Tales of a Southern Pagan Mom

Elements

Litha Spring Cleaning

AA016479 Litha, or Midsummer, is the mid-point of the year – the Summer Solstice – a time of balance and transition from the light half of the year to the dark. One of my favorite myths is that of the Oak King and the Holly King, and Midsummer is the counterpart to Yule (or Midwinter). At Litha, the Oak King is slain and the Holly King rises up to lay claim to the latter half of the year. That’s not really relevant to this post, because although I love the retelling of that story at the vital points during the year, this Litha is all about housekeeping.

I have been remiss in my home-blessing duties; however much I try to re-frame ‘chores’ into ‘home blessings’ or ‘creating sacred space’, the fact is that I am just not a great housekeeper. There are always more interesting things to do than scrub the cabinet fronts or clean the ceiling fans… and so every once in a while it gets so bad that to not take the time to do some deep cleaning is just… well it’s just time to clean. And so this is where I have found myself now,coming up on Litha.

I really felt the need to ‘brighten’ things up – it felt dark and gloomy, and I know it’s my lack of attention to the space that’s allowing those energies to pile up, so I started in our living room. I went through an intense decluttering phase a few months ago, and though I did very well with cleaning the stuff out of the places it was cluttering up, I never got so far as to actually take the things out of my house. So they’ve been sitting in a corner, sucking up space and energy. Much of that’s actually, truly gone now, either out into the proper closet/storage spaces or tossed out into the rubbish bins. A few things made their way into the car to be taken to new homes, but the end result is amazing – so much brighter and cleaner and ‘light’ feeling! Sadly, even knowing how amazing ‘clean’ feels doesn’t help motivate me to be a better housekeeper much of the time… but I digress.

I also spent some time in the kitchen, enlisting the kids’ help in deep cleaning everything from the ceiling (and fan) down; cabinets, appliances, counters, organizing drawers, floors… all of it. Our table sits in a corner, and the actual corner tends to be a catch-all spot (for my things, especially) but even that’s now clean and tidy. There’s a little left to do; we’re supposed to clear out the living room and get a new sofa and coffee table soon, and I have a feeling paint will soon follow, depending on the colors of the new furniture, but even just those few changes have really shifted the feel of the space.

Litha and the Full Strawberry Moon both fell on Monday, so I did a simple ritual with the kids. I bought new Goddess and God candles and a new working candle for my altar, and changed the decor to reflect the warmer colors of summer. We also did something new; we set up a family altar in the living room. We have had a shelf with a smaller, less conspicuous altar space in there, and directional candles have always been at the cardinal points of the room, but now there’s an actual, dedicated altar there too, and set for Litha with deity candles and a family offering bowl. After our morning routine, we tidied things up, then smudged the house inside and out and laid new salt barriers on the windows and doors, walked the boundaries and left offerings for the border spirits. Afterwards, we spent a little time on Intentions and spellwork for the waning half of the year, celebrated the Moon, and had strawberry shortcake with sweet red wine.

How are you celebrating Midsummer this year?
RH_med small


Pagan Parenting Part II: Beliefs

Introductionpaganparentingseries -2017

This is Part I of the Pagan Parenting Series. Raising children is hard enough, but when you factor in being part of a religion or spiritual belief system that falls outside the mainstream, there’s an added layer of difficulty. In addition to criticism by the mainstream, there is also a decided lack of resources for Pagan parents that deals specifically with the particulars of raising children in an Earth-based belief system. In the interests of full disclosure, I developed this series based on a discussion centering on the book, Circle Round: Elements of Spiritual Parenting, but you may find the self-assessment questions relevant even without the book. I looked for the original discussion, but could not find it to link. If this sounds familiar, and you have a source, please let me know and I will update the introduction with a link. However flavored by the original discussion, I have put my own spin on it for publishing here. In this series, I invite you to explore some of the topics and issues of concern centered on raising children as a Pagan parent.

