Here are a few of the things I've been putting in my tea to help treat my cold:
-lavendar (antibacterial, soothing, tastes good)
-peppermint (helps with congestion, apparently)
-calendula (good for soothing membranes-- like the throat, nasal passages, skin, etc)
-mullien (this actually decreases swelling and encourages the expelling of mucus)
-slippery elm (soothes sore throats)
And it's definitely helped. But I'm still ready to be healthy again. Plus, I've got two home made cupcakes staring at me from the kitchen counter. I know that while I'm sick, eating sugar like that is B-A-D bad for me to do... but they are SO TEMPTING. sigh.
Sorry to be out of touch for over a month. It's the end of my semester, and I graduate soon. Also, my lease agreement runs out in a month or two, so I've been trying to plan for the next move. I'm a bit distracted, as a result. I'll try to be a bit more regular. I know it's disconcerting not to have regular updates.
- Bury apples to honor the ancestors on their journey and give lost spirits a meal.
- Set an extra place at the table for any visitors on this night.
- Light candles in your windows, either to guide good spirits to your door, or to keep bad spirits away-- your choice. (These are often placed in pumpkins-- an offering of peace.)
Come, sit with me, eat and drink with me.
I offer you the hospitality of my home.
You are always welcome here.
I pray to all the gods of death,
of darkness, of sorrow.
Though I do not love you, I respect you.
Though I do not welcome you, I honor you.
Though I do not invite you into my life,
I know you are already there.
Eat with us, Ancestors,
on this night of the dead.
Share our meal with us
and then go on your way.
At the end of my life, I put my trust in the gods of my people.
Ancient Wise Woman, cover me with your cloak
as I walk the last path that leads to your land.
Lock up carefully, Earth's guardians,
and keep life safe until spring.
It is only fair to thank you, blessed ones:
You have given me so much;
I give to you from my little.
Enter my home, and find your own,
for the old ways are kept here
and hospitality is a law all are proud to honor.
I've heard this quote over and over in the past few years--
"If it is to be, it is up to me."
No idea where the quote came from, but I finally had a good long sit-down conversation with myself about what exactly that means, and how I apply it to my life. I came to a few conclusions, too.
I realized that I've been living with the Cinderella Complex (if this is a real thing, and not a name I just came up with, my apologies) for a very long time. And it is time to stop waiting for someone else to come along and make everything better. Save me from the evil whatever in my life-- everything from not completing my Masters Thesis on time to not going for health walks because no one is here to go with me to not doing the dishes.
And I realized that I am responsible for my own success. I take care of me, and I do it better than anyone else can or should. Because I know what I need and who I am better than anyone else. My success story and my happy ending are within me. I keep my own budget. I wash my own dishes. I manage my own health. I do my own work. If it is to be, it is up to me.
So then I took that one step further, and made it spiritual and personal. I formed a new picture and a new plan for living out my happy ending:
Unstop the cork and let my Spirit flow. I am an unending stream. I take my shape from the earth and the rocks in my path. I use the sun to clear my waters for action and the fires of courage to light my way and protect MY best interests. I am my own best advocate, best friend, best judge. I am my own self-- and no one else can or should direct me on the path I know to take.
The air brings new ideas and oxygen to my waters so the ideas I have planted within can grow, can bloom, can spawn. I am the tide of change, and the Moon is my Guide.
Who can rescue the water? Who can contain it, direct it or inspire it to change its course? No. I am the water, and I make my own path. Ever moving, ever changing. Ever inspiring, ever beautiful. I do it better myself.
'Tis the season to reflect on your past, your present, and who you want to be in your future. It is time to finish projects and store away lessons and resources for the winter months ahead. It is time to let go of negative self-image, negative patterns of behavior, negative emotions. It is time to decide that no one can live your life but you. It is time to join the water as it streams down our windows, puddles in our yards, rushes in torrents down the mountains and dry stream beds of the summer. It is time to quench our thirst for change. It is time to recognize that you know what you need to do-- and that only you can do it.
Generally, I plan to have a mini bonfire, eat bread and honey, and spend as much of my weekend as I can manage outdoors. I'll also be changing out my four-season wreath decor. It's a very simple thing made of dried grape vines, probably eight inches in diameter. I wrapped a string of mini-mini purple lights around it, and then I have a simple little sprig of something representative of each season-- a red silk flower for early summer, and a mini cornucopia with fall leaves and an acorn for fall. A twig of evergreen with an apple and pine cone attached for winter, and a little frond of light green ferns (all fake, so they can be reused and they last the whole season) for spring.
I do occasionally bring some real flowers or tree branches or apples or whatnot into my home-- but this is a permanent display, and I don't want to take too much from Mother Nature just to decorate indoors. I'd rather enjoy the decorations where they naturally occur.
So I used Melissa (Lemon Balm) for its calming and sleep-encouraging properties, and some Nettle to help him breathe. I put in St. John's Wort because it relaxes the nerves, and Feverfew because it is sometimes said to relax the mind. I also put in Peppermint to help with digestive problems and Stivia to help with the taste. Then, I put in almost as much Hopps as I'd put in all the other ingredients combined. Hopps are for sleeping.
Because my Hopps came in their dried "flower" form, I used my mortar and pestle to grind them into individual leaves, if not into a bit of powder. Not very many Hopps makes a lot of Hopp Petals, you see. And about 20 minutes after I did that, I took a nap. Which convinced me of the sleep-inducing powers of the Hopps. See, I slept in this morning. Late. And I'd only been up and about for maybe an hour when I ground the Hopps, breathed them in as I did so (no choice there, really), and used my fingers to dust off my grinding tool. Then I slept quite peacefully for about two or three hours. Imagine if I'd tried a cup of the tea!
So I'm going to try my Sleepy Tea blend tonight at bedtime to see how it tastes and how I react-- Hopps are supposed to taste pretty bitter-- and then I'm going to pass it along to my friend, with instructions.
You see, medicinal tea needs to be steeped for at least ten to twenty minutes. Without a tea bag. And I want him to stop eating, watching TV, and using a computer about 30 minutes before he wants to sleep-- right when he should start sipping his tea. I also want him to make a big mug of it each night, and only drink half. I want the other half by his bed, so when he wakes at 2am, he can drink it down, maybe use some alternative breathing/relaxing exercises, and go back to sleep. I also want to explain that most experts suggest it can take as much as 2 weeks to a month to get the full results of a medicinal tea. I don't want him to give up if there is no improvement the first night he tries this.
In the meantime, I'll be grinding the rest of my stash of Hopps into a tea blend for ME to get better sleep (on an as-needed basis)... but I'll wait until right before bedtime to do it. Apparently, Hopps can be very effective.
However, the only thing I've found that actually resets my sensitive stomach so that I can STOP vomiting, and start replenishing my electrolytes and fluids, is flat soda pop. Really. I mix about half a cup of seven-up or sprite (flat) into half a cup of water, and take about a sip a minute, and my whole system calms down, and nothing comes up again for a while. Now I can't go straight from that to having meals or gulping down water-- but at least I don't end up in the emergency room for dehydration and continued dry-heaving (when you vomit but there's nothing left to bring up).
It's the only time I drink pop. But, better still, don't get food poisoning in the first place. Be smart, carry lemon EO for your water, and travel well.
I also learned that the group leader has a book coming out soon-- one she is self-publishing in small batches to match her available assets. It is a series of writing exercises to help survivors of abuse move forward with their lives, reconnect with their emotions, acknowledge their pain and anger, and then move forward with their lives. I want a copy. There are few women in my life who would NOT want a copy. To her surprise, she's actually already sold out her first printing, before it has printed! I'm hoping she will do another few batches-- I want to get a copy for a friend of mine.
I get so much out of the exercises and journaling moments she leads us through in our group-- I think how much more I would get out of following a journey like that over many days. This week, we worked on Affirmations. We journalled to find our passion in life-- the thing that we love doing and that heals us as we do it-- and then we worked to write out the meaning behind our discovery. Now, our homework is to use that writing as a basis for creating Affirmations for ourselves. Affirmations are present-tense, positively worded (Ex: You don't want to say "I don't make a mess." You want to say "I keep my home clean."), short, and clear. If the sentence you come up with doesn't resonate, then keep re-writing and re-wording it until it does. THAT is an Affirmation. And the more often you read it, speak it, and think it to yourself, the more that becomes a part of your reality.
