How to Dialogue through Successful Conflict Resolution

Conflict And Resolution WordsRelationships are hard work and in order to create healthy communication patterns, one must learn to have successful conflict resolutions. Many times you might find yourself at a communication impasse and feel increasing frustration.  It’s common to feel as though there isn’t a way around it and just to escape the conflict or to react negatively to it… but there is a better way.

Inter-personal conflicts are normal occurrences in relationships, work situations and anywhere you find someone disagreeing with your thinking! It can be overcome with good strategic skills and methodical responses, which we will explore here.

The first few things to look at when analyzing conflict is whether the conflict occurs often on the same subject, with the same person or at a particular time of the day which is possibly more stressful. The solution in these cases may be as easy as discussing deeper things at calmer times, or letting go of certain topics that are unimportant to the other person and sharing them with others who find them important.

Sometimes you may be having a conflict with someone who no longer values the same things you do, you find there is less and less in common, or there never seems to be a “middle ground” of agreement. In this case you need to decide if the friendship has mutual benefit and is worth salvaging. It takes too much energy to keep something viable on one side without mutuality, especially if you find as though you are the one to make concessions or accommodations to keep them happy. These are good indicators that this person is not a good intellectual match for you.

Secondly, remember that you are only responsible for your side of a dialogue and how you respond and engage with it. In any conflict, it’s all about sequential escalation. If one person approaches the other with a healthy question or statement but the next statement from the other person is an unhealthy one (involving any form of verbal abuse), then the dialogue should not continue but the abuse should be pointed out and disengage until that person can communicate in a healthy way. Do not enter into a dialogue if this first condition isn’t in place.  

Thirdly, when you are in a conflict, focus on what you are thinking and be aware of yourself. Do you listen well, ask questions, or have empathy? What your current habits? Do you get defensive, escape or detach from really listening? Intentionally slow down, think before you speak and listen more deeply to what and why something is being shared. Overcoming roadblocks to communication patterns is a learned skill and very much worth the effort because it will ease the stress on conflicts because you’ll learn to be less reactive and more engaged in a solution.

When you are in a conflict, it’s good to remember to stay open and curious so that you gain clarity. This will keep you from getting defensive or reactive. Ask questions to uncover more of what the person is trying to convey. What are they feeling? What solutions have they come up with?  How can you help? Having fluid thinking as opposed to fixed will allow you to listen well.  There may have been other conflicts that trigger a fixed response in you, but remain open to listening to what this current one is about.  

Lastly, remember that our brains change and grow over time (neuroplasticity) and these new ways of thinking create new patterns in our brain. You are re-wiring your brain to think differently the more you practice healthy dialogues when you encounter conflicts. You may have learned to respond in a certain way to conflicts, but that doesn’t mean that these habits can’t be un-learned. With practice, you learn to listen better, make more methodical decisions in what you say, grow more empathy, ask better questions, and come to solutions to the problem that the conflict is trying to uncover. You also learn to remain calm and engaged instead of frustrated and enraged. Again, being a student of yourself with each new conflict and seeing what exactly needs to be understood, then following the conversation in healthy dialogue until there is a mutual solution. You will find success!

Remembering the Japanese American Internment

How do we act when life gives us a situation that we feel is beyond our control? Humans repeatedly are forced to deal with such conditions. If we are mindful at these moments, wisdom may emerge that will help us to know if we should accept what is happening or try to change it.

On February 19, 75 years ago, an executive order from President Roosevelt lead to the mass incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans. This moment in history is particularly resonant this year because of the recent executive order that banned people from certain countries from entering the United States. One way to honor the lessons of the Japanese American experience, which was called a injustice based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership,” is to reflect on how people responded at that time.

The Essential Gift of Agency

As a person of both Japanese and American roots and experiences, I honor my heritage by reflecting on my relationship with Kiyo Morimoto, a man who became a mentor for me at a critical time in my life when I was trying to understand myself. His parents had come from Japan for a better life and he was born in the United States and grew up on a potato farm in Idaho. When war broke out in the Pacific he enlisted in the U.S. Army and became part of the celebrated 442nd regimental combat unit. For Kiyo, this was both a source of pride and sadness, because the horrors of war had inflicted wounds and scars that were always with him.

But in the days following the declaration of war, when Kiyo reflected deeply on who he was and what he was being called to do— committing himself to fight for his country—he also struggled to understand the way his Japanese-born elders were responding to the situation. For them, the only choice was acceptance. He explained this to me with the Japanese saying, shikata ga nai, which literally means “there is no way to act,” that “nothing can be done.”

Shikata ga nai isn’t passive resignation… It is a way of coping with the things in life that cannot be changed. It is a way of accepting and even embracing our vulnerability and helplessness.

Being young and full of hope and idealism, this response from his elders frustrated and angered him. He felt it was passive resignation and wondered how they could just give up rather than fight. But as he grew older he came to see it differently. Shikata ga nai isn’t passive resignation, he told me. It is a way of coping with the things in life that cannot be changed. It is a way of accepting and even embracing our vulnerability and helplessness. It is from this acceptance that we can free ourselves from the chains of victimization and claim the agency to move on.

When You Can’t Change Your Situation, Change Yourself

Viktor Frankl explained how he and others survived the Nazi death camps through a dramatic shift in their perspective on life—They shifted away from asking, “what do I want from life?” and shifted to: “what does life want from me?” Being unable to change their situation challenged them to change themselves. This concept has found many ways to thrive, for example Shoma Morita developed a form of therapy in Japan based on the life giving power of acceptance. And recent studies by Brene Brown support the therapeutic effect of accepting, even embracing vulnerability, and the courage that arises in the act.

Shikata ga nai is a way for people to feel new energy, energy that they can direct into creative and productive activities in order to live with appreciation and gratitude rather than bitterness and regret. This shift to gratitude and appreciation is life giving, as documented by a considerable body of research. In a talk he gave at Harvard University, Kiyo spoke of the creative power of acceptance:

“By recognizing and acknowledging where we are, we discover new possibilities and freedoms within the limits of the immediate context in which we find ourselves. The Issei, by owning and respecting their helplessness, directed their energy within the barrenness of the relocation centers, to grow and to nurture lovely flower and vegetable gardens; to write powerful poetry; and to create exquisite works of art. They knew that every day was a gift of life.”

What I have learned is that each way of responding was courageous.

Now I reflect on the way that men like Kiyo responded to the desperate situation by laying their lives on the line for this country.  I also remember the way that others responded to the situation, by resisting, by protesting the injustice, and by refusing to fight. I remember others still, who decided that they could not even live in the U.S. and went to Japan after the war. What I have learned is that each way of responding was courageous. The different ways of acting were based in each person’s reflection on who they were and what they were called to do, for their families, for the Japanese community, and for their country.

Responding to the hardships we face calls for courage. And with every courageous act of reflection, action, resistance, and expression that springs from the question, “What does life want from me?” we nourish the power of the human spirit so that it may thrive even through the most difficult situations.



Why We Need New Ways of Thinking

Stories or Silence?


The post Remembering the Japanese American Internment appeared first on Mindful.

5 Pieces of Advice to My Quarter-Century Self

Pretty brunette binging in secret in a coffee shopTurning 25-years old can be a difficult time in a young person’s life. After graduating high school and possibly now college, they find themselves in their first career job, trying to meet new people for friendships and love, and for the first time in their life they might be solely responsible for their bills and finances.

After having school be the end goal for so many years, it’s weird to go to the same job day in and day out without a final destination in mind. Friendships and communities aren’t as easy to come by as they were in the dorms or classrooms. And finally being out in the “real world” isn’t as great as some hoped it would be.

All of these changes may lead some individuals to experience a quarter-life crisis. Here is some advice for those young people going through this new and challenging time.

