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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Little Altars Everywhere

The first time I created an altar in my home, I remember treating it similarly to how I imagine one might treat nuclear material. I scrubbed the table I was using to the bone because I read somewhere that dust holds negative energy. I went to the health food store and saw all the different colored candles, each representing a different chakra. I was so afraid of excluding a chakra, I bought every color they had.  The same went for the incense. (thank you consumerism!) I started a “vision board” of all the things I wanted to transform in my life and placed it above the altar.  I would kneel in front of the altar when I got home from work every day (for about a week), burning the candles and trying to meditate, the whole time I was wondering if this was, indeed, the best feng-shui corner in the house to place the altar and whether or not it was clean enough.

JEEZ! It makes my palms sweat just thinking about that experiment.

I look back on that time with great compassion for myself.  What I realize now is that  I did not create that altar out of an overflow of devotion.  I created it because I wanted to find a way to heal things in my life that needed healing, but without having to do the scary stuff.  Like healing my ovarian cyst without surgery.  Or making all the people I hated at work less obnoxious without having to speak up.  And while we’re at it, adding more sex to my relationship without having to get out of my pajama pants.  And p.s., fixing my raging eating disorder.  No wonder the poor altar had performance anxiety!  

I have since learned that in the words of Annie Lennox, “Money Can’t Buy It.” You can ship salt from the Himalayas, fine incense from Tibet, the blood of a desert snake in Santa Fe and all the rest, but none of these things begin to compare with the power of collecting objects that mean something to you. 

My goal in my home is to make it one big giant altar.  I have little altars everywhere.  To me, an altar is any arrangement of beauty that honors the sacred.  It is something that reminds me that magic is real, that there is so much more to life that what we see with the naked eye.  What works best for me is to create altars of gratitude and honoring.  In contrast, I find that when I make an altar dedicated to a transformation I want to experience with images cut out of magazines and such, it makes me so fixed on the outcome that I start to obsess over it, excluding room for the transformation to actually happen. 

Here are some examples of altars I have created in my home and what they mean to me.  I would love to see yours too! You can post them here on the School of Charm and Cheek Facebook page. Or, if this post inspires you to see an altar where you did not see one before, as you will see in the photo at my Mother in-law’s house below, please share that too.

Altar On!
Kitty Cavalier

PS - Veronica Varlow is someone who taught me ALOT about finding the sacred and magic in the little things.  She is teaching a class at the School of Charm and Cheek March 23rd which is almost sold out.  I highly recommend this class if you would like to find beauty and magic in corners of your life that you would not have previously thought to look.

This is my bedroom dressing table.  Framing the mirror are necklaces , many of which were gifts, some which
were handmade by a dear friend.  On the dressing table are my favorite oils and lotions, handmade by my Mother. 

This Guest Altar belongs to my student Coco Chacnhil. It is an altar to Sacred Seduction that she created after taking my workshop.  It contains rose petals, chocolate, elegantly dressed fruit with goat cheese, the lyrics to a French song we learned in class, and a whole bunch of other personal items that mean something very special to her. 

This little bowl sits on my nightstand, and contains glass beads from  a vintage necklace, a stone from the driveway of my Dad's horse stable in South Carolina, and a nut that fell from a tree while vacationing with my husband in France.  I sprinkled a little glitter on it for additional sparkle. 

This altar is the first altar I ever made to honor Sacred seduction.  It has a green buddha lit up from below with white light, representing enlightenment with a little more pizazz than what we are accustomed to.  The word rejection is turned on it's head and covered with hearts to represent the belief that rejection is always a form of protection.  There are sweet watercolors to represent tenderness and vulnerability, sparkles and fur to represent making the old new again.  The marble carving reminds me of the Taj Mahal and honors the original archetypes of seduction. In the center, is an opera singer who is draped in red silk; a picture of pure passion in my eyes. 
I bought this when I was in Peru, and it graces a shelf in my bathroom, honoring true, long lasting love.

This is an altar, isn't it?? ;)

A gratitude altar for a successful Seduction class with my favorite Rumi poem "dance when you are broken open",  roses and a red candle from the classroom, and a variety of sacred objects surrounding the candle. 