Powerful stuff, Affirmations.
It was interesting, too, the discussion we had about our findings. We talked about our awareness that true creativity must come from a person's true self. It is very hard not to come face to face with who and what and how and why you really are, with your inner self, when you create something-- paint it, write it, whatever your artistic medium. Copying the work of others, or making a boring painting or quilt-- well, that happens when we don't open ourselves to the act of creation-- to our passion. It happens when we avoid who we really are. Creating is a risk. Not because someone might not like it, but because we have to see who we really are, and put THAT on the page before us. We have to experience passion in a world where passion is highly controlled and highly criticized. The risk is in putting ourselves out to be judged. And we are our own toughest critics.
So an Affirmation or three or four or ten-- ABOUT OUR PASSION-- well, that might just be the break through that changes our whole way of living and expressing and acknowledging our inner selves. I'm excited. I want to know myself better. I want to like myself better. I want to be better.
To Your Health!
Well, adding a little birch bark and some St. John's Wort to your tea can help with that. Willow bark is where aspirin came from 2,000 years ago, so it's good for headaches and cramps and muscles-- but birch bark helps arthritis and joints and all those places that your nerve can get caught and tweaked. And while we all know that St. John's Wort is good for memory-- its original purpose was actually to alleviate pain. And it still works for that, too. Just don't use too much at a time. You probably want to consult an experienced herbalist or check out an herbal healing book from the library to consult before you decide what is right for you... but I thought you might like to know what's possible. I sure do.
-The Wisdom of Trees b Jane Gifford
-Earthborn Wisdom by Susan Wells
-Wisdomkeepers by Steve Wall and Harvey Arden
-Poems by Nancy Wood
I'm taking a course in Children's Literature this summer, and it has afforded me great opportunities to browse the children's sections at my local library. One collection of fairy tales that I stumbled across and love for their Pagan qualities is called Moon Ribbon, by Jane Yolen. It constantly amazes and delights me, how insightful and wise children's books can be. I also highly recommend Twelve Months of Monastery Soups if you want a good seasonal cookbook and love one-pot meals like I do. Whatever else I am, I don't think you could ever accuse me of being a purist.
- Sprains, strains and bruises
- very shallow cuts and scrapes
- poor circulation
- bug bites (as a cream, it would be great for poison oak, too, I think)
- mixed with lavender EO it helps with scarring, too, if you catch it early enough
- and of course, dry cracked skin
Next up? Calendula Ointment!
to You, from Me.
But today I was looking around... well, more specifically, I started rearranging my apartment to better suit the way I live and the things I need spaces for-- and in the midst of this process, I was looking around my apartment. I've got several small altars going on. There's the one by the window, where I have my medicinal aloe plant growing, a cheerful Buddha stretching his arms up and smiling, and a great pillar candle that I light most evenings for a few hours. Then there's the "ALTAR" that I set up intentionally as such, with specific items to represent the four directions etc etc-- and I only light it when I need a spirit-boost or when I'm honoring something. And those two are just the more formal and recognizable altars in my home today.
I've got a great picture of Bast on the inside of my front door, so I bring my true self into the world, and the Goddess comes with me on my travels. Near the entry I've also hung a sun/moon carving and a string of seed beads from across the ocean to remind me of my connection to the whole world and everything in it. To remind me that the wheel turns, and there are always fresh seeds of hope to plant. There is a small wreath of grape leaves/vines that I hang over my fairly useless thermostat to make it pretty and remind me to live with Joy. I realized that my shelf of photographs are all of people who have left me in some way-- an altar of ancestors and of loss. And I moved that shelf so it isn't my primary visual focus when I meditate in my circle anymore. It's important, but I want my primary meditations to be about joy and about the life I lead today.
Next, there's a Venus figurine hanging from the rainbow cord over the doorway to my bedroom, to remind me that sex is a sacred and loving act-- and to protect me from my night fears while I sleep. I've got sacred willow branches that I put in a big vase of water, and now some of them have fresh green leaves growing-- it used to preside over my Aloe and Buddha Altar, but when I rearranged I made it more centrally located. There is a picture of the understory of a forest in Fall behind the gnarled, quirky branches that reminds me of the Wheel of the Year. I've found a few more altars of one kind or another hiding here and there, too. I love them. I smile when I see them, and their presence makes my apartment more of my spiritual home. Plus the cat, of course. She makes everything better. (even when she thinks she knows what time I need to get up better than I do, and wakes me accordingly)
It just blows me away that I've got so much beauty and symbolism and Goddess Energy in such a small space. One of my goals has been to integrate my connection with the Great Spirit Mother with the living of my life-- and when I look around my apartment now, I feel her presence. Maybe these little things are all a part of that integration process. Maybe I'm doing better than I thought. You know, when you live your life fully as yourself, everything you choose to keep in your life has a deeper meaning, or it goes away. There is no room for unappreciated belongings in the authentic life.
It was hot, dusty, and challenging, and I am TOTALLY EXHAUSTED. I can't imagine what it must be like for the farm workers-- most of whom do not speak any English-- to deal with these conditions-- including the lack of language skills-- every day! We went with a great group of dedicated people who brought free clothes and free food and ice cream for the kids. They offer to help people fill out forms, and they provide domestic violence intervention. The volunteers all speak Spanish, and all they want is to help their fellow people who are new to America to find her many opportunities.
I also realized that I'd been so nervous and scared about doing this because I viewed migrant workers as "those strange beings" who had nothing to do with me or my life. The thing is-- they are just normal people trying to get through their day. The clothes they wear are like ours because they are the clothes we outgrew or stopped liking and donated somewhere. These people we met with took great pride in their appearance, and many looked cleaner, and more slick than I did by a long-shot-- since I was hot, dusty, tired, and I just don't seem to control my hair very well at the best of times.
The teen aged girls had cliques and insider comments to make to each other. The little toddlers just wanted your full attention and as many books as they could hold. The parents and adult workers just wanted a little extra to put aside for hard times, or a special treat for their kids-- and free is a very good price. Just normal people.
And we didn't go to Tumbucktoo to see them, either. We went to the corner of two main streets-- where they meet about a mile from the center of town. It's the outskirts, but definitely not the boonies. There were still fences with lawns and shrubs on both sides of the street. And then we turned in to a gravel drive. There was a guard who had to approve our entry. He did this by glaring at us as we drove past, and then waving an arm at the parking area where we were supposed to set up our stuff.
So I'm glad I went. And I want to go again. But I also feel even more strongly about taking those Conversational Spanish classes as soon as I graduate. I have a lot to learn about my fellow wo/man. I think maybe we all do.
Called a good friend on the phone to pass the time. Spoke with my friend for about 25 minutes, then told her-- "Well, I'd better get off the phone now so my parents can call." I hadn't really been thinking about the time passing. And since I have call-waiting on that phone, I was also not worried about missing their call... but suddenly it was time for them to call, and I knew it. We said goodbye, and hung up. Two minutes later, my parents called.
I had to laugh at the timing. And feel good that I'm doing better at listening to that little voice that KNOWS things. And ignoring the chatter that seems to always be there in the background. You know about the chatter. It's the voice that nags at you when you are late, that makes you feel foolish if your hair flops over your eyes, that always predicts dire consequences or tries to inflate your ego with stories about how cool you'll look if you take this stupid risk.
The intuitive voice is friendly, calm, quiet. It's easy not to hear when you are stressed, rushed, or preoccupied. It makes suggestions-- ones that may not even make sense logically... but that is the basis of intuition. It helps us prepare for eventualities in our lives-- or other peoples' lives-- that we don't even know are going to happen. Another example of this-- I am learning herbal healing. I know a little bit about a few things. It's how everyone starts to learn.