  1. It’s okay if you don’t love your first job.
    You probably won’t land your dream job right out of school. Getting experience, learning your industry and having a good work ethic will all pay off, no matter where you start. We all have to begin somewhere to get experiences on our resume and our foot in the door. Be a hard worker and know that you won’t be stuck here forever.
  2. It’s okay to leave your first job.
    If the management is horrible or the company is poorly run, it’s okay to cut your losses and find a new job. Although, you should find a new job before you officially resign from the old one. When you are young, you can take more risks with your job and move around a bit. However, don’t job hop, but after one to two years at the same place, it’s okay to start looking elsewhere.
  3. Start a 401K.
    Even if you are eating noodles every night, you should contribute to your company’s 401K if they offer one. If your company matches, try to put in the amount they will match up to so you aren’t losing out on free money. There are huge benefits to starting early and your older self will thank you later for the years of compounding that makes savings grow.
  4. Don’t stress over finding “the one.”
    It might seem like everyone around you is getting engaged or married at this age, but remember that you are still pretty young. If you aren’t in a serious relationship by age 25 you haven’t missed your chance at love. Get out, meet new people, have a life of your own and most likely Mr. or Mrs. Right will come along soon enough.
  5. Now is the time to travel. 
    Plan a trip with friends to Europe or go on that mission trip with your church to Honduras. If you think you don’t have time now, it will only get harder as you age and have more responsibilities. If you don’t have kids, now is definitely the time to pack your bags and go!

Know that at age 25 you don’t need to have it all figured out. Most 60-year olds still don’t. So give yourself some grace and patience in these early years and just learn as you go. It takes most of us some time to figure out what we really want in life. The best part at your age is that you still have a lifetime ahead of you to discover it.

Ready. Fire. Aim.

Would you like a shortcut to getting anything you want in life? Would you like to get there quicker, faster and easier? Since you’re a mover and a shaker, you know the value of using Goals in your day-to-day life. Goals are those magical gems that give you the power to turn your dreams into reality. Here’s the simple secret to achieving massive success with your Goals. Commit yourself ONLY to take action that moves you closer to your Goal. Period! Stay focused, say "No," and slice and dice the day create motion in the direction of your choice. Keep going until you get there. Once you have success, keep perfecting your actions until they run on autopilot. Your next great adventure can wait until you complete your current journey.

7 Ridiculous Standards We Need To Stop Sticking To

You’re reading 7 Ridiculous Standards We Need To Stop Sticking To, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

I don’t know what it is exactly, but it seems like in today’s day and age, we’re taking almost everything for granted.
Common sense isn’t so common anymore.
And adults aren’t being adults.
It’s ironic because the internet, social media and modern technology are all making us go backwards.
Here’s 7 ridiculous standards we need to stop sticking to
1) It’s okay to be late
No. It’s not.
I don’t know when, but some people think that it’s okay to never be on time. The worst I came across was people showing up for a movie late, making the rest of us late.
It’s not okay to be late.
If you think it’s okay, it means you don’t respect the other party. If you don’t show up on time, it means you don’t respect time, and that means you don’t respect yourself.
Grow up and show up. It’s not that hard.
2) It’s okay to be busy all the time.
No. It’s not.
I get it. You have many things to do. But everybody is busy today. If something or someone means something to you, you’ll make the time and put in the effort.
Trust me, you’ve your entire life ahead of you to be busy, especially after you start work. It’s up to you to make the choice, make some changes and realize that you get to do things that really matter.
3) It’s okay to not reply or return a call
I actually just only recently encountered this phenomenon, that some people out there simply do not check their phones at all simply because "they’re that type of people."
Yes. Others validated this to me, telling me that it is a normal habit to not want to check one’s phone entirely and effectively disappear for a few days.
I think it’s alright to prioritize your communication habits, but to disappear entirely? Not cool.
A smartphone is meant to make people smart, not stupid.
4) It’s okay get away with anything just because you’re rich or famous
You know it’s true. Rich or famous people are getting away with doing bad things just because of their status.
It’s sad because the average person doesn’t dare to talk back.
5) It’s okay to cheat on your partner
Infidelity, for some reason is extremely common today, even among married couples. It’s so common that research is done on it, particularly on good people who you never thought will cheat.
But cheating, is still cheating.
It’s a horrendous act that hurts people. End of story.
If you aren’t ready to commit to a relationship, then don’t. Be honest and respect your partner. Cheating will never end well and there’ll be consequences.
6) It’s okay to allow bullying
I personally find that not enough is done to curb bullying.
The victim is always told to simply "get over it."
That’s not enough. We need more education. The bullies must be punished to a certain extent while the victim must be given more encouragement.
7) It’s okay to allow a friend to be toxic and not do a thing about it
This entire article can be encompassed in this point: allowing a friend to be toxic.
Time and time again, I am always told, "He’s like that. Let him be" or "She’s a girl. They get to be unreasonable.
I find that extremely ridiculous.
If someone is doing something wrong, then something needs to be said. Tolerance can only go so far and it’ll only eventually harm others.
Stop accepting ridiculous standards I say. Make a change for yourself and others around you.
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You’ve read 7 Ridiculous Standards We Need To Stop Sticking To, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.

How Your Ego Thrives on Fear and Keeps You Panicked

“The ego is the false self—born out of fear and defensiveness.” ~John O’Donohue

“The soul is like a wild animal—tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy.” ~Parker Palmer

Does it sometimes seem like the world is just a little too much for you? Do you feel that you need to protect yourself from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? (Thank you, Hamlet.) Are you a fragile flower being buffeted by life’s storms?

Then I think you’ve been listening to your ego too much. I understand all of those feelings very well, but I’ve recently discovered something life-changing: It’s only the ego, or small self, that’s fragile.

The soul—your authentic self—is a honey badger.

You know those honey badger videos on YouTube, where the little guy gets bitten by a cobra or stung by a whole swarm of African killer bees, but just keeps on going? That’s what your soul’s like. “Honey badger don’t care…”

We always have access to these two different perspectives, but most of the time we’re so identified with the small self that we forget about our honey badger souls.

The ego is a prickly little thing, with a hair trigger reaction, ready to go off at a moment’s notice. The soul is incredibly calm and resilient—not touchy and reactive, and yet capable of taking effective action when needed with a minimum of fuss.

The ego’s self-appointed function is to help you get what you think you need from the world and prevent you from losing what you have. It’s fueled by fear, and sees threats everywhere. This fear leads inevitably to feelings of separation, lack, competition, judgment, grasping, and deep loneliness—in other words, suffering.

The soul, in contrast, is rooted in love and a deep-seated well-being. Things that put the small self in a tizzy often bounce right off it.

Recently, I had two experiences within days that gave me a brilliant chance to practice switching focus from ego to soul and seeing what a difference that could make. Neither one was really a “big deal,” and yet both had my poor little ego off and running. What a drama queen the ego is!

In both cases, a person I loved and trusted hurt my feelings, probably unintentionally. Misunderstandings happen; we’re all human. The real issue was my ego’s reaction, which was to immediately shut down in an effort to protect myself from being hurt again.

It went something like this: “Well, I’m certainly going to have to stop being around those people, because I never want that to happen again, and they obviously can’t be trusted anymore.”

The problem is, both of these people are part of a wellness community that I love. This community is all about personal growth—about learning to overcome the illusion of ego and live from the authentic self, or soul.

Pondering my instinctive response to protect myself, I had to ask: Just exactly what needs protecting here? The only answer I could come up with was my ego.

My ego felt hurt and vulnerable when these two people seemed to not understand or value me. My ego didn’t think it could handle that happening again, but when I checked in with my soul, it was like: “Honey badger don’t care…”

I had to laugh when I realized how unperturbed my soul was by what my ego saw as a huge affront and threat. Stonewall Jackson once said, “Never take counsel of your fears,” and yet that is exactly what we do when we put the touchy ego in charge of our reactions.

Ego is like the boy in the fable who raises the alarm at every passing shadow. Ironically, though, crying wolf like this only makes it harder to perceive a true threat when it comes along. The soul doesn’t waste time on false alarms, but when there’s a real need for action, it will roll on that just as fearlessly.

Here’s what my fragile ego thought it needed in order to be okay in the situations I mentioned: first and foremost, an apology to salve my hurt pride (ego is always big on pride); assurances that I really am loved and valued (more pride, with a touch of emotional neediness); and finally, an ironclad guarantee that something like this would never happen again (is that even possible, given that we are all human?).

Now, all of those things would be lovely to have, I’m not kidding. But do I actually need them? Not really. When I drop down to soul level, I find a sense of well-being and security that far transcends my ego’s desperate grasping for reassurance and amends.

