Why You Shouldn’t Offer Your Menstrual Blood To The Earth

Why You Shouldn’t Offer Your Menstrual Blood To The Earth

There’s a disturbing practice in my Instagram feed and within the plethora of books I have on my Kindle about Women’s Womb and Lunar Wisdom:

Offering One’s menstrual blood to the Earth.

The premise is romantic: The Earth needs our blood for nourishment. One story floating around says that is has been prophesied (but it doesn’t say by whom) that once enough women give their menstrual blood to the Earth, violence and war will stop.

So now it’s on women to stop all violence and war, one cup full of our own blood at a time? How many gallons of women’s blood is shed every day IN violence and war? But somehow our menstrual blood, which is not really much of a “sacrifice” to pour out (since it happens naturally without our will or intention) is magically the answer?

I call bullshit.

You can watch this short video below to hear my impassioned rant or keep reading:

Five Reasons You Need To Stop Giving Your Menstrual Blood To The Earth:

1. The Earth doesn’t need anything from us to be nourished.

This is a human-centric and, frankly, immature view of our relationship with the Earth. We all know the Earth would do just fine, and would in fact flourish, with the absence of humans. So what makes you think She needs your menstrual blood? And furthermore, have you asked Her if She even wants it? This is a symptom of projecting our humans wants and needs for the Earth onto the Earth instead of creating a dialogue with Her to see what she wants and needs. Human blood is shed everyday: accidentally, violently, naturally, in death and in birth. The Earth is over-populated at the moment. Does she really need more blood? The only way to find out is to ask. Her.

2. Menstrual blood is chaotic and not energetically nourishing.

When we bleed, we are bleeding out emotions, energies, thought forms and wounds for ourselves, our families, our communities and even the world. These are discarded energies. And while the Earth does a lovely job of mulching energies and other things that are no longer needed,  menstrual blood is chaotic in nature and not energetically nourishing. It’s important to understand that and to also think twice about ingesting or anointing sacred objects with your menstrual blood for the same reason.

3. Does the Ancestral Guardian of the land want your blood?

If you’ve asked the Earth if she wants your blood and you get a yes, if you’re aware that menstrual blood is chaotic and you still feel called to give your menstrual blood, you need to sit or journey to the Ancestral Guardian of the land (they are often very snippity and impatient/cold) and ask that Guardian if you can give your menstrual blood on this particular piece of land and also, when and how.

4. You could accidentally be making a blood oath with dangerous Earth Beings.

The Earth is actually death-centered. That’s what she does best– she recycles death to give life and once that life is born (whether human, animal, plant, etc.) it starts to die. There are dangerous and dark Earth Beings as well as Earth Currents that you do not want to invite into your energetic space by making a bridge with your blood. You do not want to start feeding and nourishing these beings and you certainly don’t want to find yourself engaged in an accidental blood oath with these things. We all know that blood is our life force (well, one of them) and that it carries the imprint of of DNA and who we are on an ancestral, energetic and cellular level. WHY WOULD YOU GIVE THAT AWAY? Especially without being spiritually responsible and ensuring that you were doing it in a safe, welcomed and hygienic manner.

5. It’s not up to women to stop violent bloodshed with menstrual bloodshed.

There’s a story going around the internet that goes something like this: When enough women give their menstrual blood to the Earth, the Earth will stop taking men’s blood in war.

This story actually makes me very angry. It places women in a position of bearing the weight and responsibility of the world’s woes on our shoulders– you know, just like the patriarchy has done to us for thousands of years (see: Adam and Eve). It also removes the collective responsibility we humans have for our acts of violence and aggression: the story implies that the Earth is causing war and violence in an effort to quench Her bloodthirst.

Come. Fucking. On.

Adding insult to injury, this story also enables women to feel like we’re doing something to work towards a better future (offering our menstrual blood to the Earth) WITHOUT US ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING.

