Alexis P. Morgan is the pole-dancing, sword-wielding, democratic socialist, on-the-low-heaux sorceress you’ve been warned you about. She makes her cheddar as a professional writer, facilitator, artist, ritualist, and priestess. Devoted to Truth, Justice, and Liberation, she lives in the spirit of foremothers before her: unbossed, unbought, and unbothered.
I sat down with writer Alexis P. Morgan recently and got to talk with her about what it means to be a spiritual warrior. Her answer is surprising, and it has more to do with the willingness to be vulnerable than a desire to fight. She mentions how a warrior is someone who is willing to confront what is not working head-on, and the warrior archetype is very different than what we’ve been taught by toxic masculinity.
I ask her a question that has dogged me for ages about whether warriors and healers necessarily have to sit on the opposite side of the spectrum, and she has several examples of Goddesses that are both healers and warriors. Freya, Eir and Sekmet are a few that she describes.
We move on to something that Alexis addresses in her most recent bit of writing, and that is the power of naming. She describes the act of naming as an act of resistance and we discuss how white supremacy and patriarchy operate by making those that are oppressed feel like they cannot name or talk about their oppression.
The conversation then turned to a discussion of the internet, and how the internet both complicates and simplifies the resistance to kyriarchy. Alexis has some salient points about how we tend to treat the internet as if it is not real, and why that is problematic. She also has a great explanation for how the internet is kind of like the Astral plane, and how the complicates our ideas of community and loneliness.
Then the discussion turns to the subject of Law of Attraction and, to cut to the chase, how we both see it as a world killing zombie. Alexis has a lot of great perspective on how the principles of LOA have been removed from their roots and why the circuitry of that system just doesn’t work anymore. She notes, however, that it is based on a system of magic that IS very real. She also makes a great point of connecting our 45th president to the philosophies of LOA. Alexis notes how her relationship with her guides and especially her Ancestors keeps her grounded into right relationship with her powers of manifestation.
In closing, I ask her my favorite question, which is what kind of a world she wanted to see in the future, and her answer is beautiful and centers around the kind of world she wants to see for black and brown children. We also get to talk about my new favorite book in this discussion: Emergent Strategy by Adrian Maree Brown.
Alexis brings us full circle at the end of the discussion by noting how in her ideal world violence would be a sacred and terrible thing that is only used in very extreme circumstances. There may or may not be a reference to punching Nazi’s at the end of the interview, as well as a quote by Sun Tzu from the Art of War.
This month I got to speak to Melanie St. Ours about the topic of desire. In this interview we talk about the brain chemistry of desire, how to recognize destructive desires, and how taboo and community censorship of desire can affect our health.
When I was in my 20s I worked in a collectively-owned grocery store in San Francisco. During the time I worked there, one of my jobs was to train a new hire, and older African American woman, who was a single mom to 5 kids. I will admit, I felt a bit foolish, ‘training’ this woman who could probably organize circles around me, having raised 5 kids on her own. But I showed her our procedures, and my floor stocking routine, trying to be helpful and respectful. During one of our training sessions, as we were chatting about our lives, I told her about a movie I’d seen recently. I can’t even recall the film any more, but I referred to it as a ‘black comedy,’ meaning it was sarcastic and dark in it’s humor. She immediately questioned me about what I meant by black comedy, I think I defined it just like I did for you in the sentence above. “Why do you have to call it that?” She asked. I didn’t understand. “To me”, she continued, “black is beautiful, it is mysterious, like the night, why do you call a movie like that a black comedy?”
Immediately a million and one defenses rushed to my tongue. It was just a figure of speech, I meant no offense, she was just being too sensitive. Weren’t we allowed to have other connotations of the word black, that didn’t center around race? But something stopped me that day before a single one of them made it out of my mouth. “Oh” I said, “I never thought of it like that. Thanks for pointing that out.” She softened, the moment passed, but later she confided that she appreciated the fact that I didn’t get defensive and thanked me for actually listening to her.
The moment cost me absolutely nothing. Turns out she wasn’t even asking me to change my language, she was just sharing her perspective. But what I gained from that moment was invaluable. I learned about another perspective. My world view broadened. I gained a friend. All for a moment that didn’t even cost me a thing.
I’m not telling you this story to prove to you what a good person I am. Because there are a million other stories I could tell you about how I’ve failed when it really mattered. How I failed speak up for this same woman in a meeting with my department members. How I’ve said the totally wrong thing to someone and made a total ass of myself. About all the times when I DID get defensive. So believe me when I say, this isn’t about me being ‘good’.
I’m telling you about this moment because it was a moment when I learned that the cost of defending white privilege is always greater than it is worth.
I had the pleasure recently of inviting my good friend, a fellow witch and an activist Stevie Ann DePaola to speak to my students about her work combining activism with magic. The work she is currently doing centers around community organizing against evictions and police brutality in San Francisco.
She explained to us that the bulk of the magical part of the work she does as an activist is her own personal work. It’s shadow work she explained to us: sitting with the parts of yourself you haven’t examined before; your assumptions, your privilege, what you take for granted; the choices your ancestors made before you were even born.
It is hard work, and it is deeply rewarding work. It is work that makes us whole again. And it is the work that will ultimately be needed for us to heal white supremacy.
If you are a white ally, but are not aware of the pain of whiteness, when push comes to shove you will crumble. Because racial equality isn’t going to look like having a statistically acceptable number of black CEOs. Racial equality isn’t your life now, except with more POC friends. Racial equality will require a deep restructuring of a society that is founded on slavery. Gender equality will require a deep restructuring of a society that is founded on patriarchy. Society is currently set up to grant privilege to those who are able to do the tasks white men are good at; a more equitable society will value different tasks. (emphasis her’s)
When I recently posted the above article on my FB feed, along with a discussion of how white supremacy actually hurts white people, I got into a long and protracted discussion with a friend who ‘refused to feel guilty or apologize for being white’. Which is sadly how many white people feel when they hear someone mention white privilege.