Soul knows that I already have everything I need to be okay. Not that it’s a pushover by any means, but things like wounded pride, which are all-important to ego, don’t really faze the honey badger much. He’s got a much tougher hide and a bigger heart by far. Honey badgers do care, but not about the things ego finds important.

So this is how my soul dealt with these situations: First, because I felt genuinely hurt, I let myself feel that pain with compassion. I didn’t dismiss the hurt. Next, I looked carefully at my own part in what happened, to find out if there was anything I needed to clarify or apologize for. Then I reached out and expressed my feelings as kindly and truthfully as possible. And then I stopped.

This part is the trickiest of all. The ego hates uncertainty with a passion (at least, mine does). My ego wanted things resolved, pronto, and it was screaming at me to take action.

Maybe I should try to garner support and sympathy for myself by telling other people about what happened? That always feels good. Or else I could apologize profusely—for what, I’m not sure—and get everything patched up and smoothed over as quickly as possible. Or….

So once again I consulted my honey badger soul, who said: Sit tight. Everything is just fine. No worries at all, mate. As long as I was clear about my own role in the disagreements, my soul was content with that. No need to escalate, but also no need to overly justify or explain or “make nice.”

Unlike the ego, my soul knows that it’s only responsible for its own reactions, not everyone else’s. Gotta love that.

And so I waited. In one case, things have already ended up sorting themselves out very well—I’m sure far better than they would have had I listened to my ego. In the other, I’m still waiting (and that’s okay).

I’ve decided that, even in the face of this uncertainty, I don’t need to take extraordinary measures to “protect” myself, at least not yet. There might come a time for that, and I trust my soul to recognize it if it does.

When something like this happens to you—when your small self feels threatened and is telling you to attack or pull up the drawbridge—stop for a moment first and check in with your soul. Take some deep breaths and sink down under that surface panic.

What do you really need to do, if anything? Is there truly a threat, or is it just your fragile ego crying wolf again? Chances are slim that you’ll find your honey badger soul in a panic. Whether there’s action to be taken or you just need to sit tight for a while, the calm, resilient, and loving energy of your soul is always there to draw on.

Profile photo of Amaya Pryce

About Amaya Pryce

Amaya Pryce is a spiritual coach and writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her newest book, How to Grow Your Soulis available on Amazon. For coaching or to follow her blog, please visit

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The post How Your Ego Thrives on Fear and Keeps You Panicked appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

5 Things I Wish Had Known When I Started Dating an Addict

Divorce,fight,problems - Young couple angry at each other sittin

“Don’t let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace.” – Kimberly Jones

I was finally in a solid place when I met my now-ex-boyfriend earlier this year. I had created some healthy habits for myself and was fully recovered from the eating disorder that had ruled my life for eight years prior.

Things had turned around completely for me, as now I was getting my first novel published and had a flourishing greeting card line.

When I first met my ex, who I’ll call Alex, it was love at first sight. I was completely infatuated with this talented individual from Seattle who made beautiful paintings and music. The art he made truly resonated with my soul, and he could say the same thing about my writing.

Needless to say, it felt like a match made in heaven. So after our courtship, I was more than willing to move up to Seattle from Los Angeles and live with him.

I was heartbroken when four months into living together, he revealed he was addicted to meth. He admitted that he’d been addicted the past two and half years and had been using every day up to five times.

I was blindsided, stunned, and overwhelmed with a twister of emotions. How could I have not known? I scolded myself. He was always hyper and created much more art in such a short time frame than I’d ever seen any other human do.

Well, they say hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t know he was on meth because I didn’t know what signs to look for, and I’d personally never tried meth myself.

When Alex admitted this to me, I cried in fear, certain that our lives would change for the worst. I knew this betrayal of trust would be difficult for me to recover from, as I became vigilant at his capacity for dishonesty.

I also worried that he wouldn’t love me the same after he quit meth and that the only reason that he’d fallen in love with me so easily was because he was high! But I had already invested so much in this relationship, moving states and all. I wasn’t ready to just throw what we had away.

It was ironic because I remembered feeling so happy that I had met him when I was in a “good place” in my life, but all of that seemed so distant now. We can all morph into the worst versions of ourselves when we become clenched in fear.

When Alex was in the process of attempting to quit, it became difficult to detach myself from the turmoil he’d ooze every evening.

Like clockwork, every night around nine, he’d get this vacant look in his eyes and begin to pace around. It was like a dark cloud had come over him and I wasn’t even there anymore. I began to feel that I wasn’t enough for him.

The love I had for him and the idea of us kept me in that relationship for several months after the revelation about his addiction, and I eventually realized why Alex had admitted his meth use to me. He thought he could rely on me to be the “strong one” in the relationship, since I was sober, but in actuality, I was just as fragile as he was.

And I felt too awkward setting boundaries for this recovering addict, afraid he’d feel infantilized or patronized every time I questioned him about his drug use or nagged him to stop. I felt like I lost myself again, when just months before I was so certain about my identity.

Alex continued to relapse for the next six months, never staying sober for more than a few weeks at a time, and I began to feel extremely helpless.

Those fits of restlessness and angst that overwhelmed him every night felt too close to home, and just like him, I had yet to master how to tolerate those uncomfortable feelings.

Some evenings I found strength in myself and was able to tolerate the uncomfortable emotions he was experiencing without reacting. Other nights, we’d get into fights when he’d want to go on a “drive” (buy meth).

This lovely relationship we once had devolved to one of raw, dark emotions that neither of us really knew how to get a grip on. And worst, we both relied on the other person to get it together!

Eventually, despite the fact that I loved this man with all my heart, I knew I had to set myself free from this relationship. I had enough insight to know that even though I’d recovered from my eating disorder, I still wasn’t strong enough to resist getting pulled into his troubled psyche. I needed to pull back to create my own peace again, because I sure as hell wasn’t going to get it from this guy.

It’s been about a couple of months since we’ve been officially broken up and I’ve moved back to Los Angeles to live with my family.

Many days I have guilt and regrets for leaving and not being able to help him out of his addiction. It was like all of the meaningful talks we had, trips to the psychiatrist, and meditative walks in nature were for nothing. In all honesty, I felt pretty useless to his recovery.

In retrospect, I know I would have done things differently if I knew the things I know now. Here’s what I wish I would have done as soon as I found out I was dating an addict:

1. Encourage Him to Get Help

When he first revealed he was addicted to meth, I could have been honest and told him I had no clue what to do and somehow convey the depths of helplessness I felt. Then I would have pointed him to professional support sooner and wouldn’t have taken his relapses so personally, as if I was at fault because I was solely responsible for helping him.

2. Get Support for Myself

I should have attended Al-Anon meetings and attempted to have my own support group in Seattle instead of letting anxiety take such a strong hold over me and then isolating myself from meeting new people. Supporting an addict can be draining, and no one should have to carry that alone.

3. Take Good Care of Myself

I should have made time every day to reconnect with myself in some way, whether it be meditation, exercise, or prayer. I should have taken time every day to reflect on my own journey and the progress I’d made instead of becoming so fixated on helping him with his.

Relationships often become unbalanced when one person is an addict, but both people need time and space to focus on themselves and their needs.

4. Set Clear Boundaries

I wish I had clearer boundaries for myself going in so that I didn’t stay as long as I did and watch the love we had sour. For instance, it would have been more helpful if I told myself that if I saw him using while we were together, I would have distanced myself from him.

I could have communicated this to him, as well, by saying something like “I’m all for your recovery and supporting you through your journey. But using drugs while being together is unacceptable to me, and if I find out you are using, I will have to distance myself from you for my sake.”

Setting boundaries earlier on may have prevented my unintentional enabling, which created behaviors in him that I later resented.

5. Prioritize My Own Happiness

I shouldn’t have let guilt keep me in a relationship that was making me unhappy. Like many others, I felt pretty paralyzed by fear of hurting the other person. I wished I had more strength to leave this person I was in love with because he was self destructing and refusing to really help himself.

As one can surmise, these are all lessons and wisdom you gain after an experience like this, not before, but perhaps they will be helpful to someone who’s right now standing where I once stood.

Now I am taking time to find peace in myself every day so that I am better equipped to handle another person’s baggage (because we all have it) the next time I attempt to date.

This article courtesy of Tiny Buddha.