Part II: Beliefs

All children eventually ask hard questions about the natural and supernatural world. What do we say when they ask about heaven or hell? Reincarnation? Deity? Do we pass our beliefs on to our children as ‘truth’, or do we want them to come to their own conclusions? Asking yourself these questions and others along these lines can make the difference between being prepared to answer or being blindsided when you’re not expecting them! As parents, it can be hard enough to answer those kinds of questions when you’re part of a mainstream religion, but when you fall outside of the norm, how do you answer? It can be very difficult to decide how much information is age-appropriate, or how much is ‘too much’. It can also be hard to find ‘traditional’ information to pass on to your kids.

Over the years, we’ve relied on literature, mythology, philosophy and religious studies to round out the kids’ knowledge base. Most Pagans I know personally don’t indoctrinate their kids into their path in the same way that other religions tend to assert you should. That presents problems for some; how do you teach them without forcing it on them? I think that has a lot to do with just exposure, and how you present things. My kids have always been welcome to attend Circle events and Ritual with me, and we’ve also taken them to other church services and allowed them the choice to attend, participate or opt out. We’ve always been open about XYZ being ‘one way to think about things’, or ‘this is what Mommy believes; this is what Daddy (or Auntie or whoever) believes’ with the approach that belief is a personal thing, neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’. Your approach may differ based on what your goals are.

One thing I know about my own beliefs is that they’re ever-evolving. There are ideas and concepts that I ‘like’, but don’t necessarily ‘believe’ and figuring out how to explain some of those things to my children has been challenging. Fortunately, if you’re interested in sharing your beliefs as a Pagan, or person on a more Nature/Earth-based spiritual path, there are some things online that can help to explain, or at least give you a starting point to start teaching your children. I have found it helpful to have a starting point, and for us, that was defining what it is that I believe in; what goals I am trying to attain as a person. Since we are somewhat secular, I was drawn to the 15 Guiding Principles of Secular Paganism as a teaching tool. I also appreciate the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru, and the Golden Rule as it is explained in other various religions. If you’re more traditionally Pagan or Wiccan, then The Witches Creed, The Wiccan Rede, or 13 Goals of a Witch might be more fitting, or have attributes that you want to include in your children’s education. As an eclectic practitioner, all of these have value for me.

In my practice, gratitude and mindfulness are two concepts that I am deeply attached to and so I try to incorporate those ideas and ideals into my life on a daily basis. While this doesn’t involve ‘giving thanks’ to a deity figure,  it does involve being mindful of the good things in my life and focusing on the positive. Depending on your feelings about and/or interpretation of Deity, you may include prayers, devotions or other ‘little rituals’ that are meaningful for you and your child(ren). We have Goddess and God and Sabbat candles in the kitchen that are lit almost daily, and directional/elemental candles that are lit for various reasons. Other things, ‘traditions’ that are rooted in belief and practice have their place as well: decorations (besom, Witch Balls, altars, ritual sweeping, smudging, etc.)… those things are just part of ‘our house’ and are normal for my kids. Other facets of your belief system will depend on your personal interpretation of your path and what religion and belief means to you. I like the Four Centers of Paganism as a model for understanding, and teaching as well. Defining where you stand, and how you interpret your path can make it easier to articulate and demonstrate to your kids.

In conclusion, I think the important thing is to prepare yourself for those hard questions, and not to leave your children out of the process of discovery. Whatever your approach, and whatever their path, the journey towards a personal style of spirituality and belief is interesting and full of self-discovery. Whether they agree with you, or take off on a completely different spiritual path, they’ll make it their own just like you have.

Here are some books and other resources that I’ve found both interesting and helpful at various times over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I am not affiliated with the authors, publishers of distributors; the links are just for ease of locating them if you think they may be of use to you. Please feel free to comment with other books and resources you’ve found helpful, especially if they’re specific path relevant (i.e.: Druidry, Asatru, etc.)

Paganism For Kiddos: A Kids and Parents’ Guide to Pagan and Wiccan Practice by Jessica M. Hauptmann

Raising Witches: Teaching The Wiccan Faith To Children and Family Wicca by Ashleen O’Gaea

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, Anne Hill, & Sara Ceres Boore 

Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children by Cait Johnson & Maura D. Shaw 

The Pagan Family: Handing the Old Ways Down by Ceisiwr Serith

D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths & D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series:
Part I: Values
Part III
Part IV

What are your thoughts on sharing your beliefs with your children?

