Friday, December 31, 2010

Ready for 2011

I'm not even going to try to write about my intentions/thoughts/plans for 2011 in a linear fashion.  They just aren't organized that way.  So, without further ado, I give you a list, in no particular order.

  • There is no reason why I need to address every single thing that I could possibly do to improve my life right this instant.  While keeping an ongoing list of the little things that I need to do but that aren't life threatening would be a lovely idea, I don't need to implement it right now.  Priorities.
  • That said, I need to be sure that I don't focus all of my attention on spiritual and creative intentions -- while those are necessary and feed my spirit, I also need to take care of the "mundane" (I hate that word -- anybody have a good synonym for me?) tasks in order to take care of myself.
  • My key word for this year is commitment.  I don't know 100% what I am commiting to yet, but I want to commit to finishing things.  I'm going to finish one major craft project for my house.  I'm going to focus my spiritual practice instead of constantly grabbing new tidbits from the endless takeout menu.  I'm committing to doing sitting meditation every day (more or less -- I'm also not going to consider myself a failure if I miss a day here and there).  I'm committing to doing what I need to do to take care of myself -- eating right (and figuring out what that means for me), getting outside, moving my body, stretching, keeping my home relatively tidy
  • There are dozens of fascinating spiritual practices and paths out there, and as an eclectic soul there is no reason why I can't explore lots of them.  But not all at once.  Every hint and nudge and bit of guidance I've been getting lately says to stick to the faery work, so that's what I'm going to do for this year.  Everything I do spiritually will be addressed through that lens.

There's more, of course.  There's always more.  But now I think it is time for me to enjoy my time-honored new year's eve tradition of watching lots of movies.

But first, here is the spontaneous invocation for the coming year, which I just recited after cleansing and dressing my altar.

In the coming year
May I have joy
May I have love
May I have commitment and satisfaction
May I have the unfolding of my deepest gifts
May this be the year in which I finally step onto solid ground and walk my path with purpose.

So mote it be!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sick, but ok

Greetings from the land of the sick!  I got through all of the holiday mayhem just to come down with a truly retched cold.  I'm still recovering, but am feeling more human.  And I am determined to celebrate New Year's Eve properly, which means with home made appetizers and lots of movies with my sweetie (yeah, I'm a party animal).  I think I'll skip the alcohol this year, though.

Because I haven't been feeling my best I have not finished my 2011 Goddess Guidebook, but that's ok.  I've been thinking about it, I've written a lot in it, and these things are always a work in progress anyway.  I do know what my word of the year is going to be: commitment.  It feels right.  I'm tired of flitting from one thing to another.  I want to feel the accomplishment of having completed something.  So this year will be the year of commitment -- commitment to a dedicated spiritual practice, commitment to start and finish a large craft project, commitment to myself.

Because I'm still sick, I seem to have run out of steam here.  But I will finish explaining my new years goals soon, I promise.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yule Eclipse, and mystics

I stayed awake until 4:30 in the morning to see the eclipse, but heavy cloud cover hid it from view.  I would love to say that I took this frustration in stride, but it would be a lie.  In fact, I am downright mopey about it.  I did get to see the moon briefly last night though, and again tonight.  She laughed at me and said that there was a reason I couldn't see her last night.  Darned if I know what it is, though.

While awake, I spent some quality time reflecting on what I want from not only the coming year, but the rest of my life (ok, and surfing the internet.  I admit it).  I've been reading Caroline's Myss' classic book, Sacred Contracts and have gotten to the part about identifying your archetypes.  As an archetype junkie, I figured this would be fun.  It wasn't.  The description of one archetype in particular was really bothering me:  the Mystic.  She goes on at great length about how everyone wants to claim that archetype but that once they find out how much work it requires are willing to let somebody else take it up.  This irked me.  Far more than a blurb in a book ought to.  So I thought about it.  And the fact is, for me, I don't have a choice.  I am a mystic.  I hid from it for years, I do a piss poor job of it most of the time, but it's what I am.  I'm only really functional when I'm doing at least three regular spiritual things a day.  I need to be plugged into that energy at all times.  When I don't make that effort I start to drift away from myself -- I lose energy, motivation, purpose....  it's not good.  And I resent feeling like some book author guru is telling me that I'm not what I am pretty darn sure that I am.  At which point it occurs to me that my reaction says more about my confidence in my own power than anything else.  Depressing, isn't it?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Not reverb10, but still reflection

Ok, I am clearly not feeling the reverb10 prompts this week.  But that doesn't mean I haven't been reflecting on the past year!  For the most part, I've concluded that 2010 can dissolve in a pool of acid.  That's a slight exageration, but there are very few parts of this year that I wish to hold onto.  My husband's birthday party. Twilight Covening.  The week-end workshops with Orion.  My recent graveyard work.  Parts of home ownership.  But the rest.... best not to dwell on that.

But 2011 is going to be better!  I'm getting myself on the right track, I'm going to figure out what I need, and I'm going to go after it!  The first step of this, I've decided, is settling into a Serious Daily Practice (tm).  I already have my morning devotions, which I've been doing consistently for several years now, but I need more.  I'm going to get back to doing sitting meditation around lunchtime every day (I am currently trying the So Hum technique, and may purchase the < a href="">guided meditation from Goddess Leonie), and I'm going to set myself a weekly schedule for other practices that I need to be doing regularly.  Those may shift around as my priorities change, but I want to commit to trying to do a sitting meditation every day in 2011.  I know that I will miss some days, and I know that it sounds like I am setting myself up with a lot, but I feel strongly that this is something that I need right now, and that I will feel better once I am doing it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Not reverb10, but SARK.

Today's reverb10 prompt left me cold, but I found an interesting "game" on SARK's blog (you know SARK's work, right?)

Transforming What Hurts Into What Helps
Share one thing in your life that's challenging or difficult, and one thing that you're glad about that challenge or difficulty.

Well, the obvious would be depression.  Suffering from clinical depression is inarguably challenging and difficult.  But I think that I appreciate joy more because I am so familiar with it's opposite, and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

My current unemployment is certainly challenging and difficult -- feeling useless, questioning my own worth, and worrying about money are not exactly experiences I cherish.  But I'm glad that I'm able to take time to really delve into spirituality and to hand make all of my holiday gifts this year.  And I bet I'll really appreciate the right job when it comes along!

