A Creative Exploration into the Art & Magic of Archetypes through Mythology, Psychology, Astrology, Visualization, Neurobiology and the Natural Flow of Energy.


is a word we use to name all the ways we shape and play with life. Magic is what we call it when we use Intention and Imagination to inspire shifts of perception.

In astrology, the planets are personifications of our inner patterns. Each planet is alive and active in the psyche, in myths, stories, dreams and the deep imagination. And each planet has particular ways it wants to teach us magic! SkyMagic that is.

When we create and collaborate with these astrological myths, dance with the characters in the sky and honor the richly nuanced patterns of the soul, our inner and outer life magically and irrefutably changes…

Join Laura, Jena & me for Sky Magic: A Creative Exploration into the Art & Magic of the Astrology.

  • Connect with your imagination and intuition.

  • Play with the mythic figures of your inner world and cultivate a deeper relationship to the archetypes that form the deepest patterns of human experience.

  • Increase your astrological education. Because truly, if you know the planets you know all the musical notes of astrology.

  • Learn through playful art prompts, meditations, mythic journeys and community learning.

  • Make more magic through ritual, art, and creative intention!

Jump in and Join us! $75/mo. Cancel at any time.
Coming up!
(3/24) Mars, our most Sacred Selfishness, our deepest most true Desires.
(4/21) Venus, our capacity for thorough enjoyment and satisfaction.
(5/26) Mercury, our need for stimulation, new information and cross-pollination…


In this yearlong course we:

  • Greet, honor, feed, and enliven the core archetypes of the soul

  • Evoke each planet and place them on our altar for a month

  • Connect to the genius of our inner worlds through active visualization

  • Clear out the cultural and personal beliefs that limit. Explore and expand your experience through playful art prompts

  • Understand how these mythic patterns express (and want to express) uniquely through you. Identify where the magic lives in your life and in your astrology chart.

Week One: Introduction and Meditation to Meet the Archetype with Mary Swanson
Week Two: Art Journaling on the themes with Jenafer Joy
Week Three: Go Deeper Exploration and Meditation with Laura Tabet
Week Four: Summary and Buffet of options.

Curious? See a sample week four email: here.

Hope you’ll join us! Click here to register…

Venus Aphrodite

By Mary Swanson

In Astrology, opposition is not so much conflict as it is Complimentary, each side has something the other needs.  Both sides need to understand each other and come into balance.  We invoke Venus at this point of a cycle because Venus, (love, grace, beauty, balance, harmony, all the arts… ) Venus is the collective human experience, the Archetype,  that shows us how to OPEN and RECEIVE.

Venus Aphrodite is the Alchemical Goddess.   This archetype holds our collective understanding of how to deal with opposition, contraction, fear.  This archetypes CHANGES FEAR INTO CREATIVITY. She accepts the energy of the Other, of Mars(Desire) because she authentically finds it beautiful and pleasing.



Venus Aphrodite, aka Isis, Astarte, Sekhmet, Oshun, Freya and thousands of names I haven’t heard yet.  What a diminishment to call her the love goddess even though it IS the experience of love in all it’s forms. But it is anything but a kind of I-dream-of-jeannie-martha-stewart…

Venus isn’t passive in the least.  She fully faces the strength of Desire.  Desire is her sure point, her guiding light. She is the part of us that is curious, engaged, excited and interested.  She doesn’t ask anyone’s permission or wait for approval. She doesn’t concern  herself with any one else’s measurement of worth.  She knows what she finds interesting.  Venus is purely subjective, no one tells her who or what she falls in love with.

When beginning to contract, the ancients tell us, be AUTHENTIC about what you love.

We all want permission to give ourselves with complete abandon to the person or experience that interests us.  We all want to light up and feel completely engaged with life.  Venus is our guide.

She is the part of us that finds itself BY being met. When you feel the freedom to choose what you find beautiful and interesting, you have invoked Venus, your right to love who and what you love.   All else is unimportant.  This archetype is strong and powerful and it’s selfish.  When Venus is present we are having  a sensual, sexual, sensory experience. It’s as if we’re in a spell where the other is the only thing that matters.  She is the golden sparkle of new love, the grand passion and the all-consuming interest. She is unconcerned with past or future.  She is not bound by any law or idealization. She claims the right to give herself with complete abandon to what she is interested in.

By giving Self to the other in that way, by falling in love, we cannot help but create an explosion of energy.  To respond to a person or idea with interest and delight allows connection.  A chemical exchange happens, both are affected and changed by the experience.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, Venus is present when something new is created.   Her touch opens an avenue of exchange, a cauldron of creativity, a balancing of yearning with expression and something that has never been here before comes into being.

