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Journal

Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Category: Whispers of my soul

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 My body and soul had withdrawn their energy from it awhile ago, given me all the signs that I was complete, but my mind couldn't let it go.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.

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.

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.

Paws

Katie Gordon

I've been craving the wild, deep forest.
Past the edge,
the point where you question continuing on.
The point when you begin to feel deeply the beat of your heart...
in rhythm with your feet.
Your feet turn to paws.
Ears prick up.
The outer sensory layer of your body softens to take. in. everything.
Through the threshold of maybe, potentially turning back.
Deeper and deeper until you are safe once again because you are at home.
At center.
At core.
And you find your howl once again.
Your body hasn't forgotten how to move, run, hunt.
You just had to re-member. To come back home.
Return.

An embodied look at addiction

Katie Gordon

The other day I was having a coffee date via Skype with a close friend who is also a soul sister/mentor/mystic. She has a knack for truth-telling in a most compassionate & loving way to which I can only aspire. We were talking about relationships, in particular the patterns and lessons you learn about yourself within each relationship. How much potential there is for growth within love and how intense, heart wrenching, and amazing it all is. And then she pointed out to me (again, very nonjudgmentally) my pattern of running in relationships. Or more accurately, running out of them. Since a large part of the work I've been diving into lately, what Bill Plotkin refers to as "Soulcraft," is recognizing old patterns in thought and behavior, relinquishing old identities, and giving up addictions, her observation struck me as something that obviously required my attention.

In his book Soulcraft, Plotkin dedicates a lot of time to the topic of patterns, why we have the ones we do, how they developed, why they were necessary at one point in our life, and why it's imperative that we untangle ourselves from them once we've accepted our journey of descent into soul. Addiction is one form of pattern, something we ALL fall into, whether it's addiction to a substance, food, shopping, sex, Facebook, checking our email 8000x a day, etc. And of course there are countless theories of WHY we develop certain addictions and how to treat them. I'm not even gonna go there today. It's Plotkin's opinion that many times, addictions are either attempts at self-initiation, because basically here in our western, non-nature-based society we no longer have cultural rites of initiation built into our education, OR an addiction is a distraction, a way we have of numbing ourselves because we feel unfulfilled, unsatisfied, trapped, claustrophobic, and we deeply know we're meant to do more in our lives than we're currently doing.

In my experience, and in my opinion, it's often a bit of both. I've distracted myself from fully feeling uncomfortable or intense feelings, from fully acknowledging that I'm feeling those uncomfortable and intense feelings, and then feeling guilty for not acknowledging or feeling those uncomfortable and intense feelings. (P.S. that's a lot of energy moving around without being released. It's best not to do it that way.)

I've also acknowledged that my journey into anorexia and bulimia was absolutely an attempt at self-initiation. Pushing my physical body to its limit, approaching that breaking point when it couldn't take anymore, allowing myself to almost physically and metaphorically disappear, diving deeply into that shadow side of my psyche that didn't feel valuable, loved, seen, or heard. Of course at the time I didn't know that's what I was trying to do, but at some level, I did know the reasons behind all of those behaviors were much deeper than body image and self-esteem issues. Something in me was seeking answers, meaning, and explanations of deeply rooted feelings and my purpose for being here on this Earth.

Anyway, back to my "running" story...

When my friend said that I realized I DO run many times a situation begins to feel out of my control or I don't see a pleasant way out. I have (had) an addiction to running. It was a deeply engrained pattern. Of course often the way out is working it THROUGH, which I also wasn't a huge fan of doing. However, being in a committed and healthy relationship now, one that I want to show up in and not run from, means having to wade through the unpleasant feelings that arise, the disagreements that occur, and the feelings that surface as a result. Not always fun, folks. Some of my ugliest shadows have shown themselves. Each time I feel like hiding, running, or otherwise pretending the discomfort and intensity isn't happening, I see that pattern in myself. I see my need for things to be comfortable and if they're not, to make them better by smoothing it over, even when it's not for the best of the relationship. I know whatever's coming up is at least partly a call to sit and feel, hear, see, and know my own soul deeper. And then it's a call to act in alignment with my soul.

"Be still and know..." - Psalm 46:10

Here's one thing I know for sure. When we can sit through all that intensity that exists within our own wounds, we see that's where our greatest opportunities for growth and brilliance lie. We can witness our own sacredness. We can act from our deepest truth rather than from an old, outgrown identity. We can allow those parts of us to die.

What are your favorite addictions? I invite you to consider seeing them as stemming from an attempt at awakening/stimulating ourselves out of what we've come to see as ordinary reality. Out of our everyday lives. Our small selves. Perhaps acknowledge them as your soul's call to initiation to a deeper level of consciousness, opening us up to a new layer of being seen, heard, or felt.

Evolving yoga & the bodysoul

Katie Gordon

A friend and I were walking and talking the other day about how, as teachers, both our yoga practice and the way we approach teaching has evolved. I came to yoga during college after leaving ballet. I had struggled with bulimia and anorexia for years, but even more than that, I felt mentally, emotionally, and physically rigid. I was stuck in this foreign body that I had numbed and quieted for so long, I no longer knew how to hear the voice of my soul or feel my physical body enough to even know when something was wrong. So I stumbled/dragged myself into a yoga studio around the corner from my apartment in Boston's Back Bay, started teaching awhile later, and discovered a world I saw as completely opposite from my rigid, extreme, self-loathing reality. And unlike the pain and exhaustion of ballet, I had found something that made me feel literally high afterward. Plus it's healthy (both physically and mentally), it's great exercise (they don't call it a yoga butt for nothing), and I felt good about myself as a person, justified in my somewhat-self-righteous approach to the yoga-raw food-vegan-sattvic-clean-eating lifestyle because I'm doing something "of value" and teaching people how to feel better, right? Now I see all I had done was carry that same rigidity, the same self-imposed rules into a new setting.

