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.