Brightest Blessings,
RH_med small


Air in the North, Part II

air in northI really miss the alphabetical challenge that the Pagan Blog Project was doing – though I understand why they stopped, it was a fun challenge, and even though I don’t think I completed one of them ‘on time’, it did keep me writing. So I thought I’d do a modified version of it just for myself, with a more-or-less weekly alphabetical update.

I also found another site with monthly blog prompts, at Mom’s a Witch. I’ll probably work some of those in over the course of this coming year as well.

Starting with ‘A’, this week’s post is on Air in the North, Part II. A while back, for one of the other PBP posts, I did the original Air in the North post, but I’ve learned more since then and thought it was worth another post. I also met another few people who put Air in the North, which was really cool, since most of the people I practice with on a regular basis keep to traditional elemental directions.

At Pagan by Design, the article starts off with acknowledging the discrepancy and sometimes conflict among different Pagan paths regarding elemental and directional correspondences. There are a lovely few paragraphs that indicate other Pagan cultures and paths that use additional directional and elemental correspondences (of note, Chinese, with fire, wood, metal, earth and water). I particularly like the Celtic and Gaelic preference of North, East, South, West, Above, Below, Within; and the concept of the Spirit being divided into 3 – Light, Dark, and Soul. I’ve written Druidic-inspired Rituals, using only three correspondences: Land Sea & Sky; and have participated in Native American-inspired Rituals where we did a Medicine Wheel rather than a traditional Quarter Call.

Part of my preference for Air in the North comes from thinking along these lines:

Native American:

The North improves mental wisdom, discovery, and logic in an illuminating fashion. Knowledge accumulated through our lives is purified, as if a swift breeze blew away all dust and confusion. We prepare for intellectual illumination as these winds sweep into our awareness. It seems that gusts of enlightened, intellectual processes of “knowing” blows into our lives.

I was also particularly intrigued to find that the Lakota People also associate North and Air. I am not Lakota, but I’ve learned a bit about them over the past few years as one of my good friends is of Lakota heritage, and identifies with some of the spiritual paths and practices of the People. That makes total sense to me, as the Dakotas would be among the first territories to feel the chill of the Northern Winter storms – Air would absolutely make sense coming from the North for them, which is a big part of my feeling that Air belongs in the North for me as well.

After a lengthy explanation of why traditional correspondences exists and speculation as to how they came about, Pagan’s Path ends with this:

For you, the wind might be warm instead of cold. The waters might be cool instead of warm. What do you “feel” when you think of each element? Does the fire rise or flicker? Does the Earth rise or spread out upon a vast land? Make your own saying and then think about where these elements fit within the cardinal directions of your location. Is it cold in the North or the South? Does the warm water flow to the South or East? Does the sun represent your fire? If so, when it rises in the East or sets in the West? Does the Earth rise up to greet you in the mountains of the East, West, or maybe some other direction? These are the things that make you connected to the elements, the directions and the Divine Energy around you. It’s not how your friend feels, or your partner thinks, or what your Teacher says is right or wrong. None of those outside forces are going to be there when YOU sit down to do a working or to commune with the Divine world around you. So this is your time to think about where you are, and what you believe. You have the answers within yourself. Just sit down, meditate a little and ask your higher self what goes where and why.

That, I think, is one of the key elements as to how ‘being Pagan’ works. “You have the answers within yourself. Just sit down, meditate a little and ask your higher self what goes where and why.” This, exactly.

Though I am pretty vocal about my preferences, I don’t have to have Air in the North to be part of a Ritual Circle. I have, and do, function just fine when someone whose correspondences differ from mine leads Ritual. In fact, I’d go a step further and say that my practice is enriched by being part of Circles where things are vastly different form how I normally do them. Being exposed to new things always adds an element of wonder to my experience within that Circle, and I have always come away from that experience with something to take back to my practice (or know with certainty that something is ‘not for me’).