Power of art: an interview with artist Laura Tempest Zakroff

SEATTLE, Wash. — Laura Tempest Zakroff, known to many by the name Tempest, is a Pagan artist and Witch from the Seattle area. She travels the country attending festivals and conferences, sharing her work, teaching, and performing. Her art incorporates her visions of the world as well as creating powerful connections to her spiritual beliefs, to Witchcraft, to healing, and more recently to her own brand of political activism.

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Raised in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, Zakroff was the youngest of three children in a mixed-religious family.Her father is Jewish and her mother is Catholic. Zakroff’s two brothers, as she said, were much older and so she felt as if she was “practically an only child.”

In addition, Tempest added that many of her childhood friendships didn’t last. Children in her school or her neighborhood would move away or go to a different school. Friendships were hard to maintain, and she was often alone.

Zakroff said, “I remember spending a lot of time outside in the back yard, turning over rocks, collecting moss, playing with plants, and gathering them to dry in the little wooden play cottage my parents built for me. When I wasn’t outside, I was inside drawing, painting, and building things […] I learned to amuse myself, keep my attention occupied by nature and art.”

We spoke with Zakroff more about her childhood, her influences, her spiritual beliefs, and how it all comes together in the very varied modes of artistic expression for which is she is known.

*   *   *

TWH: Coming from a household with a multi-faith background, how were you reared?  

LTZ: My brothers and I were all raised Catholic, and went to Catholic school from kindergarten onward.

TWH: As a child, how did you experience this Catholic upbringing specifically?

LTZ:   I remember finding priests fascinating at a very young age, and I loved the beautiful churches. Ours had large amazing stained-glass windows, and my grandparents’ church in Philadelphia is the oldest Italian church in the U.S. [It is] filled with murals, stained glass, and mosaics.  But very early on, it did not sit well with me that women could not be priests, girls could not be acolytes (now they can, but not back then). With the exception of the rituals that focused on the adoration of the Virgin Mary, I found going to mass to be extremely boring and lacking energy or purpose.

But I got dragged to mass every week with my mom until I was 18. I went through all of the sacraments up through confirmation. I think every sacrament there was actual concern that I’d let loose or somehow otherwise get rejected, especially during confirmation. Despite my internal leanings, I was an excellent student, so I was driven to do well on all of the things – including religion.

TWH: Let’s talk about the arts. When did you first experience the arts?

LTZ:   My parents are both creative people who majored in journalism. My father ran his own audio-visual business out of the third floor of our home; filling it with books on history and art, photography, slides, and early computers. My mom has always been a talented crafter, making and selling beautiful wreathes and arrangements. Later on, she became a school librarian and eventually a religion teacher.

Because both of my parents being creative people, I was born into a house that was filled with art, and there was a wonderful series of books called Museums of the World, which I spent many hours looking at.  We often went to art and craft shows, as well as artsy places like Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, Penn. or Flemington, New Jersey (now both are mainly known for outlet stores) and Cape May, New Jersey. So art and making art seemed very integral to life from a very young age. I wanted to know the meaning of paintings and how different things were made. Art clearly had purpose.  

TWH: During your childhood, did you study art formally or were you self-taught? 

LTZ: The earliest art classes I remember were at the Ocean City arts center around age three. I was one of the youngest kids, but if you sat me down in front of clay or paper, I could do it for hours. Remember fashion plates? I got bored with the selections they included and started drawing my own fashion sheets. At age six, I started afternoon drawing classes at Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown, New Jersey; formal still-life compositions and all that. Then every Saturday during the school year, I attended Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia up until I was 14.

When I was 15, at the end of my freshman year at Holy Cross High School, we moved to Columbia, South Carolina. It was a fantastic culture shock. […] Being artistic, smart, and culturally a bit different than my classmates in New Jersey made me stick out and the target of a lot of abuse, but moving to South Carolina and going to public school was a completely fresh start. The school had an excellent art program, including advanced placement studio arts, as well as a literary magazine which I became the editor for. At that time, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts was a summer-only program, and I got accepted into that my rising senior year. That experience solidified for me that I wanted to focus on the visual arts, so after that I applied and got a scholarship to go to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). There I majored in printmaking and got my bachelors of fine arts.

TWH: At that point in your life, what were your goals?

LTZ: Heading into college, I think I had an idea of running my own gallery/cafe/witchy shop. Even though I majored in printmaking, I knew I didn’t want to be a print maker, at least not in the sense of printing other people’s art, which is what most print makers do for work. Before I even graduated, I managed to snag a job as the associate director of a gallery owned by a RISD alumni in nearby Bristol. Then the director quit and it was just me and the owner, and mainly just me most of the time. So I taught myself web design and Photoshop during slow times. But my husband at the time was originally from California, and my best friend from college was also from there, so in 2001, I moved to the Bay Area with aspirations of working at the SF MOMA or something similar.

[Courtesy Photo]

[Courtesy Photo]

TWH: Outside of art, what other jobs have you held and when did you become a professional artist?

LTZ: After arriving in the Bay Area, I quickly discovered how far apart things were. San Francisco was not very close and [there were] very few openings in the arts. Around day three, taking a break from unpacking, I stopped by the Psychic Eye in Mountain View.  As a lark, I asked about doing readings, and shortly afterward was hired. I had done readings professionally back east to make extra money, so it seemed like a good intermediate way to bring in money.

Three years later, until they abruptly closed, I was working full time as a psychic and teaching metaphysical classes. And, to answer the usual question of, ‘didn’t you see that coming?’ – yes, I actually had a dream a month before it closed. During this time, I had also been studying and began performing belly dance, so I was also making art and designing costumes, and that began to really take off. To supplement, I also got a job as a picture framer in Menlo Park, and mastered a lot of those skills.

Then in 2007, I wanted to leave the Bay Area to be closer to my family, and in particular my grandparents so we moved back to New Jersey. There I got a job as a graphic designer and jewelry designer for a woman-owned jewelry manufacturer and importer, which also involved designing for Disney World. I was designing during the week, and often traveling somewhere on the weekends to teach and perform belly dance. Then, in 2009, we moved again back to Providence, and I was hired as a fashion jewelry designer for a major corporation. I designed for Target, Macy’s, and many box stores.

Three years later, I had had enough of corporate culture, enough of my 15-year marriage to a narcissist, and enough of not making art. I filed for divorce, quit my job, and moved to Seattle to start a new life. So while I had been making art, designing, crafting, and illustration in some form since 2000, it wasn’t until midway through 2012 that I embarked on the road to what I consider being a professional artist.

TWH: Tell us when and how you found Witchcraft and Paganism?

LTZ: I had always been fascinated with ancient cultures – the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks. I loved the Mysteries of the Unknown series. I read Jane Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series starting around age 12 – and similar pre-history novels, especially ones that focused on Native American myth and culture prior to the European invasion. But it didn’t occur to me then that these faiths and deities could still be a living thing.

A girlfriend of one of my brothers lent me a copy of The Mists of Avalon when I was around 14. I remember finishing that book and being both simultaneously inspired and enraged. Yet I was still not cluing in that there was some modern practice that I could participate in. It seemed the closest thing out there was Native American beliefs and practices, but even at that age, I knew I could only admire them, not partake in them. Those roots weren’t my roots. I formulated my own practice and belief system instead.

So when we moved to South Carolina, I could get my license at 15, and by 16 I was able to take my mom’s car out to the mall on weekend nights, where the big bookstore and cafe was open late. So my friends and I would drink coffee and discover the New Age section. It was there I found Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler, which appealed to me more than the Wicca books on the shelves that seemed more like fantasy than reality. I hung out in IRC chat rooms -Pagan_Tea_House -and learned more.

TWH: When did you decide to reach out to other Pagans or find a Pagan community ?

LTZ: When I went to RISD, I was all eyes and ears on the trail of Paganism. I found the Society of the Evening Star (also based in Providence) and wrote them for information, but my relationship at the time didn’t really give me the space to try it. Luckily though, when I started working at the RISD store not long into my freshman year, I was clued into a witch publication in the magazine section by the gentleman in charge of that section. It was actually published by a fellow RISD student, and it was a glorious beautiful magazine on real witchcraft and paganism, called Crescent Magazine.

