Bye Bye Bye 2016

The years last bone broth is simmering behind me and everyone everywhere on social media is talking about the end. I want to too, just for myself. As Mercury has turned his back on us in the sky and transits seemingly backward for now, my words have felt hollow, shallow and useless. Like they hold no power. So usually in a time like this I am not prone to write, but here I am anyway. I wanna, for personal reasons, catalog the end of this year a bit. Or at least put something up where I can look back on the goodbye. 

Something to punctuate the end. 

Photo Nov 26, 9 12 28 AM.jpg

For me, this year was about breaking down, building up and moving into new territory. It was one of the harder years of my life, but an amazing one. Some major things that happened:

  • My paternal grandmother died. She helped raise me as a kid and she was the grandmother I was closest to.
  • Painfully watched my father succumb further to alcoholism. Recognized my own hereditary susceptibility to alcohol and realized that this beast is dormant within me. 
  • I hiked most of the Oregon Coast Trail. In doing so I learned how to backpack and manage hiking long distances all by myself.
  • I grew vast amounts of confidence (and give no fucks) in my writing while on trail/post trail and am totally comfortable calling myself a writer now. Despite my lack of formal education. 
  • I made the decision to leave my business and primary source of income at Haus of Gloi, of which I have been founder, creator and co-owner of for 9 years.
  • Launched Blood Moon Botanica and am now also reading tarot and bones professionally. 
  • Laid down ground work to step into a new job with Blood Moon Botanica after I finish the PCT.
  • Fell in love with a person I did not know could actually even exist.
  • Solidified personal political views/beliefs post election and will act accordingly to resist facisim and protect/defend what I love.

As the year has come to a close, I find myself separating from many of the monolithic structures I've built for myself to pursue deep and serious life callings. It's been a long game. Two years as a matter of fact (long perhaps, for an Aries). Making the decision to hike the PCT in early 2015 was what actually spurred a lot of these changes and decisions. It opened many doors I longed to walk though and to think I haven't even stepped foot on this trail and it's already changed me. 

In these last few months of this year it's actually happened. For some reason I've been startled to see years of work, dreaming and reaching finally materialize before me. Like, I'm making it happen. All those little tiny steps and things I did years, months, weeks, days ago are making these current moments and future moments happen. Inching closer and closer towards my (as cliche as it sounds) my own truth. Searing, white hot truth.

Saying that doesn't mean that I am not afraid. I am trusting that my thriftiness and Blood Moon Botanica will sustain me with a home and a living wage after I complete the PCT. The risks are great, the leaps are huge, learning to trust has been a struggle, learning how to let go. I've never been in a better position to chase after the things that matter the most to me. Plants, the land, herbalism, protecting and serving that which I hold most dear. I want to thank my past self, my spirits and ancestors and to all those who helped shine light on this crooked path I choose to walk. No matter how painful it was in the past to get me here to this point, this is the only way I would have it.

The witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it.
— Peter Grey, Rewilding Witchcraft

When you're moving toward what you're deeply called to do, the universe, God, Her, whoever - they conspire to put you where you need to be.

Now, I continue onwards towards what I know is right and I will trust the process.

The future is unknown.

2017 is unknown.

I am ready.

Bye bye bye 2016.

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.

A Witches List: Life Bits + Tarot + Books + Coffee Death Limbo

Well, I can't drink fucking coffee right now. It's giving me heartburn. I don't know where it came from or why or how, but my blessed black dark bitter life elixir is no longer friendly towards my digestive system. So, it's been tea and eating as right as I can, when I can. Thankfully I live only a few blocks from one of Portlands best tea places, Townshend Tea. The loose leaf can rack up a bill, and very quickly I might add. A little of this one, a little of that one, $30! But dang, it tastes good. If I can't have my coffee, my tea might as well be exciting.

witch hair and maps and no coffee.

witch hair and maps and no coffee.