Venus is the sacred, holy and precious ability to meet life and say “yes, I give myself to you completely!”

She guides us to the Spark, the Orgasm, the Creation of new life.

Venus does not barter herself for anything, she doesn’t make deals.  She chooses what she wants and gives herself to it. She is the part of us that knows what is personally meaningful.  Venus cannot be diverted from her goal.   She is the ability in each of us to get in touch with our own true selves by claiming the right to choose, by opening our selves to something, and finding ourselves enlivened by the experience.

In myth, Venus imbues everything with a golden light, with beauty, and a kind of magnetic attraction that is impossible to resist. She is present in all the arts because the arts teach us how to be authentic.  They bring us to how we really feel.  Relationships are her special field because it is only in relationship to some other that we find out about what we really believe, what we really feel, what we really can say “YES!” to.

When Venus is present we feel vitalized, not drained by our encounter with the Other.  Venus is found where ever growth is generated or vision supported or potential developed or creativity encourage.  The authentic, alchemical creative spark of interacting with something other than yourself.

The energy of venus is real, no matter what you call it.

In science, Venus would be described as non-coercive bonding energy

like electrostatic attraction, or molecular binding or gravity.

Non-coercive bonding is found in the bonding of subatomic particles into atoms, atoms into molecules, molecules into molecular complex cells, into organisms. It’s how life comes into being.

Unions formed by love (non-coercive bonding) are the most stable because they allow people to express what they are, better than they could if the union were absent. This is a very important principle when you are tempted to contract… we are more ourselves because of our interaction with the other.  Saying yes to what you love allows a more authentic expression of yourself.

If you are disconnected from Venus, there’s no harmony, no peace–it’s possible to be so disconnected you’re not aware of wanting anything at all.. An unacknowledged, unintegrated Venus feels like emptiness and apathy.  It is the loss of spontaneity and pleasure and simple self-confidence.   Denying Venus has us merely surviving,  as opposed to deeply enjoying Life.

In all my years of working with people’s energy fields, I’ve noticed that the most difficult thing for any human is to let love in. Not to give it… we’re good with the giving.  But to actually, physically have the experience of letting love into our cellular bodies, is not so easy.  We all have our stories about betrayal and loss and fear.  We all are afraid of the unknown.  It is so hard to say “Yes!” to life.  Venus stands at the portal to the darkening of the light, at the place where we are tempted to contract in fear and She says “Have no fear, you have only to tell the truth about what you love.”

Sky Magic

By Mary Swanson

We’re bring these explorations to you in this online course.  Every month we investigate the archetype of the sign the Sun in entering.  We begin at the Fall Equinox with the archetypal energy of Venus (See my “Grace Under Pressure” Blog on this site).  You can step into the class at any time, all our communications are archived, so you can visit anything you might have missed.

Please click on the link below to learn more about this class!


Learn More at

Raise Your Vibration

By Mary Swanson


The remaining live sessions are on August 19th and 26th, 2014 from 3:30-4:30 EST or 12:30–1:30 PST.  You will receive two emails reminders before the calls (24 hours before and 2 hours before) with call in number and unique pin from Maestro Conference. The pin allows us to see a list of who is on the call.  If you don’t receive a pin by the morning of the call please contact the technology-inclined Jena. A downloadable mp3 recording of each call will be provided to this email address same within 48 hours of the call.

Friday Night May 24, 2013  8:00 pm


-Phoenix Rising




“Giacomond” by Quint Bucholz



We are all being asked to reinvent ourselves, to dare to believe that we are capable of waking up to our own potential


We are in the middle of a huge change in human consciousness.  The Great Awakening symbolized by the squaring of Pluto and Uranus is here.  This transit doesn’t end until 2015.   In the language of Astrology, all the old unconscious things we’ve been in denial about (Pluto) are erupting in our faces as our own creative genius (Uranus) is trying to wake us up.  The tensions we’re watching on the global scale are also at work in our own personal lives.

Mary Swanson is inviting 9 Students to her home for a day of fun exploration, deep understanding and sharing.  She’ll be teaching you some basic astrological principles, speaking specifically about your chart and bringing the ancient wisdom and guidance of Astrology to help you understand what is trying to transform in your life.

You don’t have to know anything about Astrology to attend this seminar!  We’ll be looking at how the archetypes of Power and Genius interact in your life,  sharing stories, doing some meditation and learning lots about how to work with our own inner conflicts and gifts.