My coworker pointed out the girl who made the magazine one day, and I am pretty sure my heart skipped several beats. Tall, long thick dark wavy hair, big dark eyes, dressed in velvet; a living Pre-Raphealite painting. I managed to work up the nerve to talk to her, and pretty soon we were fast friends, and I also got involved in the magazine. However, she was two years ahead of me, and so all-too-quickly she graduated and moved back to California. I managed the magazine post box, wrote articles, and then (very lonely) became determined to start a Pagan Society for RISD and Brown. The Cauldron of Annwyn Pagan Society took off like wildfire, and expanded quickly to include more colleges, and then pretty much anyone who wanted to get involved.  Soon I was leading large public rituals and crafting my own tradition.

TWH: Let’s shift now to your current work as a professional artist. When people look at your art,  it is clear that your personal expression and spiritual path are interwoven. Before we talk about that. Tell us more specifically which forms of expression are you focused on now and why.

LTZ: I design, dance, write, and make art. I write songs for our band, and play instruments. I design because I enjoy solving problems, I dance to be engaged with my body and spirit (and teach others to do so), I write because I can’t shut up (hello Gemini), and I art because I have to.

And I feel Witchcraft interweaves with all of those things. I find that I mainly go between making art and writing nowadays, though I teach dance from my home studio every week, and still perform/teach workshops. I’m constantly thinking about images to create, and words I need to say.  But I find that I need to word sometimes, and art other times. They’re both creative, but take different moods and settings. I also completely work for myself, so it comes down to what things need to get done to pay the bills first.  Sometimes that’s a week for working on a book, and two weeks of making art.

TWH: How do you experience the partnership between your spiritual life and your artist expression?

LTZ: For me personally, it’s near impossible to separate the artist from the Witch, to the point where I would say that my art itself is a form of witchcraft, which I guess makes up for the fact that despite my love of herbal magick, a Green Witch I am not. […] I believe that the path of Witchcraft teaches us to have power over ourselves. Art can be a manifestation of that power.



TWH:  In you workshops and writings, you often talk about a art as being a source of power. How do see that manifesting in the our daily lives outside of Witchcraft practice?

LTZ: Modern-day society tends to dismiss the arts as frivolous, something that is superfluous to our daily existence.The arts belong to the realm of the rich, who have the funds to invest or waste.This reinforces that idea that being an artist, writer, musician, dancer, or poet are not respected or valued paths.

TWH: You said “modern-day society.” Do believe that this modern opinion of art’s purpose or function was not always the same?

LTZ: Yes. The earliest signs of civilization – ultimately the very dawn of our species, are intimately linked with the making of art. Our predecessors may have used tools and formed societies, but it was when we began to use line and mark as symbol that pinpoints the moment in which we truly began to see and think differently. Drawings that described the upcoming terrain or weather changes indicated a new sense of spacial recognition, an understanding of cause and effect, and the passing of time. Decorative treatments for the living body as well as the decoration and burying of crafted items for the deceased demonstrated both individuality and tribal recognition.Cave paintings hint at ritual explorations and metaphysics – the interplay between the microcosm and the macrocosm.

Our ancestors understood that art was not useless, but rather an integral tool to interacting with the world and with each other. It talked to the gods and spirits; it helped us remember stories and wisdom; it identified and explained us; it helped us define the spaces we lived in. All of those aspects are still incredibly valuable things in our daily lives.

TWH: If modern society has lost this connection to artistic expression, what do you believe is needed to get it back, so to speak?

LTZ: I believe the solution is intricately linked with ritual, spirituality, and metaphysics – entities that are just as misunderstood and belittled as art-making. Both [art] and concepts involving magick are often dismissed as fantasy or fiction; It’s easy to dismiss the so-called “invisible.”  Yet many would attest to seeing real tangible results in the work. It’s all really about different ways of viewing, seeing, and using power. When we believe in something, we give it power. That goes for social movements, deities, and symbols alike. Ideas are intangible, yet have real physical repercussions.

TWH: Why is it so easy to dismiss, what you call “the invisible?”

LTZ: Art seemingly comes from nothing. A song is pulled from the air; a painting unwrapped from a vision in the mind.  From out of thin air, an artist, musician, writer, dancer transforms concept into concrete reality. The sudden appearance from “nothing” generally belies the fact that years of training and practice were involved. Any one can pick up a paintbrush, write some words, or hold a violin, but it takes more than the physical act to bring forth art. It’s that seemingly unseen element, brought forth by talent, practice, and/or strange encounters with muses that makes the difference.

Regardless of how it happens, the experience of hearing or playing music, reciting a poem, reading a story, looking at a painting, feeling a sculpture, or watching or doing dance – all have mental, emotional, and even spiritual effects.

Sigil for our Times [Image Courtesy Laura Tempest Zakroff]

Sigil for our Times [Image Courtesy Laura Tempest Zakroff]

TWH: Will you talk about the intersections of art and religion in general? What role do you see art playing in religious practice?

LTZ: I remember in my college art history classes, the professors would cite the Catholic Church’s patronage of the arts as what heralded the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment and the Renaissance at least for Europe. The church recognized the power of art and architecture to transform a space or idea, to give a sense of heaven, to teach, and to inspire.

But they weren’t alone in linking art with the divine and teaching spirituality. Although in Judaism and Islam it is forbidden to make icons to varying degrees, both religions have utilized artwork, writing, and fine craftsmanship to elevate humanity in order to better understand and unite with the divine. Hindu temples not only have sculpted the divine in bodily format for centuries, but within them dance is taught as an expression of and for the gods.

And while P-words (Pagans, Polytheists, Pantheists, etc) may not have as much in the way of built real estate or museums, the arts are integral to our various and diverse systems. Modern Druid practices hearken back to a time when the bard as poet and musician shared the knowledge and carried on the stories of the spirits, gods, and humanity. There are multiple traditions that see art-making as a means to communing with the divine. Anaar in her book The White Wand says, “the language of Feri is the language of poetry, of art, of ritual. The foundation of this language is our intimate communion with God Herself.” Another example of the importance of the handmade mark: in Vodou, the drawing of veves is a sacred act of invoking a Lwa.

TWH: In your most recent workshops, for example at Dragon Con 2016,  you talk specifically about the power and use of sigil magick. What is it and why is it important?

LTZ: Sigil magick is an excellent way of harnessing intent and gathering focus. For countless generations, we have used symbols to stand in for larger, more complex ideas. [Symbols] condense down those big ideas into small, recognizable marks that hold meaning for those who understand, see, and use it. They can cover whole walls or be hidden inside a charm.They are often easy to make and to replicate, regardless of your level of talent with a pen, pencil, or brush.

Unfortunately, most of us are very aware of symbols that are used as vehicles of hate, to spread damaging ideas and cause harm. Often times these symbols are used without a thorough understanding of their history, by the misguided and the angry. Therefore it’s even more important for us to use symbols that encourage, empower, invigorate, protect, and heal. We can make and use art that grounds, grows, and inspires.

TWH: Recently you’ve been doing a little sigil magick of your own. Will you talk a bit about that project? 

LTZ:  Shortly after the 2016 election, I felt the need to create a power sigil – for myself, for all those who need protection and empowerment. When I had the urge to make that sigil, I simply knew I had to do something in the realm of what I do best, making art. Since then, the new sigil [seen above] has been shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, the blog posts reaching over 30,000 hits. I have seen it marked on pottery, stitched in fabric, painted on walls, made into avatars, etched in metal and stone, hennaed and tattooed on numerous bodies. With every person who responds to it and draws it for themselves, it adds to not only their personal power, but the power of the symbol to do its work.

Sure, it’s “just” a collection of shapes and lines, but it has clearly spoken to the individual and collective consciousness, who recognized something within those marks. They gathered their thoughts and beliefs, focusing upon the symbol to call upon power, seeing it more than just some drawing. And so I encourage you to take a moment to consider your surroundings, and what symbols and images you believe have power – or don’t.

All art has the potential to be a guide for power – whether it’s a song, a poem, a dance, a sculpture, or a sigil. It simply needs to be manifested.

*   *   *

Since this interview, Zakroff has co-launched another campaign called #wearearadia. She has created a second sigil for use by those supporting the effort [seen below]. Columnist Tim Titus will have more about the #wearearadia movement in full including more from Zakroff about the new sigil.