And then I got disillusioned with the whole thing. I got bored. I got injured. I wasn't down with paying $100 for a pair of yoga pants. I got tired of feeling burnt out after teaching SO much and struggling to pay my bills. Seriously, if you want to be a "successful" yoga teacher (and they're out there!) you gotta hustle. You gotta have passion. And I didn't. My body hurt, I could barely make rent, I didn't even have the time or energy or desire to maintain my own practice. So I said f*ck this.

I gave up trying to survive by teaching and I got a "real job." You know the whole work 9-5, wear "professional" clothes, get a paycheck every 2 weeks, have health insurance, work in an office kinda job. This was that stage in my practice when I was so happy to NOT stress out about money/survival/my-family-thinks-I'm-a-total-failure that you'll do anything for this new job. And don't get me wrong, the company I worked for is GREAT! They treat their employees better than any I've seen. The people there are wonderful. But my connection to my wild soul was fading. And my physical body was like, "How can you possibly have a job where you're sitting at a computer all day??!! Have I taught you nothing??"

During this time my practice taught me to slow down. Because of injuries, I couldn't do everything I used to be able to do. I had to be super mindful, take my time, and listen to my body in a way I never have. I felt like because I no longer had to depend on yoga to make a living, I could make it all about me. What I needed, wanted, craved in terms of movement. How my bodysoul needed to manifest herself. And through that work, it became increasingly clear that, even though I was comfortable & happy enough, I wasn't living my full truth or my soul's purpose in the world.

So when the opportunity arrived, I left. I moved to the Pacific Northwest, where I'd wanted to live since I was a kid (after watching The Goonies. Because pirate caves.) and where I could focus solely on my little business. And since Wild Grace is an extension of me, it became VERY clear that to have an abundant business, I needed to cultivate a healthier mind-body-soul connection. For me, even though I hated to admit it for awhile, the way in to that connection was through my yoga practice. It forced me to sit, breathe, be, and listen. It showed me how to deeply honor my body when I was practicing honestly and from a place of love for myself.

As I was preparing to teach a demo class in my new home town, I realized my yoga practice and what it meant to me had changed because my relationship with my body had changed. Because of the way I used to practice, always pushing myself, forcing myself further into poses, to keep going even if practicing didn't feel good or if I was hurt, my body had finally had enough and my practice HAD to change.

You're probably thinking, "Well, duh!" But really, I could finally see clearly how the way I felt in my body, the way I surrendered to my body, the way I saw it, felt it, heard it. The way I allowed it space. The way I honored the open spaces and the tense, closed, traumatized spaces had shifted in each stage of both my ego & soul growth. And because of that I was finally allowing my body to evolve rather than stay within a "safe" range of weight and shape. I was allowing my soul to expand, to be her brilliant & bright self. Where there was once a major disconnect between my soul's desire for compassion and self-love and my mind's need for some semblance of control, now there's just (for the most part) quiet, space, and a deep honoring of the way it sometimes all has to play out so that we can actually learn how to get out of our own way and meaningfully make something of ourselves.

And so I guess when you can finally let go of your opinion of the yoga industry, your fear of not being "good enough," the constant need to compare yourself as a teacher and student, and the competition for classes, all that's left is your relationship to your body (physical and energetic) and the practice of showing up each day to be with yourself.

discernment + divine feminine

Katie Gordon

Last night I had a dream that I was helping a female mentor (who doesn't exist in "real life"...only in dreamland) pack her magical workshop. At first, as I was going through her things, I was asking her what I should throw away and what I should keep, picking up random objects, some of which I recognized, some I didn't. But as time went on, I intuitively knew what I could toss and what was important for her to keep and take with her into her new space (wherever that was). Of course I woke up and thought, "uhh...WTF??"

Who's this lady? Why's she throwing away all this great stuff? Why does she have purple hair? And why does she look vaguely familiar? Like an older version of...me?!!

As a side note, my dreams are typically VERY reflective of what's going on in my conscious reality, whether or not I want to acknowledge the situation or not. And this one felt important, deep in my bones. The feeling of building trust in myself, rather than looking outside of myself to an external source of wisdom to discern what to keep and what to toss, was what stuck with me the most.

The last couple years have been full of powerful lessons for me, but the most profound has been that of DISCERNMENT.

Who and what do I allow into my space? And why? With what intention am I acting? How can I give myself more room for conscious connection with the people, places, things in my life?

Now, as I make pretty huge decisions in the realm of creating and nourishing conscious relationships, where I'm going to live, who I'm going to spend my life with, what I'm going to do to support myself, how I align my actions with my soul (you know, little things like that), I see why this woman showed up last night.

What do I need to take with me into this next stage of my journey? What needs to be seen, acknowledged, and released? With which old stories identities, patterns, even words do I feel complete?

What has been healed enough to be able to know in my soul that I know I can thank those teachers and move on having absorbed and integrated that wisdom, knowing that I'm authentically EMBODYING my soul?

Apparently a lot...

...or at least enough.