The current cold snap in New England (and elsewhere) is challenging and difficult -- it hurts to go outside!  And I like sunlight and riding my bicycle!  But without cold we can't have snow, and I would love to have a white Christmas.  And the cold is necessary for the life cycles of much of our native flora, all of which I love to bits (especially the sugar maples, which I know require colder temperatures)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

REVERB: party

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

I'm not a big party person by nature, so I don't have many examples to draw from.  But upon reflection, there was one gathering this year that really did rock my socks, and I can even say that I hosted it: the party we threw for my husband's thirtieth birthday.  In formula, it wasn't a complicated affair.  We invited people, made some food, and brought out our iPod dock.  The iPod dock turned out to be a great hit as almost everyone had an iPod and some album or another that they wanted to share, so we had good music all evening without having to do anything ourselves, which was lovely.  One thing that made it special was the attendance of some very good friends who live far away.  We don't see them often, and I miss them terribly.  But that does not entirely account for the magic of that evening.  Neither does the fantastically aged maple mead we broke out for the occasion (we'd been saving our last bottle from that batch for a special occasion, and realized that this was the one).  Mead alone does not a magical evening make.  Many parties have tasty alcohol without breaking into a spontaneous song circle.  Seriously, this was some special magic: two of our friends even demonstrated a waltz! 

In the end, I don't think I could tell what made that party better than all the others.  Like all magic, it can not be explained or replicated.  All I can do is appreciate it for what it was and cherish the memory.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

REVERB: beautifully different

December 8 – Beautifully Different.
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.  (Author: Karen Walrond)

You have got to be kidding me!  You want me to think of things I do that light people up?  Can't I just reflect on all of my terrible qualities and mistakes?  Pretty please......  Fine, I'll give it a try.

In a certain way, I am very innocent.  I genuinely believe in basic human decency, that people are kind and fair and honest.  Whenever I encounter evidence to the contrary I am genuinely shocked.  I don't seem able to be truly jaded, which is sort of uncomfortable in our current culture, but also, I think, good.  I would rather expect people to be better than they are and sometimes be disappointed by reality than the other way around.

I don't know if this is something about me that is "different," but I am very open.  While I may be introverted, I'm not private, and I only hesitate to share my darkest foibles when I fear making other people uncomfortable.  I appreciate the same level of honesty from others, as well -- I like reading the Annie Lamott style of personal essay, with complete gut spilling.

At my best, I'm pretty guileless, which I think ties together both of the above points. The cynics would have me believe that the world is out to take advantage of me, but I honestly have not found that to be the case.  And even if it were, I think that the cost of being other than I am would be too high.  As inconvenient as it often is, I can not pretend to be someone I'm not.  This has often felt like a curse, but I think it is really a blessing.  The fact is, I don't *want* to compromise who I am in order to fit in/succeed.  Ok, that's not entirely true.  Part of me really does want to be able to do that, but I refuse to apologize for not doing so.  I'm tired of being told that I have to be this, that, or something else.  It's funny, but I'm more uncomfortable talking about this than about my depression.  I think most people would be more ashamed of the latter, but it's the former that I most want to hide.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

REVERB: community

Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

2010 did not turn out to be as community oriented as I would have liked.  While I did slightly deepen my involvement in one group, I let me commitment to another group -- one which I was already fairly involved with -- slide.  The last few months have seen me realizing that I need to take a look at the communities I am involved in and decide what roles they can and should play in my life.  Not to sound self-centered, but if a given community can not provide the kind of connection that I want and need, why should I devote excessive energy to trying to become more involved with it?  I need to find the right balance.

One place where I did find community in 2010 was in my clan at Twilight Covening.  Although that was a temporary community, I am grateful for the experience for showing me what is possible.

In 2011 I want to find or create a mutually supportive spiritual community, whether that be in blogosphere or in the physical world (though I will admit to a preference for the latter) or even both!  To get a bit more specific, I would love to have people who I spoke with at least once a week.  We would share our triumphs and struggles as we grow along our various spiritual paths, share resources and experiences, and support one another's growth.

Monday, December 6, 2010

REVERB: make

I just impulsively signed up for Reverb 10, so theoretically I will be posting every day for the rest of December.  We'll see how that goes!  :-P  In part, this is because the "reflecting on 2010" parts of the 2011 Creating My Goddess Year workbook I am in process with did not speak to me, and I feel it is important to do some year-end reflecting while preparing for the new year.

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

The last thing I actually finished was a felt applique owl for a swap, using craft felt and embroidery thread, and it was awesome.    I am currently in the middle of holiday gift crafting, which is very rewarding in some ways and very draining in others.  I love creating gifts that people will love, but there is so much baggage associated with holiday gift giving that the joy becomes rather muted.  And the time constraints don't help!  There are a number of "me" projects that I hope to find time for after the holidays.  I would love to make a quilt for my bed.  I've never quilted anything before, so it will be an adventure, but when I think about sleeping under a quilt that I made with my own hands I get absolutely giddy!  I never tackle really big projects like that, I think it is time to start.  And I would like to make a felt applique for my craft/ritual space, though I'm not sure of what.  And a third project that I would love to do (also for my craft/ritual space) is some sort of faery spirit.  Oh, and of course I've been meaning to make something in which to display ATCs.....

This is why I tend not to get any of these done -- I don't prioritize between them, and since I can't make them all simultaneously I don't do any of them.  That's a bad habit which I intend to break!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alone on the Mountain

Feeling a bit frazzled and waiting for the plumber to arrive, I reached for one of my favorite books: Seasons of the Witch by Patricia Monaghan.  It opened right up to this poem:

Hera Alone, on the Mountain
From this height I can see
everything.  I watch the day
recede, I watch the light
fade into red, I watch
the brown leaves fall to earth.
It is time to strip to the bone.
Time to measure the worth
of each moment, to catch
the last ones left before night.
Soon enough red fades to gray.
Soon enough we cease to be.

Look there: An eagle rises
as the first star gleams.
Now listen: Far away
an owl's deep moaning song
cuts through the chilling air.
I am standing here alone.
Standing, head back, breasts bare
to the wind.  I belong
to the earth now, the sky,
to myself and to my dreams,
with no masks left, no disguises.

You who would love me now
beware.  I am all fire
and blood.  I have no time
for those who cannot feel
the way through flesh to soul.
My life is now half-gone.
But each night left is whole.
Each day can now reveal
how life is most sublime
when fastened to desire.
From here, all time is now.
Isn't that perfect?   How apt to where I long to stand.  How I want to say "I belong to the earth now, the sky, to myself and to my dreams, with no masks left, no disguises."  How I would love to warn people "You who would love me now beware.  I am all fire and blood.  I have no time for those who cannot feel the way through flesh to soul."  My soul is yearning to be stripped bare, to open wide to life.  And I'm trying -- sweet gods, am I trying! -- but it's so hard.  And it hurts so much.  I don't have a choice but to move forward, but I'm not sure of the way.  I need to have faith in the path, that it will take me there.

Wow, that was a tad overwrought, but it's an accurate reflection of where I'm standing, so I'm going to leave it be!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Kinds of Overwhelming

First I was overwhelmed by preparing for Thanksgiving (btw, happy late turkey day to my fellow USA-ers).  We needed to not only get pies baked and deviled eggs deviled, but we needed to get all of our Yule gifts finished to give to the family members we would be seeing, which led to a lot of frantic running around.  I'm glad to have that done with!

