The shelf that holds my kitchen altar jumps from its left hook and swings down, like a pendulum, anchored by the right hook. I hear the crash and tinkle of glass breaking before I fully realize that my stones, vase, bottles, and mortar & pestle had slid down to the floor. I still held the large glass salt container in my right hand, the object I’d been in the process of taking down when the shelf tilted sideways.
I look at my left hand. The stone in my palm is red and orange, with gray obtrusions throughout, and the entirety is shaped like a shield. It had arrived in the mail today, a gift from a client. Had I made a mistake in providing my address to someone I hadn’t met in person? What had I unleashed in my house?
I put the stone, a piece of Australian Picture Jasper, on the counterd while I sweep and vacuum the kitchen floor. Once clean, I find a bowl in which to bury the stone in salt, in the hopes of cleansing it from whatever hex or spirit may have come with it.
“Not sure how to interpret this,” I text the three women in my coven. “WTF?”
“Allow your mind to be still and your spirit to be silent,” texts back the Air sign. “In this space you will find the answer you’re looking for.”
“Wow,” says the Earth sign. “What an earth-connected stone. It may be making room. Allow spirit to guide you. Your space is asking to be balanced out.”
I sigh in frustration. At least by their calm and encouraging answers, I know the stone isn't something to be afraid of. Unless I'm afraid of my own trauma.
As an Aries whose chart is dominated by fire, my house is filled with candles and volcanic rocks and incense, not plants, like my coven-mates’ houses. We’d established recently that we needed to take me to a local nursery to find at least one plant that I would nurture and grow.
“It’s like talking to any other spirit,” said the Earth sign.
“Okay,” I agreed with reluctance. I can talk to spirits. Maybe I learn how to talk to plant spirits. I usually just kill plants.
I’m not a fan of the Earth element.
Australian Picture Jasper is found in Western Australia. According to Crystal Vaults, it’s so named for the landscape-like scenes that can be found in its layers. It’s called the “Stone of Global Awareness,” and it may be one of the deepest connected stones to Earth.
It’s supposed to bring calm, healing, and nurturing vibes, but I’m freaked out. According to the website, you’re supposed to use this stone “in the home or workplace to alleviate geopathic, environmental and technological pollution and radiation.”
Does that mean my kitchen altar needs to be cleaned?
“Use this heliotropic meditation to feel your feelings tonight,” texts Earth, linking to a Soundcloud meditation.
“I was going to just watch a sappy movie to feel my feelings,” I whine. I had interpreted my Tarot cards that morning as a need to cry: The devil, the five of wands, and the king of cups had indicated a temptation to arm wrestle the Universe for dominance, when I should just be feeling my feelings.
“This is a more intimate way to feel your feelings, boo!” Air shoots back. “You can do it! We love you!”
The problem with witchy, smart, and spiritual friends is that they encourage you to do shit that helps you level up. Uncomfortable shit. Dammit.
A woman’s voice fills the air. “Hard breath in, hard breath out,” she chants and then demonstrates. My two dogs aren’t sure what to make of me lying on my yoga mat in the middle of my living room with a strange woman speaking from my phone. They keep nuzzling at my face. The breaths are hard to do; it’s so quick and my mouth dries out. I feel out of breath and dizzy. I keep stopping to take real breaths, but try to go back to maintaining the short, hard breathing cycle.
As expected, feelings rise in my body. Anger. Rage. The sound of my breath reminds me of trauma from my childhood. I go back to normal breathing, unwilling to feel the trauma feelings. The woman’s voice encourages me to keep going.
“You’re safe,” she says. “I’m right here with you.”
I trust her. I trust me. It’s 2019, and I’m 41, not 6, and I’m safe. I breath hard and quick again, and I can feel my body’s sinews and muscles, my bones and my marrow. I flash back to being 15 and seeing some sort of a biology or anatomy film in science class with red and orange renderings of the muscles in the human body that triggered my first panic attack.
The rage fills my shoulders and arms, and I find my hands are shaped like claws, grasping at the air. My back is arched and I send waves of angry energy out. I realize I can send that energy into the earth, and I lower my hands to the floor. The dogs take the opportunity to lick my face; they are alarmed at my sounds.
I feel a release. It cascades in goosebumps from my lower brain, down my neck and into my arms. It reminds me of the milk “let down” when I nursed my infant son, or the waves of peace that wash over me after an orgasm. Oxytocin.
I love oxytocin.
The woman’s voice tells me to slow my breathing, and then to get up and move. I do a few sun salutations and rest my body in downward dog for a few moments.
“Okay, Ang,” I tell myself. “Let’s do this.”
I sit back down on the yoga mat and fish the stone out of the bowl of salt.
It’s the color of sinew and muscles, red and orange, with some gray thrown in. The layers of meaning and feeling are not lost on me. I place in the stone in my left hand, my receptive hand, and I close my eyes.
The warmth spreads from my left hand up my arm. It rests at my elbow before continuing on, working its way slowly up to my shoulder, across to my right side, and back down. I am held in a peaceful thrall. There is no fear now. There is no demon or hex or curse. There is only peace. The stone’s energy permeates the rest of my body, and I have roots growing from my base chakra into the ground. I thought I’d grounded before, but never like this. Never where I feel as though I AM Earth. My bones feel like tree trunks, and my muscles and sinew like layers of silt and sediment at rest. I luxuriate in the calm for a few moments before bringing myself back to reality.
“Ohhhhh,” I text my circle. “So THAT’S what grounding is supposed to feel like.”
I don’t want to let go of the stone. It feels like a piece of me, a strong piece of me. A reminder of my guts—literally, figuratively, and metaphysically—and my survival.
Spiritual awakenings or upgrades aren’t easy. They require patience, and diligence, and prioritization of yourself, while also pushing yourself into places you don’t really want to go. (I mean, you don’t, but you really do.)
I look forward to buying my first houseplant. I look forward to more meditations with this stone. I look forward to meeting new clients, and further depending my relationship with my coven, and seeing where the Universe takes me as I deepen my levels of embodiment.
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