Recently, I've been working around the energy of the Divine Feminine, how to embody my own femininity, what that means amidst the trend of New-Agey, awaken-your-inner-goddess spirituality that tends to label one thing as the right way to be "feminine." I often felt like there was something wrong with ME because so many aspects of the "return of the Goddess" movement and feminism in general that didn't resonate with me. It felt forced, inauthentic, even, energetically, masculine.

I've felt the need to create my own idea of the Her, of what it means to be divinely feminine. And realized, there are as many expressions of Her as there are women (and men) in the world! Our souls express themselves in countless ways, and to categorize ONE thing as feminine seems to me to come from a wounded place within the human psyche. It separates us from our actual feminine soul and creates rigidity, a false construct in which we think we need to fit ourselves.

To me, this dream meant my own feminine soul, my innate ability to intuit, discern, separate the gold from the raw material, absorb what I need and discard (or even destroy) the rest, make decisions that feel in alignment with my soul's purpose, is not only feeling quite confident to be seen and heard, but beginning to integrate with my physical, dreaming body.

YESSSS!!!

Obviously the work is never done (which is one thing I love about being human) but to receive the message that I'm on the right track, I've done enough work to still have the physical feeling of holding something in my hand and knowing "I definitely don't need this where I'm going" deserves a self-high-five.

Realizing that spirituality is NOT the same thing as living from my soul and can often rob us of our capacity to express our femininity, which is innately divine, has given me the room to ask, "What feels spiritual or feminine for me to do today?" Every. Day. So many different answers, so many reflections in just my own life of the feminine. I can't even imagine how many expressions there are if we'd all give ourselves the space to be with that question.

My Soul Speaks of Rewilding

Katie Gordon

20140824-131602.jpg

Wild Grace is shifting, shedding, growing, playing, and experiencing a lot. In contrast to the typical summer energetics of expansion and opening, the last few months have been a time of contraction, going inward, craving quietness, contemplation, exploring the inner terrain of my own soul and how it's reflected in my business, and allowing myself to be guided by my intuition, spirit guides, passions, and deep desires. I've been listening to the plants I use in my medicine in new ways, experiencing them rather than simply learning about them intellectually.  Understanding that they have so much more to teach us than we ever thought possible. That we can learn so much from our environment, the spirits that inhabit the local trees, rivers, meadows, tide pools, and deserts that must be understood through communicating with them rather than reading about them.

Recently, I journeyed with Datura, one of my favorites of the poisonous plants, and thought I'd share with you the wisdom she has for us...

20140824-131602.jpg

First came visions of canyons, ancient tree groves, old gnarled twisted trees extending their roots and branches out to take up as much space as this space will allow.  Damp, mossy, loamy forest floors, echoing our shadow places, the darkness so many of us are afraid to explore and experience even though it makes itself known in numerous ways every day and we don't even notice...

And then a snake wrapping itself around my low belly and hips, not tight like it's trying to constrict or squeeze, just loose heavy rings encircling my pelvis. Winding its way up my spine, around each vertebra, and I can feel the muscles soften to let her pass by. She comes up and over my right shoulder.

The shoulder that hurts. The one that holds so much and is never seen because I'm afraid of what's there. The one that's been waiting patiently for me to be quiet, sit down, lie down, settle down, and cool down. So patient. Just waiting. For me to let go of my anger to see there's another way to release this fire, to be seen and heard. Okay love, I'm listening...

She speaks of the wild, of the Earth Mother from which I can now see I've been hiding because she's so powerful, amoral, primal, and raw. Life means death, and death means life. Life is not happening to me, I am part of the event known as Life. An observer. A participant whose role is ever-shifting, but that will go on long after my time on this earth is over.

She speaks of a wildness that is beyond my comfort zone. One in which I go wild and let go of the things I've previously believed to hold significance, and go deeper. To listen, to honor the spirits that inhabit this environment. To hear the plants speak their wisdom not in words, but in extra-sensory experiences.

This is what my soul craves. This is what the pain is speaking of, what it is guiding me into, and where the illness originates. And it has been long enough. Through lifetimes I've heard these messages, always coming in different and new ways, speaking the same truth. Time to rewild, to step into the shadow with my light, to embrace the death, the shedding, the truth. To descend to and traverse the messy, gnarly, brokenhearted creative chaos of the primal Mother that is reflected in the terrain of my own soul.

And to explore and experience this space between worlds with lightness of heart, allowing my soul to shine in her full brightness, trusting that while we may use anger as creative fuel, it is really love that transforms, shifts, and heals the relationship with our Self, each other, and our Mother.

On surrender

Katie Gordon

moon whale Usually I work with the theme of release during the Full Moon.  I meditate on the old patterns, things that feel stuck that I'm ready to release, to let go of, to clear.  Often I'll do some kind of releasing ritual usually involving burning things (I am a Leo after all...we love our fire) and then burying the ashes or letting the wind carry them away.

This month, however, in honor of the huge transition going on in my life (as well as I'm sure many of yours), I've been sitting with the idea not of letting go, but of surrendering. They sound like the same thing, right? Although they may be similar in definition and sometimes even outcome, to me surrendering has a different energy behind it, and so contributes a different quality to this journey through transition and change.

For most of us, change can be really uncomfortable.  Even when we know it's what we need or even want, we tend to resist, freak out, lose our center, and fight to hold on to situations, people, jobs, or patterns from which our soul is ready to move on.