Now I'm overwhelmed with something entirely different.  During this past week-end I had energy clearing work and a soul fragment retrieval done by a dear friend of mine.  The energy clearing left me feeling great, but the soul retrieval, while clearly a Very Good Thing has left me feeling a bit scattered.  And overwhelmed.  C'est la vie!  I will try to write a post with actual substance again soon.  But of course I still have some of the original overwhelmed feeling, since the end of Thanksgiving only means that Yule is that much closer, and those gifts aren't going to make themselves, so who knows!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Weeping Beech

Ahhh, there's nothing like direct orders to get a gal back into the swing of things, spiritually speaking.

While doing my daily candle meditation I slipped into a light trance, which has never happened before.  When I came out of it I had a strong urge to go for a walk through my local cemetery (which is where I do most of my walking) and made a bee-line for my favorite part, an area that is secluded and not as meticulously maintained as most of the grounds.  I was surprised by that, since the paths are rather meandering and I had not realized that there was a beeline path between the entrance and that spot.  Once there I saw a weeping willow on the other side of the murky pond which is at the center of that area, and turned towards it, realizing that I was still in a very light trance, and was being led.  I made it to the tree (and saw that it wasn't a willow -- who knew there was such a thing as a weeping beech?) and found a rather impressive memorial marker next to it, reminiscent of a castle tower.  I made my way under the canopy of the branches and sat down on one of the roots, with my back against the trunk.  Immediately my heart started pounding, as it always does when I'm moving energy.  I sat there, letting my energy and that of the beech intertwine for awhile as I came to understand that the tree wanted to work with me.  I've been missing the apple tree which I was working with before I moved, so I'm looking forward to this new friendship.  I also got the sense that I should be striking up a relationship with the gentleman for which the large and impressive memorial was erected.  I'll try to get his name next time.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back into the trenches!

As you may have guessed, I was not feeling my best on Friday.  As a consequence, I have somewhat fallen off of the spiritual practice bandwagon.  Since it was largely maintaining a spiritual mindset that was keeping my mood and energy at such a positive point previously, this has not been helping my resilience any, which of course just creates an endless cycle of guilt, moping, and chocolate.  It's not that I have completely stopped -- I'm still doing my morning devotions and my lunchtime meditation, but I was doing more than that previously (remember, I'm currently among the ranks of the unemployed, so I have a lot of free time for this stuff).

Today I finally did a little bit more.  I sat down after dinner and did the Cleansing Life Flow exercise from Kissing the Limitless (I have plugged that book here already, right?).  And I have to ask -- why am I not doing that every single day?  It's all about working through blocks in your personal flow of energy, and what is depression if not a great big hulking energy block?  So I'm going to try to do that every evening for awhile.  And I'm going to try to implement some other suggestions I've gotten.  And I will get back to where I was before, and I will keep getting better.  So mote it be!

Friday, November 12, 2010

So easy to forget

It's so easy to forget that you are depressed.

You start doing something new, you dedicate yourself to some new plan or activity, life gets busy, and you aren't thinking about it anymore.  But that doesn't mean it has gone away, because even though the only way to describe depression uses the word "feeling," it's not an emotion.  Feeling depressed is not really what depression is about.  It's about feeling so inadequate that you hide yourself from even your dearest friends for fear that they'll see the real you.  It's about feeling so much despair about your own possibilities that you bury yourself in television and embroidery without even realizing it.  It's about not being able to even grasp the concept of believing in yourself, because it's such a ludicrous idea.  It's about feeling completely isolated while surrounded by your nearest and dearest and not having the faintest idea how to begin to bridge the distance.  It's about not bothering to honestly tell yourself what you truly want because you know in your heart, your gut, and what's left of your spirit that you can not have it.

And the bitch of it is that all of that can keep going without your paying attention to it.  So you can think that you've got depression on the run, then one day turn a corner and find that it's all still there, carrying on just fine without you.

Or maybe that's just me.

I've wanted to write about depression from a spiritual point of view for a long time now, but never knew just how to phrase it.  How do I explain how it feels to be able to reach out to other worlds, but not to my own?  The pain of sobbing on the floor and seeing my spirit friends watching me with eyes brimming with the sorrow of knowing that they can't help, that this is something I have to do alone and that all they can do is watch?  Not to mention the pain of realizing that no one in the "real" world even cares that much anymore, that while everyone around me has become immune to my pain out of self-preservation it will always feel fresh to me?  And of knowing that even if I did kill myself it wouldn't fix a damn thing.  Some how it would follow me.  That much I have gathered from my spirit friends, but not how.

All I can do is keep struggling, even knowing that I apparently can't win.  I have to keep hanging on to the tiny thread of hope that I'm wrong, that I will someday fight my way clear of this.  Sometimes I even believe it's possible.  But not today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Freya Tale

Once upon a time there was a little pagan.  Because she worked with the runes, the goddess Freya found her and claimed her for her own.  For many years, the little pagan worked with Freya.  As she became more adept at spirit work, she saw the goddess less and less, but that was ok.  She knew that Freya was always around, and that she wanted the little pagan to grow and try new things.  Eventually the little pagan never saw the goddess at all, but she still offered her thanks every morning.

After many months of this, Freya came to the little pagan before she fell asleep.  "Little pagan," she said, "You have served me well, but I do not need empty worship.  Do you wish to leave my service?"  The little pagan thought and thought.  She loved her goddess, but with so many other spirits in her life now, maybe it was for the best that she and Freya parted ways.  She went to her goddess and asked her what she wanted her to do, if they stayed together.  The goddess asked, "Little pagan, do you trust me?" and the little pagan said she was not sure -- the goddess was so great and scary.  "I am not what you think I am," said the goddess, "I am not a seductress, nor am I really a warrior, though I have some rule over the realm of death.  I am a goddess of love in all of its forms, but mostly of magic and trance, and I have long allied with the faery realm.  Why should you fear that which we hold in common?"  The little pagan heard the words of her goddess, and asked what she should do to reaffirm her devotion to her.  Freya told her, "Let me teach you.  Every day, visualize my falcon cloak around you to take my energy into yourself."  And the little pagan said that she would do so.

