Spiritualism: Victoria Woodhull, still today’s woman

The sin of all time has been the exercise of assumed powers. This is the essence of tyranny. -Victoria Woodhull

I kept a picture of Victoria Woodhull on my altar during my doctoral process at New York University. Victoria Woodhull with a whisper of a smile gazed at me benevolently in her silver case frame. I’d begun feeling her presence everywhere. My review of the literature led me to her. Granted that my topic was not originally about Spiritism or Spiritualism but that’s what happened. Because I was engaged in qualitative research, part of my study was to enter into the participants’ world without going native. I began exploring the world of spiritualism and eventually went native.

My gatekeeper invited me to misas, séances, where spiritual messages were channeled through mediums. I began reading on the topic and met channelers, mediums for the departed, and people who readily told me things about myself that they couldn’t possibly know. It reminded me of the backstory of my early life that had brought me much fear. As a very young child, my mother took my older sister and me to visit my sister’s paternal grandmother. She was in the middle of supposedly being spiritually possessed and yelled out that mother should break a leg. I don’t think she meant that in a stage performance celebratory wish of good luck! We had a hard time with that one since my mom did fall into a wide pothole on the way home and my sister’s initial illness started with subcutaneous hemorrhage of her legs. I had to work through that before I could embrace spiritualism and all the good it has brought me.

Victoria was born Victoria Claflin and was a role model for many women. From early childhood, she practiced as a clairvoyant and fortune-teller to augment her family’s income. She was a foreperson in the suffrage movement and her primary focus was promoting the idea of Free Love. Simply, free love was the notion that women should have choice in husbands, of having children, and the option of a divorce that was unheard of in those times. In 1870 she and her sister, Tennessee (Tennie), took Wall Street by storm when they opened the first female brokerage business. When I’ve walked along Great Jones Street I have imagined her walking along the cobblestone path in her long swishing skirts. Tennessee was close to Cornelius Vanderbilt and it was rumored that he made much of his fortune on her advice as a spiritualist.

Victoria and Tennie started a newspaper called Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly that addressed issues of equality for women such as free love, spiritualism, sex education and licensed prostitution.  While some of the other women’s rights advocates such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton saw her as a champion, others like The Beecher sisters who were powerful in those circles were not as open to her movement. In fact, Ms. Woodhull spent many a day incarcerated in the Tombs in New York City because she was such a threat.

Victoria was the first woman on the ballot for US Presidency in 1872. A major concern was that the female vote was not instituted until fifty years later. Frederick Douglass was nominated to be her running partner for Vice Presidency but did not acknowledge the nomination.  While they were both tirelessly fighting for the abolition of slavery, Ms. Woodhull’s prime focus was to promote the concept of free love.

Victoria Woodhull showed up on my pages in Coney Island Siren. One of the protagonist’s, Ellen, journals about her and is taken with her ways that leads to independence. The women of those times were in desperate need of hope that life could change and they wouldn’t have their lives dictated to them by people who never thought of them as people but as mere possessions. I believe there are many women who live under those conditions even today. I think it’s time for me to replace Victoria’s picture on my altar. Her sense of cause and action is one to be emulated still today.

Two wonderful books about Ms. Woodhull are:

Other Powers: the age of Suffrage and Spiritualism by Barbara Goldsmith and

Notorious Victoria: the Life of Victoria Woodhull by Mary Gabriel

Graciella la Gitana Oracle © Weekly Reading

 

My last blog post from the Graciella la Gitana Oracle © reading was in 2013.  The oracle hadn’t been completed and was changing in my hands at a fast pace. The concepts were shifting and the images were still under construction. I’m happy to say that the oracle is completed and at the printers.  I’m awaiting the sample in the mail. Once they are approved, by me, I will begin sharing them with you. The lyrical verses are both in English and Spanish. The packaging is divine. My fingers are crossed that they will be ready for shipping by the holidays.  I will be offering them at a promotional pre-order rate on this website. My plan is to do workshops early in the coming year for those of you who are interested in instruction on the different ways to read the oracle. I give my profound thanks to Mara Cordova, the illustrator, Orlando Ferrand, who translated, and Patricia Dornelles, who embarked on the art design for the packaging.

