On Circles

I've had reason to think about circles lately-- particularly the circle of life. Life, growth, death, decay, rebirth, life... The circle turns for us all, in little ways, and in the ultimate circle-- bringing each of us closer to our next life. We all die. It made me think about what is important in my life-- and it was an easy conclusion:

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,


On Tarot

I love Tarot. I especially love MY CARDS. It took me a bit of searching to find just the right pack for my beliefs and my sense of the Spirit Energy that guides me in this world. Do your homework, check out the cards, and don't let pretty art fool you into buying a pack of cards that don't actually speak to your practice as well as your pretty. I also suggest not buying used cards. You want your energy alone to rule the readings they give you.

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.


Grounding with Fire

Now that my school finals are done for the semester, I have a little free time to do things like take out the trash, call my friends, and post to my blogs. YAY!!!! These are all things that desperately need to be done. And, truth be told, I had intended to do these things on Thursday... What happened to Thursday? Well... My time was taken over by a series of important and hilarious learning experiences. Which now comprise the basis for this post. Isn't it great how interconnected everything is?

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.)


The Important Stuff

Clean Water for drinking is very important--
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.)