Monday, November 8, 2010

In which I attend a conjure workshop, then clean my house

I spent this week-end at a wonderful workshop on Hoodoo/Conjure, taught by the inimitable Orion Foxwood.  You might expect that I would leave with a number of plans for hands to make and graveyards to visit (which I did! So many plans!).  What you might not expect is that I came home and began to clean my house.  But that is what I did first.  The practicality of the system really brought home to me how counter-productive some of my house-keeping behaviors have been.  I've been living in my new house for five months now, and my crafting and ritual space (aka the place I spend the most time and from which I am supposedly manifesting my magic) remains the only room not entirely unpacked.  And not just unpacked, but a serious disaster area.  It had gotten to the point where I hated spending any time in there at all, which is somewhat horrifying when you think about it!  So today I dragged in another bookcase and moved all of the ritual supplies that had been pushed under my altar onto shelves.  Then I picked up everything on and around my craft table.  There is still a lot of work to be done, but I feel much better already!  It even inspired me to clean up some in my bedroom and living room.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Labyrinth

When I attended my favorite pagan event of the year (that would be Twilight Covening) I had the opportunity to do some deep work labyrinths.  For those unfamiliar with the spiritual use of the term, a labyrinth in this context is a unicursal path -- unlike a maze, there is only one path and no wrong turns.  It is a powerful meditation technique for approaching your own inner core for guidance and clarity.  I had some fantastic experiences while at Twilight Covening, for which I am truly grateful.

Of course, the challenge when leaving that kind of specializied environment is figuring out how to integrate the experience into you life.  I have been working to integrate the lessons, but how to bring home the labyrinth itself?  My tiny urban yard can't fit one and there is not a labyrinth close enough for me to walk regularly.  There are numerous places to purchase finger labyrinths online, but they are expensive.  Plus, will a finger labyrinth even work for me?

Well, I solved the first problem.  While I can't sculpt or carve, I can felt, and so I have needle felted myself a three dimensional finger labyrinth!

I had to shrink the labyrinth from 7 circuits to 5 in order to make it fit on the base and still have room for my finger, but I think it looks good.  I haven't successfully used it to meditate yet -- I keep finding more spots where the walls aren't quite sturdy enough and my finger switches circuits -- but I am optimistic. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Some thoughts

1.  You never know if a fledgling daily practice will survive it's first bad day, so I was glad to see that I stuck to my meditation after lunch.  Even though I completely lost track of time and could have been late to an appointment, I sat down with the candle for around 5 minutes.  No, it wasn't my best meditation session ever, but I didn't blow it off.  I showed up, that counts for a lot.

2.  Despite having a kitchen that sends all of my friends into paroxysms of jealousy, I have been subtly uncomfortable in it ever since we moved it.  Yes, it has every amenity I could ask for (and trust me, I am in no way taking that for granted!  I <3 my granite counter tops and my wall mounted microwave!!!), it didn't feel like home to me.  Possibly because it is ultra-modern looking.  I've been meaning to sew red gingham curtains for ages (I bought the fabric before I even moved in!), but still haven't done so.  My latest excuse is that I did not buy red thread when I bought the fabric (d'oh!), but I am getting closer -- my husband and I bought and mounted curtain rods, so I will be able to start sewing as soon as I get the thread!  In the meantime I decided to switch out the brushed nickel knobs on the cabinets with red ceramic, and it looks marvelous!  I felt a bit guilty spending $30 on something so frivolous when I am currently unemployed, but damn it if hasn't made a big difference to how I feel in there.

3.  It finally occurred to me to pre-mix my spiritual cleansing bath salts so I don't have to run all over the house collecting ingredients every time....  Next up, pre-mixing my relaxation bath salts!  I just need to empty out another spice jar, but the cinnamon is nearly gone so it shouldn't be too long.

4.  I am finally ready do a job search spell.  I'm going to a conjure class this week-end, so hopefully that will inspire me to put something together soon.

5.  You may or may not have noticed, but I am unofficially trying to participate in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month).  I know I won't be able to make every day, I'm going to post here every day that I can this month.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Samhain 2010

Sometimes a major holiday sneaks up on me.  I end up tossing together a quick ritual, perform my pagan duty, and move on with my day.  In fact, I would be willing to state that to be the usual state of affairs -- good with the day-to-day devotions, not so on top of the big yearly rituals.  Or full moons.  But full moons are an entirely different problem and not relevant to this post.  But the point is.... that didn't happen last night when I sat down to do my personal Samhain ritual (I had already gone to a big public one, which was lovely, but I like to do something myself on the day of the holiday).  Sure, I didn't have much planned -- honor ancestors, visit the River of Tears, maybe do a tad of divination -- but this turned out to be far from my ordinary run-of-the-mill toss-something-together say-hi-to-the-spirits-and-move-on-with-life sort of affair.  By the time the ritual was over I was tingling with power, with energy, with hope, and with love.  Brimming with it, in fact.  And while I've had a less than ideal day today, just writing about last nights ritual, remembering that power, brings it all flooding back.

There's not much that I could say about last night's journey work that would make sense, so I won't try.  Suffice it to say that I went on two separate journeys, each of them very powerful.  Instead, let's talk about the divination.

(Alas, there was no way for me to size this such that all three cards were visible and  you could actually read their names.  Or have a particularly clean view of the cards.  Sigh.)

When I began to shuffle the deck, these three cards almost immediately fell out.  Since I meant to draw three cards, I decided that these were them!  I had not yet decided on what sort of spread to use, so the layout has no significance.  Which is fine, since I've never used any kind of a layout with the Faery Oracle in the past.  The cards are (since you can not read the titles) The Topsie-Turvies, He of the Fiery Sword, and the Singer of Connection.  I knew from a glance that these were some powerful messengers.  From my journal, written immediately after the ritual:
Never have I felt so blessed, so affirmed as when I saw who would walk with me this year. New perspectives coming out of confusion.  Magical will and commitment.  Connection and reconnection.  Never did I dream of such august company, such timely guidance, such blessedly good news.  I sang a joyful song of power to anchor myself into this energy, to take it in and let it suffuse me.
I'm trying to hang on to that feeling, to let it continue to fill me with that energy and to guide me on my path.  At the public ritual Friday night I vowed to commit myself fully to my life and to joy, and this outlines the course I must follow to fulfill that promise.

As to the source of this gift (for a ritual this moving can be called nothing less), I can not say.  Was it just that I needed this so badly that the universe was moved to step in?  Or is this the reward for my new practice of multiple daily attunements?  Perhaps, in addition to a greater feeling of wholeness, they are leading to a deeper, more meaningful, easier connection to spirit?  I dare not inquire to closely, but will instead focus on being thankful and making the most of it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meditation breakthrough

I am ashamed to admit this, but I don't really meditate.  Once a year or so I'll come across a book or website that convinces me that I will never be a real magic worker/spiritual seeker/decent human being unless I do sitting meditation, so I decide to recommit myself to the practice.  This time, I tell myself, it will be different.  This time I will stick with it.  This time, I too shall become a Real Witch (tm).  I bask in the imagined glory of my hypothetical sitting meditation practice and the enlightenment that will soon be mine.  So I sit down.  I close my eyes.  I focus on my breathe.  And then my monkey mind kicks in and starts babbling.  I tell myself to let it go and return to breathing.  Monkey mind starts babbling again, a little louder this time.  I breathe and let it go.  With every return, the babble becomes louder and more insistent, and the responding voice becomes louder and more irritable, and pretty soon all of the different parts of my personality are screaming at each other, poo is being flung every which way, and the whole mess collapses into itself like a black hole, sending me straight to some cookies or the internet.  It generally takes three days of this before I decide that meditation is just not worth it and I run screaming into the night while berrating myself for being such a quitter.