Donate blood from your veins to a blood bank. Get over your fear of death and spirits and learn how to help spirits move on who are hanging around because of violent and sudden deaths (love and light isn’t enough. You need to learn to work with Death and make Death a spiritual ally). Moving these spirits over helps clean up the Earth’s energetic field and lessens the human chaos and emotions that are informing everything from the weather to the collective consciousness. Donate money. Raise children with consciousness. Adopt a child. Hold prayer circles. March in protest. Vote with your money. These small, everyday actions will actually do something to help create equality and world peace. Pouring your menstrual blood out will not.

So What To Do With Your Menstrual Blood Instead?

Just. Flush. It. Down. The. Toilet. Septic systems are already in place to hold human waste. Menstrual blood qualifies and human waste (gasp! Sacrilege!) so just utilize the systems already in place. No, that septic system was probably not put into place with the Earth or the land’s permission. You can make an offering (of anything but your bodily fluids) in gratitude for the septic system and to apologize for the human-centric way it was probably installed.

OR

Go through the steps listed above: ask the Earth. Ask the Ancestral Guardian of the land. Ask the spirit of the plant or tree you want to leave you offering with. If you get yes’s from all of these beings, and if you’re certain there are no other beings living at that spot, that could take your blood, go ahead and offer your blood to the Earth! I totally understand why you would want to honor your body and the Earth in that way. I just also want you to think critically and realize that it’s a two-way street and you should ask for permission from the other parties involved first.

What about The Red Tent Movement?

While I admire The Red Tent Movement and modern “Moon lodges” I question their story of origin. I cannot find any evidence that our ancestors ever gathered together to bleed under the New Moon and to share stories. First of all, ancient women didn’t bleed as often as we modern women do. We are better nourished and have less children, giving us more time and energy to bleed.

Second of all, as most camp/house labor was the realm of women, and most ancient women supposedly bled simultaneously, that would have left the majority of the women’s work to be done by children, women who were pregnant or recently gave birth, women too malnourished to menstruate, older women who had gone through menopause, or, most likely, by slaves– slaves that were probably denied a red tent experience of their own. That doesn’t sound right or kind. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have Red Tent Ceremonies today but it does mean we should think critically and avoid romanticizing the past (something uniquely afforded to those with racial, economic and class priveleage, by the way).

Thirdly, even if they did gather together to bleed, we need to be asking ourselves the following questions: How did they energetically prepare the space for bleeding? How did they energetically clear the space after each bleed? How did they ask for permission from the land? What did they give the land in return (besides their blood). How did they close this space when it was time to pack their tents or teepees and move on?

One Final Thing

I think this conversation also applies to burying placentas after birth (see what I did there). First, ask the Earth if you can bury the placenta. Second, ask the ancestral guardian of that particular chunk of land. Third, make sure there are no Earth Beings receiving the placenta.

Ok, but I still want to connect to the Earth as a woman.

Wonderful. You can do this by taking long meditative walks in nature. You can do this by grounding yourself with your bare feet on the Earth everyday. You can do this by not wasting Earth energy. Or. You can lay down on the Earth, your belly pressed against Hers, and just breathe. Whether you’re bleeding or not. Put your womb to Her womb. Breathe and, more importantly, shut up and listen.

If you like my particular flavor of approaching the menstrual mysteries you might like my course: Womb and Lunar Wisdom

In love and darkness,

 

image source

Why I Don’t Call Myself A Shaman

Why I Don’t Call Myself A Shaman

In today’s world of Shaman workshops and schools, more and more people are earning Shaman certificates and hanging up a shingle with the title “Shaman” written on it. I have some feelings about this.

Shamanism is actually much more complex, dangerous and more rigorous than an 18-month Shamanic Training program. It takes years, often costs your life (as in you have no other life outside of your Shamanic calling), and usually begins in childhood. Today’s quick and easy shamanic training is diluting what shamanism really is. While their shouldn’t “technically” be any harm in calling yourself a shaman when you really mean you are a shamanic practitioner (I explain the difference in the video), there can actually be irrecoverable harm for yourself and for others in this distinction, especially if you call yourself a shaman and actually believe yourself to be a shaman. (And hey, I get that there are exceptions to this).