Until then, Zakroff’s work and the schedule of performances and workshops can be found on her websites Owlkeyme Arts or Laura Tempest Zakroff, and her writing can be found on  her Patheos blog, A Modern Traditional Witch.

#wearearadia sigil [Image Courtesy Laura Tempest Zakroff]

#wearearadia sigil [Image Courtesy Laura Tempest Zakroff]

Solar Eclipse in Pisces: New Moon Horoscopes for the Week of February 20th

Collage by Chani


Monday, February 20th

Mercury in Aquarius sextile Uranus in Aries, both at 21°

Tuesday, February 21st

Mercury in Aquarius trine Jupiter in Libra, both at 22°

Wednesday, February 22nd

Mars in Aries square Pluto in Capricorn, both at 18°

Thursday, February 23rd

Mercury in Aquarius sextile Saturn in Sagittarius, both at 26°

Saturday, February 25th

Mercury enters Pisces

Sunday, February 26th

6:58 AM PT – Solar eclipse at 8° of Pisces

Mars in Aries conjunct Uranus in Aries

This week brings a flurry of intense activity. While Mercury, planet of communication, makes nice with the likes of Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn, Mars makes mayhem, first with Pluto and then Uranus.

Mars is the planet that goes its own way, does what it wants, when it wants and how it wants. Mars is currently in Aries, the sign of the feisty, fierce, independent individual. When squaring Pluto, Mars has a fierce appetite for power, winning and battling with the forces of the underworld. When conjunct Uranus, Mars bucks the system, breaks all rules, refuses to follow orders and knows not of peace. It’s a disruptive duo, one that encourages us to smash the systems we feel confined by.

It is ungovernability.

The question is, whose ungovernability, who’s ability to live outside the law is most influential at the moment? Not everyone’s bucking of the system is for the betterment of all. We see plenty of folks that are behaving in ways that are unconstitutional, immoral and unconscionable. This too is a rebellion.

Whose rebellion will win?

The week’s astrology points to what is being destroyed and who is benefitting from the destruction. It looks at who is causing the mayhem and who is cashing in on it. It wonders about who or what is getting free and how we make sure that kindness, justice and decency stay in the running.

Sunday’s solar eclipse in Pisces has a few ideas. Occurring on the same day as the rebellious Mars/Uranus conjunction, Sunday’s solar eclipse is a new moon, generally a time of new beginnings, but this moon is a wrap up of what has already occurred. Occurring near the south node and Neptune, Sunday’s eclipse is the last of a series of eclipses in Pisces. This past 2 years has taught us much about the dangers of being deluded into thinking that someone will come along and save us. The past 2 years have taught us much about the importance of kindness and what happens when compassion leaves us. The past 2 years have taught us much about what we need to lose in order to gain a fair and just world.

If we truly want freedom, we must divest our creative energy from the systems that have never and will never grant us the success that is ours. Our imaginations, our creative contributions and our energetic support can be withdrawn from what will only suck our wells dry. We can reinvest that energy into a world that can hold us, reflect us and encourage our growth. This eclipse reminds us that when we do not release ourselves from what does not respect us, we will always be drained by its vampiric ways but when we use our imagination for the purposes of recreation, we are capable of bringing into being everything we could ever hope for.

*Horoscopes are meant to be read as inspiration. If you know both your rising sign and sun sign, please read both horoscopes. They both contain important information. You’ll know which resonates more for you from week to week. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you find inspiration here we love and appreciate donations. If you want to share this work you must quote it and link it to this post and website. Thank you for your support and for spreading the work around, we really appreciate it and you!

Aries & Aries Rising

It’s a big offering. It’s a lot to release. It’s a reset like no other.

It’s going to take a lot of faith. Faith in your grief. Faith in the cleansing process. Faith in your ability to find your way through nothingness. Until you get to your rebirth.

Sunday’s eclipse sweeps through the back closets of your life and asks you to make do with what is left. Just the gems. Just the jewels. Just the purest offerings survive this tidal wave of renewal.

Sunday’s eclipse asks you to make peace with what was lost over the past year, what was swept away and what you found in the process. Sunday’s eclipse might demand that you trust why the excess was released from your life. Whether or not you understand why it left.

While Sunday’s eclipse asks you to focus on a release, the rest of the week’s astrology might make you feel a little more restless and in need of a change. Remember that this is a momentary influence, one that for some of you will force a significant shift in your life, but one that for others of you might just be an impulse that passes.

Whatever you do make sure that the changes are in support of deeper needs that you are committed to fulfilling and not just a reaction to an emotion that you need to just sit with.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Taurus & Taurus Rising

Sunday’s solar eclipse comments on the nature of your friendships, the quality of your allies and the importance of working with your networks. Some friends will need you to help them sort through difficulties that they are currently facing. Some friendships might feel too draining to try to deal with. Some social events can help you to feel refreshed. Others will have you feeling like you need a moment to reset yourself. Some part of your community might be working with a loss that you feel on a deep level. Some losses can’t be shared with everyone.

When hanging out with folks, choose wisely.

You might be extra sensitive right now. You might need to be with those that can hold spaces wide enough for you to heal your way through. You might need to be with those that are on your emotional wave length. You might need to be with those that don’t take from your energetic resources but encourage you to fill your own reserves first. 

This is a time to chill when you can. Pause when there is no urgent need to move. Respond to what is necessary and let everything else wait while you take your sweet time seriously.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Gemini & Gemini Rising

Make peace. With what was lost in regards to your work. Make peace with what you have had to let go of in order to get to do the work that you are now doing. Make peace with the fact that loss is part of success.

We have to give up what gets in the way of our dreams.

Sunday’s solar eclipse occurs in a part of your chart that points to the gifts that you have to give to the world and the growth that you struggle to make in your career. Showing up as a professional out in the world can require many offerings. Not all of them received. Showing up as a professional in the world can require many incarnations. Not all of them meant to last for a lifetime. Showing up as a professional in the world can require a tremendous amount of resilience.

Not every loss is personal. Nor is every success. 

You can use this eclipse and the astrology of this week to make peace with what didn’t come to pass and to make a promise to yourself to never give up on your gifts, even if their manifestation is a little different than you had originally imagined.

Never let go of the dreams that you have for your career, but do let those dreams grow with the changes you go through. Never let your circumstances keep you from the certainty of your work in the world and its importance, even when the world seems uncertain of your ideas, talents, gifts and ways of giving them. Look for your own encouragement before anyone else’s. 

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Cancer & Cancer Rising

Success isn’t dependent on effort alone. Success isn’t the awards that we win. Success isn’t the milestones we surpass.

Success needs to be contextualized. Success out in the world must be measured against the benefit of our inner growth. Success must be won for the right reasons. Otherwise it leads us towards a great emptiness. No trophy can fill us up.

Success requires that we are able to sit with, struggle with and know intimately what we hold to be invaluable. No societal recognition can give us that. However, when we receive support from others for what we are offering and outward recognition meets our inner goals and aspirations, validation is ours. Validation that has worked its way from the inside out.

And no award is as rewarding as that.

Sunday’s solar eclipse asks you to make peace with what you don’t believe in. It asks you to let go of the philosophies that do not reflect your possibilities. It asks you to get real with yourself, with your gods, with the force of creation that brought you here. What matters most to you? When everything else is stripped away, what is still worth striving for in your life and in your career? When you do your work, what kind of appreciation do you have for it? How are you relating to it? What do you need to free yourself from within it?

Use this week to step outside of the systems that you have given too much credit to. Take your creative power back by noticing all of the ways in which you get caught in competitions that you don’t really care about winning. Take what you do care about serving, place it on your altar and worship it through everything that you do.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Leo & Leo Rising

What’s important is what you have learned from the situation. What’s important is what you won’t repeat in the future. What’s important is what you can gather from what you weren’t able to keep.

Not every collaboration is meant to bring what you originally wished for.

Sunday’s solar eclipse makes known what energetic investment might not reap the rewards that you had hoped for. Sunday’s solar eclipse might make obvious what financial investments need to be withdrawn. Sunday’s solar eclipse can help you to know what part of your dream collaboration is still worth fighting for and what you’ll need to release in order to make it so.