Sometimes I decide to be smart and consider other forms of meditation, such as mantras.  That works much better, but still sputters out after a few weeks.  I don't know why.

Most recently I reached the exercise called "Seeking Still Vision" in Kissing the Limitless (wonderful book -- I can not recommend it highly enough).  The exercise is basically a candle gazing meditation.  Both because I honestly am trying to do all of the exercises in the book as I go along and because it sounded like it might be more effective than empty mind meditation, I gave it a try.  After approximately 15 seconds of staring, my eyes were starting to transform into spheres of pain.  I forced my way through 5 minutes and spent the rest of the evening with an aftermirage of a flame dancing before me.  Having concluded that doing injury to my retina is not part of my spiritual path, I walked away again.

Fast forward to yesterday:  I still really want to give this a try.  I can see how meditation would be a valuable contribution to my spiritual practice.  While I don't think I ever need to spend an hour with a blank mind, it would surely be beneficial to develop the ability to sit with one for five minutes or so, just to open to the universe for guidance and connection.  Heck, if it could just give me relief from the relentless voice of depression when it's at it's worst I would consider it a win!  And I like the idea of candle gazing (let's be honest -- I just really like candles.  When asked what I consider to be the most important tool of my practice I always respond "candles").  So I had to fix the eye pain problem.  My first try was to hide the flame behind a mesh screen, but the flame was still too bright.  Then I tried to hide it behind a sheet of paper taped around a glass votive holder, but that diffused the light too much, so there wasn't any flame to gaze at, just a warm glow.  Then I ripped the paper off -- apparently the glass of the votive holder is enough of a barrier that the flame no longer hurts my eyes.  Yay!  But I was restless, couldn't get myself to settle down into meditation.  So I did what I always do when I'm having trouble settling into ritual space when I'm alone -- I started to sing.  Just a wordless tune, wandering around the scale at will, but eventually it settled into a distinct phrase, repeated over and over again.  Eventually the singing fell away, leaving me in blessed silence.  I sat that way, gently observing the flame and my thoughts, until the daily chatter had firmly re-asserted itself.  I made sure to record the musical phrase on my computer (oh netbook, how I love thee!) before I forgot it, and used it again today.  Again, it sent me right into the quiet frame of mind needed for meditation. 

I don't want to get too self-congratulatory here -- it's only been two days! -- but I have a good feeling about this newest addition to my practice.  I still don't think meditation will ever be my touchstone, but I will be glad if I can make it a regularly used part of my spiritual toolbox.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Elemental Balancing

I consider myself to be above average in the self-knowledge department.  There may be a lot that I haven't figured out about what I have to offer and where I am going, but I spend enough time naval-gazing that I am well aware of my own tendencies, feelings, and patterns.

Like any self-respecting pagan, I know my astrological chart.  There is a bit of paper with all of my planets and signs scribbled stuck in a binder somewhere, so I know that my profile is chock full of water and air, with no fire or earth.  I know that this is an accurate reflection of myself -- very emotional, but also intellectual; romantic but flighty.  I always joke that it's a good thing I can't get my head and my heart to agree, because if they ever stop pulling me in opposite directions I would be an unstoppable force!

The other day I did a ritual to work on my issues with depression.  I have been pulling cards and getting messages related to fire, so it eventually occurred to me that strengthening that element within myself might be the key.  Lo and behold, there is a ritual for that very thing in The Way of Four!  It was perfect!  Since the ritual is based on emphasizing the aspects of the desired element already in oneself, I just had to come up with some firey qualities of my own.  The book has an elemental profile quiz, so I decided to refer to that.  But as I was already on the page, I decided to answer for all of the elements, just for fun and the result was somewhat surprising, as I came out as predominantly water and.... earth. 

Now, before you start thinking that I'm getting worked up over nothing -- after all, it's just a book! -- let me say that the fact is that the more I thought about it, the more sense it actually made.  I know that I tend to dress and decorate in a rather earthy way -- I've always claimed that it's because I need that grounding energy in my life because I'm so flighty.  But what if that isn't it?  What if I have a lot more earth energy than I thought?  Sure, I don't have the dedication and nose to the grindstone attitude that I associate with earth people, but I am very reliable, loyal, honest, and straight forward

I'm going to try to be more open to who I am, rather than who I think I am.  Perhaps letting go of some of my preconceived notions about myself is one of the things I need to be doing right now!

Oh, and the fire ritual?  It was lovely.  I think I'll be repeating it for some time in order to support my work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My triumphant return, and a story about a bee

Hi again!  Sorry about the long absence.  I'm back now, but I make no promises about how long I will be here and how often I will post.  I remain an "at will" blogger.

Today's adventure started with an innocent walk.  I figured I'd just take a quick stroll before lunch.... famous last words.  I found a wooded pathway I hadn't seen before, followed it past a hidden grotto (I'm only exagerating slightly), and then looked up and saw what could only be a tower of some sort.  So of course I scampered up the wet leaf covered stepping stones to find that it is is a tower of sorts.  Specifically, it is a look-out tower and monument to George Washington.  I climbed up the 95 steps in the spiral staircase and had a gorgeous view of the surrounding area.  I couldn't quite figure out which direction my house was in, but I could see for miles and miles.  And while I am outside of a major city, there was still more than enough fall foliage to make for striking view.

The feeling of the wind that high up is simply amazing.  If I ever want to do spell work that involves tossing something to the wind, I'll know where to go!  And it would be a fantastic spot to work with the element of air in any capacity, really.

The highlight of this little outing came as I was about to head back down the stairs.  As I was turning away from the railing, a bumblebee flew over and landed on my finger.  And sat there.  And sat there some more.  Honestly, I was starting to worry about the little guy.  But at the same time, I felt very blessed.  Eventually worry (and a vague fear that I could be wrong and bumble bees might have stingers) won out and I very gently turned my hand over, causing him to fly away.... to the railing.  Where he sat again.  I sat down next to him and apologized for having given way to fear instead of sitting with him.  When I saw him seemingly struggling to fly away I concluded that he must be too weak to fight the winds up there, so I encouraged him to climb back onto me (which he did) so I could carry him down to the ground level.  Once I'd gone down a few steps though he launched himself.  He landed on me again very briefly, then flew off.