Below is the general weekly reading that Graciella and I did today for our readers. I won’t be writing out the verses that are in the booklet, those you can obtain with the deck. I do personal consultations if you’d like to reach out. I can do readings by phone if you’re not close by. Graciella and I aim to share her collective wisdom with the readings. If they don’t resonate at first, revisit the post a few days later. They may be more personal to you at that point.

XO

Theresa

Reading for September 30, 2018

As always in preparation, I smudged with sage, centered, lit a white candle, and shuffled the deck. I fanned it out in front of me. I felt Graciella’s energy and together we pulled a card. This week’s general concept is Friendship-Amistad. I listened for Graciella’s words and wrote them down as I heard them.

Reading:

There is no need to be alone or to feel alone as you truly aren’t. There are many who have shared separately in circumstances such as the ones that you are experiencing at this time. There may be a sense of solitude but that cloak may be easily shed by actively throwing it off. Don’t wait for someone to take it off for you. There’s no room for passivity here. Stretch your arms out to touch those like-minded individuals who can support you through any tribulation toward triumph. You are not holding the circle of friendship together by yourself but are merely one of the links that hold the golden strands collaboratively. Each piece gathers cooperatively to make the whole. Just like in a charm bracelet, occasionally a link may need repair or a charm may go missing. A little prayer, to St. Anthony, perhaps, often brings back the wayward piece, back to the circle in which it belongs and lives thereafter quite happily with the other charms- linked together in eternity. Times may seem trying but they are not insurmountable with the strength of friendship, with the love of a friend.

Con todo cariño,

Theresa y Graciella

©

The Veils are Thin

Spirits invite us

To walk through veils in the dark

The doors are open

We’re in autumn now. We celebrate Halloween and Samhain. We honor All Souls’ Day and All Saints day. Those of us who are developed intuitively feel in touch with spirit throughout the year. The rest of us may feel something out of the ordinary at this time of year but are unable to know for certain that we are in touch with the spiritual world.

We recently went on a Victorian Tour at the Green-Wood Cemetery. The sky was overcast and the ambiance just right. A couple of the guests were dressed in layered Goth-Victorian dress. We heard about the eighteenth century fad of using arsenic in facial creams, of the famous rapping Fox sisters, and the early death of mesmerist Irving Washington. We heard about spiritualism. Wait, I thought, I know about spiritualism.

This past summer I attended several of the New York Historical Society’s events on practices that were reignited when so many young men were killed in World War I. During this tour the guide spoke about spiritualism in relation to the Civil War. She mentioned how once William H. Mumler, a spiritual photographer, was exposed as a fraud that was the end of the popularity of spiritualism. I learned so much from the tour guide, but I know that spiritualism is alive and well.

My initial contact with spiritualism brought a special joy to me. It grew quickly in the 1990s as I worked as a mental health nurse in the community with people who were living and dying of HIV/AIDS related illnesses. Experiences were diverse and unexpected. One of my then clients, Richard, who was an artist, gave me a special showing of his art work displayed on his kitchen floor turned gallery. His first edition Allen Kardec books were bound with dried roses. Richard crossed over a few short months later. My early experience with him was just a prelude as to how deeply I would delve into spiritualism. This was also a time I began attending misas that are spiritual séances. When prayers were read from Kardec’s selection of Spiritist prayers my awareness of the connection of all things spiritual began to take hold.

My novels Covering the Sun with My Hand and Nights of Indigo Blue both have components of seances and spiritualism that the protagonists, Julia and Daisy, experience. Spirituality, for me, is as necessary as brushing my teeth after meals. I feel so much better when I tend to these basic needs. My creation of the Graciella la Gitana Oracle is all a result of spiritualism. I talk to spirits and they talk to me. I frequently speak about how the stories I receive are whispered to me by spirits. I plan to begin doing a weekly reading on this site using Graciella’s Oracle. These posts will alternate with my knowledge and experiences with spiritualism and how they integrate with my writing. See you here!