If you keep non-traditional correspondences, I’d love to hear form you – what they are and why you have them!
Brightest Blessings,
RH_med small

 

 


Energy Flows in the Home

10650009_731673100243017_1333853998880258574_n In the process of working through my home-making goals for the month of March, I’ve been considering the flows of energy in my home. I’m basically done with my bedroom now (there’s still some laundry and shoes to be sorted, but the books, the handbags, and other spaces are sorted). I still need to do some refining in a couple of spaces (mostly getting my witchy cabinet organized properly), but I am really happy with the progress I’ve made in that space. When we first set up our bedroom, it had a ‘hotel’ feel to it – clean, clear, open – not very personal or ‘lived in’ yet. It was an odd feeling, but nice in a way. We re-painted before moving our furniture in that room, and I painted runes and wards before the final coats of paint, and cleansed the space with sage and a few other cleaning tricks (plates of citrus left to dry; incense, etc.), and it left the room feeling very ‘light’. It was almost void of any sort of energy, and it felt so nice to settle into that space. My husband and I have a really good marriage, so the space was filled with love and good intention and communication – laughter, openness, happiness, contentment – and those are still the predominant feelings in that room. It was starting to get a bit cluttered though, and now it feels more like it used to again.

That renewed feeling impressed even more the need to look at the next project area, the hallway, and examine the ‘feel’ and flow of energy in that space. This week, I am taking up (a couple days late, but better late than never) the second leg of this project:

Step 2: Hallway – What’s my goal here? This space is really cluttered right now. It’s a transitional space between my children’s bedrooms, and I feel like the ‘stuff’ that’s in there is blocking the flow of energy from them into the rest of the house. I think there’s a communication gap between them that’s affected by a lack of free movement, so I want to clear that out. Practically speaking, there’s a closet in the hallway that’s become so full of stuff we don’t use that it’s wasted space. I’d like all of that out so we can store things we actually do use, like holiday storage and sports equipment.

  • clear closet
  • remove clothing that isn’t needed
  • remove, down-size and reorganize supplies (tools, video game equipment and sports equipment)
  • add hooks and shelving
  • store camping supplies & holiday boxes
  • bookcases: get rid of books that I have digitally
  • TIME FRAME: 3 days (March 9, 11, 13) 

Because of the limited space in my bedroom (and reclaiming of the closet), there are several boxes in my living room right now with craft supplies in them. I till intend of cleaning those boxes out, but will still have at least one, which will find a new home in the hall closet. My goal is to have the last of the books cleared out by tomorrow/Saturday so that I can finish in the hall by my deadline.

Back to energy flows though, I don’t follow feng shui, but I do very much believe in the way a room is ltlivingrmflowarranged affecting how we feel. Even colors and lighting in a room can dramatically affect the feel of a room and the way the occupants of the room interact with each other. We’ve often intentionally changed the tone of a room through breath, connection, sound and movement (there’s a reason Pagan like bells and noise-makers!). Teaching my kids to take a moment, reconnect with self and intention, and put the energy out into the room they’re in has been a boon to our family because they can take positive action to affect change in a real, tangible way. They know how to do this for themselves, which affects the people around them. As the parent, I feel like it’s my job to continue helping them recognize that potential in themselves, but also to set up their environment in a way that facilitates communication and harmony.

In doing some reading to prepare for this post, I was looking at some of the diagrams for feng shui, and found that, in some respects, our home is set up in a way that mimics traditional feng shui flows. Our bedroom is in the ‘love’ center, our kitchen (the hearth) is in the ‘reputation & respect’ center, our living room is in the ‘health/career’ center, and my desk/homeschool area is in the ‘children & creativity’ center while my husband’s desk is in the ‘helpful people’ center. While our finances are in a good place, our financial center is a bit of a mess, so I wonder how bringing order to that space will affect them. Similarly, the ‘family’ and ‘knowledge’ centers are on the same side of the house as the cluttered hallway, so I really feel like reclaiming those areas will be a positive change for our family.