Watch the video to see what I mean . . .

For me, personally, while I intend to seek out shamanic training as a way to develop and mature my soul, as well as to help myself and others heal, I will never call myself a shaman. And since I have a tribal affiliation/am tribally enrolled, any sort of official calling to be a shaman would have to come through those traditions. I encourage you to seek out shamanic training that is in alignment with your own ancestral lineage and cultural heritage as well. Sacred places and sacred teachings aren’t found in the Andes. They are everywhere you are. Everywhere your ancestors have stepped on this Earth.

Sacred Adornment V: Symbolic Power of Jewelry

Sacred Adornment V: Symbolic Power of Jewelry

To wrap up our discussion on talismans and amulets, I wanted to go over a few common and yet powerful symbols often found in jewelry that attest to feminine power. I find this subject fascinating because most of this symbolism was born, or became popularized, in the Victorian era. This was an era in which it was scandalous to show your ankles; to be alone in a room with a man who was not your father, brother or husband; and in which women never ever traveled, walked or lived alone.

Women were infantilized: helpless and needing all of the attention and humor that a child needs.

BUT. Symbols of feminine power persisted, in fact flourished, as they have always persisted throughout time.

Although these symbols have persisted in many ways: in art, in religious symbols, in rituals and even in nursery rhymes and fairy tales, jewelry has also contained these symbols and their secrets. And as jewelry is most often associated with and for women . . . it’s become the chosen method for armoring ourselves with the power these symbols contain and making a statement, even if the statement is/was only visible to others who had “eyes to see and ears to hear.”

The Figa

The Figa, or Mano Figa (Fig/ Fig Hand) is a symbol that I recently wrote about on Instagram. While the symbol is ancient and goes back further than ancient Rome, it experienced a revival in the Victorian era. While it’s official purpose is to ward against the Evil Eye (and is usually worn as a necklace), it’s symbolism actually goes much deeper. If you examine the charms, it has a thumb thrust in between the forefinger and middle finger. This gesture is known as “The Fig” or in modern slang it would be called “The Pussy.” It imitates both heterosexual sex and the anatomy of a woman’s vulva (the thumb would be the clitoris). It’s a sexual sign and also a sign of sexual power. In ancient Roman times these charms were most often made out of silver, which is sacred to the Luna, the moon goddess, or red coral, sacred to Venus, goddess of the sea and of love and red being the color of blood/the blood spilled at menstruation and during birth.

These days, figas are made out of all sorts of different stones and materials and it can be a lot of fun to start a collection or search for a figa made out of specific material(s). Wearing the figa is an invocation to the Mother Goddess. The Dark Goddess. She rules over sex and death and the things hidden in the night (Luna) and hidden in the depths of the sea (Venus). You can wear yours as I wear mine, as a testament to the enduring strength of women. Our strength is often silence and goes unnoticed, but we know it’s there. Just as the silent and unnoticed pendant hanging from a woman’s neck.

My favorite place to look for Figas is at a local antique jewelry shop or on Etsy. Ebay is also a great resource, I’ve just never really used it and I tend to trust Etsy sellers more for some reason.

The Victorian Rose

Roses are another ancient divine feminine symbol that saw a revival in the Victorian Era. In the Victorian era, roses took on a language of their own to speak coded whispers of passion between lovers in a time where they had no privacy. Red roses came to mean love and passion, while yellow means friendship and so forth. Mother Mary is associated with roses and, of course, the rosary. However, Roses are long associated with love and love goddesses, as well as fertility because of it’s resemblance to female genitalia, it’s sweet fragrance, and it’s delicate and thorny nature. And while the Catholic church will tell you that the rosary was given to Saint Dominic in 1214 in a holy vision, the use of rosaries actually goes back to the ancient world as prayer and meditation beads (like a mala), and Jesus even warned his followers against using prayer beads:

“And when you pray, do not…repeat the same
words over and over as the Gentiles (pagans) do,
for they think they will be heard for their much
speaking.”
(Matthew 6:7)(AMP)-BibleGateway

For more on the pagan origins of the rosary, see here.