My parents are not so into herbal healing, though they aren't against it either. But for some reason, I felt it would be a good idea to bring one of my books on herbs and their uses to our lunch yesterday. And I'd no clue why. But I thought-- this is intuition speaking-- so I did. Turns out, my dad has a case of poison oak, and they wanted to know if a healing salve I'd used on mom's open sore (small surgery left a hole in her arm smaller than a dime) would help his sores dry up, too. But the worst thing you can do for poison oak (sumac, ivy, etc) is use an OIL-BASED healing agent.
Luckily, my book verified that another healing mix I had with me, called Kloss after the man who made it long ago, was perfect for the job. We tried it, and it helped dry up the sores and make his skin less red and angry. Until the poison oak went systemic. Then he needed an MD's help, and not an apprentice herbalist's.
Anyway, the points I'm making are these: I feel good that I'm finally starting to identify which voice is my intuition and which is just chatter; and that herbal healing is great for a lot of illnesses, but so is scientific medicine.
Oh, and the book? An excellent resource, recommended to me by an excellent herbalist.
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar.
Not only did she teach me a great new method of getting something meaningful out of my writing, but we ended up having a short discussion about recognizing the difference between the voice of intuition in your head, and the voice of the chattering monkeys. At least, that's what we started calling it. See, the voice we are used to hearing is like a chattering monkey. Skeptical, gnawing, not supportive, telling you what to do. It just talks. A lot. And it tries to push you around. That "monkey voice."
The thing is-- it's NOT supportive. And we don't really get value out of harsh judgments and gnawing expectations. So the key is to turn down the volume on this voice. Maybe you can't shut it out completely, but you can turn down the volume, and recognize how different the monkey chatter sounds from the voice of your true intuition.
Intuition is the voice of wisdom. Peaceful. Friendly. Flowing like a deep moving river under your consciousness. It comes from the gut and the heart. Quiet. Not linear. Maybe not even seeming to fit with the general flow of your life at the moment you hear it. And that's one of the challenges. To trust yourself and your inner wisdom-- your intuition-- enough to heed its voice when you DO hear. One must be quiet to hear it. Serene. Vanessa, or group facilitator, stated it this way: You have to trust your own competence. You have to say "I'm worth it, even if I make a mistake." This is the bridge. This is how we begin to recognize our intuition as a unique wisdom in our life process.
And the writing technique? Well, free-write for five minutes. About whatever comes into your head or out of your pen, without stopping. Set a timer. Then go back and highlight four or five words or phrases that really seem important-- unsettling, wise, curious, interesting-- whatever they are. Pick one. Use it as the title for your next free-write.
With your new title as a starting point, the goal here is to get deeper into your writing. Stop your flow often and insert a dash "-- what I really want to say is...." and use that as an opportunity to deepen your focus and your writing this time. "--what I really want to say is..." Set the timer for seven minutes.
Stop and re-read what you wrote. What is it really about? Is there a theme or a lesson? Pick up your highlighter again. Select about five words or phrases that jump out at you or snag your attention in some way, as before. Select one and use it for the title or focus of your next timed writing exercise. For ten minutes, write deeply. Don't forget to set the timer. Use the dash to deepen your focus within your writing. "--what I really mean is..."
Great. Now read over and think about what you wrote this time. What did you learn? What did you write about? Is it deep and meaningful writing? Is there wisdom in your words? If you could summarize the experience of this writing exercise, and what themes/lessons you gained from what you wrote-- what would you say? Write that down, too.
It's amazing how meaningful of a life-perspective can grow out of a simple unformatted free-write, isn't it? I was blown away. It was just a great group and a great experience. Vanessa did a great job in putting such a meaningful and purposeful evening together for us, and facilitating it effectively. Thanks.
So, since it's all about the Pagan, I'm including my observations in a Pagan Practice Post, too. Here's what I ended up with:
Helping people smile and feel appreciated just as they are, petting contented cats, the Pacific Ocean, and probably the usual-- Nature, cat-naps, family meals, reading, walks/hikes, listening to stories-- especially from Old Wise Women and men (I hope to be one someday) -- learning new things, fresh air, tea with friends, laughing, clear communication, the color blue...
Distress, active hatred, lies, politics (depends on what they are, probably) ... Most of the time, I'd rather look around me and find a reason to laugh.
Your Personal Profile:
I'm learning to listen to my inner Guides in new and better ways. It's definitely a process, with lots of opportunities to laugh at myself (and laugh about the world around me) and grow. I'm nearing 30 now, and working hard. Means I rest hard, too. I like that part.
I've always had a penchant for listening to people tell stories about their lives-- especially stories that are important to THEM. Now I'm learning to listen to how those stories inform ME, and my relationship with Ancestor Earth, Mother Moon, the Forest Father, and the Greater Good.
So far, I'm learning to effectively apply herbal healing, EO's, my slight knowledge of the 7 chakras, and healing stones. I've learned that I'm not Wicca, but I do a lot of work in a similar fashion to Green Witches, Kitchen Witches, and Tree-Talkers. I'm practicing my Medicine Woman Tarot, and listening to the magick around me when I go with friends on hikes. Trying not to anger the fairies in my living room, honoring my Guardian, and laughing at the hedgewitch in my head who advises me when I cook. (It tastes better if you don't look at it first. Hey- fresh greens and garlic go in EVERYTHING, right?) I'm laughing a lot more than I used to, too.
I have an old soul, and a new start-- I'm using both gifts to make the best life I can. It's pretty great so far. When I finish my Masters, I'll be hunting for official librarian positions so I can go on helping people find the information they need to be their best selves, too. And believe it or not, most of the librarians I know are NOT boring. They're crazy. You know how it goes-- it's the quiet ones you have to watch.
I am also learning about both this Witchvox thing and this Pagan thing, and creating a presence for myself within it seemed like a good place to start. So, here we are. I'm creating a presence, making my connection to this wonderful community official, and this is it for now. By the way, if you have found any reliably accurate and easy to use books on herbal lore, kitchen lore, and homeopathic healing, I'm interested!
I wish you well in your travels-- whatever form they take.
...and you know, it's funny... This is me. It IS me. And when I read this, I feel I've managed to communicate these goals and this reality on my blogs. It's a good reality check for my self-image, you know? I mean- yes- I do still get a thrill from a fresh box of crayons... but other than that, I'm a functional adult. And I'm really proud of that. Most of us (including me) have very good reasons in our past that we COULD have become very messed-up adults. And I'm not. Not very. My kitchen-- now THAT is messed up. But I'll clean it tomorrow, so no harm done.
Have a great morning, and a restful afternoon.
Blessings Be to You from Me.
A pendulum is a rock crystal, usually circular and with a pointed base, used to assist the user in determining the best answer to a given question. I've heard two basic belief systems for why this works: Either your guardian angel/spirit/goddess is guiding the crystal's movement; Or it resonates with your inner self, which has greater wisdom than your conscious self, and therefore has the ability to know the best answer for you in that moment-- and the rock moves accordingly.
I've also learned of at least three different ways to figure out the basic messages your crystal can give you. For my Aunt, there was a certain finger of your hand that you'd hold the pendulum over and this would mean "yes," and another for "no." I could never remember which finger was supposed to mean what-- and really, I think this was just a way for you to condition the pendulum to move in only one way for "yes." If you focused on "yes" and on the crystal moving, then it would make a "yes" movement. Another method is to write outcomes or chakras on a round piece of paper, divided like a pie. Whatever the pendulum sways toward is the answer to the question you've posed. No mater what, the most important aspect is to always use only one chosen method, and to remember that a pendulum only has one interpreter.
The way I did it was to ask a question to which I already knew the answer-- a "yes" answer. You have no idea how hard it is to come up with a truly yes/no question with no alternative interpretations!! I did the same with a "no" question-- and from there I knew what two movements to look for. I wore the stone in a pocket against my body for several days before doing this, to be sure I was in tune with my pendulum, by the way.
I've learned in practice that the faster my rock moves, and the more cleanly the movement is repeated, the more I can rely on that answer-- the more clearly an opinion has been expressed. I also don't have the crystals my Aunt gave me so long ago. I think I was six or seven at the time. And I found that a random semi-precious stone bead I'd picked up was the right thing for me to use anyway. It is not quite round, but has a definite point at the base. My stone is made of Amazonite.