To say the first half of this year has been intense for most of us would be a gigantic understatement.  To me, it felt like my very foundation was being shaken until everything I knew to be true crumbled, my walls were leveled, my heart broken open to reveal a softness inside I had allowed very few people to witness before now.  I was knocked to my knees, literally and figuratively.  My physical body changed, and sometimes it felt like those deeply engrained ways of moving, thinking, speaking, and acting were being burned away, consumed by that very fire that used to terrify me when I'd feel it rising.  And when I finally surrendered to that fire, that blaze that I had been afraid would burn out of control if I didn't contain it, began to soften and reveal something brilliant underneath.

And then I could finally take a deep breath.

All that crumbling, breaking, splitting, and destruction that we've been navigating can finally lead to the most space, the most depth, the most compassion, and the most peace we've ever felt.  As I look back at the aftermath of the last six months, I see the rubble of old beliefs, relationships, addictions, and roles that I had held onto for my whole life.

And now is the time when I surrender to my uncontainable and irrepressible Being within.  My wild grace.  My creative spirit.  With all this space that's been opened up, with this unwillingness to abandon myself any longer, unwillingness to edit or hold back this wild creature that's been set free, I can finally surrender to the Wild Soul I've always known was there, waiting to be awakened and uncaged.

So it's not a letting go.  I've done the necessary (for now) letting go and making space.  Now is the time to surrender to my truth.  Under the blessing of this Full Moon, standing in my own sacred space, I now have the necessary space to fully trust my soul to guide me.

What would happen if you sat in the fire?  If you held your space, not knowing how you would come out the other side?

I have gone a'bone gathering...

Katie Gordon

Dearest souls, I wanted to share a poem with you this week that echoes my own journey, and I imagine the one I share with many of you as well. Especially, the past few weeks, I've been coming back to it a lot as a sort of anthem. If you find Shiloh Sophia's work as inspiring as I do, please check out her website.

Bone Gathering

Returning to one’s self after a long voyage into the desert is the work all beings must do one day. The day will come when the absence of the missing bones and the pieces of your heart that you left on the highway to die after too many mornings waking up alone, in body or spirit or both, will require you to return. For this sacred work, a map for returning will be provided, so you can find the missing persons reports. This map is not in a language you will understand. Are you surprised? With each stop on the quest there may be a sitting-down-hard head-in-hands-wondering-why and even despair you thought you had gone beyond. Grief and wonder are the companions you will find because they are also the way through the hard to see places. Give in to them. You will be okay. I wish I could say it could be easier than this. Hiding, cutting, dismembering ourselves wasn’t so easy, was it? We did it to survive, we thought, and we wrapped up the bloodied limbs and continued on, almost soldier-like in our sacrifice of ourselves. Never mind the blood-loss of not being ourselves. Never mind not even knowing what song belongs to our mouth and what movement our body loves the most. How did we go on this way? All that is done now. No more, we say, and that is how we found ourselves here. This excavation requires specialized tools, if it didn’t bone gathering would have started long before now. Yes I know you have already started. I can see that in your tender eyes. Don’t worry, yes it is scary at first. The tools are intact for excavation and user friendly, you will find they fit your palm just so. The stranger within you knows how to use each one. She was the one yelling at you before, to listen listen listen inside the soul cave, but now that you have listened to her, she will be the one to help you see in the dark. This is the one we call the Muse. Visionary bones are made of stardust and glow in the darkness. Come. You will find them. You have to. I need you to. We need you to find them. I have gone a’ bone gathering and I found this poem here in the wet earth and brought it to you. Dust off the mud and muck and you find words dry enough to light your spark.

-Shiloh Sophia

You can stop asking for permission

Katie Gordon

Some time between two and three years old, one day as I was strolling through a park with my mom  and some friends, I was attacked by a gigantic blue peacock.  No worries, there was no blood drawn.  No mutilation occured.  I think my mom was more scared than I was.  All I remember is a flurry of brilliant blue feathers in my face and feeling the strong peacock feet pushing into my chest.  Somewhere in a faint memory I recall everyone else freaking out and wondering if I should be doing the same. In many native cultures, a shaman-in-training will be led into the forest/wilderness to confront their spirit animal.  If they survive, they've passed a major test toward becoming a medicine/warrior shaman.  If they don't, well, they don't.

peacock

Back to my peacock...

For awhile now, I've been studying totemic arts with this incredible tribe, meeting my spirit animals, healing archetypal wounds, and rediscovering hidden parts of myself.  This work has taken me to the deepest places of my heart, guiding me to reclaim lost parts of my soul, and helped me to see huge reservoirs of untapped power within.  I've been practicing extensively how to listen to and follow my inner guides to meet my animal totems and receive the wisdom and medicine they have to offer.

Often, an experience such as the one I had with a peacock can be a sign that animal is one of our totems.  When Emelie first suggested peacock as a potential totem, I had MAJOR resistance.  Of course resistance (or a strong emotional reaction) to an animal is another sign that animal is one of our totems.

So I started researching peacock medicine.  Looking into their behavior, patterns, habits, colorings, mythology.  As soon as I opened to this incredible animal I noticed their imagery was ALL OVER my Pinterest boards, articles and photos I had cut out of magazines, long-forgotten books on my shelves, jewelry, etc.

From my research I realized peacock totems are both rare and incredibly powerful medicine.  That they've been associated with mysticism, greater vision, immortality.  Like the mythological phoenix, the peacock represents the rising from ashes of that which is ready to be released and sacrificed.

