Blackberry + On the Work of Self Love and Our Bodies

Recently in an Instagram post, I wrote about struggling with my own body image and recognizing my relationship to my body and that it is time to mend it. I'm not an expert on this subject of being a woman and how I deal with my own body. Or maybe I am, because I am living and dealing with it just like so many other people. I also do not contain the eloquent politically correct language so many others posses, to express myself confidently. But you know, fuck it. Alas, my Mercury in Aries does its usual thing. 

Please, read through the comments. There are a lot of lovely and wonderful nuggets in there.

This is the body I wake up in every day. Lately, I have been having an increasing anxiety about my body and it's shape. It has been building up to an extremely uncomfortable anxiety ridden point. I have been fat and I have meticulously counted my calories and lifted weights until I had visible abs, which often only brought a superficial appreciation of my body. I mentally beat myself up when I skip the gym for a week, or when I decide to eat like shit for a day or two. When I don't move my body, or come into it I forget that I am in it. Which is strange to me as a highly physical Aries/Taurus person. Often I feel like a cloud of consciousness, just floating in the ether, with nothing to root me or ground me. I look at @bodyposipanda and so many other women in love with their bodies no matter the shape. I feel shame, envy, anger and self loathing that I can't seem to ever ascend into acceptance and even more than that LOVE for my self and mainly, my body. I know where the loathing comes from, but I cannot fend it off some days and some days it's really bad. The whole world can tell you you're beautiful but you'll never believe it until you come into some form of love for your self and body - until you do your own internal work. And I realize, that I need to spend time with myself and with my body more. It's time to do this work I have put off so long and ignored. To feel the shapes and roots of, "I'm not good enough" "I'm not lean enough" "I'm not as pretty as that person" "I am not worthy" etc. and treat them with compassion and understanding. To transmute that. Vulnerability, transparency and sharing in my community (all community) have been a way for me to heal parts of myself. Supporting each other in the struggle, as I know I am not alone. I know many of you feel this, I feel it too. We can unlearn what we have been taught is "beautiful" and stop hating ourselves for what we actually are. It's ok. We're ok. We are enough. . . . #bodypositive #bodyposi #bodypos #selflove #feels #thestruggle #curves #pcos #vulnerability #transparent #witchlife #transmute #unlearn

A photo posted by ♈️Britton (@archaichoney) on

It wasn't easy to put all of that up, but I'll say it again: fuck it. Because I know I'm not alone in the struggle. The shame that I am made to feel for my body, no matter its shape. I am three years out of an abusive long term relationship followed by a string of dating and relationships where 95% of the time I was purely an object meant to please and when I did not please, when I challenged, when I fought back against misogyny I was made to feel terrible and unwanted for it. I had no idea what was even happening at the time. I just felt like an unloveable, ugly, unworthy human being.

I know that is not true about me, or you or anyone.

So, as I sat looking over comment after comment, story after story I grabbed my tarot cards. Naturally. I wanted to do a reading for all of us as we recognize and begin to heal these thought patterns and how we view our bodies. This will be a lucid rambling of card reading, so thank you in advanced for following along.

The deck I am using is my beloved Pagan Otherworlds Tarot, created by the wonderful folks at Uusi

The first card was the most profound, and I almost just wanted to stop the reading right there but I pulled one more just to back it up.

10 of Swords - Queen of Wands

Being a plant person, the first thing I see here are the brambles and what looks like to me like the highly invasive Rubus armeniacus (Himalayan blackberry) that plagues my home in the Northwest. And how representative this plant can be of patriarchal and misogynistic values. As it creeps into our minds telling us how to live and how we should think of ourselves. It binds us and chokes the life out of all other living things. What seems most oppressive in this picture though, is the crushing weight of those swords. The whole thing, on the surface looks like a tangled mess of sharp painful objects and death. At the same time however, this plant provides food, shelter for small animals and even medicine.

Blackberry is in the Rosaceae family, placing it alongside other fruit bearing and thorn wielding plants such as Crataegus (hawthorn) and Rosa (rose). The lesson these plants often provide us is safe boundaries that protect the self and often help support love of the self. Bridging the wide gaps and disconnect we can often find between our spirit, mind and body.

It is worthy to note that in this card its rootball is exposed, where a good portion of it's medicine resides and in this state it is vulnerable. This is where my focus is being drawn.

Classically, the 10 of Swords is the end of the suit of Swords and the end of a cycle. The darkness before dawn. In this card, we see the opportunity of transmuting the roots of invasive and persistent thoughts about our bodies and our own worthiness despite the oppressive situation we find ourselves in. Do we use the swords in an aggressive angry act to hack away at something that will just spring back time and time again, offering only a temporary reprieve? Or, or, do we get our hands dirty and transform the mire of our thoughts about ourselves into a potent medicine that heals and teaches us? 

The work is not easy. The work does not come without getting scratched, or bleeding, or remembering and seeing just how far those roots go back.

Alongside this card was the witch of tarot herself, the Queen of Wands. With her cat, her secrets and her knowledge of positive growth. This kind of Queen can act as a guide and muse for those of us working on the struggle and our journey into a healthy and positive relationship with our bodies. Her focus is inward and yet she can turn that and radiate it outward as warmth, love and compassion for herself and others. A Queen is a Queen because of her experiences, both good and bad. If you have a tarot deck, find her and carry her with you. Put her in a place you will see often and be reminded of her energies. 

If you're reading this chances are you're probably a witch, right? We have the power and ancestral knowledge to turn something into another. To transmute and alchemize. To make a healing balm and find power and strength out of what would otherwise crush us and snuff us out.