This is a stone from the fire pit after my first fire ceremony at the Qoya Costa Rica retreat,  a piece of yarn from another ritual done in Costa Rica, a thank you charm that was a gift from a friend, and pink glitter to make everything shine.

This is in the home of my Mother in-law.  At first glance it is just an assembly of photos, but when looked at more closely it is an altar to family and love.  There are two photos of my nieces/her grandchildren, with a photo of her parents in the middle, and an album from our wedding under that, all placed on the piano where my husband learned to play his famous song "Ho-Down" as a kid.  So much sacredness on this altar!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Best Valentine's Day Of My Life (so far)

I like Valentines Day.  I know some people don’t, but I do.  It is a holiday that inspires romance, and romance is very important to me. I understand the Valentines Day Haters. The head-trip of Valentines Day, as it is with all commercial holidays, is that it can be a total set up for disappointment.  For example, Christmas doesn’t really feel like Christmas without the fireplace, presents, family, eggnog, etc. (Even if you don’t like eggnog, presents, or your family). Valentine’s Day without the flowers, cards, chocolates, balloons, lingerie and sex, can sometimes inspire a sense of failure or emptiness.

What a bunch of hoo-ha.

Valentine roses gracing my nightstand.
Thank you Mr. Cavalier.

My day started with my husband returning from a morning run, sweaty and red faced, presenting me with yellow roses.  I could have gotten mad that he didn’t buy pink and red ones the night before, and rouse me with their fragrance while wearing a tuxedo, but come on, we’re all just trying to live our lives here. His spontaneity and sweaty face made the delivery even more special.

I then headed out to meet my dear friend and inspiration Kate Northrup, for a deliriously funny and heartfelt interview on her web series, Glimpse TV.  On the way, I found three blank valentine’s in my purse that I had planned to send to family and friends.  Some may have used this un-accomplished task as a reason for self-flagellation. “Ugh, I’m such a procrastinator!” But a Sacred Seductress knows better.  She knows that procrastination is simply evidence that her original plan did not really seduce her, and there is clearly an even better one in progress already. 

 I had a pack of pink bubble gum in my purse as well as the valentines, so I dropped a piece of gum into the envelope and signed the card:


Je T'aime. 
Hubba Bubba.


She loved it. So did I. Perfection.

After the interview I took my happy, rosy-cheeked self to Tea and Sympathy to meet my living, breathing valentine, Vivi Le Voix - opera burlesque extraordinaire. There she was, waiting on the bench outside, wearing a bright red dress with perfect red lips, drenched in sunlight.  As I approached her I thought “Wow, if that is my best friend, I am doing something seriously right!” We embraced and then sat down to rose petal tea and heart shaped scones.  Swoon. 

Is she Valentines Day embodied
or WHAT??

I remembered that there were two valentines left in my purse, and suggested to Vivi that she and I write them to each other.   I leaned over to the gentlemen at the table next to us and asked if they had a pen. The four of us struck up a conversation about theatre, Buddhism and people we happened to have in common. They were so lovely.  As we turned away to write our cards to each other, I nudged Vivi under the table and whispered, “Let’s write the cards to THEM!” She enthusiastically agreed.

Mine said:

Seduced by the scones

Happy day of love, romance, cupid, charm and cheek. I love you already!

Kitty Cavalier

As they were getting ready to leave, we silently slipped them our secret Valentines.  They were bowled over with delight. Stealth Love Bomb Success!

As if things could get any better, I then went to Sacred Brooklyn, an amazing movement studio in Clinton Hill.  We were celebrating One Billion Rising, the dance movement started by Eve Ensler to end violence against women and girls.  It was an incredible night of dance and passion. I had the privilege of teaching choreography to “Break The Chain” the One Billion Rising theme dance.  Students always thank the teacher after class (and I so appreciate that) but really, we teachers are the most fortunate ones.   When you teach, you are basically saying a prayer to God of “Use me”.  There is no greater honor. 

After that rush of endorphins, power and divinity, I pedaled my bike over to a local bar to meet my beloved for a Valentines cocktail.  He doesn’t like it when I share the details of our sweet, precious love with the whole Internet, so I will not.  I will however share this photo of us in that moment.