Besides adjusting to a new life without coffee (aka: death) it has been busy, busy, busy with odd quiet moments in between. I've been thinking a lot about my upcoming trip, putting final touches on logistics, route, gear and food. My spiritual practice and what I will be doing with myself post trail. I've been reading a few books, new and old. Setting aside ego and pride to explore things I have an irrational dislike of. Spending time with a person I love and exploring this new place of being vulnerable and really being OK and happy in that state without letting fears override me - I've been applying that to all areas of my life lately. Slowly but surely.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I am having a weird time being in a limbo of not being able to take action on some things I'd like to get started. I don't usually put the lid on things and right now I have no choice but to keep the lid on this I WANNA DO IT NOW stew of ideas and plans. A very good exercise for someone like myself. It will also be a great to come back from my trip and have a course of action I can take, that way I hopefully don't get caught up in post trail blues.

I did a cool thing earlier this month and gave my living room couch away for free on Craigslist. I then moved my bed into my living room and now, I have a blank slate of a room that will be solely dedicated to witchcraft related activities. I've been dipping back into old practices and relationships to deity and spirit that I had set aside for a few years. While my house is primarily conducive and supportive of my practices, I don't know why I had never thought of doing this before. I'm glad I did. I'm looking forward to doing more with it when I get back from the coast.

TAROT

On Instagram I have been doing another month long tarot challenge! I love these and I especially love doing these with a new deck, as it gives you such a great opportunity to work with it on the daily. I chose to work with the Wild Unknown, a deck I own but have had an aversion to since it is so very popular and hip. To challenge myself on this, I decided to use the deck and get over my ridiculous snobbery. So far, it has been powerful to work with and I definitely appreciate the strong voice that this deck has.

Have you seen the Pagan Otherworlds Tarot that is being produced by Uusi? Well, ya need to go look at it right now. I don't think I have been this excited by a tarot deck in... forever. Not only does this deck have the traditional 78 cards, but it has FIVE lunar cards and "Seeker" card. How cool is this deck? The Lunar cards might be a great way to work with time frames within readings. Who knows! I'll have to try it out.

photos from and by  Uusi

photos from and by Uusi

The folks behind Uusi are super great people too. I got a little post card in the mail from them to let me know when my deck would ship and when the book will be arriving as well. Decks should be arriving in August, the companion book in October. I like that the book will be coming out a few months down the road after the deck, as it will give me to opportunity to read and work with it purely by imagery and intuition, my preferred method of card reading. EXCITED!

READING

For a long time, I harboured a dislike of Amanda Palmer. I didn't have any real rational reasoning for this. I think that sometimes, it is good to explore our dislike of something - just to check in on where that is coming from within us. Likely, we dislike that someone or something because it presents to us our lack, or they inspire jealously because we are not living like them, or are as great as them, or living a fabulous life like them, or are married to your author crush Neil Gaiman, happy, successful, or any other number of things you feel you are not or have not. 

In the same vein of challenging myself to read with the Wild Unknown tarot, I decided I needed to read her book The Art of Asking. Magically, the book appeared in my lap - a side benefit of loving a man who works for the best bookstore in Portland and possibly North America. 

I'm about a quarter of the way through and I think I have underlined and made notes on half the pages so far. If you are doing anything, anything at all - perusing your passions in any shape and form, you will love this book. As an entrepreneur and someone who has bucked at conventional ways of living my whole life, this book has been hugely affirming so far. Especially within the realms of work that makes one vulnerable, like reading tarot for example. She really highlights the struggle of an artist and the effect of crushing self-doubt.

In both the art and the business worlds, the difference between the amateurs and the professionals is simple:
The professionals know they’re winging it.
The amateurs pretend they’re not.
I laughed thinking about every single artist I knew - every writer, every actor, every filmmaker, every crazed motherfucker who had decided to forgo a life of predictable income, upward mobility, and simple tax returns, and instead pursued a life in which they made their living trying to somehow turn their dot-connecting brains inside out and show the results to the world - and how maybe it all boiled down to one thing:
BELIEVE ME.
Believe me.
I’m real.

It's really good. And as I figured, my dislike of her was not about her but about me and my own self-worth. Good things to explore.

