Facing Divinity Within

One of my teachers said that inside each of us is magnificent divine creature, worthy of love and compassion. According to her, our “higher selves” look like angels and are powerful enough to conquer any fear. They do this by giving unconditional compassion to all. She taught her students that though we must put boundaries down in our lives, ensuring we get enough sleep, food, and time to recharge, we must tap into that compassionate divine self. My mentor of many years taught a similar but slightly different spiritual truth. Inside each of us a “spiritual warrior,” capable of manifesting our desires and healing ourselves from trauma. Through this manifesting and healing, we are able to learn what is necessary to move forward and then, teach others those lessons.

After years of daily meditation, epiphany after ah-ha moment, change after shed layer, always searching deeper within, I finally came to that place of “Higher Self” or “Deity Within.” I expected, from my teachings, that I would find some Goddess or Deity that had helped me manifest all I had been grateful for and would help me achieve that which I still sought. I had hoped to find something capable of giving and receiving divine grace and love.I did not find something powerful or beautiful. What I found was a Goddess far more broken than I could ever have imagined. I came face to face with a Goddess of Pain, of Tragedy, of Sorrow, and Death. She was a Goddess of Mourning. She grew up in an abusive household, where appearances mattered more than content. Live a lie long enough, and you begin to forget who you really are. By the age of 30, she had lost all four grandparents, her father, her son, and half of her friends. She had watched as many of her friends were lost to suicide, murder, drug addiction, illness, and car accidents. It was a mighty bitter pill to swallow. How the f*ck was this the answer to feeling powerful, worthy, and healing my wounds??

I believe that the Universe is a giant clockwork. Imagine a giant Steampunk Clockwork with cogs, levers, springs, pistons, and a few steam engines working in sync. That is the how I believe the Universe works, each of us representing one tiny part of this intricate mechanical complexity. One person might a spring that is always under pressure, while another is a fast-moving cog. It would explain why each of us has a different perspective and a different truth to tell, but no one seems to be able to figure out the whole picture. It would also serve to explain why some work better under pressure, and others need the pressure taken off. It deals with our purpose in the Universe. I also believe that sometimes you need to try being a spring, a lever, a steam engine, and a piston, before figuring out through process of elimination to understand and accept what part you play. That’s what happened to me. You need to experiment, make mistakes, and eventually go back to your roots with a new understanding of why you do what you do so well.

It was tough to accept that my part in the Universe was sorrow and mourning. Though once I had, I found a kind of peace. There was less struggle in my life. I stopped caring about what others thought. Things stopped being about proving myself. I found more meaning in all that I did, from being a housewife to making art, from helping to clean up a local cemetery to putting on my black lipstick. Once you know your place in the world, everything makes sense and all you do has purpose. Happiness, as defined by fairy tale endings, is overrated and usually fictional. Those kinds of things are short-lived. But peace can last indefinitely. It is something that lasts through the ups and downs. To summarize things then, just because you haven’t found your place yet doesn’t mean you won’t. And even more importantly, don’t be afraid of what you find. One doesn’t have to be saving the world or “all-powerful” in order to be content or at peace with who they are. Some of us are meant to teach the world strength and light, while others are meant to teach it vulnerability and Shadow.

Love and blessings,
River Sunfeather

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Old Habits

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I began to have strange dreams. Many had occult symbolism; others showed me a figure I associated with Death. Between the dreams and traumas I had already survived, I had issues relating to my peers. One of my dreams set me off in search of a local cemetery. I found a sense of calm there that seemed to be lackingCemetery1 in my turbulent life as an adolescent. I tried explaining to my parents the dreams and the cemetery, but it only served to make my existence even more difficult. I found it easier not to inform them of the frequency of my visits to the cemetery or the durations.

As time went on, I would adopt many of the trappings of those who typically hang out in cemeteries. I began wearing more and more black, which was another source of contention with my parents. Eventually, my parents accepted the black clothing, but it reinforced the idea that it was far more burdensome to fight for the acceptance of my truth than merely conceal it. By 15, I had bought my first spiked leather collar. We didn’t exactly have a shop for gothic fashion in our area, so it was purchased at a pet store. I began wearing black lipstick and matching eye make up soon after. My sophomore year of high school, my parents were my transportation back and forth to school. I used the time in the morning to switch into black clothing and put on makeup. After school let out, I would switch back into more “acceptable” attire.

So many years later, I was finally able to begin my transition. It’s a reality my teenage self never considered possible. Now I work to reclaim those other forgotten parts of my soul, those bits I found that resonated but surrendered along the way. GroCemetery3wing up is hard, and we often sacrifice far more of ourselves than necessary in pursuit of the “rat race.” Paying the bills can be done in so many ways, and fitting in is often a matter of finding one’s place in the world. Why is it that we tend to be open-minded toward others, yet we become so unimaginative and judgmental when it comes to our own lives? After many realizations and epiphanies,  I’m back to wearing studded collars and dark makeup. And like an echo that returns to the source, I’ve come home to a cemetery. There is a local cemetery where I meditate, read, and journal. I also work to clear some old paths and debris. If we all do a little, no one must do a lot. And for me, it is a labor of love.

