaval, random accidents, traumatic events, but we don't see that it's actually a wake up call from our soul to pay attention and direct our awareness to something vital to the alchemical transformation of our Selves. So let's explore that initial call, that imperative from within, that ignites and inspires us to seek deeper connection and meaning in our human experience.

The Heroine's Journey is a deep dive exploration and transmutation of the unconscious and the forces at work within that affect the without. It's a process that some of us may embark upon multiple times in a single lifetime because we seek to wander through our inner landscapes and uncover the mysteries that are held  within our bodysoul. And each time we think we unlock something about those mysteries, we realize there are ever-deepening layers to explore.

And why do we embark upon this journey? Because we're called by a voice that we, perhaps, just barely recognize as our own. It comes from that part of ourselves that is ancient, timeless. The one that's already begun this work, walked some of these paths, and now calls on you to continue. 

The call to initiation can come in infinite ways. Depression, addiction, a sense that there HAS to be more, an accident or illness, a deep knowing that the answers you seek from life won't come from your current situation and experience. The call might come from a recurring theme in your dreams.

It rises up from deep within your bones, your blood, the midline of your subtle body to wake you up to the fact that while this may feel really scary to you, your ego, your personality, your Soul knows it's time and that you're ready. And then the Underworld opens up to you, and you leave the home you've so carefully crafted throughout your life thus far. And it feels like an unraveling, like a very particular kind of death. You know just by heeding the call, you're certain to encounter shadows, deep wounds, and then, the treasure buried deep within.

Do we have a choice in heeding this call? If so, why say yes? This is a journey of reclamation. This is the way we witness, honor, and integrate all of those contradictory aspects of ourselves that seem like they can't exist side by side, and yet they do! The underworld journey is the way we allow, surrender to, and create a container for all of those pieces of ourselves that seem incongruent but actually guide us right into our very core. 

To say yes also means embracing the masculine and feminine within each of us and understanding that it is this sacred marriage that leads to our wholeness.

And of course, we have allies along our journey. Animal totems, spirit guides, archetypal patterns, teachers who have gone before, sacred space to reconnect and come home to ourselves, creative processes, embodiment practices, forest to remind us of our place in the grander scheme of things, ocean to remind us of the water we come from. 

Why do we sometimes say no? Why do we ignore the treasure we instinctively know is buried within us? Because if we dig it up and acknowledge its existence, we'd have to make different choices. Our lives would change drastically. We'd have to be more discerning and create new boundaries. Relationships would quickly unravel. Our former identity would cease to exist. And that's really fucking scary! And we'd also come face to face with our Self. That part of us that is infinite and whole and deeply connected with all that is life.

Are you ready to heed the call? To reclaim your Soul's voice and reconnect with your sacred self-expression? Join us as we embark on the Heroine's Journey toward Embodied Creative Self Expression for 9 weeks beginning on February 23!

New Year :: the emergence of Light from Dark

Katie Gordon

This winter has been a time of deep introspection, exploration, and surrender for many of us. Becoming more acutely aware of old patterns, perspectives, and projections that no longer serve, and actually detract from, the path of Soul. One particularly powerful lesson of the last month for me has been in giving myself full permission to feel exactly what I'm feeling. Not trying to change, alter, redirect, invalidate or discount anything that comes up. And I'm noticing when I really allow myself to feel the full weight, it often shifts quite quickly. Not always, but often.

I used to deeply fear feeling the full heaviness, sadness, and darkness of whatever I was feeling because I worried I'd just keep sinking in. That it would never end unless I pulled myself out. That I would end up BEING whatever emotion it happened to be forever. This seems to be encouraged in many of our modern therapies. Reframing, redirecting, changing perspective, etc. Which I see the value in. But that approach also takes away so much power from our own souls in the way our inner Self teaches us sooooooooooo much via our feelings and our bodypsyche. 

What would it be like to love yourself so deeply and unconditionally, that you gave yourself full permission to feel and be with yourself in whatever feeling state happened to be showing up in the moment? What would that feel like? 

This time of year is full of words like "intentions," "resolutions," and "new beginnings." But as Marion Woodman writes in Dancing in the Flames"Intentionality in itself does not lead to an enlightened heart. It is better thought of as a way of giving meaning to experience. It is open to both conscious and unconscious information." Meaning, we need to be open to what is trying to come forth from our experience of life and not live by sheer power of will, which can often end up blocking what the unconscious is attempting to bring forth. There is an aspect of surrender in setting intentions for the year ahead. Surrendering to the deeper dimensions of our experience, surrendering to our dreams, to that which our souls are stretching toward.

Lavender Mint Body Butter

Katie Gordon

Last weekend I got to hawk my wares for the first time ever (!!!) at Portland Plant Medicine Gathering. It was one of the best experiences I've had in owning a business, and it made me realize how much easier it is for me to simply sell my products online, either through Etsy or my own website, than it is to actually have to stand up in front of people all day and talk about what I do and why. But I loved it! Getting to see HOW people experience the things you've put so much love, time, and energy into crafting is one of the best things ever. Knowing that people deeply resonate with your art, in whatever form that art takes, is what keeps us creating and doing the work we feel compelled to do. 

Photo credit: HerbRally

Photo credit: HerbRally

One thing I got great feedback about was my body butter. People actually asked if I ever take on apprentices to teach how to make body care. (I don't. But if you're interested, live in the area, and don't mind being paid in tea and good, albeit sometimes sarcastic, company, feel free to shoot me an email ;) ) I will, however, share my body butter recipe! I don't actually sell this particular scent, although maybe I will now, but it's one of my favorite essential oil blends. This is, however, the base that I use for all my body butters, sometimes mixing and matching various butter and oil combinations.

Lavender Mint Body Butter

1/4 c. Shea Butter
1/4 c. Mango Butter
1/2 c. Sunflower or Almond Oil
A few drops of Vitamin E Oil
30 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
30 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil 
Optional, few drops of Vetiver Essential Oil - because it's rooty and cooling and wonderful

As a side note, this is just my method. It's a bit of a process, but one for which I very much enjoy setting aside the time. 

Begin by melting the butters and oil together in a double boiler over low heat. Once completely melted, put the bowl in the fridge and let it cool until it becomes mostly solid (at least one hour). Shea butter crystallizes if it doesn't cool quickly enough, which is why sometimes DIY body butters feel a little gritty. Cooling it in the fridge will keep this from happening.  

Once solid, take it out of the fridge and let it come back to room temperature. Add your essential oils and vitamin E oil. Then use a hand mixer to whip everything together for a minute or so, just until it's smooth and the oils are all mixed in. Since we waited for the mixture to come back to room temperature, it'll be much easier to spoon into your jar. This will make about two 4 oz. or one 8 oz. jar of body butter. 

Keep in mind, a little goes a long way. I like using body butters right after a bath or shower so that it can really soak in. Enjoy!

The benefits of being lost

Katie Gordon

In surrendering to being lost, you discover that not only do you not know how to get where you wanted to go, you also are no longer sure of the soul-level rightness of that goal. You’re able to be chosen by new standards that come not from other people or your old identity but from the depths of your soul. You’re attentive to a new and much larger guidance system.

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