BCard-Peacock

And then a NEW kind of resistance came up, and that voice came in saying, "You're not good enough for this animal."  "It's just your ego that wants to have this totem."  "What makes you think you're special, good, powerful enough to see any of this in yourself?"  Not only was I afraid of claiming to reflect any part of this rare and beautiful bird, it made me incredibly uncomfortable to think I could contain any of that symbolism within my soul.  It makes me squirm even now as I write about it.

And then I realized: Here's the shadow side of peacock medicine.  Staying small.  Believing I have too much darkness inside to heal and resurrect those parts of my soul that have been torn.  Afraid of proudly displaying my vivid colors, appearing arrogant or egotistical.  Feeling shame around being SEEN and told that I'm too much.  Scared of my own magnetism and beauty.  Unworthy.  Sound familiar to anyone else?

I briefly stepped back into my small self, looking to have someone outside of me validate me and give me permission to own my peacock self.  To tell me that it was okay to show off my colors, to shine, to stand out and accept the power and magic that peacock medicine has to offer.  I watched myself look for that external validation, realize that's what I was doing and that ALL of my totems thus far have brought the medicine of deep listening and intuition, reflecting to me that I already have all of the answers within me.  Peacock was now showing up to help me own my power, my voice, and to show off my colors.  To show me that the magnetism I was afraid of was actually a HUGE ally for me!

peacock goddess

So now, even as I feel that resistance STILL, I say to myself, "Katie, just own it."  I'm done with the "not enough" the "unworthy" the "I'm too much for people so I'll just shut up, sit down, become invisible."  I'm done with invisible.  I'm done with seeking permission to shine.  I'm listening and honoring my soul's voice and wisdom.  And I'm ever-grateful to my shadow for teaching me where there's room for growth.  Where the cracks appear.

Happy Un-Valentine's Day

Katie Gordon

Okay, I'm finally (sort of) giving in to the Valentine's Day madness, though of course in my own typically rebellious fashion.  And I'm not writing this because Friday is Valentine's Day, but for whatever reason, when I sat down to write this week, this is what came up... Recently I've embarked on a new journey with a beautiful tribe called the Totemic Arts Apprenticeship in which we learn about our personal animal totems, how they correspond with the chakras, archetypes, zodiac signs, and numerology, and what this means for our own healing process, our businesses, lives, and those of our clients.  I've been exploring my relationships with my known animal totems (wolf and snowy owl) and how the wisdom and medicine they bring to us can empower our lives and bring clarity to obstacles we love to put in our own way.  There's lots of fun research and intellectual headiness that the nerd in me LOVES, but throughout the program there's lots of opportunity for play, art, creativity, collaboration, and receiving support and love from the tribe.

It all sounds great, right?

And it is!

snowy owl flying

AND THEN alllllll your shit comes up.  Stuff you haven't dealt with, looked at, sat with, or even acknowledged because it's dark and scary and ugly.  And who wants to feel those ugly emotions and see what kind of shadows are lurking underneath that lovely, mostly put together exterior that we put up?  Not me.

wolf - red

But the thing is, your soul doesn't give you anything you're not ready for.  So when things started stirring, I knew it was time.  And I'll just tell you now, the last couple weeks have been SO UNCOMFORTABLE.  Like I wanted to crawl out of my skin.  Old, small, invisible Katie would have bailed in a second.  But I've been preparing for this.  I've been feeling a major shift coming for the last year, and here it was.  And you know what it was that triggered me so badly? My inner Lover archetype.  The one I had been ignoring most of my adult life.  The one who is terrified of being unloved and unlovable.  The one who, at times, has lost her identity in order to please others.  The one who is afraid of being alone or in relationships devoid of intimacy.  Whose shadow consists of jealousy, attachment, and fear of being undesirable.  Even now as I write that I wince ever so slightly.  But there it is.  Truth laid bare.

red lady wings

So I sat.  I cried.  I fell apart completely, not knowing how the pieces would fit together again.  I was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  Totally burnt out.  Like too tired to speak.  I spent a whole day hibernating, listening to Tom Waits and Nick Cave (yeah, it got dark) and drawing, getting to know this Lover with her medicine of passion, sensuality, creativity, and desire, while acknowledging and forgiving the shadow side that has occasionally made herself known.

Now I'm beginning to come out the other side and I feel as if I reclaimed my power, self-love, sharp instincts, and a piece of my wild soul.  And the message I got from deeply listening to this part of my soul is this:

Love isn't "nice."  It isn't all pink hearts and chocolate and roses.  It's gutsy, uncomfortable, gritty, and isn't afraid to reflect to us where we need to work on ourselves.  Love itself can feel like heartbreak.  Like struggle.  Like we're stepping off the edge of a cliff and have no idea what's going to catch us.

openness

And the same can be said of Self-Love...maybe even more so.  Because that's where it begins.  How can we truly love another if we don't have the foundation of love for ourselves?  How can we show up for someone else if we're constantly abandoning our own heart?  We gain the confidence and ability to love ourselves when we have the courage to softly open our hearts when we're scared shitless, speak our truth, honor our process, and let down our walls.  And that's what Love for another is too.

Let's not just honor each other one day a year.  Seriously.  Happy Un-Valentine's Day (aka every other day of the year)!

And now for some serious truth-telling

Katie Gordon

A lot of people ask how I began my recovery from my eating disorder(s).  What was it that finally broke through the walls I had built up.  What was the thing that finally helped me to WANT to feed myself.  How did I recover?  People want to hear that it was one particular moment, that the light bulb went off, that I finally realized there was more to life than weight and food, blah blah blah... Here's the truth, and it may surprise some, anger a few, and make total sense to others.