Full Harvest Moon

The moon filled the expanse of the sky

She kissed us

This feminine energy

Of love everlasting

My dad drove us into East New York to order the capias that we’d pin to our clothing, for my infant daughter’s christening. It was a time that telephones were still attached to the wall,  advertisements were found in glossy magazines, and textbooks were the only requirements for college learning. I’d used a phone directory to guide me toward the mom and pop shop that would make the perfect party favors.

We sat in the front seat of the Malibu Classic and I held my baby girl in my arms. We turned a corner and there over two-story buildings hung the moon. Splendid. It could have been that my state of love changed my vision, but the moon was deep orange in the dark blue sky and she captivated me. I later found out she was the Harvest Moon.

Over the years, I’ve come to know the Harvest Moon as the one who shines her love infinitely.  She returns each autumn along with the manifestation of whatever  creativity we’ve engaged in for the year. We reap what we sow. That saying always seemed harsh to me. When I reflect on it though, I see that it usually aptly fits and in a positive manner.

I recently recounted to my spouse that I miss my Dad driving me around. He hasn’t driven in years. He gave that up in his sixties. Just like when he put his pack of cigarettes down and never picked up another one. When he made those types of decisions he stuck to them. He’ll be 88 years on September 23- a night close to the full harvest moon this year. He’s still at the assisted living facility. It’s a good place for him and for me. I visit with him and he plays a mean game of dominoes. Doing the math in his head, as he counts points, is the one thing Alzheimer’s hasn’t robbed him of yet. Each week, I take note of something else he’s left behind.

I miss my Dad and the car. When I was super small, he drove me around wherever he went. I was his companion. He often left me in the car when he went into a store. This would be against all of our rules today but then it was just the way we lived. On Saturday’s he’d park on the streets of Red Hook and tool around with his car for hours. I usually sat in the front seat with a new comic book. Archie. Betty and Veronica. Josie and the Pussy Cats. When I was a freshman at community college, he drove me early in the morning to the hospital where I was student nurse. Sometimes he’d pick me up and take me to Flushing Avenue where he’d choose LPs at the record shop. It wasn’t a stretch that I’d be sitting with him and my daughter in the car when I first spied the moon and the moon spied me. I miss those times.

Life has changed. My daughter lives out of state but we still share the love of the moon. We’ll probably chat on the phone this week. I’ll visit my Dad today and he’ll probably chuckle at my domino losses. We’ll take him out to lunch to celebrate his 88 years if he’s up to it. At night, my spouse and I will probably continue to chase the moon. It’s a tender time for which I am grateful.

I prayed that to the moon

XO

Theresa

Time takes Time

 

 We had lots of chaos at our house during the spring when a harsh wind took down several of the tall pines on our property. We hired the landscaper to pull down whatever trees and branches were still dangling. After carting lots of the branches off and grinding huge stumps, the landscaper’s truck broke down. It seemed like we’d never be rid of the last tree carcass that took up the back of the house.

Our prayer and meditation site had also been blocked by fallen trees way in the back and we decided he could help us by moving some rocks to bring it closer to the house. The landscaper got the truck repaired but found a busted part that was made by the repair person. That was fixed eventually too. He’s finally finished the whole job, now in early September. Trees and rocks have been moved. Our prayer and meditation site is serene perfection. The fairies are happy and so are we.

That’s all just a snapshot of the backstory of my life. The frontstory about my writing is that it’s also stalled. My computer went dead. I couldn’t decide which computer I wanted to replace it. It seemed like there was a big old foot on the brake of my life. I eventually got a replacement writing implement. But I couldn’t do my creative writing because I’m tying up two projects that have been in the gestational stage forever.

I guess the projects are twins. The oracle is being born first. That makes it the younger twin who is scouting out the road for the older twin, Coney Island Siren. The oracle is on a hard path already. It’s kind of born but not. We’re having template issues with the printing company and just can’t seem to get it right.

I’m hoping these problems will be resolved like the trees, the rocks, and the computer. It’s taken group effort for each of these projects to be completed. Every person on the team is incredibly motivated, talented, and giving their all. While I’m dealing with technicalities and administrative processes my creative writing is quietly waiting for its turn to be back in my front story.