In the end, my quick little walk only took me an hour.  :-P

I'm not quite sure how to interpret this encounter.  I generally try to avoid reading messages into events unless they are truly out of the ordinary, but this feels like it fits that description.  In the faery seership tradition, bees are the totem of the Sky Walker, or higher self.  If this was a message from mine, then I don't really know what it was saying.  Perhaps blessing my recent attempts to re-structure my life in order to move out of depression?  Or maybe a warning against acting out of irrational fear.  It could be both.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: unfinished domesticity

(the completed portion of the carboy cover I mentioned yesterday)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The magic of the domestic

As the idea of my impending home ownership becomes more and more real, I find myself becoming increasingly domestic.  It's frustrating that I want to start nesting now, when it is least productive for me!  I can't focus on improving where I am, because I will be leaving it soon, but I can't do anything practical for the new place because I'm not there yet.  I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time combing through interior design blogs and bookmarking ideas on both craftster (for things I can make myself) and etsy (for things I can not). 

But the impracticality of the situation is not stopping me.  I've been embroidering a tea towel to use as a carboy cover for when we make mead.  Since we almost always have something in one of our carboys, it makes sense for it to be wrapped in something pretty!  I selected colors that will be part of the overall decorating scheme which I have planned for my new kitchen.  When I'm done with that I think I will begin on curtains for that same room -- I have them perfectly planned out in my mind, and that's something that won't be too much of a pain to move.  I made sure to measure those windows during the home inspection last week.

I'm also planning for my garden.  One of the many draws of the condo I am purchasing is that we will have a patch of yard that is just ours and not shared with the unit downstairs.  I'm starting mugwort and hyssop from seed and will purchase lavendar plants when the time comes.  I want to be sure that the faeries feel welcome in my space, after all!

It's natural that I find myself now thinking about the magic inherent in creating a home, the alchemy of creating a sanctuary for yourself and a place of welcome for your friends.  It's hard not to reflect on what my decorating choices say about me, and in turn how those choices will impact my life in the new house, not just on a practical level buty on a spiritual one.  We are influenced by our surroundings for better or worse, and our homes are the most intimate of those places, and the ones over which we have the most control.  I want to be careful about what I build into my life in the new house, for myself and for my husand.  I want to build in joy, laughter, passion, and serenity.  So mote it be!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lancing the wounds of the spirit

I have been the tiniest bit busy these past few weeks, with looking for a new job to replace the one which is ending in June and with my husband and I making an offer on a house.  For reasons that are not important in the grand scheme of things I hit a breaking point earlier today.  One too many stressful demands were made on me, and I could no longer move forward. 

It was in this state -- emotionally ragged and epiritually empty hearted -- that I sat at my dining room table trying to finish an old embroidery project and listening to music (after several false starts I finally settled on Sarah Stockwell's "Dark of the Moon", for those curious).  Singing along with the music was helping me somesomewhat, but it was still just a bandaid over the wound, you know?  Then I reached a particularly beautiful song, and stopped stitching or singing in order to just listen to it, letting the words bathe me like a waterfall.  Something inside me was cracking open, but I didn't fully realize what until it reached what has always been my favorite part of the song: the last line in the last verse -- "I am your annihilation come to make peace."  Something rose up from inside, some deeper understanding that I still can not entirely put into words, and I began to sob.  The crying only lasted for a few moments, but in those moments I realized that I would be ok.  That my annihilation, my shadow, *would* someday come, *would* someday make peace with me.  That it's ok to struggle, ok to still be wandering lost in the woods, and that perhaps that is exactly where I am meant to be, perhaps where I am meant to *always* be.  And that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Working with my Ancestors

I find myself working extensively with the ancestors of late.  For many people, this would not be a surprising statement -- many paths of witchcraft and other culturally based practices (Hoodoo, Santeria, even heathenism) place a great amount of emphasis on working with ones ancestors.  But I've never done this before.  Walking an eclectic path of my own making, no one ever pushed me beyond my areas of personal interest, and I have had no interest in my ancestors, no interest in the dead at all, really.   I set up an ancestor altar for Samhain once, but that was the extent of my journeys into that aspect of spirituality.

Now I no longer have an option -- if I want to continue down the path I have chosen (faery seership) I will have to begin working with my ancestors, as it is a central practice.  Strictly speaking we will not be talking about that work until our next intensive, so I could have chosen to postpone it a little while longer, but after the Conjure workshop last month I was inspired to get started.  So far, it's been an interesting ride.

I started by building an ancestor altar: clearing off the top of a bookcase, asking for photographs from my parents, and embroidering an altar cloth with an X to symbolize the crossroads where living and dead may meet.  I found a small chalice suitable for holding libations already in my collection of ritual odds and ends, and put it to use.  So far I have worked with the altar on three or four occasions (it hasn't been set up for that long!) and have given my ancestors peppermint schnapps and a slice of home baked pie.  Even with that little bit of effort, I can sense their presence in my life, and not just when I have the candle on their altar lit.  I'm not sure how to describe their presence...  perhaps it's warmer, more familial than that of my other contacts.

Another interesting aspect of this work is that it is forcing me to begin making peace with parts of my family with whom I never had a particularly good relationship. These aren't people who were abusive or anything.  Some of them were unpleasant and some died before I was old enough to really know them.  But now I am moving towards seeking a relationship with them as ancestors.  I may even visit the cemetery in which they are buried this week-end depending on a) practicality and b) whether I really feel ready for that.

Though I never would have begun this practice if left to my own devices, I'm glad that I am doing it now.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Springtime in the Cemetary

I decided to take advantage of this beautiful early taste of spring by taking a nice walk to a nearby graveyard in order to try out some of the techniques I learned in Orion's conjure workshop. On the way out I saw the first crocuses of spring coming up!

Once I got to the graveyard I knocked three times, as instructed and waited for a response. Since this is a fairly modern graveyard, the knocking was done on the metal pole of a chain link fence, but I quickly felt a sensation of welcoming, and walked in. This is the kind of modern, “dead” graveyard that I find rather uncomfortable. The headstones are just a little too shiny, and something about those graveyards always feels a bit sterile to me. But this particular graveyard is one I've spent a fair amount of time walking in, and it's not as bad as many. I like that there are always a few graves with flowers or other decorations, knowing that the inhabitants have not been forgotten. Since no one in my family ever visits graves, and since my deceased relatives are all scattered in inconvenient locations, I don't take that for granted the way some people might.