Amazonite is a blue-green opaque stone, known to have a "powerful filtering action." It is said to open intuition, communication, and balance. It is used in healing and in filtering/connecting information and perspective for the best possible outcome. When I learned about these qualities of the pretty bead I'd randomly purchased... I understood why it would be such a great pendulum for me. And while I wear it nearly every day on a necklace, I don't use it to answer every single question that comes across my desk. I use my own intelligence and sense of rightness as much as possible.
I use my pendulum when there is no obvious way for me to know the best answer to a question before I make my decision. And then I have to be very careful about asking a question whose answer will be easy to interpret based on my skill at reading the movements. "Is this a good suppliment for me to take right now?" "Will this suppliment effectively heal this aspect of an illness I am experiencing?" (Two very different questions!) "Do I have access to something that would be better than this for that task?" (Now I just have to find it!) Asking if something will be good for you is a very general question-- maybe "good for you" is like those painful character-building activities of your childhood. Or maybe "good for you" would be a temporary kind of good-- as in a good person to learn the fine art of kissing from, but not a good person to marry...
Once I have a question in mind, I hold the item in my palm (or envision it's likeness in my palm if it is too big or not available), and concentrate on the desired outcome/the question as single-mindedly as possible. Sometimes my pendulum doesn't have an answer for me. Sometimes it takes a moment to decide. Sometimes it is not the answer I want to hear. But always, it is helpful to have this input from a greater knowledge than I consciously possess at this time.
If you've decided to look into pendulum work, I'd love to hear what kind of stone or crystal you've selected, and why. And if you know more than I do on the subject, I'd love to learn about a good book or other resource for learning more advanced pendulum readings.
And since I've been having a lot of fear, worry, and dread of the future in my mind lately, I'm using my celebration of the full moon as an opportunity to celebrate coming possibilities, and the fruition of my efforts thus far. I'm going to turn those worries into hope, those fears into dreams and that feeling of dread into awareness of my will to make whatever life I want for myself. I'm going to celebrate the Mother Moon. Her beauty, her constance, her enlightenment and illumination of the good in my life, and in my mind, and in my world. Because there is good there. I just haven't been acknowledging or appreciating it lately. And the best way to have more good is to celebrate its existence. So, tonight, I'm going to celebrate.
What a relief to have something to celebrate! What a relief to be planning something positive, and not just fighting for survival and trying not to forget to actually do anything crucial, and worry and... No. Tonight is about joy, abundance, personal strength, and good intention toward my future. Tonight is about Mother Moon.
And later, next week and the week after, in the waning moon phase, I will celebrate Grandmother Crone Moon-- wisdom and rejuvenation of hope, death of fear and decay of worry, the great cycle and the big picture. I will celebrate the cycle of life. Both within my own consciousness, and in this great earth organism of which we are all a part.
I thank the Goddess that no one has the right to take away our ability to celebrate! Our ability to choose a perspective-- happy or sad, realistic or long-range. Our ability to work toward our goals, no matter what the physical or emotional obstacles are to our success. Our acknowledgement of the ABUNDANCE in our lives!
The relationships with people, with places, with things, with plants and animals and ... It's the relationships I've formed-- the really good ones.
I'm so glad to have the relationship I do with my cat (I think she likes having me for her person, too, which is nice), with the sweet gum tree outside my apartment, with my growing Spirit Family, with my closest friends, with myself and my Goddess. I truly live an abundant life, when measured in those terms.
On other topics, I recently put a circle of white-blue fire around my home, and feel much safer for it. I bring it up because as my openness to subconscious knowledge and conversations grows, the variety of conversations I have also expands. Last night, I spoke with a little fire Gnome who was a living part of my wall, and came out to catch flies-- I directed him to my back patio. Interesting conversation, that. I hadn't been thinking of my fire as a living thing or a habitat for other living things-- other magick-- until then, for one. And for another, I hadn't really grasped the concept of astral projection as such.
I just thought I had a vivid imagination in which I often ended up telling myself stories about horrible things happening, and getting really emotionally upset-- all while knowing these things I was "experiencing" in my imagination weren't happening to ME... weren't real.
The Fire Gnome explained to me, the "silly human!" that I was actually doing astral projection for most of these "experiences"-- and that's why they had such an emotional effect on me. They were happening- to someone. I was simply taking that person's place until the part of the "story" they couldn't deal with was over-- and other times I was just making up a story in my head. Which is why I don't always get so overwhelmed by these stories.
So now I need to find an unobtrusive and undraining way to stop myself from unintended astral projection trips. And I need to learn to tell the difference. Right. Suggestions?
The Fire Protection Wall:
A great and simple spell in which you dedicate several rocks to maintaining the protection spell on your home, your possessions, your person and pets. You do this with a spell, and by drawing a symbol on each rock in red, while concentrating on the spell of dedication (which calls on the power of the four elements, and asks the fifth-- Spirit-- to witness and bind the protection spell).
Then you place a rock by each of the entrances/doors/windows to your home, and one in each of the four corners of your home-- in a circular pattern, visualizing the wall of fire springing up behind you as you go until you complete the circle. The point is NOT to hurt anyone, but to keep them outside of your personal space. The strength of the wall is dependent on the strength of your will and your vision to place it there-- and your dedication to maintaining it. I'll look for the original spell- hang on.
Ahh-- a very useful bit of Gypsy Magick from Patrinella Cooper's book by that name (omit the 'k'). Page 42 discusses creating your own Duk Rak. As you place each seal, say, "I place you here to protect all that I have and all that I love by earth, sky, fire and water, forever. Le see kel. Le see kel. Le see kel." There is more than I've described to this ritual, so please consider buying or borrowing this excellent book-- or use it as a starting point for your own ritual of protection.
If a ritual does not hold meaning and feel powerful to you, it won't channel your power and your intentions very well. Be your best self, use your best intentions, do your best.
All the best,
My cards are the Medicine Woman Tarot. Which is getting harder to find, as it was one of the earlier sets of cards-- like 20-30 years ago when they were sort of unusual in America still... According to the Wise Woman who sold them to me. Who was located in a shop I'd never known existed before (even though I go to this little street of shops ALL THE TIME), and whose store seemed to contain one of everything I ever felt affinity with or really wanted my mom to buy for me as a child-- and then wanted for myself as a young adult. It was interesting to see my spirit growth laid out in the dusty corners of a small store like that. A good lesson.
I only got through half the store that day, but the few treasures I purchased there are very special to me. I felt like the Goddess had come down to let me see the trappings-- the important trappings-- of my life to this point, and to help me with my quest for Tarot, for guidance. I can't help believing that the store wouldn't be there if I tried to find it again tomorrow. I was careful not to look back at it when I left, too. It was too magickal, too exactly what I needed on that day at that moment, for me to take its existence for granted.
I've made friends with my cards since then, tracked down the Guide Book that goes with them, and learned a lot from the wisdom they present/represent. My cards are also a bit different in that they don't use the traditional pentacles/wands/swords/cups. I felt these images were from a magick tradition in which I don't take part. And were connected -- in my mind-- with Christianity so strongly that I'd have trouble feeling the hand of the Goddess upon them.
The Medicine Woman Tarot have taken religious names and symbols from all sorts of different spiritual paths-- relying most strongly on the healing images, the nature-connection within each. The goal of the cards is to aid wisdom and self-awareness. To give people the awarenesses and the lessons they need to move forward with their lives in a positive way, becoming their best selves. To this end, the minor arcana are stones, pipes, arrows and bowls. I can attach my mind to that without preconception. It lets me listen to the message as it is, and not through the filters I have developed in relation to any one specific religious or violent imagery.
I have only recently given readings to anyone but myself, and I love doing it. I also find that it is exhausting to give someone else the knowledge from the cards that is meant for them. But it is also very rewarding. Today, I gave a close friend-- a member of my Spirit Family-- a reading from the four elements circle pattern. We spent several hours on it, and she took LOTS of notes-- and I realized that the only way to strengthen my ability to be a channel for others with the cards is to keep doing it. To practice and exercise those "muscles" if you will.
