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The winter solstice happens this week. How much light we receive from the sun over a 24 hour period is one way we perceive the earth's principles of light and darkness, illumination and obscuration. Through the 21st of December here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days have been getting shorter, the nights longer. And after the 21st, the light will return to the days and recede from the nights, until the Summer solstice in June. Zen says that when something is illuminated, something else is made dark. In the physical realm we perceive this through seasons, and through light and shadow changing each moment, as various objects move into the light of the sun and out of it. When our awareness lights up one aspect of our lives, or society, or someone or something, it darkens something else. Light and darkness co-arise - they only exist as a pair!

This week magic healer Liliana Barzola Read has been illuminating 'permission levels' as an aspect of self-esteem. When we're in a place where we feel a lot of permission from others, our own capacities and talents are illuminated. When we are in places where we feel less permission, we can feel insecure, not seen, not free to express - what we have to offer can feel obscured. Many people experience this lack of permission when with their families, which they see very often during the second half of December in the United States of America.

So this week I invite you to a daily practice of permission alongside me. What does a permission practice look like? Structuring moments each day connect you to your own permission, especially if you feel like you are with people where the permission level is very low. This could take the form of talking to a friend on the phone that you feel a high level of permission with. This could be in the form of meditating, listening to a talk or reading a book, being outside and breathing the air, touching the earth. Plants remind me of my own permission. They grow (!) and live (!) without analysis or deliberation. Do anything that allows you the feeling of connecting with your own permission to be who you are, and let the rest settle back into the earth. This small personal act can be - instead of a time out from our activism or work in the world - an integral part of our political and social collective healing. 


ARIES (March 21-April 19)

Question - When do you feel receptive? What does receptivity feel like to you?
Meditation - Receptivity. The moon as a receiver of light.
Assignment - Consider your relationship to the cardinal directions, physically and metaphorically. What direction do you typically face, in time, and in space? How does receptivity relate to direction? How does time (the future and the past) relate to orientation / direction?


TAURUS (April 20-May 20)

Question -  Where do you feel constriction and where do you feel space?
Meditation - the space between the parts of a cell.
Assignment - Notice the space between things this week. The space between cells. The space between thoughts. The space between your feet and the ground. The space between your body and other bodies. The space between roots and soil.


GEMINI (May 21-June 20)

Question - Consider your relationship to discipline.
Meditation - Discipline as a form of love. 
Assignment - Experiment with practicing something you want to practice for 5 minutes, 5 times in one day and see what happens.


CANCER (June 21-July 22)

Question - How does the past affect your body, specifically your neck? 
Meditation - Physical embodiment as ancestor worship.
Assignment - Take note of how much you are thinking/feeling into the past this week. When you notice yourself being in the past, what is going on in your body. Where is your body when your mind is in the past? What is a compassionate response to what you find here?


LEO (July 23-August 22)

Question - What made you want to begin in the first place? 
Meditation - Reconnecting to the original impulse.
Assignment - Go to a public place to observe yourself and other people, with no agenda. Ask questions about vitality and see what you notice. Write it down or tell someone.  


VIRGO (August 23-September 22) 

Question - What conditions allow you to be most fluid?
Meditation - All the various forms of water.
Assignment -  The water cycle can remind us how to be fluid. How to last for millions of years by changing form whenever needed. How water resists nothing! No resistance. When it meets an obstacle it simply goes another way, without any deliberation. 


LIBRA (September 23-October 22)

Question -  What is easy to love?
Meditation - You do not have to be good.
Assignment - Listen to this every day this week. You do not have to be good.


SCORPIO (October 23-November 21)

Question - When has pretending been useful, or might be useful right now?
Meditation - The freedom of pretending.
Assignment - There's a developmental stage many children go through where their games consist solely of pretending. In fact the game is just saying back and forth, "Pretend this ....." Observe how children pretend, for play, for teaching oneself a new way of being, for trying things on. Then try it yourself.  


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21)

Question - Under what conditions does joy arise? 
Meditation - Joy that is uncovered, not acquired. 
Assignment - Desmond Tutu says joy arises when we practice gratitude. See if this is true for you and experiment with the relationship between joy and gratitude this week. Write down your gratitude. Say it out loud.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19)

Question - When does it feel good to be a visitor?
Meditation - Without agenda, like a visitor.
Assignment - When you are a visitor to a place, a project, a group of people, an individual, how does that change your relationship to that place or work or relationship? Try on greeting your daily life, your daily people, your daily projects, as a visitor and see what happens.


AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18)

Question - What are your hands doing right now?
Meditation - Hands as connectors.
Assignment - Notice what is happening with your hands as much as possible this week. Write down or tell someone what you find.


PISCES (February 19 to March 20)

Question - What is happening in your pelvic bowl?
Meditation - the pelvic bowl as a location of power.
Assignment - Consider the pelvic bowl - it is literally bowl shaped. Notice how it feels this week. How does this connect to your energy levels?