Where:  4810 Fulton St. San Francisco, CA 94121

When:  10 am to 6pm on Saturday, April 20, 2013

Cost: $200.00

Pre-registration & Birth information Required

For more information and registration please contact Mary @ 415-682-4818 or email at

Please bring your own lunch.  We’ll take a  break around 1:00.  I’ll have tea and snacks.

special one-on-one astrological readings for those who can’t attend

contact Mary to schedule a reading


Uranus And Pluto

By Mary Swanson

When the disparity between what you think and say about something and the physical, energetic reality of something reaches a certain point of tension, there will be a break. Something will erupt and provide an uncomfortable surprise for the ones who never question their own assumptions. We can think of this as misfortune, betrayal, the last straw, deliverance or the urge for authenticity in all beings. How we interpret events is a big part of how we create our own suffering. In the language of Astrology, Uranus is the harbinger of such shocking moments of release. A tension that had been building gives way and out comes the truth.  It’s usually experienced as a destructive shock but needn’t be.  Uranus is always asking us to break free of anything that constrains our growth, specifically the expression of our own individual genius.  It is the Revolutionary planet. When Uranus shows up, the outgrown forms have to fall away. On June 26th Uranus had it’s first square to Pluto and we all had some sort of experience around that time of being “blindsided.” Something that we didn’t want to admit was true came blasting out of the unconscious into very visible and physical form. Because planets seem to stop and go backwards sometimes (retrograde motion) this Pluto/Uranus square will be going on through the spring of 2015. That’s a long time to be dealing with the stripping away of pretense.  The last time we were dealing with similar energies was 1967-1968. We are in a time of great change.  That doesn’t mean bad, scary or untenable.  Change is necessary.  No growth can happen without change.  We can all be shocked and saddened by something that other people would have seen from a mile away. Denial is an amazingly powerful psychological and emotional protection. Why one develops this sort of protection is unique to each person’s complex history. We all do it. We all run along on automatic pilot, protecting our vulnerable areas with conviction and surety that we are doing the right and practical things. Recently, I found out that I’d rented a house that wasn’t really mine. The landlord’s daughter and boyfriend live in a room underneath the house, in the garage. Oh, I knew they were there when I moved in but was told they’d just moved up from Southern California and would be moving soon, when they found jobs. It wasn’t really a problem for six months. They’d both found jobs and I assumed they’d be moving soon. Then the landlord’s daughter began complaining about our making too much noise upstairs–telling us not to use water or move around after 10pm. When I received a certified letter telling me I was a “noise nuisance” and threatening eviction, I had to look into the legalities. Whenever legal threats come into my life, I know Pluto is involved.  Pluto is about Power and is always asking us to stop pretending and get real. Pluto and Uranus together create a perfect storm of threats to our fundamental assumptions.  We are all going through this right now.  Each of us is having to deal with tensions in the area of our lives where we’re not being honest. Looking at this from the outside, anyone might say I should fight for my rights. But I needed to go into meditation and ask why this eruption was happening in my life? What was I protecting myself from seeing? On the one hand, I should never have rented this house under those circumstances. True. Lesson learned.  But what was really going on? What am I protecting that’s being shown to me in the form of this secretive, repressed, controlling, angry & fearful energy? When I think of it that way… I can see that a part of me feels trapped in a box in the basement. As lovely as it was to land back in San Francisco after being gone for seven years and be in my favorite part of town where I can take long walks on the cliffs above “Land’s End”, where I can hear the ocean as I sleep and watch the pair of red-tailed hawks who live out here… as lovely as that has all been, I have been quiet, holding back, gathering strength and living a kind of old life that everyone expects me to live. That angry woman in the basement will be recognized. When I stop blaming the woman downstairs for being controlling, fearful, angry… I can recognize the part of me that is fearful, angry and being controlled.  And when I ask that part of me what she really wants… she wants a studio to paint in, to see clients in, to have events in.  That part of me is tired of pretending I don’t need what I really, really want. Uranus asks us to tear down the walls and let the captives free. Squaring Pluto takes it all to the deepest level of what is hidden behind our walls of denial. Stop blaming anyone for upsetting you, for shocking and deplorable behavior and let this Uranus/Pluto square rip away the veils of denial from your life… and expose your shocking genius. Because we all have a genius, waiting to be let out of the basement. Uranus square Pluto June 26 2012 Uranus square Pluto September 19 2012  Uranus square Pluto May 21 2013 Uranus square Pluto November 1 2013 Uranus square Pluto April 21 2014 Uranus square Pluto December 15 2014 Uranus square Pluto March 17 2015.