It is the same with meditation, with Tai Chi, with building a Sacred Circle for your ritual, for any practical magick or herbal healing you work to perform for the good of all. And the words of the Tarot are true-- what you give, you get back. When you give, you are not giving to one person, but to the whole world, and when you get it back, it may not be in the same form-- or from the same place-- that it left you. It comes back from far away, from the world at large. It is karma, it is organic connection with all things, and it is a beautiful thought.
This sense of interconnection helps me to give even when I know the person receiving doesn't have the skill to give back to me. (This could be a lack of resources, poverty, inability to communicate clearly, no energy to spare for anything but survival needs, inability to love, or some other illness all together.) I'll get back what I give anyway, from somewhere else. And giving is important. The more you give, the more you get back, and the easier it is to do.
The four elements circle pattern, by the way, follows the drawing of the Sacred Circle, or the location and images of the four Elements. North is the physical earthly world, it is your Earth Life, and it is the time of decay/rejuvenation. It is a reading of the Life You Live on an earthly/physical plain. One card goes there. East is the rising sun, new projects and new beginnings, creativity, sexuality, wisdom carried by the wind. It is your Creative Self. One card goes there. South is your interaction with the world, your projection of self of Your Voice or your efforts and projects and how they are perceived by the world. It brings your voice to light, the fire of your personality is expressed by the card you put here. The West is the setting sun, projects completed, lessons learned, Ending and the waters of rebirth, of rest, of reward, sometimes death, in a symbolic form. It is also your spirit energy and your connection with the higher Soul/Spirit/Energy. Put one card here. Then place one card in the center.
Each of the four Elemental cards is a message-- acknowledgment of efforts and steps already taken, and messages to help you process those things and take the next step-- move toward the best possible self-- in each of these areas. You start, however, with the center card. It represents you (or the person you are reading) as they are at this moment or time in their lives. If the person you are reading does not feel this card is on target-- don't bother reading the rest of the cards, because you are not channeling for them at this time, and the reading would be a waste of energy for you both.
As I shuffle the cards, I often have one that "jumps out" or falls out of the deck. I take these as special messages for the focus of the reading, not connected with anything but a question in their minds, a message they need to hear at this point in their lives. To me, these are Goddess Cards. And I often make a pile of cards to the side of the Element Circle of Goddess Cards-- the ones that come next in the deck after the circle and center have been drawn. Sometimes it is only one card, sometimes (like today) it is four or five. Sometimes I don't pull until I've shuffled again, and sometimes enough Goddess Cards leap out that I don't bother pulling more. Often, the reading of the Circle is just a preliminary focusing of energy and opening of awareness so that the person being read can take in the greater importance of the message carried by the Goddess Cards. Sometimes the message they carry is so accurate that all we can do is laugh. And this feels good, too.
I picked a deck of Tarot cards whose focus is on learning and growing in harmony with life and with the goal of attaining the Best Self-- there are no bad cards in my deck. I know there are bad situations in life, but I think that the cards don't usually need to tell us when we've experienced them. Instead, we need the wisdom to learn, grow, and overcome the bad. To move beyond whatever is unhealthy or is holding us back in our lives-- in our creativity-- in our self-expression-- in our Spirit Journey. And this is what my Tarot cards are intended to do. For all that death is part of life and of the great circle, and ending is required to gain new beginnings, there is no Death Card in my Tarot.
This also makes it unusual.
Find what is right for you.
And Blessings Be.
On Thursday, I set out with the goal of stopping on the East Strip (aka Hawthorne Street) to pick up some more obsidian beads. I ended up getting a short reiki-like calming/grounding session through the use of my palm chakras in a Samurai Sword and Cutlery shop. I went in thinking I'd find a nice kitchen boutique (the storefront doesn't really advertise the Samurai part of the deal). The young man behind the counter had a martial arts hair style where all but the crown of his head was shaved bald. At the crown, he had a very long ponytail of hair. He was showing the other store occupant how to play a bamboo flute, which he made himself.
Just looking into this man's eyes, you could see that he is a fire personality. That he uses martial arts to channel and control that fire. It's been a long time since I met a guy my age with that level of self-awareness. I must be running in the wrong circles... Anyway, we got to talking, and I learned that he's survived a car fire in which he was both injured and burned quite badly. The fire is definitely a part of him now. And the big chunk that is missing from his arm is a testament to his strength of character. The fact that he uses that hand as he does his uninjured one is an attribute to his healing abilities.
Since I've also been through my share of traumas, the conversation was personal, and for me became unsettling. To help me re-ground, the young man performed a calming/grounding for me through my hand chakras. This is something similar to other energy work that has been done for me in the past-- but always it was the energy of water that was used to calm, to sooth, to heal. This man used his fire. It was amazing to me that fire could be grounding, could sooth. But it did. We changed the topic after this, and I find that I've made a friend where I least expected it. And I have a new and growing perspective on the Southern Elemental-- on Fire.
I did also make it to the bead store, where they had some rainbow obsidian, and a lot of onxy, and only one black obsidian option. I found-- yet again-- that when I stop to tune in to my intuition, I know the rainbow and the onyx were not what I'd come for. I was looking for a stone to help me stay grounded and connected. To open my throat chakra and help me connect mind, heart, and voice. I have a piece of black obsidian that does this for me in my sacred circles, and had just made a pendant for the same purpose out of sodalite, clear quartz, and a small snowflake obsidian bead from my stores. This combination of awarenesses prompted me to do a little research when I got home.
In my books, I found that obsidian is a VERY strong stone for grounding/opening and awareness-building. What's more, it is a truth stone, connected to both fire and water. Since obsidian is stone heated to molten glass in the center of the earth, which runs in rivers out of volcanoes and then re-hardens into rock again.... (this is my interpretation, please use a reliable scholarly resource for any specific definitions of how obsidian is formed!)... so it is both a liquid and a solid. It is born of fire.
Two lessons in one day-- Thursday-- focusing on the calming and grounding/centering properties of fire. I think I'll devote a meditation to this some time soon. There is always more to learn. And, before I post this, I'm going to look up the lunar aspects of Thursdays. Just for fun.
What books was I using for my informal research? Well, a strange variety, really:
A Handbook of Chakra Healing by Kalashatra Govinda (English Translation) ISBN: 1-56852-472-2
The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall ISBN: 1-58297-240-0
Green Witchcraft III, the manual by Ann Moura ISBN: 1-56718-688-2
Anything by Ellen Dugan (I enjoy her writing style, and she often includes useful associations of color, lunar phase, etc-- but she's definitely a "personal taste" author, and you take what you think you can use --from her personal experiences and suggestions-- into your own practice.)
and occasionally highly absorbing to watch, too.
This is John Henry. He's our "work-cat."
He hasn't met you, but he knows you'd like
to spend the rest of your day petting him and cuddling.
Even if your hands are full. He's also very tall.
Taller than the 2-year-old whose stool he's borrowing.
A Nice Place to Relax and Meditate--
That's very important. This is my tiny back patio.
It doesn't take a lot of land to have a retreat.
The dark green leafs at the bottom are my surviving Greens,
and there's another pot to the right of the photo
with a bunch of my herbs growing in it.
I made split pea soup with home-grown
Thai Mint, Basil, and Thyme in it last night.
The delicious little pea pods growing below were
a complete surprise to me. This mystery vine
grew out of a group of broken seed packets
in a bowl of spilled water--
and this last one got transplanted outdoors
in the middle of winter
to save it from my cat's voracious appetite.
It lived. And then it got pretty purple flowers on it.
And then it started GROWING.
And then the pea pods appeared.
Mystery Solved. Joyfully.
It doesn't take a lot to make an outdoor altar.
I found the black plate on sale at Target for $5, and
picked up the little tea light lamp on a trip to the coast.
Plant some slow-growing ground-cover in a shallow container,
and voila! Instant joy.
I didn't use Chamomile for this-- but I have it elsewhere,
and highly recommend it for this project.
Chamomile has a lot of extra Spirit Energy.
And it smells divine.
Love and positive attention are vital to
every living thing's well-being.
