Priestess of swords illustration

The Power of Integrity + Heart

We needed some legal advice for our coaching program at EPI, so I reached out to my favorite attorney, Julia Knearl.

Julia Knearl

I’ve known Julia for a couple of decades now, our relationship stretching back through our association at the Center for Musical Arts, and then her help with helping us close down our beloved Boulder Center for Conscious Community during the pandemic. I welcome reasons to reconnect with her, as Julia incorporates a rich blend of precision, depth of experience, and ability to stay relational even while delivering complicated legalese.

illustration of airplane path in heart shape

As we walked through the details of our situation, something else surfaced that I hadn’t seen before. It came through like a warm breeze rattling the blinds a bit, settling my being with a nourishment and groundedness that, in retrospect, I recognized. Julia embodies the power of integrity plus heart.

Now that I’ve put a frame around this combination, I see it all around me. It’s particularly manifested in women who are in their 50s and beyond, this wafting strength that emanates from combining intellect, soul, and life experience. It’s the energy represented by tarot’s Priestess of Swords: mature feminine energy tempered by time into focused action.

Priestess of swords illustration

Priestess of Swords card, from the Motherpeace tarot deck by Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel, ©1981

In this day of glamorous “influencers,” my being feels refreshed as I tune into these background powerhouses. They’re just going about their lives, often garnering little attention. You can find them all over, once you know what you’re looking for. They’re: leading nonprofits; directing the charge for social change; heading up their own businesses; raising kids, grandkids, or other people’s kids through their jobs in education, health sciences, administration, and psychotherapy. They may be holding space behind the scenes, volunteering and lending their voices to their community. They are certainly steeping themselves in all modes of personal and spiritual transformation.

This essay is not another patronizing glorification of the selfless, invisible woman. Quite the opposite. Domination, “power over,” violence and force can be so compelling that they take up all our attention, ultimately leaving us to wonder if there are other paths worthy of aspiration.

two shadow figures facing each other talking

ID5967577© Juriah Mosin|

I’m taking this opportunity to spotlight what is so foundational that we might not see it, even though it is actually what knits our species together. Recalling optical illusions (where you have to shift your type of attention to what was there all along) I’m bringing our attention to those who are our models of real power, the ones stepping out and leading by their examples of living principled, relational lives. It’s a version of bad-assery that doesn’t need any f-bomb attached to it, as it stirs together the potent brew of strength, clarity, connection, and authenticity.

Since many of you aren’t women over 50, I want to elucidate the qualities that I perceive people like Julia embodying. Witnessing the current atrocities taking up our world stage, unleashed by those who have no idea what our species is actually capable of, this integrity + heart combination is sorely needed. Let’s all practice together.


One: Draw from Gay and Katie Hendricks‘ “Four Pillars of Integrity,” including:

  • Feeling your feelings fully, discerning body sensations so that you can understand what your body is trying to tell you.
  • Speaking your truth in a nonblaming, unarguable way
  • Taking 100% responsibility for your experience, turning away from the pull to blame and towards the creative actions you could take right now
  • Stepping into integrous action, as you do what you say you’re going to do, don’t do what you say you’re not going to do, and fully comple the cycles of actions you begin.

Two: Connect all of these to your essential, heartfelt self:

  • Are you in alignment with the words you speak?
  • Are you connected to your body, to your deepest self, as you choose your words and actions?

Three: Stay in relationship with those around you–and beyond

  • Do you view others as your equal? Not more or less valuable than you?
  • Are you engaging with an ongoing flow back and forth with others, in conversation, in energy exchange?
  • Can you stay Above the Line, experiencing Neutrality, Acceptance, Appreciation, Love, Joy, Peace in your relationships with others?

The above are my aspirations and my commitments. I am thrilled to observe more and more humans like Julia, the wise ones, those whose relational skills have moved beyond pleasing others to connecting with full-heartedness while aligning with their own truth. I believe it is these who are lighting up the path to a new way of being in the world, one where conflict can be easily resolved, as we relax into trusting that every single being is a gift to all of us.

Blessings to you as we move through the longest nights, and back into the light.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top