I am looking forward to updating again with progress!
Brightest Blessings,

RH_med small

 


Defining, Creating and Defending Sacred Space

Lately, I have become very interested in the minimalist movement. I don’t necessarily want to become an extreme minimalist (one who limits possessions to a certain number), but I definitely need to work on the spaces in my home and in my life to make sure that I am getting the most out of them.

I believe in keeping my life simple, but have a hard time in some areas. I like ‘things’, and have a hard time letting go of the emotional attachment to objects, particularly things from my childhood or that are attached to a memory. I also have a pretty bad case of ‘I might need this someday’-itis, and of ‘I am going to craft with this soon’ syndrome, which really makes it difficult to clear things out.

Another area that keeps me bogged down is clothing. I really am not an adventurous fashionista; my wardrobe is (laughably) fairly limited to black (with a few pieces for color thrown in once a month or so – maybe), and comfort plays a huge part in dictating what I wear – lots of yoga pants and tee shirts.

Knowing that things are veering out of control is one thing; doing something about it is another.

So, I’ve started trying to think about it in another way – from the concept of ‘sacred space’. Our Circle group isn’t as active right now, so more and more, I’ve had to adopt a more solitary role in my practice. Without having group events to plan for, the items I was frequently using for group rituals and events have become clutter, and my supply cabinet has gotten messy (similar to other areas in my life). In getting my herbs out and labeled recently, I was forced to really take stock at look at what a mess the spaces that I’ve dedicated to my path have become, and as a result, not really relaxing or fulfilling. The logical step is to clear some things out.

I am good at knowing that something needs to be done, but bad about following through, so I thought I would post a plan of action and make some progress reports to keep myself accountable. Here’s my plan, and time table:

Step 1: Bedroom – What’s my goal here? This is my personal space. I don’t share it with anyone (other than my husband), and my kids don’t often come into my room. My altar and cabinet of curiosities (herbs, oils, books, etc.) are all kept in there, and I want that space to be inviting and refreshing for my spirit. Practically speaking, I also need to move my clothes from the laundry room into my closet (which is currently full of old crafting supplies). Here’s what needs to be done:

  • clear out closet
  • remove craft supplies & confine to one box
  • create space for clothing
  • clear off bookshelves (get rid of hard copy books that I have in digital form)
  • clean out trunk & organize herbs onto shelves
  • clear nightstand drawer of clutter
  • go through bathroom closet (de-clutter makeup, beauty supplies, etc.)
  • TIME FRAME: 4 days (March 2-5)

Step 2: Hallway – What’s my goal here? This space is really cluttered right now. It’s a transitional space between my children’s bedrooms, and I feel like the ‘stuff’ that’s in there is blocking the flow of energy from them into the rest of the house. I think there’s a communication gap between them that’s affected by a lack of free movement, so I want to clear that out. Practically speaking, there’s a closet in the hallway that’s become so full of stuff we don’t use that it’s wasted space. I’d like all of that out so we can store things we actually do use, like holiday storage and sports equipment.

  • clear closet
  • remove clothing that isn’t needed
  • remove, down-size and reorganize supplies (tools, video game equipment and sports equipment)
  • add hooks and shelving
  • store camping supplies & holiday boxes
  • bookcases: get rid of books that I have digitally
  • TIME FRAME: 3 days (March 9, 11, 13)

Step 3: Kitchen – What’s my goal here? The kitchen is the main entertaining space in our house. We have a rather small house and the living room is oddly shaped, so the kitchen has become the ‘hearth’ of our home. I like the overall feel of our kitchen; Hestia’s presence there is strong. But like many spaces in small houses, the kitchen does double-duty. We have tools in there that are better suited to the hall closet, so I’d like to re-organize so that everything in the kitchen is dedicated to family, togetherness, well-being and health, and entertaining. Practically speaking, I need to make better use of the spaces I have (limited though they are).