I didn't.  There was no light bulb.  There wasn't a decisive moment when I had had enough.  There were many of those moments, and they would last anywhere from a few days to a couple years.  And then there would be a trigger, an event, a stressful couple months, a major (or minor) shift, and I would be sent spiraling back.  Only each time was a little worse because everyone expected me to be "better", "recovered", "over it".   The shame and guilt over my behaviors, the fact that I was slowly ripping my body apart, was worse than I could bear, and so to alleviate that pain, I'd sink deeper.

story we will never tell

I did a pretty okay job of covering up this intense shame and self-loathing by soaking up all the knowledge I could about health, yoga, meditation, spirituality in general, healing work, bodywork, emotional holding, Ayurveda, herbalism from multiple traditions, Chinese Medicine, how to heal trauma, nutritional theory, shamanism, tarot, anything I could get my hands on.  I learned how to eat really healthy.  I'm now one of the most educated 27 year olds I know, and all that is simply a compensation, a distraction from dealing with the fact that I still had no idea how to nourish my Self.  I couldn't bear the thought of sitting with myself long enough to hear the answers that my soul had for me.

And then for the greatest cover-up of them all, I decided to coach OTHER women with eating disorders, because if I couldn't fix myself, maybe I could fix them and then my own struggle would be justified.  And that's when it all started to crack and crumble.  My soul was speaking to me through the eating disorder, telling me it was time for transformation, for letting go.  My body was beginning to feel the (quite frankly) terrifying effects of years of starving and purging.  Before I could do anything I needed to heal my body and my heart.  To give myself the space, let myself be seen in the most vulnerable way.  Everything about it felt raw, exposed, torn open.  It was time to learn the lesson of asking for what I want and need.

And I did.  And my community has risen up more than I could have ever imagined to offer support, space, guidance, words, and witness.  And no judgment whatsoever.

circle

So here I am now, bearing all my scars, all my shame, my pain, anger, grief, everything I'd been working SO hard to conceal for fear of your judgment.  Now that I have nothing left to hide, I can begin the real work to connect with a deep love for myself not because of my imperfections and battles, but because I Am.  Because all of us have the right to love and be loved simply by being born into this world.  We don't need to earn love.  We ARE love.  And so begins the heroine's journey...

heroine's journey

Dreaming out loud

Katie Gordon

Oh you guys!  I meant to write earlier this week, and then got so distracted.  This windy weather we've been having always leaves me feeling a bit ungrounded, not to mention that it's 80 degrees in January, so my body is all kinds of confused. At first I felt guilty for my day dreaming.  I tried finding ways to justify it, but I had work to do.  Blogs, marketing copy, programs, irresistible product descriptions, and meditations to write.  Reading to catch up on.  Silver to get polished (seriously).  Instead of doing any of that, I've spent the last week visioning, dreaming, and heart-storming.  I watched that guilty "I feel unproductive" feeling come up, wreak a little bit of havoc on my peace of mind, and then I made the best decision I've made in a long time.  I decided to let it go for just a couple days and see what happens when I let my intuition, my soul truly guide me.  To see what happens when I just let myself dream, even if it got to feel a little bit too big and too daunting.

And I've come to a profound soul truth.  It feels expansive!  Still big, still daunting, but powerful, spacious, and authentic.  And f*cking awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that I wanted to share it with you all!  Because I know dreaming can be scary, we see these amazing things that we want to do, and then think, "How in the hell am I going to make that happen?!"  It's easy to proclaim "Follow your passions!"  Rumi even tells us, "Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray."  And you listen to your heart and everything sounds wonderful and bright and shiny.  And then it comes to taking the steps to ACT on that wisdom.  And we freeze.  And sometimes we stay frozen.  But I don't want to feel stuck, and I definitely don't want you to feel stuck.

So now you get to take a journey inside my head, through my visions, and a peek into my dreams...

When I was young, my mom had me watch Practical Magic with her.  She must have known that I loved witchy things.  From the moment I saw Sally's shop, I needed to have my own.  (You all know what I'm talking about, so no judge-y snickering.)  From then on, in my heart of hearts, I wanted my own space for herbs, magic, healing, teaching, and communing.

And now it's finally beginning to take shape...

I'm beginning to allow myself to really want it, to let that desire guide me, and take real, practical steps to making it happen.  I've even looked at potential spaces for it!  And the most fun part, I've begun to imagine it.  To feel, see, smell it...

Think vintage apothecary meets Hogwarts meets gypsy caravan with a touch of whimsy.  And a lot of hanging plant matter.  Are you starting to see it come together?  No?  Here are some pictures to help for those of us who need visuals.

An apothecary like this...

apothecary white

With a touch of this (yes, I absolutely need to skeleton too)...

apothecary kitchen

A bit of that...

gypsy

And a lot of this...

drying herbs

It's being dreamt, manifested, and acted into existence as I move through my fears of rejection, of commitment, and of playing big and showing up for my own desires.  So here is your reminder to keep dreaming.  Big dreams, small dreams, scary, whimsical, childlike, black+white, and colorful dreams.   It can be pretty terrifying to share our dreams of what we really want because if someone shoots us down it hurts A LOT!  You need to trust in your vision so much that even if someone tells you that you can't, you KNOW in your deepest, gnarliest knowing that you totally can.  Now that you've heard about/seen my dream, I'd LOVE to hear about yours!  Feel free to comment below and share with me what you envision, what you most deeply desire to do/create/have/feel in your life?