You can also make your own rosary, dedicated to the Mother Goddess however you most identify with her, including Mother Mary/The Black Madonna, or you can wear your rosary as an amulet. It has been used as such for centuries and there is a lot of power in this repeated tradition. Learn how to make your own or dedicate one you already have here.

The Snake

Although the snake has always been a powerful symbol used in amulets, talismans and jewelry, coiled snake rings became forever popular in the the mid-1800’s when Queen Victoria received a coiled snake with an emerald head (her birthstone) as an engagement ring from Prince Albert. It was one of the first pieces of celebrity jewelry to be widely coveted and copied.

I cannot wait to find the perfect coiled snake ring to add to my own collection.

Snakes mean many things: as a symbol of healing they come down to us from the tradition of Asklepios, an ancient dream healer who had temples sprinkled throughout the Mediterranean. Snakes were sacred to Asklepios and when pilgrims were incubating healing dreams in the underground dream chambers, snakes (non-deadly ones) were allowed to roam free in those chambers. “The rod of Asklepios” has become an international medical symbol, not to be confused with the caduceus.

Snakes are also associated with feminine wisdom and sexuality (the snake and Eve in the Garden of Eden), with transformation and rebirth . . . and with death, as snakes can be deadly. Snakes are a symbol of alchemy in more than one mystical tradition. As the ouroboros, or the snake eating its own tale, the snake is a symbol of eternal return or of constant re-creation.

Moons and/or Stars

Moons and Stars were also popular in the Victorian Jewelry. The moon, usually a crescent moon, was a blatant and outright symbol that glorified the divine feminine while stars meant guidance (guiding star, North Star). Paired together this motif can easily be read as turning to the divine feminine as a guiding star. And, after all, the daughters of these Victorian moon and star-wearers did become flappers who revolutionized what it meant to be a woman in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Horseshoes

Horseshoes are a relatively old symbol of luck and protection. Horseshoes are made out of iron (which is considered sacred and holy because it doesn’t catch fire or melt) and have seven holes, meaning they can be attached to a wall with seven (iron) nails. Seven is a holy number as well and so it’s seen as double the protection or luck. A horseshoe hanging with the open end up, as in the pictures above, is for luck, while a horseshoe hanging with open end down is for protection.

Horseshoes enjoyed a heyday in the Victorian Era as both men and women wore them for luck, fortune and protection.

Mourning Jewelry

Finally, my favorite thing about Victorian jewelry was the revitalization of mourning jewelry (no pun intended). While we humans have been immortalizing our heroes and loved ones by way of jewelry and adornment for thousands of years, mourning jewelry became quite the trend in the Victorian era when Queen Victoria began wearing a mourning ring to mourn her beloved husband Albert. That’s right, Queen Victoria kicked off two huge and enduring jewelry trends: The coiled snake ring a la her engagement ring, and a mourning ring a la the one she wore to mourn her husband.

Common motifs around the mourning ring include urns, forget-me-nots and weeping willows. Jet or onyx is also often used in mourning rings and sometimes the hair of the person being mourned is incorporated in some manner as well.

Favorite Retailers

These are some of my favorite shops to follow and buy from– none are affiliated or probably even know my name 😛

Vulpecula Jewelry
Butterlane Antiques
MaeJean Vintage
Lang Antiques

Trademark Antiques

I hope you found this Sacred Adornment series helpful! If it inspires you to start a collection or to buy your first piece of antique jewelry, I’d love to see it!

In love and darkness,

 

Ain’t I A Woman? On the Women’s March to Equality

Ain’t I A Woman? On the Women’s March to Equality

It’s embarrassing to me that the first time I heard Sojourner Truth’s name was in grad school. Not high school. Not undergrad. Grad school. She has been completely eradicated from my history books.

But when I did finally hear her name for the first time, I sat up a little straighter and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up a little. Sojourner Truth. Any woman with a name like that must have something important to say. And she did.