What are you being asked to let go of in order to have more room to grow what you want? What dream gets you caught up in fantasy instead of fueling your ability to tackle it in reality? What have you been fooling yourself about that you are actually too smart to fall for any longer? Fantasies are helpful as long as we realize that they are only meant to be gateways into a working version of them in real time. This week’s astrology is begging you to break lose and find new ways forward. Use your imagination to fuel your dreams for the future. 

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Virgo & Virgo Rising

It’s time to clear the slate.

Find ways to work through the harder relationship dynamics that you are currently facing. The emotional ones. The sensitive ones. The ones that seem to reverberate all the way back to the beginning of your experiences relating.

Make an effort to understand what you fear here. Make an effort to understand what you take for granted here. Make an effort to understand the ways in which you feel taken for granted. Then make an effort to heal those rifts instead of holding on to the hurt.

Forgive yourself for what you can. Ask for help with what you can’t. Forgive them for what you can. Ask for direction when you can’t.

Sunday’s solar eclipse might see the end of a relationship or relationship dynamic. Those that go, will do so for good reason. Those that stay are staying for good reason. This week, your astrology speaks to the nature of what a soulmate is. And what it isn’t.

A soulmate isn’t someone who comes along and saves us. A soulmate is someone who believes in our ability to save ourselves. Someone who gives us the tools that they have, the encouragement, kindness and compassion that we need so that we can become the beauty that we were meant to be. Sunday’s solar eclipse points to those attributes and asks you to see if they are in your current relationships and, if so, to know that you are among your soul’s greatest mates and that they are worth fighting for, fighting with and fighting along side.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Libra & Libra Rising

Tension may build in your more important relationships this week, but tension will also break. Your job is to find a gracious way through the more volatile relationship dynamics that arise until you get to the other side.

Not everything that presents as dramatic needs to be reacted to dramatically. Your cool, collected calm will become a great asset to whatever your partners need to contend with. It will also help any breakdowns move more quickly towards becoming breakthroughs. 

Who in your life needs freedom or help finding their way towards their independence? Who’s going through a growth spurt? How can you provide them the space that they need? What relationship dynamics are changing and how can you assist the relationship in finding its way forward?

Sunday’s solar eclipse lands in the part of your chart that speaks to your labour and the effects of it on your body. Appreciating the efforts that you make can go a long way in terms of keeping yourself healthy. Appreciating what you need in order to stay healthy can go a long way towards making your work a more supportive endeavor. Appreciating the relationship between effort and rest with be a theme to work with this week and well into March.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Scorpio & Scorpio Rising

Sunday’s solar eclipse asks you to eliminate the sources of poisons that infiltrate your creative wells. What gets into the water, unseen but unrelenting in its effect? What leaks are causing you to feel weak? What intoxicants might be fun for a moment but ultimately leave you feeling dizzy and disoriented, unable to access your potency?

Sunday’s eclipse wants you to come clean about the nature of your addictions. We all have them. Mostly, they are a natural survival tactic. Until they threaten our survival. Addictions always serve a purpose. Consider which ones have done their job and now need dealing with in a different way. Take actions that take care of your entire being instead of giving in to assuaging a momentary discomfort. Feel the feelings that have been too scary to acknowledge. Feel what has been covered up by a behavior or a way of coping if you can. Feeling what lies underneath a compulsive behavior can create an incredible amount of space within us and in our lives in general.

Sunday’s eclipse wants you to face any romantic delusions that you are harboring, the ones that make it near impossible to experience real romantic fulfillment. Love gets us high in the best of ways. Infatuations can help us reclaim erotic energy that has been suppressed for too long. But it is only meant as a wake-up call to help us realize the power of its pulse. Don’t let a fantasy keep you locked away from what could be a really rewarding reality.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Sagittarius & Sagittarius Rising

Without compassion for our own journey, it’s near impossible to have an honest understanding of anyone else’s. Without a relentless kindness for our own struggle, we are hard pressed to see those of another. Without an ability to soften to ourselves, we too easily bristle around those that push our buttons and trigger our deepest wounds.

No one knows us like our family. No one can get to us like those that raised us. No one can let us down like those that are supposed to raise us.

Sunday’s solar eclipse targets the most personal and deeply felt part of your chart. It asks you to reflect upon the work that you have done here over the past 2 years. What progress, healing and kindness have you been able to offer yourself in the process of healing the wounds of your childhood? What have your family members been able to heal with you? What haven’t they the capacity to consider? What are you becoming conscious of now that assists you along the journey of retrieving yourself from your past and reclaiming your right to live out a full and glorious present? What dreams do you have for your current and future home?

The family that you are able to create as an adult is a testament to your ability to create safety for yourself. It is a monument to the ways in which you are able to find your agency. It is a reminder that as an adult you can develop all the skills that you need to create the home, family and foundation that you deserve and desire.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Capricorn & Capricorn Rising

If you are going to rebel against something, let it be for the best cause possible. Break the cycle. Break the mold. Break the patterns that aren’t helpful. The patterns that have been carried down to you, generation after generation. Be the one in your lineage who puts an end to the nonsense. Be wiser than the age-old problems that your ancestors weren’t in the position to solve themselves. Bring your lineage to the next level. It’s part of what you came here to do.

This week tests your foundations. It might put a strain on your family relationships. It might help you understand more about the nature of what you need to feel secure and what you thought brought you security but really only inhibits your ability to feel rooted and firmly planted in your life. 

Sunday’s solar eclipse helps you root out and identify the items on your daily calendar that keep you from getting ahead. There may be something about your daily structure that is more draining than helpful, more derailing than effective and more diffusing of your energy then is necessary. Don’t be afraid of letting some chaos go. Think of it as an opportunity to create more space for productive daydreaming. You need space in your day to entertain your muses. Keeping your days less cluttered is a solid invitation to them to come in and make themselves comfortable.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Aquarius & Aquarius Rising

We must all find ways to support our own existence. Sunday’s solar eclipse points to the struggle and the success that you have had with your livelihood over the last 2 years. Most likely you have had to give up one thing for another. That might have been an actual job. That might have been a dream that turned out to be misaligned with your greater mission. That might have been a false narrative that kept you from understanding the value of your talents.

Sunday’s solar eclipse points to the value of your talents and the hefty price you pay for devaluing them. What have you learned over the past 2 years about believing in your natural abilities? What trust have you been able to develop in them? What faith are you still struggling to have in this area of your life?

Sunday’s solar eclipse may highlight the ways in which you still allow your own or other people’s messy boundaries to erode your ability to work effectively. With your life as busy as it is at the moment, these are important lessons to learn efficiently. You don’t have time for situations that cause undue stress or take up too much of your precious energy needlessly. Keep your life running as smoothly as you can and let the only chaos you bring in be the creative kind. 

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

Pisces & Pisces Rising

It’s never too late to restart. It’s never too late to let go of an old sorrow. It’s never too late to be released from a lie that has held your energy back from the world. 

It’s not too late. Not to believe in your dreams. Not to get behind your creative inspirations. Not to learn how to take action.

It’s not too late. Not to develop the courage to fight for your livelihood as you know you need it to be. Not to bring the images of your own success to work with you. Not to strive for what liberates your ability to get free. Personally, professionally and generationally.

Sunday’s solar eclipse is the last eclipse in Pisces for a long time. It’s a wrap up of eclipses that have taken place here over the past 2 years. Take a look back at this time frame. What have you had to say goodbye to? What part of your identity has been washed away? What is left as a result? What was the shape of your life then and how has that shape been eroded, smoothed over and softened? Count the blessings. Grieve the losses. Let go of what you no longer need and know, deep down in your bones, that it is never, ever to late to believe in the dreams that believe in you.

*The next new moon course is a part of Journey Through Eclipse Season and will include rituals for the new moon/solar eclipse and an explanation of how it will impact each sign as well a guide to the next lunar cycle from February 26th – March 26th.

The post Solar Eclipse in Pisces: New Moon Horoscopes for the Week of February 20th appeared first on Chani Nicholas.

Patriarchy & The Ineptitude of Fathers

The physicist Wolfgang Pauli famously derided those with whom he disagreed using the insult, “you’re not even wrong.” This stinging reprimand was meant to imply that a proposed idea was so illogical that it didn’t even enter into the spectrum of falsehood. An idea that is “not even wrong” does not qualify as information, simply noise. We live in a very noisy time.