I want to be really clear here: shadow work is not about guilt or having to apologize for how you were born. Shadow work is about knowing your full self, about looking at your blind spots, your wounds, your arrogances and gently but unflinchingly healing them in the light of your own inner gaze.
What does it mean to be born into the body that you inhabit? What does it mean to have ancestors that may have participated in the slave trade, or segregation, or race riots? What does it mean that many of the opportunities you have been given in life were made possible by the oppression of other people? How do those facts about you, facts that you had no part in creating, but that are still true, affect how others, particularly people of color, may view you?
Are you willing to give up that false power for wholeness? Are you willing to trade it in for the true power of knowing yourself?
When you can look at your shadow and see all that it holds, and still love yourself, you are finally whole. Which is what got me remembering that moment with my co-worker. I gained so much from what I didn’t say. I gained so much from shutting my mouth, taking a deep breath, and admitting that maybe for once, I didn’t know what I was talking about. In this case the moment cost me absolutely nothing, but sometimes shadow work does ask us to change things about ourselves. Sometimes there is a cost to it, but if we only focus on the cost, we are missing much of the value.
Clearly just doing the shadow work isn’t enough. That one moment didn’t magically make me a better ally to people of color. There is real work to do, and we have to blend our inner realizations with outer action, but it is a start, a doorway.
So why? I ask my fellow white friends and readers. Why are we holding on so dearly to something that costs many of
us nothing to give up, and when there is so much to gain once we do?
My theme for the month is wildness. When I tell people this I get funny looks. People assume I’m gonna be running around naked in the woods. While I’m not above doing that, it reminds me about how we’ve got the wrong idea about the wild.
As a word we equate it to something like frenetic, frenzied, chaotic. But true wildness couldn’t be further from the truth.
Somewhere back in the good ol’ bad days we started moving further and further away from our own wild natures. We had to become civilized. Now I’m gonna save the details and debate about that occurrence for another post, but I think it is safe to say, that by now, most of us are pretty darn cut off from our own wild natures. Some of us are down right scared of them. And in turn we are scared of the wild world.
Let’s look at our mistaken ideas about wildness as an example.
Research continually shows us time and time again that nature has a relaxing and anti-depressive effect on humans. Just a few minutes a day outside lifts our mood, calms us down, and improves our health.
Why then do we fear the wild.
I think the answer lies in our own mis-alinged relationship with it. As we moved further and further away from our own wild nature, the wilderness turned from something that supported us, to something we had to conquer. In the process we lost sight of the fact that for the vast majority of creatures that live there, the wild is a place of great peace, not great struggle.
Animals in the wild spend about 90% of their time resting and relaxing, and only about 10% in a frenetic chase from danger, or hunting food. But as humans, our interactions with the wild are so limited, that we tend to only see the frenetic 10%. (These are not exact figures, but google any study on animal sleep habits and you will see what I mean).
Increasingly in our stories and media we are drawn only to the struggle. We are addicted to reality shows where modern humans are dumped in the wild with no community, no ancestral heritage to draw upon, and no help. We look at that picture and think: nature is such hard work.
But the truth is, ancient man would have never been in that situation. Our wild ancestors were surrounded by community structures, and a spiritual belief system that supported their survival.
We have become strangers in our own homes.
Nature is our ideal environment. Being in nature heals us. Take your tired, computer strained eyes and just look at a wild green landscape if you don’t believe me. It is medicine for the modern world.
This is especially true if you are a highly empathic, intuitive or sensitive person. Nature is the exact medicine you need to stay grounded, in your body and restore your frayed nerves.
We need to get outside before we destroy what is left of our beautiful planet, so that we know what it is that we are losing before it is too late.
What is your relationship with the wild? Does nature scare you? Heal you? Leave a comment below and let me know what your journey with nature has been.
One of my favorite holidays is approaching. This is a holiday that changed my whole life the first time I celebrated it. Known as Imbolc or Candlemas, and celebrated in early February, this is a holiday that marks the first signs of spring.
Shortly after I turned 30 I joined a mystery school program learning all about the power of magic and the ways of the Priestess. In the second year of that program we learned all about the holidays of the Wheel of the Year. On Imbolc we all took a vow to walk through the year intentionally, accepting that our lives were works of magic.
Imbolc is that holiday associated with the first stirrings of spring. The weather may not have changed much, but the days are getting noticably longer. In many places the sap is rising once again in the trees, and indeed, this can often be the time for ‘sugaring’ in Maple syrup country.
What all of this means for us, is that the earth is asking us wake up from our winter slumber. The signs of spring at Imbolc are subtle, and it asks us to take a leap of faith.
Imbolc asks us if we are ready to walk another round on the Wheel. Are we ready to engage in the world once again, are we willing to accept our power as magical beings? Are we ready to admit once again that we have the power to shape our own lives?
The first year I made this vow my whole life changed. I went from living in a trailer in my friend’s driveway to owning my first home. I went from working as a house cleaner and living in a constant state of being broke, to joining a Master’s Program in Chinese Medicine and starting my career as a healer.
But most of all, I went from being a person who was sacred to admit she was powerful, to being someone who saw the full power of her own manifestations. This was the year I finally took charge of my life.
Do you want to find out more about celebrating the Wheel of the Year and how these holidays can transform your life? This year on Imbolc my year-long immersion program begins. I will be taking a group of students through these holidays using ritual and magic. Check out my free master-class as a great way to get started on this journey.