It seems like time is stalled. A few months back during my trip to Cuba a wise elder told me to get rid of any watches that had stopped running. I held onto two. One was my Timex that takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ and the other is my silver Mercury watch. The face is of the mercury dime with a headdress of wings to fly. I especially love this image of mercury. It reminds me of the FTD symbol. Ready to go and deliver at a moment’s notice. The deeper meaning for me is that Mercury, Mercurius ter Maximus also known as Thoth, and as Hermès Thrice Born, Hermès Trismegistus, who is adept in alchemical processes. Magic.

I went to a local jeweler convinced I’d have to be rid of the watches lovely silver mesh band that I thought was beyond repair. He suggested leather but then looked at me and said, I think you prefer silver. Of course, I’m a child of the moon! He told me he could easily fix it. A few minutes later both watches were in fine working order. Time was moving again. The jeweler was just another person who stepped in to make things work for me.

Time is rolling nicely again. There have been solutions and resolutions to things that I couldn’t figure out by myself. My impatience will admonish me about all the things I’m not accomplishing. When I’m right-sized I know something or someone other than me will come forth and help me and my creative endeavors move forward nicely again.

I prayed that to the moon.

XO

Theresa

 

 

 

Chasing the Moon

I’m smitten with the moon and that’s something that anyone who’s read my posts over the last few months knows. This last full moon-the full sturgeon moon seemed to go unnoticed by me. There was no post. I hadn’t forgotten it. I was out chasing it.

Pat and I were on Coney Island Boardwalk waiting for Luna’s appearance in the sky. We’ve been going there frequently taking photos for the cover of Coney Island Siren.  We sat near the Parachute jump. It was dusk so we were witness to many families dragging coolers, carts, and kids. Toddlers were carried along with umbrellas. I marveled at the energy needed to make it back home after a day in the sun. The sights brought back my  memories of hiking to the beach with my children when they were little. This was something my parents did for us too.

The sky was quickly darkening and we were scrutinizing it. Was it too cloudy to see her? Were we at the right place? We had pulled up our directions on the phone and we were certain she’d be up soon. Moon rise was almost here. As we waited, we saw a couple toting the supplies they needed for the day. Mama was pushing a stroller and seemed weary as she lugged a few bags along with it. Papa was alongside speaking loudly, insultingly, to her. She appeared to ignore him. I guess trying not to rile him up any more than he was. But he got louder and louder. It seemed like he had one ray of sun too many. He reminded me of a cranky toddler whose parent forgot to give him a nap.

Up close, as they neared, it was obvious that this was a scene that was all too common. For them. For many. A shiver went over me although it was about 85 degrees on that boardwalk. It occurred to me that if he felt free to act this way in public that it would be a lot worse when they arrived at their home. Another family walked by and the man in that group suggested the first guy take it easy. He said it gently. He saw the danger and wanted to quell it. Instead, this peaceful action antagonized the angry one who began focusing his anger on the man instead of the wife. For the moment.

It chilled me. This was a scene right out of the first chapter of Coney Island Siren. Frank takes hold of Maggie and tries to insinuate his misery on her. A passerby tries to stop him. To no avail. There’s never rhyme or reason to violence, in this case, the domestic kind of violence. There’s an entitlement to it that says I can do this. I own this and I can do whatever I want. It never makes sense. The families separated at the stairs, one to the parking lot and the other toward Surf Avenue.

Pat and I decided to walk down toward the other end of the boardwalk. Still searching for the moon. Trying to make sense of what we just saw and how we saw it on a night we were scouting out for a cover of the book that had the almost exact scene in it. Suddenly we saw her. Luna called down to us with her beautiful orangey glowing countenance. Pat took pictures from the beach. We let Grandmother moon turn her embrace of kindness, caring, and warmth on us and prayed that the woman who we saw would feeling the energy too. We prayed for her and for the women we aren’t, the ones who live these existences in their daily lives, like dresses that don’t fit but they’re the only ones they have, so they wear them. Some of them inherited those dresses from their mothers and they don’t know what to do to get a different one.