After some preliminary wandering to re-acquaint myself with the area I sat down near what I consider the center of the graveyard and did an Opening of the Faery Well, in order to attune myself with the land. I thought it might help me listen better when approaching the graves. Then I started looking for “live graves,” or graves which are still visited by the spirit of the deceased. I wasn't getting nearly as many positive responses as I had during the graveyard field trip during the workshop, but I did get a few solid responses. One was from a man named Mark. He was quite grumpy and more than a little bit bitter, so I moved on from him quickly. I got a response from another grave, but the woman there didn't seem interested in talking – I sat next to her for a few minutes, but didn't hear anything. Then I walked over to the grave of a 55 year old woman named Catherine. I got a really strong response from her! My palm felt like it was over a fountain of warm, tingly energy. And she turned out to be quite chatty! She seemed happy and well adjusted in her death, and quickly figured out what I was doing, though she didn't know “white folk” did that now. And she had a great sense of humor! We talked for a while, and she said she would be happy for me to visit again.

I accidentally walked right out of the graveyard without taking the proper steps to exit, so I darted back in. I took the opportunity to pick up trash for a bit before leaving again, this time walking out backwards and stomping my feet, in order to avoid bringing anything home with me. All in all, I think it was a very successful expedition!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Psychic Self Care

While in the midst of absorbing the wonderful knowledge gleaned from the conjure workshop, planning a very personal piece of spellwork, inching forward with faery seership, and (oh yeah!) taking care of the six thousand little things that make up daily life, I have been thinking about good psychic self care. Unless you're a hermit, you spend every day surrounded by people. Many of these are wonderful, delightful individuals who enrich your life, but many of them are not. Maybe they're rude, or maybe they are just radiating so much stress that some of it sticks to you -- it doesn't matter. You end up accumulating psychic junk. Plus, unless you are far more enlightened being than I, you produce plenty of your own. Over time that accumulation of gook is bound to drag anyone down. Some sort of regular cleansing routine should be part of everyone's life, especially if you are a witch/pagan/psychic of any sort.

I know all of that. And I also know that my depression means that I produce more psychic gook of my own than most. I am perfectly well aware of the fact that a regular -- perhaps even daily -- psychic cleansing would do me a world of good, especially considering how fantastic I feel whenever I do manage one! So why don't I do them more often?

I've spent the last two weeks intermittently pondering that question and trying to think of something I could do regularly. Do I want to use Florida Water? That has a pleasing and subtle aroma. A friend suggested carrying jet with me to repel some of that energy, but I'm having trouble finding any in my local shop. After encountering Garden of One's energy peels I began to consider whether I needed a purifying scrub for the shower. Since I prefer to make things myself when possible, I began extensive research.

After spending almost an hour researching different recipes for salt scrubs and the metaphysical properties of essential oils I had an epiphany: I was being an idiot. I have a perfectly good cleansing recipe, which I've been using for years -- equal parts eucalyptus and lavender essential oil in a base of salt and oil. The base has no shelf life to speak of and needs to be mixed in single doses, which is a big part of why I don't use it more often, but all I need to do is find a slightly more lasting salt scrub recipe, pop in the essential oil mix, and I have a dandy little psychic cleanser for the shower. And if that's not enough, I have my beloved bottle of White Light from Twilight Alchemy Lab! I use that sparingly because the aroma, while quite lovely, is also extremely strong. It will overpower any perfume I wear, and I like to wear perfume. That means that I tend to reserve it for emergency situations, and not for over day use. I've bemoaned that fact for years, but the simple solution finally dawned on me. I found a tiny decorative bottle and blended one dropper full of White Light with 4 dropper fulls of jojoba oil. It's just as effective as the pure stuff, but the aroma fades much more quickly! This is something I could use every day if I wanted to. And because it's diluted, my bottle will last that much longer.

The morale of the story: don't reinvent the wheel. Look to see if you already have something that can be modified to suit your purposes!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fighting the mid-winter blahs

Having returned The Red Book to the library, I have fallen back into my mid-winter February lull. I'm doing much better than in past years (thank you light box!), but I'm wouldn't describe myself as terribly motivated just now. Of course, that is probably one of the lessons of the season -- we are meant to turn inward during the cold season in New England.

That said, I think it is important for me at least to resist the temptation to turn too far inward for too long. I am a champion navel gazer, and with my history of depression I shouldn't spend more time in that state than is productive (Yes, I just said that there is such a thing as productive naval gazing. And there is! But if you spend too much time in that practice you risk being sucked into a bottomless morass. Or at least I do). To that end, I am striving to combat that tendency towards winter moodiness, while also forgiving myself for sometimes falling into unproductive naval gazing.

The most exciting way in which I am working towards this goal is the two day workshop on conjure magic I'll be taking this week-end! Since I am usually much more focused on the spiritual end of the pagan spectrum, this should be an interesting experience for me. I think it will do me a lot of good to look into a system of practical magic to make concrete changes in the outer world. It seems healthy to have a balance between inner and outer work. I'm a bit concerned about the cultural appropriate aspect of a white middle class chick from New England learning a form of magic indigenous to the southern slaves, but I will be learning from someone who was raised in this tradition. It's hard to think of a more reputable source than that. I'm very excited about this opportunity, and hope to have a fascinating blog post describing it next week.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Red Book

A month ago I was sitting at my desk at work, minding my own business, when I glanced across the room and saw the holy grail in book form. In the near corner of the room, standing on a book truck, was The Red Book by Carl Jung. I first heard about the book when it was published amidst great fanfare last year, and had longed to get my hands on a copy, but the price tag (over $100) was a bit prohibitive, and so I resigned myself to a life without ever reading The Red Book. But now here it was, in the same room as me! A quick check of the catalog revealed that the copy in question was non-circulating, but I discovered that the university had two other copies which could be checked out, and so I gave the book a quick yet fond perusal and added my name to the waiting list. I had no idea how long I would have to wait, and so I put it out of my mind.

Last week I received email that my turn with the book had come. Picking it up proved to be something of production, as the book is huge and unwieldy, but I did manage to get it home, where I have been happily pouring over it. Knowing that I only have a total of 9 days with it has lent a somewhat frantic air to my reading, which is regrettable, but unavoidable. The translation of the Red Book proper is a hundred pages (though keep in mind that these pages are at least twice the size of a normal page), plus there is a great deal of introductory material which is fascinating from a historical and biographic perspective. While the imaginary encounters Jung describes are universal in meaning and scope, it's interesting to get the dual perspective of exactly what they might have meant more specifically during the time period in which he lived, as well as my own personal response.

I have been fascinated by Jung for most of my life. I no longer recall exactly when and how I first stumbled upon his theories, but I can tell you that the second research paper I ever wrote (in tenth grade) included heavy use of his ideas of archetypes and the collective unconscious. My first major project in college was a presentation on the three big dreams which led him to the development of his main theories. Though I feel woefully under read on the subject, what I do know of his work has had a profound influence on my life and thinking.