ADVENTURES

When I leave the Portland metro area, sometimes I realize that I forget where I live. It's been nice to go with someone and be able to share seeing beauty like this.

lava canyon, mount saint helens

lava canyon, mount saint helens

june lake, mount saint helens

june lake, mount saint helens

avalanche lily, mount saint helens

avalanche lily, mount saint helens

bagby hot springs area

bagby hot springs area

I had the pleasure of driving my friend Ashley and her husband Marcos out for a two day backpacking trip! It was great seeing them and we all went for a dip at the hot springs. It had been ages since I'd been here. It's a popular spot for Portland folks. Beautiful nonetheless.

Sadly, someone took it upon themselves to sprinkle glitter all over the trail. Sigh.

I feel like a complete dork, but if I am within the vacinity of the PCT, I have to stop. Even if it's just to walk a few hundred feet of trail. You can see it snaking along behind me there. It carries the footsteps of so many people, all their pain and hunger and who the fuck knows what else. A year and a half of longing makes that narrow path something very, very special and symbolic to me. 10 measly months and it'll be my home for a little while.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I am curious, because I know I am not the only one. Have you tried exploring something you irrationally dislike? Did you ever discover the root cause?

My next post will likely, maybe, be from my tent while I am on the coast. See you then!

Leaving For the Oregon Coast Trail + What Do I Need?

It's 100 degrees here in Portland this weekend. I sucked in all the cool air last night, shut up all the windows before it crept over 70 degrees this morning and I am sitting in fine comfort, for now. I am cool blooded though, so I enjoy the heat for the most part. Sipping holy basil and mint tea, with a little watermelon on the side. Good refreshing things.

My mind keeps drifting back to this this picture I took almost a year ago, when I was on a camping trip with my herbalism school. It was such a hot and dry summer last year...

Oregon Coast Trail Oswald West - Thru Hiking

It's always cool on the coast, or at the very least there will be that persistent breeze rolling in off the ocean. Filling you up with the sweetness of negative ions, salty skin and tousled hair.

My stomach flips a little in that good way; when I look at my calendar and see July creeping up faster than I thought possible. In less than a month now, I'll be living on the Oregon coast for a month.

My home and all that I'll need to live outdoors will be on my back. I'll be avoiding lingering in towns and spending as much time as I can out on the route that will take me to the California border. From there, I'll have to find my way home. Likely by a mixture of bus and train.

It's going to be super amazing. But I am also kind of preparing myself more for the uncomfortable aspects of what I'm doing. The word for it is called thru-hiking - when you hike one long continuous trail from beginning to end. It's my preliminary step towards finding my style for when I take on the Pacific Crest Trail next year. To know what I am comfortable with, what I need and don't need, what I want and don't want. 

I don't know what to expect. I have never done anything like this in my life. I've never even been on a trip this long before, as I have spent the majority of my adult life... well, adulting. Running a business, tending to the day to day.

It's been both easy and hard for me to set aside time like this, for a big endeavour. It feels kind of like a chink in my mental calendar year - I'm excited and a little irritated by it. Aries don't like to slow their roll and I can't get rolling on some projects I've wanted to pick up. My ingrained scheduling will be disrupted and I feel like I can't begin anything right now. 

It's a preparatory limbo.

What I do know is, my constant companions are going to be the ocean, trees, plants and the moon as she moves the tide back and forth. Controlling my movements of when I can and cannot hike. When I can and cannot pass around a point, or make it to the next headland, to my next camp spot. 

I keep thinking about how I should prepare for the spiritual aspect of this hike and I think about how I am going to do that when I am on the PCT too. I think about physical tools I would need to engage in spirit work, pay homage to the moon in her phases, or to honor a spirit of place. I think I need these physical accoutrements to make contact, to do the work, to engage. Then I realized I don't. I realized...

All the tools we need are in us. 

So I decided to stop stressing about that part. Because either they'll find me, or I'll find them... we'll find each other somehow. I'll figure it out when I get there. I keep telling myself that.


If you're wanting the more detailed and nitty gritty aspects of my hikes and the preparation that I do for them, you can follow me on my other blog, Witch Wandering (which, there are no posts yet, but soon). In that space I will be keeping a daily trail log (updating on trail when able to do so) and posts on what I carry gear wise, eat, prepare, etc. I do hope to squeeze in a from the trail post here too, if possible. We'll see how it goes.