My wonderful cat, Abbigale
gives me unconditional love.
Even when I'm trying to take her picture.
She is one of the most precious gifts
my life has given me so far.
I try to love her just as much back--
but I'm trying to break her of the habit
of playing with the wind chimes in my bedroom
at 3am every morning...
Reasons to celebrate are everywhere.
Just get out your camera and start taking pictures
of the little things that make you smile.
I refer back to these a lot...
It's not the beauty of the picture--
it's the joy involved in the moment the picture remembers.
And with that, my tail is done.
(This is Abbigale, the valiant explorer, under the living room rug.)
If you are interested in classes, try your local community college, or check out Jo Powell's School of Herbalism and website at www.nwherbs.com. If you can't take it from her, she probably knows someone in your area that you can check with or learn from. I'm taking the Medicinal First Aid with Herbs class in a couple of weeks. I'm sure you'll hear about it.
So anyway, today I finally went to visit my local herb shop, and bought a few ounces of herbs to start playing with-- freshly dried so I know they'll be good for medicinal purposes for a few months here. I've started with a Comfrey Oil, which I'll turn into a balm once it's finished "cooking." And I'm about to try my first sips of my own medicinal echinacia and stinging nettle tea. Which I suspect I may have made incorrectly because if you're using the flowers, leaves, and basically the soft parts of the plant, you don't boil the herb with the water (this is called infusion)... but if you're using the bark, seeds, stems, roots, and basically woody/hard parts of the herb, you DO boil them in the water (called decoction)... And the echinacia I got was surprisingly woody-- (the whole plant is medicinal, and I think this herbalist collects the roots)... but I didn't boil it, as the nettle was a leaf, so...
Anyway, I love the idea of being able to take care of the smaller illnesses and injuries that come my way, without waiting for it to get "bad enough" to see an MD, without paying extra money, without taking a prescription medicine, and without worrying about the next apocalypse. Boy, I know I spelled THAT word incorrectly! Thank goodness for spell-check. And honey. Thank goodness for honey, too. Some of these herbs get kinda bitter. It's really nice to be able to add some honey to the tea and know you are actually doing yourself a favor!
Some Online Resources:
www.nwherbs.com --Jo Powell knows her stuff, and her classes just ROCK!
www.botanical.com --Has a decent Materia Medica (where you learn about the herbs).
www.herbs.org --scientific herbal research.
www.swsbm.com -- The Southwest School of Botanical Medicine by Michale Moore.
www.pacificbotanicals.com -- buy herbs, learn stuff.
www.theherbshoppe.net --The Herb Shoppe is a real store, with a great
and well-educated owner. A great resource person as well as a
great place to buy herbs and bases.
www.mountainroseherbs.com --good for herbs, great for essential oils (EO's).
www.herb-pharm.com --great for tinctures and good info available, too.
www.libertynatural.com --again, great for buying your herbs and other stuff.
www.frontierherb.com --this is the brand carried by most health food stores.
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar.
From Earth to Herbalist: An Earth-Conscious Guide to Medicinal Plants by Gregory Tilford.
Aromatherapy: A complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green.
A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve. (also available online at www.botanical.com).
Growing 101 Herbs That Heal by Tammi Hartung.
Anything by Michael Moore or Jack Green is also something Jo might recommend.
Can I just tell you how MUCH I love fresh strawberries? With Nutella? And Farmer's Markets. Those rock too. Big rocks. This week, at the Farmer's Market, I found a guy who makes fresh pesto-- in five awesome varieties. Fresh pesto. And strawberries. But not together, please.
I also want to share with you the fact that I am now the proud owner of two identical pairs of khaki pants, appropriate for a professional work environment. Why two? Because it's the first time ... EVER... that I have found professional-looking machine washable khaki pants that don't gape at the back of the waist, don't have really big poofy pleats that make me look pregnant or REALLY CONSTIPATED, and don't need to be hemmed by about 8 inches so I can walk. And they were on sale for about $16 each. So I bought both pairs. I feel that the universe loves me.
So, dude, if you hear me complaining about ANYTHING in the next week or two? Just remind me that I found fresh strawberries, home made pesto, and machine-washable khaki pants ALL IN THE SAME WEEK, and I have nothing to complain about. Nothing.
Not even the fact that my semester ends in less than two weeks, and I have five-- count FIVE-- final projects of various sorts to complete in that time frame. Yes. And I'm going to be eating strawberries with Nutella while I do it.
A Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of North America by Joan Barker, ISBN 1-40546-309-0.
Revised Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast compiled by Pojar and Mackinnon, via the BC Forest Service Research Program, via Lone Pine Publishing.
The Successful Herb Gardener: Growing and Using Herbs-- Quickly and Easily by Sally Roth, a Country Living Gardener, ISBN 1-58816-419-5.
Last night, I put things off until nearly midnight, and then had this overwhelming need to just sit with my candles and my quiet time and my Tarot cards. So I did. And right away I was called into deep meditation by my internal Guide. Which surprised me, because usually I have to take a bit of an inner journey to find her. I'll devote an entry to my Tarot cards sometime, and this will all make more sense.
Anyway, we had a good talk (You know when you've got a problem you're avoiding, and you just finally sit yourself down and start asking yourself questions-- what is up with me? Why the heck am I going around doing THIS lately?!... and you just sit and feel crazy talking to yourself, but you keep doing it until you get some answers-- and you do manage to sort yourself out... Well, that's what it's like to talk with your Guide, only its more to the point), and I realized that what I've been avoiding some painful memories this week... and in the process of avoiding, I avoided homework, and cleaning the dirty dishes, and a few other things, too.
You see, I was a live-in nanny for two years, basically the primary care taker of a wonderful little girl from the time she was 5 months old until I got married and moved away two years later. And when that happened, it felt like I was abandoning my own child. I still miss her horribly, and thinking about her makes me sad. She has good parents, (She's already started school, too!) but she doesn't have me anymore, and since she now lives in Korea, I don't have her, either. It just hurts. And her birthday happens to be in early April. I've only managed to memorize five birthdays in my lifetime, and that includes hers...
Anyway, I was very glad to have that talk with my Spirit Guide, because it let me release some of my pain and feelings of abandonment/loss in a very safe space. Feelings I had been working hard not to acknowledge before that. And then she gave me a good talking to about getting on-task with my homework and stuff. It's like having the perfect mom. The one who helps you stay (or get) on track with your life, while making you feel loved and valued the whole time. She reminded me that there are a lot of children out there in the world who need the caring and the helping and the life skills I can provide as a Librarian, and that it's up to me to make that happen. I have work to do.
(By the way, as a librarian, I take a professional oath to provide accurate and timely information on all topics to all people, without discrimination based on age, ability, gender, creed, cultural origin, topic of interest, or anything else. It means taking my personal beliefs out of the picture when I'm at work, and being a true servant of the community-- the whole community, including the homeless, the infirm, the rich and powerful, and everyone in between.)
I'm also constantly working to make myself a better person... so I took note. I have a radar up now for when I seem to be avoiding things-- mundane things-- so that I can stop and meditate about what I'm REALLY trying to avoid. I want to face it and get moving forward that much faster next time. And... next April, I might just cut myself a little slack, knowing I'm going to have a few down moments that month, and knowing why.
I learned so much from the evening! It was my first group Circle, and I learned that I fall easily into meditation, but that most Circles bring a much greater depth to their Energy Calling. I felt a lot more energy in the circle than I've usually felt on my own. Not sure what I'll do with that knowledge, but I'm definitely going to be pondering it. I also got to hear some of the songs in my tradition. That was awesome. These songs are about evocation, and not about 2.7 minutes on the radio. And we did practice healing. We worked to help each other heal within the circle.
I learned that I'm actually more intuitive than I've acknowledged about pain. Other peoples' pain. And I'm less in touch than I realized with my emotions just lately. I definitely need to work more on that. What I don't know is how to use my energy and my Connection to heal once I find the pain. My gift is in seeing the potential, and what someone else will need to do or be to reach it. It's about helping others make their own efforts on their own behalf. And the healing circle is about making the effort that someone else is unable to make for themselves.
