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The Heart Protector
On temporary talismans
I can’t remember exactly when but around the spring of 2020 and amidst the first or second lockdown I embarked in a new facet of ancestor work.
I was following a protocol of sorts that was labour intensive and complex. From the get go I had resistance to the methodology and I should have listened to that because it ended overwhelming me and making me feel over responsible and a little hopeless. I don’t wish to go into the details of that here, but rather to rescue the very enjoyable aspects of this protocol which included the crafting of sacred objects as totems to honour particular lineages and guides. Returning in a small way to the sacredness of a crafting practice had its own magic, more so at this time, and it made some of the complexities of the protocol much more bearable.
It was at this time that I made my heart protector, a red elongated heart made with fimo with a central opening flanked by 4 thorns from the hawthorn as fangs. A roaring heart, slightly cartoonish, malleable, portable and cute with an edge. This totem has been in my ancestral altar since I made it, long after I shifted my practice away from the overly complex protocol that had me feeling like I was inside a perfectionist spreadsheet for Complete Healing Guaranteed courtesy of US Neoshamanism inc.
The heart protector has travelled with me around my research trips in the UK and more recently to Peru and California. With time it got a little stained and the thorn fangs sunk deeper into the heart. A worn heart.
Now, let me tell you about something else.
About a year ago I joined a cartomancy and zen 3 year long mentorship with my long time teacher and now sensei Camelia Elias. The work that I’m embarking on within that container is deeply healing and refreshing, and as most things with these effects, confronting and uncomfortable. Deconstructing forms of conditioning, crossed narratives, the trickery of denial and avoidance will rewire your brain, that is if you actually do the work.
2021 was disastrous in many ways for me, everything was crumbling and I was holding it together with as much integrity as I could master, while things just shattered at my feet. Alas, I fell a little behind on my zen cartomancy work. Since the end of last year I’ve been dutifully catching up and integrating the new neural pathways generated by this practice.
You know that realisation of silver linings that makes your cheeks burn with confused excitement? My falling behind with the work has been a blessing of the twists and tangles of timelines. Had I not fallen behind I would have probably not felt the intensely resonant (often humiliating lol) truths of the cards. I would have probably not seen the full depth of certain aspects of myself and their effects in my life. The magical path will always have the universe sticking their tongue out.
I entered a series of lessons designed to open the heart at exactly the same time as I resolutely dealt with the tangible consequences of a break up. But not only that, this heart opening was happening at the same time as I was reconnecting with my family after 3 years of not seeing them. At the same time as I fell ill with covid and had no choice but to be cared for by my father. At the same time as I was letting go of the little dog familial that helped me cope with the aggression and confusion of the last couple of years.
All through this work my fimo heart protector was next to me, scuffed but intact. The process of unpacking from travels and packing the things that no longer belong in my home and sending them off to storage, magically coincided with finishing the card zen heart opening lessons and preparing to move onto the next phase of singledom. And of course, it also coincided with the heart protector tearing up and a few days afterwards breaking off completely.
As I thank my magically crafted totem for their service I asked the cards what does my heart protector say back to me now?
The mash up of wild unknowns responds on their behalf:
The Universe is foxy, you know that. You’ve been following the trail of the fox since this heart twist journey started in 2019 and you didn’t know what was what: What was medicine and what was poison, what was really on offer and what withheld, what was yours and what was not. And where did all of this come from? From your father, your mother? Theirs? Parental archetypes, gender roles, ancestral scripts passed on?
Do not drink from tainted cups. Sewage water might quench your thirst and kill you too. Do not rummage in the rubbish for sustenance. Do not fool yourself. And do not become small and burrow in a hole because you can’t spin a new tale.
When you get struck bythe truth the heart breaks open. There’s no protection. An open heart is not gullible, it is fiercely beautiful and menacing like a swan, cunning as a fox and resourceful as a raccoon, an open heart will trigger the fuck out of some like a tarantula, and in its resiliency, an open heart will survive the apocalypse like a rat.