Shadow work + embodying the Feminine

Katie Gordon

shadow work I don't know about y'all, but 2013 kicked my ass.  As I mentioned here, it was a hear of lots of shedding.  A couple weeks ago I began looking back at this last year, thinking about where I was at this time a year ago, what I had wanted to accomplish, where I thought I'd be by now.  My first reaction was to be hard on myself, to judge, to step back into the "not enough" mindset.  I briefly got caught up in the pushing, forcing, and do-ing masculine energy of trying to make things happen, believing that I needed to make up that lost time before the end of 2013.  And then I realized this year has been an IMMENSELY deep dive into everything I thought I was, every role I've played, the joys, the traumas, all the layers of "shoulds" and "have-to's".  I had to clear all of that before I could begin walking the path I knew I was meant for.

ouroborus2

Here's my crystalized lesson of 2013...

Every time I thought I had gotten to the essence of my soul, there was a whole new layer to work through, explore, and let go of.  A big theme for me this year was that of TRUST.  Mainly trusting myself.  Believing that I have all the knowledge I need to create the business, the life, and the relationships that I want for myself right now.  All I have to do is get out of my own way.  And the same goes for all of us.  So often we allow our shadow side, our own darkness, to keep us from being and doing what we really desire.  There's some part of our ego that says we don't deserve to have that life.  Or that we haven't worked hard enough or done enough.

This year I not only met my shadow side, but I sat, played, danced and fought with, and finally loved my shadow.  She had always been lurking off to the side and I had done a pretty good job of ignoring her.  Now I invited her out front and center, looked her square in the eye, and said "Okay, whatever's here, whatever lessons you have for me, I'm ready to face with compassion and an open heart."  And here's what I learned: Shadow work is INTENSE!  (Side note: it's going to be a major part of my upcoming group program)  It requires crazy amounts of courage and strength that I didn't know I had until now.  I got to finally learn what it meant to approach this inner work in a feminine, receptive, compassionate, and supportive strength.  And then I realized something huge...this is what I'm meant to teach other women.  So many of us have forgotten how to use our intuition, how to trust ourselves, how to ask for what we want, how to be gentle even as we're moving mountains.  We don't remember how to go inside, connect with our wildness and tap into that age-old wisdom that has been passed down through generations of mothers to their daughters in order to heal ourselves.  We don't realize that each of us have every answer inside of our soul.  We have insanely wise inner guides, angels, whatever you want to call them.  It's a process of relearning how to listen, how to trust, and align our actions with that inner wisdom.

I'm so grateful for the teachers and the time I had in 2013 who showed me, often against my own resistance, that the only way I could teach women how to honor themselves was by doing the deep work with my own wild soul, by acting from my intuition, and by embodying the sensual, earthy, and receptive feminine.  Don't get me wrong, there's always more work to do, more to learn, more to uncover and love about ourselves.  And I believe in cycles, in the ebb and flow, so now it's time to put this into practice.  To build the container that will allow me to bring this wisdom to my community of wild and graceful women in the form of lots of free content, group programs, and intensive one-on-one coaching.  I can't wait to better serve all of you now that I'm fully serving myself.  Happiest of new years to all of you...

Shedding off one more layer of skin

Katie Gordon

As a dear friend reminded me the other day, we're coming to the end of the year of the snake.  It's been a year of incredible shedding, peeling back the layers of old stories, relationships, labels, beliefs, and assumptions I've held onto.  The past few weeks I've been in a slow, painful yet beautiful process of crawling out of my skin.  An old skin.  Like snakes do when they've outgrown that layer and it's time to move on. shedding layers

For a long time I thought I was meant to work with women struggling with eating disorders.  I even wrote a one-on-one coaching program for healing emotional eating.  I thought it was my calling, my mission.  All along there were lots of signs from the Universe telling me that it wasn't.  That it was just one step along the way.  I realize now that it was a way to heal MYSELF.

And it was the easy way to respond to the much afeared question: "So Katie, what do you do?"  It was simple and sounded good to just say, "I help women struggling with eating disorders to heal their relationship with food."  People understood that.  I didn't have to explain myself or justify my place in life.

Each time I'd say that out loud I'd wonder, "Whose voice is it saying those words?  It certainly isn't mine."  It was a cop-out.  An easy answer that in no way encompassed my place in life or my truth.  The problem was I didn't trust that when I was in alignment with myself, sitting still enough to listen, the people I was meant to work with would find me.  So I resisted what my heart kept telling me.  I stood on my soapbox and told everyone to listen to their gut.  That if they asked their Soul what he/she wanted and needed that they'd get their answers.  That their body would tell them what they needed.  That it'd be scary to trust themselves at first and that's okay because courage was feeling that fear and doing it anyway.

And as one of my mentors says, we're great at giving the advice and teaching what we ourselves need to learn.  So rather than sit, listen, trust, be gentle, and know that my soul had a plan, I questioned, ignored, blamed and shamed myself into speaking words that weren't mine.  Into claiming a place in this world that wasn't for me because it was easier than owning the work that I love to do and claiming my space.  Luckily, my inner guides had other plans and things began to fall apart so that I could let them go and trust that something bigger was coming.  That the work I had done around emotional eating was really for me, to heal my own scars and wounds.