The August Sturgeon moon is called that because it is when an abundant number of sturgeon were caught in North American lakes and rivers. Among other names, this moon is also called by the native people’s name, Berries Ripening Moon. This is a time of gathering the ripe fruit and making jams that is traditionally women’s work. Women and children gather and may only include a very young male child who may still be breastfeeding. There is a power to women working, playing, and praying together. My teacher, Oh Shinnah Fastwolf, used to tell us that only women belong in women’s ceremony together. Gathering berries and making jams is a ceremony, I believe. Oh Shinnah said, the men should be holding their own ceremonies.  I’m hoping that more ceremonies, that is part of creating spiritual lives, will take place. Ceremonies contain tradition, ritual, prayer, and a sense of honor and respect for oneself and other.

I prayed that to the moon.

XO

Theresa

Full Thunder Moon

cosmicpsychic.com

I, as everyone else, have been reading many articles and posts on Friday’s Full Thunder Blood Moon that is coming with a total eclipse of the heart. We expect lots of intense change and there are predictions of much negativity afoot. As I read, I remembered that at some point I had decided to be one on this planet who views the glass half full and then some. The opposite of total negativity is that we see the coming times in a most positive light and that this is an opportunity to embrace change. No matter what your sign, baby! Lovely, isn’t it?

There is talk of what’s been hidden coming to light and we all need to watch out. I look at this all in a different light. I see it under the soft light of Grandmother Moon. I often have the opportunity to feel empathy for the many I connect with who become paralyzed with the thought of working with their shadowed sides. The fear of the darkness within us is just that- fear. Most of us have already lived through great darkness and while we don’t want to recreate those painful times, we can allow them to merge with the light by engaging in healing practices.

The dark that merges with the light creates balance. The moon that I know is kind and gentle. She only wants what’s best for us. She comforts us and lights our paths in the darkness of the night. The moon doesn’t disappear when there is an eclipse. She is there and can still light our way in the dark if only we’d let her. The ways of mystery are often created in the dark. We may ask ourselves, what have I forgotten or have chosen to forget about myself? Have I forgotten that I am resilient and strong and on the beauty road? Have I forgotten how loved I am? Have I forgotten that magic is often made at night. The night belongs to the Feminine. It is the time of intuition, compassion, and healing.

In the Orisha Tradition, when we hear the sound of thunder, we call to the Orisha, Changó. Kabio Sile! We give thanks and listen for the sound of the drum that resonates with the beating of our hearts. We listen to the call to stand tall and be in charge of our lives knowing that the charge from thunder and lightning brings electricity and light to our lives. This time of year the paradoxical forces of the Full Thunder Moon will bring the intensity that is predicted, but it can be one of balance, if only we’d allow it.

I invite you to engage in a ritual during this powerful spiritual time. Going out on the earth is wonderful but focusing on the images in your kitchen, living room, or indoor sacred space works just as well. Stand on the Earth, dig your toes in. Call to Grandmother Moon and ask for what has been hidden to show itself not only in the dark of the night but in the light of the day. Know that you will receive only what you can handle for growth and transformation. Pray for balance. Give thanks for all you have and all you’ve learned in these times of chaos and strength building.  Remember that you are not alone and only one among many who dance under the night sky filled with billions of light points. Reach out to find yours and it will connect with you. Allow those filaments of light connect under the earth with like-minded people who also want to dance the dance of healing, love, and balance on this Earth at this time.

All is made beautiful.

XO

 

 

 

 

The Full Worm Moon

 

almanac.com

It’s hard to believe that we’re already gazing up at the last full moon before the vernal equinox. Spring is almost here again. There was no full moon in February but March will have two moons. The blue moon will shine its glory later in the month.

The Worm Moon is also known as the Crow Moon for the murders of crows often seen at this time of the year, as the Crust Moon for the changing soil, and the Sap Moon for the maple sap that oozes from the trees just as the worms slither out of the soil aerating it for a flourishing spring growth.