Coming back to San Francisco after being gone for seven years, I’m very conscious of who I was then (before I moved). Ghosts of former times show up as I drive around town, or reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while. Looking back in time always gives me an interesting perspective… It’s so much easier to look back and see that what I believed was going on isn’t necessarily what was happening.

The strongest experience I’m having is how I’ve been held by people. “Held” in the sense of “loved.” As I remember events I was involved in, deep conversations I’ve had with others, I can see how I used to hold myself at a distance. I’m reminded of something central to the soul healing work I’ve been studying for most of my life: so much of what we blame others for is just our own refusal to allow what we desire.

The whole idea that we project out into the world our unconscious beliefs and when they come back to us we experience that as suffering, is difficult to understand. We are all so used to blaming others for our suffering. But when we blame others, we place ourselves in the powerless role of Victim. It feels so satisfying though. HE hurt me, SHE betrayed me, THEY aren’t kind or understanding, IT’S THEIR FAULT I FEEL BAD! It’s so easy to blame and feels so right that the idea of healing by letting go of blame can feel like we’re not “standing up for ourselves.”

What I’ve come to understand is that Blame stops everything and freezes it in an iceburg of misunderstanding. It prevents us from realizing what’s really happening–we use others to convince ourselves we can’t have what we want.

The hardest thing, in all of existence, is to let ourselves have what we want. We are all masters at finding reasons why we should blame others. We are all masters at creating interference to what we want.

Deep down, for all of us sharing this experience of incarnation on the Pleasure Planet called Earth, we all want to be loved. The question to ask ourselves is not “Why doesn’t anyone love me?” it’s “How can I allow myself to receive the love that’s trying to come to me?”

Looking back, I see so many missed opportunities to feel that love. To literally feel the energy of love come into my heart chakra. It’s a humbling experience and also an encouraging one. My job isn’t to judge the shortcomings of others. My job is to allow myself to feel their love.

Here’s some wisdom from the Tao Te Ching:

The highest good is like water.
Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive.
It flows in places men reject and so is like the Tao.

In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
In speech, be true.
In ruling, be just.
In business, be competent.
In action, watch the timing.

No fight: No blame.

Re-post: Originally written for Build Altars May 2012

Image: Rachel Bone

I’ve just returned to San Francisco after Seven Years in Vermont. Which sounds like a movie or book. It was definitely an adventure into the wilds, into my past, into a deep internal transformation that I’m not really sure how to bring back into the world.

It feels like I’ve come through a worm-hole, from one universe into another and I’m feeling the kind of space-sickness one would feel if you actually did break down all your molecules and transport them through time and space and then reassembled yourself. It’s taking a while to get my bearings.

I’m definitely home. That feels solid. But I’m not the same person I was when I left and neither are any of my friends and family here in the Bay Area. With certain people there’s no dissonance at all. With most though, there’s an odd experience of being at different “baud” rates.

"In telecommunications and electronics, baud (/’bc:d/, unit symbol “Bd”) is synonymous to symbols per second or pulses per second. It is the unit of symbol rate, also known as baud rate or modulation rate; the number of distinct symbol changes (signaling events) made to the transmission medium per second in a digitally modulated signal or a line code. The baud rate is related to but should not be confused with gross bit rate expressed in bit/s."

I know Vermont operates at a much slower pace than the Bay Area and I am definitely thinking, moving and speaking at a much slower rate. But something else is going on too. While I was gone, I seem to have let go of some kind of fear propulsion, some kind of something that has been pushing me through most of my life. It’s not that I’ve lost ambition or desire, it’s more of a sense that I don’t need to push anything.

During the past Seven Years I feel I’ve had co-dependency, the need to do something to win approval, knocked out of me. There’s nothing quite like moving to a new place and watching yourself try to make new friends to bring up your relationship patterns. Denial fell away and I got to see my own fears & manipulations. Not pretty but the end result of acknowledging my inner fears has been, of course, a transformation. The fear in me seems to have quieted down.

Most people who know me would not identify me as a fearful person. I’m more noted for leaping off metaphoric cliffs. But looking at my own fears and all things I told myself to avoid admitting them, has changed me. It remains to be seen what effect that change will have but for right now all I can say is I’m not sure who I am or what I’ll be doing next. I just know I don’t feel pushed and I don’t feel like pushing anything. It’s strange to be feeling the absence of a fear I didn’t even know I had.

People in Vermont say the great thing about the place is that it never changes and the horrible thing about the place is it won’t change. Something about that stubborn, flinty refusal to be anything but exactly what it is has left its imprint. Am I now like rock? Like water? Like trees? Or am I finally knowing a kind of rightness in myself? Time will tell and for the first time in my life, I feel comfortable with that.