Now comes the hard part.  The scary, messy, and ultimately beautiful part.  When I have to commit to myself, to my tribe, to the souls who have been on this journey with me from the beginning.  Now I commit to doing what I tell everyone else to do: to speak my truth, even and especially when it's a bit terrifying.

The truth is, I want to go deeper.  I don't want to tell women who are struggling with how to love themselves and to own their power that they need to eat.  Don't get me wrong, there's unbelievable value in that.  There are amazing souls whose work IS to support people to nourish themselves with real food.

And I want to peel back the next layer.  To go to those deeper, darker places of your soul, to read and listen to the story of your spirit.  Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, "Like the Rosetta stone, for those who know how to read it, the body is a living record of life given, life taken, life hoped for, life healed.  It is valued for its articulate ability to register immediate reaction, to feel profoundly, to sense ahead." I'm fascinated by the connection between the Soul and the physical body.  By the way our body manifests health and dis-eases of our deeper Self.  The way that our body holds, negotiates, and releases trauma.  And how my education through experience and more formal training have prepared me to hold space for people to explore and go through their process.

I've known this to be true for a long time, and it's taken me until now to own this truth:  I'm here to heal through renegotiating trauma, through the power of myth and stories, through plants and the medicine of the earth.  I'm here to teach women to listen, speak, and feel.  To hold space for ritual and soul retrieval.  To go with you to the deepest self in order that your own spirit can heal your emotional and physical body, the connection between the two.  And to help women find happiness by being in alignment with their soul's truth and loving themselves enough to ask for that much out of this life.  I work with archetypes, movement, your desires, and dreams.  Through the medicine of heartbreak and recovery.  And through holding sacred space for the Soul to come back home.

P.S.  Extra credit to anyone who can tell me what the title of this post is from...

XO

Punk Rock Medicine

Katie Gordon

My life, my business, my greatest joys, and some of my deepest hurts have been shaped by my love for punk rock and music in general.  Don't get me wrong, I can't PLAY an instrument to save my life.  But the majority of my middle school, high school, and college years were spent either at shows or with my headphones in, music turned WAY up and being carried away by anyone from Johnny Cash, Bad Religion, Against Me!, and The Clash to local OC bands that no one's ever heard of (and probably never will).   I wasn't trying to escape.  It was actually the opposite.  I finally heard something that sounded familiar, that sounded like everything I thought and felt but didn't have the words to express.  It was my medicine. This was the first song that I fell HARD for.  I listened to it over and over and over...I grew up in Orange County, CA, the same place Social Distortion is from, and so I definitely felt some geographic solidarity.  But more than that, I loved the rawness of Mike Ness's words...and voice...and guitar.  And while I realize not everyone appreciates good old fashioned punk rock, the sentiment conveyed by this song in particular rings true for all of us rebel sensitive souls.

It's the "don't tell me what to do" combined with the "sometimes it's all a little (or a lot) too much" attitude.  To me the underlying message of the song is this...Everyone's got some shit in their past they'd rather had never happened.  We carry the stories of our ancestors with us.  Our families pass on beliefs that we may reject.  AND we all have the ability to see it for what it is, say "thanks but I'm done with that", and go on to do something great with the incredible souls and powerful (albeit sometimes painful) lessons we've learned.

For those of us trying to set ourselves apart, to do something different that the world desperately needs, this song is for you...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvfhgH3RbzM

Dancing under the full moon

Katie Gordon

full moonMy feet are covered in grass, my jeans are wet, I keep pulling leaves out of my hair, and my hands smell like damp earth and burnt sage.  And I'm ecstatic.  I've just been dancing under the full moon. I have my full moon ritual that I do every month, but this time my soul called me outside, and so I listened, performing my simple ritual at the base of a pine tree under the Moon's soft light.  I sat with her, listening to her and to my own heart.  Listening to any special whisperings she may have for me this cycle.  I heard, "I'm finally here, I'm fully in my body, and I'm saying yes.  And I'm going to keep saying yes.  Keep feeling,  Keep showing up."

And then I danced, wildly, spinning in circles with bare feet under the Moon until I fell into the dew-soaked grass.  I laughed like I haven't laughed since I was 7 years old, so fully connected with Younger Self, blissfully aware of my spirit's light.

On my walk home I can feel my own ecstatic energy pulsing through my body, radiating out so many feet beyond my physical boundaries.  No wonder I kept all this power, this energy, locked inside me for so long.  Its intensity is overwhelming but beautiful.  And since I was young I would get images of ages past, of ancient full moons, stone circles, primeval forests where I would visit with the faeries and spirits, but I had no idea where these flashes of seemingly random impressions came from.  As something settled deep within my belly last night I realized, these are past lives, journeys my soul has already been on, places I've been to with my soul brothers and sisters.

Ritual, connection with our Younger Self, creating sacred space, setting new intentions, releasing old patterns, continuing to show up for ourselves.  This is the only way to wake up, to deal with our pain, to get through it all.  Iyanla Vanzant writes, "Until you heal the wounds of your past, you are going to bleed.  You can bandage the bleeding with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with work, with cigarettes, with sex; But eventually, it will all ooze through and stain your life.  You must find the strength to open the wounds, stick your hands inside, pull out the core of the pain that is holding you in your past, the memories and make peace with them."  The role of ritual, of magic, of sacred space is to hold and guide us through this process of pulling out the "core of the pain" so that we know can honor this process, honor the old version of ourselves that we must release in order to welcome the new.