Sojourner was born into slavery and later became an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. But what she is most known for is the day she told Her truth, to a Women’s Convention in Ohio. In 1851. She said:

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

And over 150 years later, my heart swelled and my soul leaned into those words as if she had just said them.

Today, when millions of men and women are marching for women and against Trump, I hold these words in my heart and blow them in a prayer to all of you.

Sacred Adornment IV: Your Beauty Is Your Temple

Sacred Adornment IV: Your Beauty Is Your Temple

These last few days we’ve talked about the power of having a talisman or an amulet to wear when things are dark or bleak or when you are immersed in Divine Darkness (a dark night of the soul). But there’s another side to Divine Darkness: Instead of being a dark night of the soul, Divine Darkness is also the power, strength, resolve and confidence that a dark night of the soul demands from you. Divine Darkness is the reservoir of strength and wisdom inside each of us women. It’s a reservoir that the Patriarchy has demanded we keep buried. Witches, boogey men and other dark tales have been invented to keep us afraid of the dark found in these reservoirs. But every generation sees more and more women standing up and declaring that they aren’t afraid of the dark. That they intend to wield the birthright of their dark, feminine, reservoir of strength . . . and beauty.

That’s right, beauty is a deep and powerful strength for women. You’re probably a little bit afraid of your beauty. You might even be in denial about your beauty. But you ARE beautiful.

You’ve probably been taught to care about your looks but don’t become vain.You’ve probably experienced first hand the power of beauty, whether in yourself or in watching another woman wield it. You know that beauty has power and you know that that power can be abused.

As women, our relationship to and with beauty is often complicated. Either we care too much about our looks or we care too little. Either we beat our bodies into submission or we ignore them. We are experts at filling our bodies with self-loathing. We are experts at polishing our bodies until they shine in just the way society tells us we are allowed to shine.

No matter you own history and relationship with your body and with your beauty, there is one simple thing you can begin doing today that can help you either bring your body and your relationship with your body back into balance, or help you honor your body and your beauty in a healthy way: Sacred Adornment.

Yes, your body is a temple. Yes, you can, and should, adorn it to your liking. Sacred Adornment is also a fantastic outlet for creative and self-expression. How many times have you heard messages about the “kind of woman” who wears too much jewelry or too much makeup? Fuck that. Or how many times have you heard messages about how au natural is the best beauty look? Fuck that too.

This week, I want you to wear what you want to wear because it feels good. Think of it as an experiment. Wear a dinner dress because it makes you feel good even though you’re a stay-at-home mom. Wear makeup even though your Dad gave you hell about wearing makeup as a teenager. You’re not a teenager anymore and you’re not under his roof anymore. Show off your best jewels. Or, if you’re afraid of anyone ever seeing you without a full face of makeup, dare yourself to go out in public with a bare face.

The point is, there is power in how we adorn and express ourselves. When we give in to expectations and rules that others (usually men) have for what is appropriate and what isn’t appropriate in how we adorn ourselves, we give away our power.

Instead, practice embracing and reclaiming your power.

In Love and Darkness,

Image from here— check out her other beautiful curvy boudoir shots! She’s so sexy!

 

Sacred Adornment III: Creating Talismans, Amulets and Sacred Objects

Sacred Adornment III: Creating Talismans, Amulets and Sacred Objects

Today, I’m going to teach you how to use yesterday’s Astral Light Method to charge and imbue talismans, amulets and other sacred objects as part of your spiritual practice.

Knowing how to empower an object to protect you or amplify your power can do wonders for keeping you sane during periods of Darkness or long dark nights of the soul. It can help alleviate unnecessary emotions and negative thoughts that are bogging you down and not serving any purpose. It can help you imbue an object with a lesson or a memory that you don’t want to forget. Say you’ve inherited your grandmother’s wedding ring. Wearing it keeps her memory close and reminds you of some happy memories you had with her. Creating a talisman or an amulet out of the object can only serve to increase the power that object holds and can make the memory/lesson even more vivid. Say you want to pass the ring on to your daughter; you can use the Astral Light Method to make it an amulet to protect her– an amulet already infused with three generations of love. Pretty powerful stuff.