In the wake of the 2016 election and subsequent moment of ‘reflection’, there has been much scrambling to parse information from noise. Twenty-first century information circulation has manifested a porous Rorschach reality (Adam Curtis’ latest BBC documentary presciently spells this out in conspiratorial grandeur). Rather than another attempt to tourniquet the hemorrhaging of reality, perhaps the fluidity of this moment affords an opportunity to reassess prevailing narratives about rationality, reason, and logic. Rather than paragons of knowledge, perhaps these traditions of thought have merely served to suture over the enduring ignorance of patriarchy.

It’s an awkward time to be a father. These vessels for the perpetuation of the social order are having difficulty making out the character of the social order they’re expected to uphold. It is the social role of ‘father’ within patriarchal society that is my concern. Of course, there are men who have children that refuse to perform patriarchal fatherhood, there are women who have children that choose to perform this social role, and there are people who don’t have any children that choose to perform fatherhood. Further, performance of fatherhood is meant quite apart from performance of masculinity, which Katie Horowitz’s work has shown is a rather dynamic role – there are numerous venues through which to perform masculinity (athlete, mechanic, hunter, rockstar, orator, even archaeologist).

Not all fathers are bad, some are harmless, and I’ve even heard stories of fathers who are actually positive influences on the lives of their children, if not the larger world. But without exception, they are all inept. Inept simply suggests clumsiness or lack of skill, it doesn’t preclude affection or empathy – you can still be a fine father despite your ineptitude. By its very construction, though, the social role of ‘father’ within patriarchal populations (at least the one I live in) is built upon incoherent prerogatives. It is a role of mandated ignorance, wherein the performer of fatherhood must enforce the completeness of the patriarchal system by ignoring or suppressing the validity of alterity.

The constrictive social function of fathers within a patriarchy is to deny that social organization could be otherwise; that there is any validity to reality outside of the patriarchy. “…exteriority, or the place of the other, functions either as a reserve for the disposal of thought or else is articulated in negative terms as an empty and mute space (Plonowska Ziarek).” In short, the function of the patriarchal father is to systematically naturalize domination as the only (or at least most viable) paradigm of social organization.

But dominance is not natural (if that even means anything). More relevantly, dominance is uncomfortable – both for the dominated and the dominating. One can certainly perform dominance in certain situations, just as one can perform submissiveness or empathy at times. An adept (as opposed to inept) individual is precisely someone that is capable of performing multiple social roles as contexts unfold. But to exist in an expectation of static dominance can only give rise to mutinously deficient half-people (aka, fathers).

And now we have the utmost epitome of an inept father, the most mutinously deficient half-person, for a president. Like all inepts, he is incredibly awkward, incredibly pathetic, and incredibly embarrassing (“If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, I’d be dating her”). He is the embodiment of patriarchy – willful ignorance via the disavowal of the validity of alterity.

Patriarchies do not acknowledge the possibility that there could be any reality outside of their own. This is how they perpetuate. Patriarchy is by its very design suppressive (of at least 50% of the population). This form of social organization is not sustained through the merits of its own ideology or the merits of the knowledge it produces. It is sustained through the suppression of the possibility of alterity; through the suppression of exterior knowledges or exterior realities. Patriarchal domination is not facilitated through its own validity, but through the invalidation of all that is outside of it. While it is anthropology’s principle concern to highlight other ways of being and knowing, for the first half of the discipline’s existence it was complicit in the patriarchal dismissal of the validity of the alternative ontologies it exposed – explaining away cultural ‘eccentricities’ in the rational-functional terms of the patriarchy.

Unfortunately, this is not something that has just been inaugurated by the new administration. This practice of casting shade upon reality has been formulated in various forms for centuries under the Skeptical tradition. Ewa Plonowska Ziarek’s The Rhetoric of Failure traces this tradition through its collision with Derrida’s deconstruction. The Skeptical perspective simply casts doubt on our ability to know anything for certain, not a particularly groundbreaking idea, but followed to its conclusions results in something like  postmodern nihilism, which, rather than acknowledging the reality of alterity (that alterity could share in reality), chose to tear down all of reality (like a spoiled kid that says, “if I can’t have reality, no one can!”).

Plonowska Ziarek’s conclusion, though, is that the likes of Derrida, Levinas, and even Samuel Beckett offer (or attempted to offer), an alternative to this unproductive conclusion, not through the disavowal of reality, but rather through questioning Rationality as the arbiter of reality. Plonowska Ziarek writes of rationality’s “allergic response to alterity,” and the “internal relation between rationality and domination.” Of course our patriarchy valorized Rationalism – it always reassures us we’re right! “Whereas Skepticism remains an immanent questioning of knowledge, Derrida’s critique, in its search for the other of reason, surpasses the bounds of rationality… Derrida’s work is oriented toward what has been excluded from the horizon of reason.”

Plonowska Ziarek contrasts the Skeptical disavowal of knowledge with Derrida’s appeal to responsibility toward the outside of reason:

“Although Skepticism [and eventually postmodernism] registers a lack of continuity between the inside and the outside (the subject and the other)… it concerns itself only with the possibility or impossibility of knowledge and not with an ethical response to alterity. To treat alterity as merely an obstacle to knowledge is still to avoid the encounter with the other… the relation to the other reveals the inescapable limits of the subject. Yet, because this figuration of alterity is so entirely negative, subjects search for the means of escaping from this ‘unfortunate’ predicament, the miraculous cure absolving them from the obligation of a response.”

This “unfortunate predicament” engenders the clumsiness of patriarchal fathers, thus their egregious awkwardness. For many fathers this “miraculous cure absolving them of a response” has been rationality. While rationality may be built upon internally consistent logic, it breaks down in the face of alter-hegemonic forms of knowing that anthropology brings to light. Patriarchal fathers are thus put in the embarrassing position of ignoring their own incompleteness.

Anthropologists’ work is that of validating (or at least acknowledging) alterity. Anthropology gives legitimacy to worlds otherwise. Anthropology illuminates the contradictory competing realities that patriarchal societies sweep under the rug. As numerous ethnographic accounts attest, kinship structure and social organization can take many forms. The social role of ‘father’ as it exists within patriarchies is by no means a universal concept.

There’s no “filling in” of the imperfect knowledge and unknowability of patriarchal epistemology. Any system of knowledge production is bound to have gaps. The question is how these gaps are reconciled. What distinguishes patriarchy is that gaps in knowledge are seen as imperfections and threats to the dominance of the prevailing social order. A void is not an imperfection though, it is a signal that some bits of reality are exterior to your society of knowledge makers. To this end, Plonowska Ziarek’s work hints at a sort of ‘cultural realism’, as opposed to Boasian ‘cultural relativism’. Viveiros de Castro’s multinaturalism closely approximates this sentiment.

The tradition since Descartes focused on rationalizing unknowability – that is, employing reason and logic to buttress the imperfect knowledge under which patriarchy operates. This wasn’t the best idea. Rationality has been used to legitimize untold violence and oppression.

Within EuroAmerican patriarchy, as reason and logic crumbled throughout the 20th century they have been replaced by rhetoric and individuation as the ameliorators of unknowability. Was the 2016 election the revenge of inept fathers, tired of defending the inconsistency of rationality? That is to say, quite literally, patriarchy can no longer be rationally defended. It can only be rhetorically defended. The rational reality patriarchy once promoted has been replaced by a rhetorical, individuated reality. Sure, evidence can be provided that directly refutes many of the president’s assertions, but as rhetoric has replaced reason as the preferred patriarchal method of covering up its own ignorance, Trump can proudly embrace Pauli’s insult that he is “not even wrong.”

Further Reading:

Cole, Simon A. 1995. Do androids pulverize tiger bones to use as aphrodisiacs? Social Text(42): 173-93.

Haraway, Donna. 1991. Simians, cyborgs, and women: The reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge.

Horowitz, Katie R. 2013. The trouble with “Queerness”: Drag and the making of two cultures. Signs 38 (2): 303-26.

Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. 2014. Cannibal metaphysics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Ziarek, Ewa Plonowska. 1996. The rhetoric of failure: Deconstructon of skepticism, reinvention of modernism. Albany: State University of New York Press.