I’ve grown up as a restless individual. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini rising. Perhaps it’s because I felt alone for so long. It’s possible that the trauma and years of distrust has been sown into my very being. Whatever the cause, my longing for tranquility is so strong, it can onlyCemetery4 be found in a cemetery. While other company brings politics, gossip, and small talk, the dead offer no trivial prattle or idle words. They are silent reminders that are time is finite and must be used wisely. It is easy to see which stones are for those who accomplished great wealth in their lifetime. It is even easier to see who was actually well loved. Their graves have fresh flowers and other offerings long after the date of passing. I am always moved by flowers or some other token left at an older grave, still remembered. To me, that is love. Love is facing the pain and discomfort associated with loss and death just to honor how someone impacted your life. So if you wish to connect with your past, see your future, or simply get your priorities in order, stop by your local graveyard. Just prepare for your world to come to a complete halt as you face the most grounding encounter in all of human experience: your own mortality.

Love and blessings from the Beach Gothme-10months2,
River Sunfeather

The Fight Continues. . .

In my last post, I wrote about the DMV refusing to change my gender marker. Much has happened since. I had contacted them two more times and wrote to the NC DMV Commissioner as a last resort. About a week later, I received a phone call from someone from his office. They had to consult with the Attorney General’s office. Not only am I still being denied, but now they are saying I have to take a new picture, as my “religious head covering” is no longer approved. According to them, “The NCDMV does not recognize the Wiccan Movement.” I was informed that any further objections would have to be taken up with the Attorney General’s office.

Being the only trans woman on a small island is difficult. But now the NC DMV and Attorney General’s office are aiming for my license unless I comply and retake my photo without the covering. All because I asked them to change the gender on my driver’s license and disputed them when they said no. If I was to move to NC and ask for a new license today, I have all of the necessary documents for a female license.

Because of the sensitive and legal natures of the topic, I will not be writing much more on it until I speak with an attorney. The blog and the fight will continue. At this point I’m not looking for advice, but prayers and support are welcome.

Love and blessings to all,
River

Discrimination and Motor Vehicles

On Friday, December 15, I went to update my driver’s license. I had my legal name change. I had a physician’s letter, stating I was in transition. Unfortunately, North Carolina only accepts letters stating surgery has taken place, but I had a trump card: a corrected and valid birth certificate. Because of a lot of transphobic policy-making and legislation, the law of the land in North Carolina has become “one’s gender is what is on their birth certificate.” According to HB2, we were to use the bathroom and locker facilities associated with our birth certificate. Now, I got to use it to my advantage. I had also updated my name and gender with social security, which means the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services would soon be listing me as female if not already. With the new SS card in hand, I had all the necessary documents and walked in for a new license.

There was only one teller at the driver’s licensing office that day. He immediately made it clear he was not going to change the gender on my license. As soon as I sat down and informed him why I was there, the reply was “I can change your name without a problem, but…” He said this before even looking over the details of the documents. He combed over the legal name change as if he were a lawyer. I was then informed I would need a court order that stated surgery had taken place. He phoned his boss and mentioned the name change and letter. He omitted social security and the birth certificate. He then repeated what he had told me before. We had a lengthy conversation, but it was if I was speaking to a brick wall. He was probably used to being debated by student driver’s and learned to tone people out.

I am not sure if this an actual policy or because we are in the middle of nowhere. I am not sure if it is just Pennsylvania birth certificates or just Pennsylvania birth certificates of trans folk. I have no idea why I am female with the part of the state that deals with human bodies but listed as male with the part of the state that deals with cars. There seems to be a rather large discrepancy. I have no idea where this will end up. It could end this week when I call customer service. It could end in several years with litigation and national press coverage. By the gods, I hope not. I’m not looking for a fight. I’m tired. The discrimination, the fighting, being treated like a second-class citizen wears on you. I’m tired from jumping through hurdles and everything being a struggle. The last thing I want is a fight. But NCDOT, what the actual eff??

Love and blessing,
River

A brat’s Musings

The Mistress is truly more beautiful than any other lass.
Emblazoned upon my beating heart is a view of that ass.

She has what many could only hope to aspire.
And She fills many others’ lusty dream and desire.

When we meet, my heart rings as a church bell,
Knowing it will find heaven as my body finds hell.

With love in my heart, I am as free as the bat.
Trusting in Mistress night, and serving as Her brat.