One woman in the group knows reiki, so she did some of that. Another has such connectivity with energy that you could feel her manipulating the chakra fields of the body as she worked. Anther simply takes your pains into herself. I'd like to help her find a way to then get rid of other peoples' pains, as she currently just lets herself suffer for you. I found that I can sense and do more than I expected, and that the things I do are things I've always done-- I just never saw them as healing, and I never acknowledged them as part of Circle Work.
It was just a great evening. A good start. I definitely look forward to another. I also definitely am working on making fewer assumptions about what I am or need to do or be-- and about how others will impact me when we come into contact. But that's my personal journey, and it's proving to be a real challenge. That just means the opportunity to learn and grow is itself also greater.
But in the interest of good PR, many witches have switched to wearing white ritual robes. White is clean, and white light is still touted as being very important to many pagans. White is seen as that beacon of magic in the anytime of day or night. Spirit Energy. Pure Energy, some say.
Then there's me. I did try to wear a ritual sweatshirt for a while. It was good, to start. It was warm soft cotton, undyed, and comfortable in the winter months. I needed the extra ceremony to help my mind calm and focus, and the extra layer to keep the chill in my home from distracting me. It smells heavenly now, too, after the bonfires (tiny, safe bonfires) and the sage smudges (don't go overboard with this-- but aren't they YUMMY smelling??) and the burning of bits of cinnamon and other spices in my tiny cauldron... (Be careful- powdered cinnamon makes lots of pretty jumping sparks when lit, and the oils in some of the other spices can be highly flammable.)
But I'm not so into the ritual sweater thing just now. I am still attached to my ritual scarf, however. And this seems to me a much more practical piece of ritual gear, being adaptable to all kinds of weather, from snow to high summer... unlike the long sleeve full-length robe. Mine is a calm dark blue with dark purple splotches on it, and a few silver threads running through its length. Just the thing for night magick and the Moon. Of any ritual wear, the most important aspect is that it needs to be made of natural material-- cotton or silk or wool or linen or something similar-- and it needs to be something that doesn't distract you from your craft, but rather helps focus your energies in your craft practices. That clarifies for you when you are entering a formal ritual and renewal, and when you are simply enjoying your connectivity with Mother Earth.
I was at a budget fabric store today, looking around. I found a really beautiful soft silver-grey rough silk. And I bought some. Not much, because even at a discount, it was pretty expensive... It made me feel like ritual and Spirit Magick was coming, just by looking at it. The hard part is that I really don't know how to incorporate it into my practice. It did remind me that you don't have to find a "Magick Store" or an expensive boutique with one-of-a-kind cotton robes and such to put together your ritual gear. Goddess knows most of my stuff didn't come from a place like that.
If you need or want ritual clothing for your Sacred Circle work, go to the discount fabric store, and buy 1/8 yard of a fabric that speaks Spirit to you. Colors have the meanings we give them, so if you are a Green Witch, and you find a spring green fabric with a leaf pattern that just feels right-- it is right. Hem the edges, and you have a ritual scarf. Add special beads or buttons that remind you of the mental state you want to be in when you meditate. Just sew them right on the ends of your ritual scarf, and you'll see them when you go to put it on or walk around your circle in casting. I have a bell with a sweet resonating tone that punctuates my ceremony. I think it was 25 cents at the local import store. These personal little do-dads can help you focus just as well as the flashy sixteen-of-a-kind robe you could have paid all that money for.
Get an old wooden mixing spoon out of your kitchen, and add it to your altar. Use it to mix concoctions-- real or magickal-- use it to direct your Spirit Energy in the circle or as a focus for your home/hearth abundance meditations. Free altar object. Right there. Buy some inexpensive tea light candles for your ritual candles (but try to get good quality ones just the same-- they don't have to cost more, and you don't want lead smoke drifting up through your clean energy). Go to the thrift store or local Goodwill and pick up a couple of canning jars to contain them. You can leave them burning, which is nice (if you put them in a safe candle container, and watch them closely) as they go out on their own after about 4 hours. Very tidy. Easy to add a drop of scented oil or a sprinkle of kitchen herbs to the melting wax, too. And the flame is the same as the one that might come from an expensive hand-rolled pure bees wax 18" pillar candle or what-have-you.
Get a bit of muslin at the fabric store while you are there-- 1/2 a yard costs less than $4. Buy a silver crafts pen for about $2.50 and make your own altar cloth with any and all symbols that have meaning for YOUR RITUAL WORK... easier and more personal-- and more natural-- than many of the star-and-moon nylon altar cloths you can buy online-- and you don't have to pay for shipping...Take a walk in the part or the edge of the woods with a friend. Grab a fallen tree branch-- a small one, maybe 10-15 inches-- that feels good in your hand. Use it for your ritual dagger work. It has already got good energy in it from the tree and the wind and the rain and sun... you'll add your own Spirit energy to it as you use it over and over in the Circle. Not so much with a $50 pewter wand or black-hilted dagger that needs your energy to have any life.
If you find an expensive gold-trimmed cape or other specialized ritual item and it speaks to you-- and you know it's in your budget-- go for it. Many of these things are made with love and given a little energy by their maker. The connection you have with the items you use is the important part, not the price tag or the origin of the item itself-- though for some, these are a part of their magick potential, too. So these are simply suggestions. Going bankrupt or buying ritual items on credit is not good joo-joo, so to speak. Appreciating what you have is a big part of connecting with what is.
And my grey silk? I think the black of the night is as important as the white of the moon that shines in it-- and so for me, that soft ethereal grey is a Spirit-Point. I'm not sure what it will become yet, so I'm holding on to it until I figure that part out. Maybe it isn't even FOR me. Maybe it's a gift I get to give to someone else down the road. That's the fun part about the journey. There's always something new to learn or figure out or share with someone you enjoy.
However, when it comes to actually CONTACTING any one of them, I find a depressingly consistent scenario emerging. The vast majority of websites are no longer maintained, and the phone numbers or emails are disconnected and inactive. The few that HAVE actually gone through-- I've left a message after an impersonal beep or sent an email to the address listed-- well, lets just say these must be very busy people. I've gotten two responses. Ever. And I've been doing this (selectively) for a month now. And one of those responses was from PA. Not so helpful to someone located on the West Coast, and searching for local community.
It has strengthened my resolve to not only CHECK that MY list of links is current on a regular basis, but to CONTINUE BLOGGING here for as long as possible. It isn't likely that too many folks will stumble onto this thing, and it's not always the most helpful information for others anyway... but it's NOT GOING AWAY. And at least with a blog, you can see when the last publication was from the author. You know if nobody's bothered with it for a couple of years. The websites... not so much. They tend to use words like "MONTHLY MEETINGS AT..." or "I just started this thing, and..." ...and they don't realize that 4 years later, when they've stopped that thing back in 2002... uhh... how did I know that? Well, I tried the email link and it's dead. But websites don't really die. They just go on broadcasting the same old information... and that information gets older, and older... and older...
WitchVox actually posts a warning and suggestion on their website-- in the history of the publication, they've only had about two groups TELL them when the group disbands or changes it's contact information. Thus-- they highly recommend that you call or contact any store you plan to visit, or group event you'd like to attend, to make sure it's STILL THERE. Wise advice. Saved me a lot of insecure and uncomfortable moments. And a lot of car gas.
So... even though I may not have a lot of insightful, deep, or important info to impart, I'm committed to continuing to blog even during those times. It means there is something that won't go away.
And... I got an email back from someone local this morning. Someone who actually does still put on monthly full moon ceremonies. Someone who invited me to call her and ask questions. Someone who might actually be able to show me the "local community" aisle of the Pagan Supermarket Highway. I'm hopeful. I'm calling.
(Whether or not you believe the tarot cards pulled in a 'reading' were chosen by a special force to give you a message of some sort is irrelevant. -- We take the message associated with the card, and apply it each to our own life. These views are not replacing our will to choose a path. We take the perspectives offered as valuable because they help us recognize the choices we have made, the paths we may yet walk. In this sense, you read your own fortune in the cards, regardless of the "medium"-- and you teach your own lessons. It's not about magic. It's about self-awareness.)