What a great time for reflection. The Lenten moon is another name for the traditionally called Worm Moon. The holidays are behind us. That school break that pops up between Christmas and Easter is done for many. It’s the perfect time for looking within and deciding what doesn’t serve us in our lives and what we might discard. That may be different for all of us. It might be time to be rid of the old and declutter that hall closet. It could be time to add healthy veggie or fruit smoothies into our diets. Meditation opens the gateway for your spirit guides to whisper your individualized plan meant especially for you.

The worms have been here for millennia. They go along churning the Earth in preparation for growth for our continued existence. I want to do the same. Maybe I won’t blindly spin my way though fertile soil but I will do my part. I gladly take part in toiling the Earth because she is the Mother, Gaia, and I want her to prosper abundantly. My relationship with the Earth tells me that she is grateful for my work as I am indebted to her.

How will you celebrate the Full Worm Moon? 

xxoo

Theresa

 

A Lunar Trifecta

new.nationalgeographic.com

A super moon happens only once in a blue moon. This time coinciding with a blood red moon. Coinciding with an eclipse. Like, really? What do I do? What’s important about this for me? I’ve read a few posts on social media about it.

The takeaway is that if you think last February or August along with their eclipses and other lunar influences undeniably impacted you,  that this one will too, in a different way. Whew! I don’t think that I could handle another last year.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe that when the countdown commences on Times Square and the ball drops that the New Year ushers in newness. I’m a One Day at a Time gal. But this year I secretly hoped that 2018 would bring in lightness that was hard to find during the previous year.

Last February’s eclipse shone the light on scary illness in my family. August cast the dim light on my family placing my Dad who has Alzheimer’s disease into an Assisted Living facility. We’ve shouldered our way through and have some balance. Sad but balanced.

This lunar trifecta almost elicited a bloodcurdling scream from me until I read the posts. I was glad to read that a wrapping up or resolution may be afoot. I’ve been ruffled and my feathers need settling. I’m hoping this will happen. It’s time. Breathe in. Breathe out.

My morning meditation reminded me that although sad things may happen, I can still be a happy person. It reminded me that I have a full and wonderful life. It also told me that in happiness is prosperity. Serenity is more about the state of mind than outside issues. Acceptance is the answer to all of my problems. Just for today.

XO

Theresa

Wolf Moon howls in the New Year

dreamstime.com

The Full Wolf Moon has ushered in the New Year. It’s also the first Supermoon of the year. The image of wolves howling at the moon is one we’re all familiar with. My favorite howling wolf man was Bela Lugosi in Abbott and Costello’s the Invisible Man. He terrorized me as a child as I sat mesmerized in front of the black and white screen.

As an adult I’ve learned that wolves mate for life, have distinct roles in their packs, and howl to let their packs know exactly where they are, as well as their enemies. The Wolf Moon is also a time to reflect on the homeless and hungry. Of course! Images on television and in my hometown of NYC are chilling indeed. Many of us are well versed in what should be done for the homeless. I work in a mental health shelter and I come in contact each day with the loneliness, fear, hunger, poor health, and dire need.

I’ve been blessed with the basics in life and an abundance of more that I’m grateful for. That doesn’t mean that I stop here. Like many people, I decided to sit down on the old year and reflect on what I’m leaving behind in 2017 and would like to work on for 2018. Instead, I received a call from the assisted living facility that my father has been residing at for the last five months. He was transported by the ambulance to the emergency room. My spouse and I spent the entire day there until he received a bed last night. We’ll be going back today. I hadn’t decided whether I was going to spend the old or new year with him. Now, I’ll do both.

The Wolf Moon reminds me that I’m a member of a clan. I am there to let my Dad know that I’m here when he needs me.  That I’ll howl at the moon for him if I need to today. The priority of family supersedes me naval gazing today. There’s a saying that God laughs when you’re making plans. I’ve changed it to the Goddess winces when I’m making plans. She has something better in store for me all the time.  Acceptance is something I’m working at every day.

Today, my prayers are for all of us. We’re all in different chapters. Sometimes we meet on the same page and sometimes we don’t. I pray for acceptance, yet, the ability to howl when something needs change.

Happy New Year

XO

Theresa