Since delving into this weighty tome I have taken it upon myself to try the technique of active imagination which Jung himself used to induce the visions which form the basis of the book. A quick internet search led me to some simple descriptions of the practice. I'm sure they are very superficial compared to Jung's own description of the process, but they served as a useful and practical introduction for me. I selected a dream from the previous night and began to take myself through the images I could remember from it, waiting for one that felt "right" to explore. Once I found one that gave a little emotional tug I set about putting myself back into the scene both emotionally and visually, and allowed myself to address the main players. The results were quite interesting. I do find myself more sympathetic to Jung's reluctance to see his words published -- there is something intensely personal about the experience, much more so than the raw dream, and I am reluctant to include my written recording of the experience here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Fires of Imbolc

Imbolc was never my favorite holiday, but I may have to revise that estimation after today!

I lit a fire in my cauldron. Once it was well established I began to feed a large cutting from my Yule tree into it, piece by piece. With each piece, the flames suddenly flared into life, reaching high above the confines of the cauldron, terrifying in their majesty and their capacity to set off a smoke detector.

When I fed the dry branch from my Yule tree into the fire, I felt shackles release what I hadn't been aware of bearing, the release of a breath I didn't know I was holding. I had intended to do some sort of cleansing after the ritual to rid myself of the free-floating anger I have been carrying these past few weeks, but it is now gone. I released the bindings of winter, allowed my own heartfire to consume what no longer served, and now feel enlivened and free. I want to say it's like a breathe of fresh air to my soul, but no – this is the cleansing renewal of a wildfire, which I did not understand until this moment.

I feel cleansed and full in a way I couldn't dream of this morning. All hail Brigid, tender of the flame, patroness of inspiration! And all hail Freya, goddess who governs my days!

* * * * *

Flames consume debris
Burn away ancient anger
Ash settles like snow
~my offering to Brigid

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Offering for the 5th Annual Brigit Poetry Festival

I had some trouble picking a poem for this year's Brigit Poetry Festival. Once upon a time I wrote poetry, but that was ages ago and I have nothing of my own to offer. I wanted to find the perfect poem to capture this season -- cold and brittle, but with the slightest hint of hope. But I couldn't think of anything that spoke to me. Then I realized the answer was obvious. Brigit as patron of poetry, smithcraft, and the like rules over all acts of inspiration. And there is one poem which never fails to give me shivers, to make me dream harder and try to live more truly. I first discovered it while I was in college, around the same time I discovered paganism, and it is one of the best expressions of the spiritual impulse for me that I have found yet.

The Night Journey
by Terri Windling

Go by coombe, by candle light,
by moonlight, starlight, stepping stone,
and step o'er bracken, branches, briars,
and go tonight, and go alone,
go by water, go by willow,
go by ivy, oak and ash,
and rowan berries red as blood,
and breadcrumbs, stones, to mark the path;
find the way by water's whisper,
water rising from a womb
of granite, peat, of summer heat,
to slake your thirst and fill the coombe
and tumble over moss and stone
and feed the roots of ancient trees
and call to you: go, now, tonight,
by water, earth, phyllomancy,
by candle flame, by spirit-name,
by spells, by portents, myth and song,
by drum beat, heart beat, earth pulsing
beneath your feet, calling you home,
calling you back, calling you through
the water, wood, the waste, the wild,
the hills where Dartmoor ponies pass,
and black-faced sheep, a spectral child,
a fox with pale unnatural eyes,
an owl, a badger, ghostly deer
with horns of star light, candle light
to guide the way, to lead you here,
to lead you to the one who waits,
who sits and waits upon the tor,
he waits and watches, wondering
if you're the one he's waiting for;
he waits by dawn, by dusk, by dark,
by sun, by rain, by day, by night,
his hair as black as ravens' wings,
his eyes of amber, skin milk white,
his skin tattooed with spiral lines
beneath a mask of wood and leaves
and polished stone and sun-bleached bone,
beneath a shirt of spiders' weave,
his wrists weighted with silver bands
and copper braids tarnished to green,
he waits for you, unknown and yet
familiar from forgotten dreams;
you dream and stir upon your bed
and toss and turn among the sheets,
the wind taps at the window glass
and water tumbles through the leat
and through the garden, through the wood,
and over moss and over stone
and tells you: go, by candle light,
and go tonight, and go alone;
he's sent you dreams, he's left you signs,
he's left you feathers, beads and runes,
so go, tonight, by candle light,
by ash and oak, by wood, by coombe.

Blessed Imbolc to you all, and may Brigit favor you in this season of cold and solitude!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I'm far enough into the new year intentions that I set to have run into some walls, and even to have begun breaking through the other side of some of them, so that is good. I am currently reading four books, each of which has been helpful in some way.

1. Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle
I have fallen in love with this book. It's the perfect book at the exact time I needed it. She writes about the process of becoming fully self-possessed in order to make yourself ready for real spiritual work. It's chock full of fantastic writing and great exercises to get you paying attention to your thoughts an actions and learning to use that knowledge. I'm doing her cleansing life flow exercise every day now before I make dinner, and it makes a huge difference in my energy level. In all ways, this book has loaned power and energy to my intentions.

2. The Tree of Enchantment by Orion Foxwood
This is the book that goes along with the Faery Seership training I started in September. I find it useful to reread parts of it periodically to keep me on the right path.

3. The Waking Dream by Ray Grasse
This is a fairly academic tome, and really fascinating. It's a reread for me, but I don't think I fully appreciated it the first time through. The book describes the symbolic world view as which we use so much in our magic and ritual, and provides a very thorough discussion of synchronicity.

4. Sweat Your Prayers by Gabrielle Roth
I first read this book back in 2006, and fell in love with it. I've no idea why or how I then wandered away from the practice within, but I'm determined not to make that mistake again! She writes about dance as a spiritual practice and outlines a series of 5 rhythms corresponding to different types of energy. It's a really great way to move your spiritual practice into your body, especially for someone like me who tends to be extremely airy and cerebral -- it feels really good to bring some fire and earth into my spirituality!

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Years blue moon intention setting ritual

Last night I did the New Years Eve Blue Moon intention ritual as planned. It was a simple thing. Before the ritual began, I wrote out each intention on a post it note. My intentions for this year were "Put myself forward," "Make mental health a priority," "Keep my practical affairs in order," "Keep growing," "Pursue spiritual growth," and "Trust the process." Once I was in ritual I simply read my intentions out loud, saying a bit about each one as I did, and then stuffing the post it into a small glass jar. I plan to either bury them once it gets warmer or maybe find a better jar (I worry about whether the bright green dye will leech toxic chemicals into my yard). I toasted the moon, Freya, the Wild God, Freunde, Jack, and Squirrel with some Woodchuck Amber, and that was that.

It felt good, but not all that dramatic. Some rituals are more about affirming something that is already in progress then about making a sudden dramatic change or creating something new. I've been working hard on this for several days now, and have been implementing changes and suggestions as I think of or encounter them, so that shouldn't be too surprising.