...so I came up with a few things...
I ask that if you make use of them in a public setting or forum, please give me credit. I ask that you use them wisely. I share this path with my Grandcestors, and their standards are high.
Adrift on Sacred Seas of thought,
Owl's wings carry me
Through the rich dark of Grandcstor Earth.
The hearth of the Goddess
Guides me Home.
We are filled with Spirit Grace--
The Earth the Moon and I.
I hear Earth's rhythm
I see Earth's beauty
I taste Earth's passion
I smell Earth's season
I feel Earth's energy
I will Earth's abundance.
With the air that is her breath,
With the fire that is her joy,
With the water that is her womb,
I am filled with Spirit Grace.*
(*The air/fire/water lines are inspired from part of a Starhawk circle casting ritual in Earth Path Credit where credit is due.)
My thanks to you, Great Spirit.
Grateful, Graced, Growing.
Tonight my body rests in your dark womb.
Spirit Traveler, Moon Mother.
Sacred Circle return again to the light.
I hope for you that the beauty of their work fills your senses, and enters your awareness as a blessing. To live each day is a blessing. How do we show our thanks? We celebrate. We recycle. We limit our consumption. We give back good things to the earth by the ways in which we choose to spend our money, our time, our energy while we are here. We recognize that the lives and embodied knowledge of our ancestors, stretching back through the jaws of time, are the matter that compose our earth, our air, our water today.
Is this a strange concept for you? Let me show you how it works. The water rains down from the clouds to nourish our plants, our gardens, our wells and lakes. We use the water to process our sewage, to clean road filth off our cars, to water our lawns after we use chemical pesticides on them, to drink. The water from our homes and factories and gardens percolates into our rivers and streams. They flow down to the oceans. The ocean water is absorbed into the sky where it forms clouds, and rains down on us, to be used again. In this system, we get back what we put in. What did you put into the water today? What did you put into the air?
What did you put into your garden, your garbage, the landfill outside of town? You'll get it back, eventually-- or bequeath it to your children's children-- as our ancestors have done for thousands of years. We are drinking the same water that once flowed through the streets of Gamora, the jungles of Peru, the water that once rained down on Heroshima, and the fertilizer-settling pond down the road. We are the keepers of the Earth, and her resources are limited. It is a blessing to be alive in Her beauty and abundance, but it is a responsibility, too.
I'm not perfect, none of us are. But I am aware of my impact on the world, and I'm working to make it a good one.
Birth, Growth, Death, Decay, Regeneration.
And the circle continues.
Many Traditions follow the rule of requiring dedicated study of the "Wiccan Tradition" under an ordained Priest or Priestess of the faith for a year-and-a-day, before one can be officially recognized as a Witch. Literally. They count. There are many covens which follow a specific Tradition, and whose traditional path you must adhere to if you are to be one with that coven. But there are many more covens who simply call their Wiccan affiliation "eclectic." This generally means that they work by group consensus, and they work what feels most appropriate for their coven-- regardless of whose tradition they may borrow from or what "rules" of a tradition they may ignore. The one rule that is never ignored is that of "An it Harm None, Do as Ye Will." It isn't about a traditional offshoot within the broad spectrum of Wicca-- it IS Wicca, in some sense. And "harming none" has a broad definition, to include trees, animals, and Gaia herself.
The witches who do not live by this rule do not call themselves Wiccan. Many of these are good people, too. They are simply less hesitant to work with the energy they have available to will that the jerk who cheated them out of $50 lose all his money. Or that the mean person who spray painted hate messages on their local schools get a bad case of tennis elbow (for example)... Revenge is a very dangerous tool. It leads the practitioner to be the wronged party, the judge, and the jury-- all in one. And in such a scenario, perspective and balance are easy to lose.
Anyway-- the reason I got into all of this is that I have definitely not been researching Pagan practice and casting meditation circles for a year and a day. Not yet. But a few nights ago, I had a spontaneous dedication ceremony. The magick involved and the Guidance I received throughout the evening... I don't know how to tell you about the intense feelings of being in the presence of grace, of great appreciation, of receiving a high honor, and of radiant joy I felt... and still feel when I think about that Circle, and the Spirit I encountered within.
There are, traditionally (I use this word when I'm making a generalization, or talking about a format that most of the authors I've read use-- but that isn't a hard-and-fast rule of the practice), several steps to a Dedication Ceremony-- and these differ somewhat from the traditional components of your basic Sacred Circle experience. After the Sacred Time was over and I'd felt the Circle wall dissipate into the air, I began to journal and record my experience-- and I realized that even though I thought I was simply going about my regular Circle-casting, etc... all the components for the Dedication Ceremony had been included in my evening, even if I wasn't intentional about the process. It made me feel better about my understanding of that evening as it unfolded.
I feel a new sense of equilibrium-- of balance-- in my outlook (and my in-look, so to speak). I also feel approval when I call myself a Witch, and a practicing Wiccan Woman. The approval of an action taken that is in harmony with my greater purpose and my intention of right-living. It is appropriate that I call myself by these names now. I don't know everything. I am not a Teacher at this point, and some mysteries are meant to simply be enjoyed for what they are. But I'm learning, and growing, all the time. And I am Dedicated to my Goddess/God in all Her forms. This connection is strong.
As my Guide said within me at the end of my Spirit Ceremony,
Blessings be, child. Blessings Be.
Anyway, the vitality and the real beauty of fertility struck me right between the eyes yesterday. I was walking through a Garden. It was beautiful. It was magickal. There was reproduction, blooming, birds calling their mates, biology and botany, yin and yang. Here are some of the visions I encountered and stopped to breathe in:
Through the lower branches of this beautiful blooming magnolia, you can see the bright red berries of some sort of holly bush. The ripening of Spring.
This sweet bird spent about ten minutes singing his song over and over, while in the distance, I could hear his mate answering in a slightly different key. He knew I was watching, and it wasn't until I pulled out the camera that he turned away from me. I hope he wasn't offended.
Can you believe how delicate and wild these tree buds are? I can't wait to see the leaves they become! It feels as though a gentle wave of Spring is rolling through the air, and taking the branches of this tree with it.
These baby leaves were so glorious against the background of tall trees and green bushes! You could taste the energy of their laughter and zest for growth in the wind.
This is Trillium, sometimes known as "Wakerobin" for its tendency to bloom early in the Spring. It's wild, and endangered, and very sweet. Native Americans used some forms of Trillium root for medicinal purposes, and the leaves were eaten as salad greens. Unfortunately, Trillium is almost impossible to transplant, and picking the leaves will kill the plant. So please enjoy from a distance, or buy seeds for your own wildflower garden.
The leaves on this beautiful tree were a dusty red, like freckles in the sun. A couple of the leaves are just visible on the right, and a delightful purple flower just made it into the photo on the left. Happy Spring! By the way, March 20-23 was the Spring Equinox. A celebration of the moment when night and day-- light and dark-- are balanced in equal proportions. It is the celebration of the coming Spring, and of creativity at it's most inspired. It is about fertility, and regeneration. It is about Creation.
On April 30th (or May 1 in some traditions), we will celebrate Beltain-- also known as May Day, "Night of the Witches," and Walpurgisnacht. This is a very important time for witches and pagans. We celebrate the fullness of Spring, the fullness of passion. Traditionally, it was the night for young (and old) lovers to tryst in the woods and fields. The ribbons were wrapped round the Maypole in dancing celebration of the Great Rite, great bonfires are lit, and great enjoyment is had by all.
This does not mean that you must have sex to celebrate or participate in this festival. No. Instead, it means you must celebrate your sexuality and your passion-- in whatever form that takes for you. Safely, comfortably, with great enjoyment of your own experience. It could be a fantastic and wildly vibrant painting session in your back-yard studio. It could be a delicious bower of flowers, candles, and chocolate as you take a warm bath in the privacy of your own home. It could be passionate dancing in your favorite club, or a warm and well-loved group of friends laughing the night away under a wreath of colorful ribbons and colorful comments.
Whatever you do, remember... "An it harm none, do as ye will."