The most important thing I learned this Valentines Day is that seduction requires substance.  All the rose petals, heart shaped boxes and champagne in the world cannot compete with real love, real friendship, and real generosity of spirit.  I am so grateful.

Lastly, I was recently reminded by my friend Veronica Varlow of a practice we did in her class of writing a love letter to one’s self.  The object was to write as though we were an artist writing about a beloved muse. I will leave you with that letter.  To love my friends, to love!
Veronica et Moi

My dearest, most darling inspiration,

That which inspires my every breath. That which reshapes me every moment.  That which lets me know that God, Goddess, Heaven, the Angels, are all alive and well. 

I want you to know that every drop of you, every breath, every heartbeat, every thought, every word you speak is steeped deep in Divinity.

When you awaken, the Angels cry out in rapture.  When you retire, the moon takes its slow, sweet time, as it doesn't want to miss a moment where it gets to caress your skin. 

Do me a favor.  Never go fast.  Go slow.  Take your time.  Do everything with this deliberate knowing of your magnificence. If you do this, we will all be OK.

I adore you.

PS - Veronica Varlow is back at The School of Charm and Cheek on March 23rd with her new class "Journey In Seduction".  We just released it last week and it is already half full.  Grab your spot while you can!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Seduction Is Love

Teaching at Seduction Is A Spiritual Practice
Recently I taught my beloved workshop, Seduction Is A Spiritual Practice.  What I love so much about teaching this work is that every time I teach, I find I am the biggest student of us all.  I learn so much from what everyone in the class has to say and what everyone experiences. We are taught by the culture that seduction is an evil, manipulative, sexual force possessed by only by the perfect.  In my experience of living seduction as a spiritual practice and way of life, I find this could not be further from the truth. 

What I learned this time from teaching and learning in class is this: seduction is love.  Look around your life and you will see all the things that have truly seduced you.  You will also see what it is you truly love. 

Take Super Bowl Sunday in my house.  My husband had planned an amazing meal of fried chicken, my favorite beer, rice and beans, and chocolate ice cream for dessert.  Saying he is an amazing cook is the understatement of the century. When he mentioned what was on the menu, my sirens of “Gluten! Meat! Alcohol! Dairy!” started blaring away.  I am no Puritan, but for some reason, in my psyche, fried chicken seems like a cardinal sin.  There is just something about it that feels so demonic and wrong, and yet, soooo good. 

I eat whatever I like, whenever I like, but usually I lean towards that which does not put me in a food coma.  Yet, there was no doubt in my mind; I was going to eat this fried chicken and like it. It had seduced me. But not in the “Okay, fried chicken, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I don’t want to eat you but I am going to anyway, because you have put me under your spell!” kind of way.  That would be simply a seduction of the mind, and I never make a move unless I’ve been seduced mind, body and soul.

This guy can fry my chicken any time! :)
Seduction is holistic. When something seduces me, it is because I have taken into account the collective impact it will have on my self and those around me.  I did not eat this food because I wanted to go on some crazy, artery-destroying bender. This food was lovingly prepared, chosen with care, and marked the celebration an event that meant something to the man I love.  I ate to the point just beyond satisfaction, and got a little buzzed from the beer.  Today, I feel a little bloated and had to pull the cord a few extra times to get the engine started.  But that’s okay. I knew it was coming. In my experience, to really love something that takes you high, you’ve gotta be ready to love the fallout, too. I had a great time, loved the delicious food, and enjoyed watching my husband relish the satisfaction of me clearing my plate.

So there you have it.  Seduction is love.  We give in to what we love.  Sometimes that is hard to admit.  Like the fact that it is 11 AM and I have not yet brushed my teeth.  I must love this morning breath! But not really.  It’s just that I love being able to let the creative juices pour without interruption more than I love fresh breath at this moment. 

Now, my Sonicare beckons

While I’m brushing, tell me in your comments: do you feel like seduction is love? Do you see that seduction is not a force of manipulation or control, but it is actually an act of giving up control? Inquiring Cavaliers want to know.

P.S. - Single rooms are almost full for the May Seduction Retreat in Chester, CT. If you'd like to join us, do!