Weekly Oracle: Vulnerability + Resentment + Healing

I'll be doing Weekly Oracles over on my Instagram account every Monday instead of doing them here. I'd like to focus on more quality vs. quantity writing here in this space. Also, in July I will be leaving for a month long hike along the Oregon coast. I'll be spending most of June getting prepared.

You ever feel like your vulnerability can lead you to a path of resentment? Confidently you start off baring your truth, only to recoil at yourself because seemingly, there is no reciprocity or care of this fragile thing you exposed - perhaps not the way you wanted it. Not the way you expected it. Once you've shown or exposed that soft spot, you suddenly feel shameful or too much. Maybe you gave too much. You cared too much. Always kind of echoing in the back of your mind, "why do I care so much, why do I care so much, why do I care so much?" starts forming like god damn bramble shoots, taking over everything. 

Then begins the slow construction of a wall. Laying it in front of yourself, brick by brick. But you build it about chest high, so you can still see the person/people on the other side and talk with them... but they can't completely reach you. You're protected yourself to the point of letting nothing in and nothing out. They can't see much, neither can you. You're able to dip down when you feel like it, to feel secure again and maintain your safe space.

This wall prevents full expression of my self, a compassionate expression. It's coming from a place of fear. Fear of loss and hurt. So when I act in the world, or with people I care about - it is distorted. It's laced with paranoia, anxiety, mistrust.

I roll my eyes into the back of my skull, I. Do. Not. Want. To. Look. At. This.

This is how I have felt the past few days, or several, really.

Annoyingly, I keep getting fours. Rest/withdrawal refusal/indignation. My deck knows me, the cheeky shit. It won't let me hide. Too many times I've pulled the same cards back to back the past few days. For me, this was the recognition and affirmation that I needed to get my head straight.

FOUR OF CUPS

Super fixed tepid water, this card. This outright refusal of an offering, a magic, magic thing just hovering right there. Too focused on the issue at hand to notice a way to solve it. An answer, a helping hand, a helping spirit, a helping cup of tea. Even the tree friend has this closed up persons back, if only they opened up. They seem to be content to sit with their problems.

Four of Cups - resentment vulnerability healing

Finally, it dawned on me...

How can I let go of my resentments and heal from my hurts?

Sometimes, when you're really in the thick of it, you can't see that helping hand, tree friend, person, spirit. All you can see is your sick vision. So, this is what I got:

Wild Unknown - Strength Ace of Pentacles and 9 of Wands

Here we have Strength. In this case, it is the willpower to calm those wild inner emotions with love and compassion and tame them. This doesn't happen through mentally whipping and lashing ourselves, but by caring for that hurt and pain. We're going to suffer in this life regardless, why create more monsters or feed those monsters by being harsh with ourselves? It takes emotional willpower and inner strength to turn and face these aspects of ourselves.  To cut through the fog and find that root cause of our reactions and resentments that we carry with us. 

Despite wounds, being cut or even say if it was a healthy trimming away and letting go, there's an abundance of growth to come from it. Healing is occurring with recognition of our hurts and resentments. If we can summon up that inner resolve to face them, heal and evolve from them, our inner core can shine brightly. We don't have to hide behind the wall we create any more. Safely, we can move about in the world in our true, raw brightest forms. The center of this cut tree is the heartwood, the very core of something living and sturdy. It shines on brightly, reaching through all layers of our life. An opening from the inside out.

Even with that burst of the Ace, it ain't an easy road doing this kind of healing work. Some days, it can seem like this is an uphill battle. Tripping and stumbling up the stairs. It's good to remember to be gentle to ourselves, especially if you're the type to suck it up, put on the blinders and plough on despite your hurting, lashing yourself along the way. There's a strength here though that goes back to the first card, as these aren't just nimble wands but great big sturdy logs. One foot in front of the other each day, slowly and steady. With perseverance, we can uncover what hides within us.

Much love to you all, as we tread our own crooked, twisting winding and brilliantly beautiful paths.