But first, just so we’re clear, I want to establish the difference between a talisman and amulet:

Amulets can be any object (jewelry, statues, figurines, a doorway, etc.) programmed to ward off evil or negativity.

Talismans, on the other hand, are usually stones (precious or semi-precious), and are usually made out of a piece of jewelry. Rather than warding off energies, talismans are worn to amplify a person’s personal power, which naturally keeps other energies away. The more personal power you have, the more powerful your talisman. Reminder: you can increase your personal power by doing the Astral Light method frequently.

Talismans (for personal use)
It’s best to empower a talisman on day that you feel extra vibrant or good. You can always recharge it if/when need be, so do your best in choosing a good day. If there is ever a better day, recharge it.

Begin by choosing a piece of jewelry that you wear often, or would like to wear often.

Wash and clean the jewelry the way you normally would. You can dab some unused spiritual bath water, Florida water or rose water on it as well so long as it won’t damage the jewelry. Bonus points if you can go out in the sun with your jewelry and soak up some rays for 15-20 minutes.

Now go through the Astral Light Method, directing the light into the jewelry (hold the jewelry in front of you). You can say a prayer or talk to the talisman if you would like. Ask what you want of it, ask it to have an imprint of your power and energy. After the light door has closed, you can take it a step further and ask a spiritual ally to also bless the object. This could be your ancestors, a guide, a spirit animal, etc.

Wear the object.

Remember to repeat this process on future days that you are feeling extra strong and vibrant. Wear the jewelry all of the time if you can, but especially if you are feeling down, depressed, lethargic, etc.

And again, more is not better. When it comes to spiritual matters, simple is key. It’s better to do this with one object you wear all the time than with a dozen pieces of costume jewelry that you are always mixing and matching.

Amulets (for personal and property protection) and Fiery Protection Oil
Before you begin, you will want to make a protection oil. You can buy protection oil too, but it’s easy to make: with a little oil (olive oil, castor oil, veggie oil, almond oil, etc.) in a small jar, add cinnamon, chili pepper, black pepper, red pepper flakes, or anything else “hot.” (just use the one thing, not all). OR use some red brick dust (you can smash a brick). You can use it immediately but you might want to let it sit for a few days.

Amulets can be anything. They can be a piece of jewelry. They can be a garden gnome figurine. The do tend to work better if they are made out of an Earth element (clay, stones, brick, plaster, etc.).

Choose an object you feel drawn to and based on what it will be protecting. If you want an amulet to protect your house, for example, then you may want to use a garden statue of some sort. if you want an amulet to protect your children, then a piece of jewelry or a small stone they can carry in their pocket would be a good choice.

Make sure this object has never been used for prior spiritual purposes. If it has, go through 3-5 days of daily cleansing: wipe it down with Florida water or unused spiritual bath water and smoke it with incense. Once a day for 3-5 days.

Next, come up with one or two words that represent what you need from this amulet. Simple is best: GO AWAY, PROTECTION, STAY SAFE, etc. You can write, etch, paint or draw this on the object if you want to. Or slip a card underneath the object with your word(s) written on it, if you want to (optional).

Now repeat your word(s) to the object 99 times, or a specific number of times that is sacred to you or until you intuitively feel that the object has been programmed.

Anoint your object with your fiery protection oil. Just do a few drops. You can do it in the shape of a cross or pentagram if you want to. Say a few words about the function of this new amulet, think about the function, and then blow it into the amulet with your breath.

Now use it! Wear it, carry it, place it by your front door, bury it in your yard, etc. Every two weeks or so you will want to repeat the anointing and breathing steps so that the object holds its charge. You’ll know when and how often.

If you have any questions or would like to show off a picture of your talisman or amulet– or tell us a story about an object that served as a talisman or amulet during a rough patch, head over to Instagram and tag me: @the.undomesticated.soul

Tomorrow, in part 3 of this series, we’ll be exploring jewelry, the Dark Goddess and sacred adornment a bit further.

In Love and Darkness,

image source, photo 1

image source, photo 2