Radio Interview On Warrior Within Release

Just a quick blurb. I was recently honored with an interview on the radio show Warrior Within Release with Alfred Willowhawk. Kyndyl Morgensraven and I appeared as guests, being two transgender individuals who have been through the Warrior Within Release program. Kyndyl is an amazing person and good friend. They were AFAB, transitioned to male, and now identify as third gender. Perhaps I should get them for an interview and do a piece on their gender. Alfred Willowhawk is, of course, also a dear friend, mentor, and amazing human being.

Catch the radio show on thecauldron.net this Friday at 9 pm EST. If you would like to learn more about becoming a spiritual warrior, tune in every Friday and sign up for the mailing list. Alfred has a number of books, all of which good. But if you are looking for the book, get the newest one, Warriors of the Millenium.

Love and blessings,
River Sunfeather
PS Thanks again to Kyndyl and Alfred for the wonderful time!

I am a Survivor

As I do every morning now, I tie a black cloth to my wrist. I repeat my daily mantra,
BlackWristtaking deep breaths between each sentence, “I am a Survivor. It’s over now. My abusers can no longer hurt me.” I close my eyes and try to let it sink in before starting my day. I am coping with PTSD from childhood abuse and bullying, and this routine helps to keep my demons at bay. Throughout the day, as things get too heavy or I realize that I am taking life too seriously, I try to consciously look at my wrist. I walk away and repeat my mantra. I’ve left many conversations open-ended, projects unfinished, and chores incomplete.

I will not go into the details of the abuse in this post, but would rather prefer to share with you some of my experiences with PTSD. Maybe you are suffering or know someone who is. If nothing else, I hope to help remove the stigma around mental illness.

My day begins at around 1 am. I wake up once, sometimes twice a night with feelings of extreme Guilt, as if I have done something horrible. I have been moved to write apology emails, text messages, and many letters at this time of night. I have apologized for not greeting someone at a restaurant. I wake up with intense Fear, believing I would be evicted, the utilities would be turned off, we would run out of food, or that I would be run out of my neighborhood or killed. I also wake up with inexplicable Sadness and Pain. Waking up in tears or screaming and having no idea why, I have been moved to believe that everyone hated me and was going to leave me. For much of my life, this was normalized to such a degree, I had no idea why it was happening. Now when I wake up with these feelings, I journal about them and return to bed. It is still almost every night.

I tie a piece of black fabric to my wrist and remind myself that the bad times are over, that I’m a survivor. I continue on with my day. I am a perfectionist and have dealt with high anxiety. I believed the excuses and blamed myself rather then accept the fact that those who sought to break me were doing just that. As a result, I served impossible standards. It was my fault for being weak, being emotional, being frail, being different, etc. Years later, I’m still chasing the same demons. I’m still hunting myself down for being too weak, not good enough, not going the extra mile. Even when I deliver a perfect product and a customer is thrilled, it is a hollow victory. All I worry about is how could I have done better.

Like Pavlov’s bitch, I still react long after the stimulus has been removed. I flinch when telling people I’m trans or in crowded rooms. My social anxiety is off the charts. I repeatedly ask how I look before leaving the house, because I believe I am unable to dress appropriately. In certain circumstances, I seek approval. In other circumstances, I lash out knowing that if it is not good enough, we will all be found unworthy, be beaten, and/or deserted. I believe that at any moment, my family will walk out the door and leave me. I believe that if we become friends, you will abandon me. I believe I am completely unworthy of the people that surround me. I know how it all sounds.

I meditate. I have meditated for years. I make art, write, listen to music, do yoga, and drink tea. I have days where life is fine, and I go about things as normal as anyone else, I imagine. Then I have a day where I sit on the couch, cry, and journal all day long. The memories come flooding back, so I write them. I am overwhelmed by emotions. I cry, I laugh, I cry some more, and I write. Sometimes, a conversation brings back a memory, a television show, a commercial. I hear song lyrics and am reminded of something a bully once said or father’s words. The emotions are a tidal wave in my brain, and I am there, running for my life, alone, waiting for it to be over.

I now face an uncertain future as I cope with PTSD as a trans woman. I now take everything one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. I am receiving help in the form of a therapist, family, and friends. My transition has helped immensely. It has allowed me to deal with things, to move forward, and to finally begin the process of discarding my abusers’ truths so I could live as my own authentic self. My truth is that this bitch is a wolf, and that I’m a survivor. And that means learning to accept that it’s over, and it’s time to let go.

WolfbyTeo
Wolf by Teo

Love to you all,
River Sunfeather

If you know someone with depression, PTSD, or mental illness and is having a hard time, talk to them without judgment. Listen to their feelings. Ask them why they feel this way, and hear their story. If it is serious, get them help. Don’t ignore it. People with mental illness don’t need prayers and memes. They need the support of those around them without judgement. As a good friend put it, “Judge others less, love them more.”

Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860
Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255
Further Reading: Book on Shadow Relationships