It’s just really strange.

Re-post: Originally written for Build Altars April 2012

“Who knows what parts we play in other people’s dreams?”

I’ve always loved stories. Probably most people do.

For most of human history, stories got passed down, person-to-person, changing slightly with each telling. Every teller of the tale gave it a little spin or updated it with relevant details the listener would understand but essentially, the stories remained the same: the hero, the innocent, the trickster, the ancient king, the brave mother, the fool, the sisters… there are characters and plot lines we’re all very, very familiar with.

Stories are a way we have of teaching the next generation about what we’ve learned. They’re cautionary or inspirational or ironic but they help us make sense of human experience: in one story the jilted lover takes revenge, in another lost one finds a new way. Stories show us possibilities and what’s happened before.

Even though we’re not sitting around the cave fire, we still have stories. Family stories, favorite tales, reality tv, gossip, novels, movies… endlessly we hear stories. We enjoy them or they make us sad or angry or confused…whatever emotion they invoke, they help us create catharsis, they help us process our feelings.

But there are stories we tell ourselves without really knowing we’re listening. Secret stories we don’t want anyone else to know about.

What is the story you tell yourself about yourself? What is the story you’re afraid is true? … or not true? The most important story you can ever listen to is the one you’re telling about yourself, secretly, quietly, constantly.

It’s hard to remember we’re living life through the filter of our secret story– that we experience our lives “as if” something were true when it’s probably not. It may have been, once upon a time, but it’s not really happening right now. Most of us can laugh off a scary movie or let go of a character who’s behaved badly but it’s really hard to stop the internal viewing of what we’re used to expecting.

When you start hearing the story you tell yourself, you can entertain the possibility that your story can change.

The one story we all have trouble with is actually a Christmas story: the one about the adored child who changes the world. So many of us feel outside the family, outside what “should be happening” this time of year. What if you told the story about you being open to being adored?

What if your relatives, your friends, your parents even, actually like you? What would it do to your story if the plot included them waiting to hear from you? What if the magical key to happiness “forever afte” is acting as if you matter to the ones you want to love you?

We try so hard to win respect, to find our place in the world, to somehow have a right to be. We can’t imagine that someone else needs our approval… that they’re seeing us through the lens of their own story.

It’s hard to pay attention to how we affect others. We see them through the lens of our own our unconscious expectations and unresolved pain. All the unfelt emotions & unexamined feelings clog the vision of our hearts and we barely can see the person right in front of us. They can barely see us.

As you realize everyone is walking around in their own little pain bubble, trying not to be hurt, you realize very little of what you do or say gets through. Communication is difficult. I think it’s a miracle any of us is able to communicate our real intention.

Here is something you can do to create a Miracle: when someone you care about is behaving in a way that irritates or hurts you, listen to them. Listen to the story they are telling about themselves. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It’s their story, and all the untrue parts, the parts that are “once upon a time” parts, will soften in the telling. Both of you will let go of some of the feelings involved and the story will be able to change.

If you can just sit with someone and really listen as you would to any story, something will happen inside their little bubble of painful experience.

Because pain is real. We all live in pain. All the “should-have’s” and “why-didn’t-they’s” rip us to shreds. All of us. If we love that person, we can welcome their story. Even if it’s no truer than the story we tell about our own experience.

Here’s a poem by a woman I only know as the yoga instructor of a friend: 

Love Kula | By Tracy Bleier
Welcome students.
Welcome teachers. Welcome good friends. Welcome sisters who transcend blood. Welcome family who transcend lifetimes.
Welcome your strong legs, your strong backs, your closed eyes. your cranky knee, your beautiful skin..
Welcome Your seriousness. Your tenacity. Welcome your passions.
Welcome your secrets. Your stories. Your past lives. Your future paths.
Welcome your bad days, your triumphs, your milestones, your winfalls.
Welcome your good luck, your good health, Welcome your convictions. Your changing moods.
Welcome your breathing. Your intentions. Your namaste.

Welcome to music. Welcome to laughing. Welcome to spirit.
Welcome to understanding. Welcome to truth.
Welcome to sticky mats, to yogi-toes, to your pinky toes. Welcome to shoulder blades together. Welcome to core. Welcome to eye contact. Welcome to texture and alone time. Welcome to a warm room. Welcome to good company
Welcome desires.
Welcome hope.
Welcome courage
Welcome forgiveness
Welcome growth
Welcome comfort.
Welcome love
Welcome yourself"

Lay back with, close your eyes and imagine a new story for yourself.Re-post: Originally written for Build Altars December 2011

♣ Sign up for my mailing list.