  • clear pantry & organize (with labels)
  • clear cabinet under pantry of tools & declutter/reorganize
  • junk drawer
  • under oven cabinets
  • under stove cabinets
  • under sink
  • drawers
  • add art
  • TIME FRAME: one week (March 16-20

Step 4: Living Room – What is my goal here? Our living room is an odd space. It’s not terribly small, but it has a weird flow of energy, and isn’t very inviting. There are times during the year (when decorated for Christmas, for example) when I love being in that space, but most of the time, it just feels odd. When we have company, we always end up in the kitchen, rather than the living room. I’d like to work on this space and make it more inviting. Practically speaking, I think it has to do with the arrangement of furniture. I’d like to re-arrange, maybe paint and add some art to the walls. I may enlist the children in creating something unique to decorate with.

  • re-arrange furniture
  • clear out china cabinet
  • clear bookcases (get rid of books I have digitally)
  • paint
  • TIME FRAME: 3 days (March 23, 25, 27)

Step 5: Office – What is the goal here? This is our ‘catch all’ room. We tend to have office supplies, art supplies, exercise equipment and other clutter accumulating in this room. My focus is really my desk, which is the hub of my activity. My goal is to make my space more accessible, and less cluttered. When I am in the middle of a project, I need the clutter to aid my creative process, but when I am not, I like a more ‘open’ space. I am currently facing West, and I think that’s blocking my energy. I am a Fire sign, and facing Water isn’t working for me. I’d like to reorient my desk so that I am facing North, which for me is Air (more about why I put Air in the North here). Practically speaking, I’d like there to be a clear function of this space, or at least better organization and storage so that its multi-functional aspects can be maximized. We also need to add a desk, so moving mine will allow us to add another desk in this room.

  • move desk to the other wall
  • clean out filing cabinets
  • clear bookcases (get rid of books I have digitally)
  • re-home art supplies
  • paint
  • re-do curtains
  • organize kids’ spaces
  • add shelving

Step 6: Laundry Room – What is the goal here? I’ve seen some pretty nifty laundry room makeovers on Pinterest, and honestly, I’d love to have one of those lovely little spaces. We each do our own laundry, so I don’t spend a lot of time in there, but I’d like for all of the spaces in my home to be inviting. It feels like a ‘fly-by’ space right now, and I’d like for it to be a little more organized, and a little neater.

  • add shelving
  • add basket organizer
  • paint

I didn’t add the kids’ room; that’s another whole post. We’re planning a pretty heavy makeover of their room, including paint and building in shelving, and adding new furniture. I scheduled what’s on the list right now for March, so I think I will get through that and then plan for April (spring cleaning). Looks like I have my work cut out for me!

Stay tuned for updates (hopefully weekly).

Brightest blessings,

RH_med small

 


Little Rituals Every Day

little ritualsAs Pagans, it’s fairly safe to say that most of us are somewhat familiar with rituals. Those of us who are heavily involved in the local Pagan community either attend, take part in, or lead at least eight Sabbat rituals, and often many Esbat rituals as well. Even if you’re a solitary practitioner, you likely celebrate the Sabbats, Esbats and other marks of the passing year with some sort ceremony. Even in other religions, there are rituals. I’ve been watching The Borgias on TV, which showcases many of the rituals associated with the Catholic Papacy (many of which are oddly reminiscent of Pagan rituals, as many know and recognize), and have always been fascinated and drawn to the ritualistic aspects of ancient religions.

Most would say that it is these rituals define the practitioner, and indeed, you can usually identify a person’s beliefs often by the rituals that one takes part in. A priest wears ritual garb, a teacher leads the class in the Pledge of Allegiance, a nurse checks your vital signs… all of these rituals tell you something about the person who leads or initiates them, or takes part in performing them.

Wikipedia says that:

A ritual may be performed on specific occasions, or at the discretion of individuals or communities. It may be performed by a single individual, by a group, or by the entire community; in arbitrary places, or in places especially reserved for it; either in public, in private, or before specific people. A ritual may be restricted to a certain subset of the community, and may enable or underscore the passage between religious or social states.

Ritual is defined as a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. In a religious sense, for both Pagans and Catholics (and some other forms of Christianity as well), the rituals of bread and wine have heavy significance for us because of the meaning behind them – the body and blood of Christ; the union of the Lord and Lady.

As moving and meaningful as these rituals are, I thought I would discuss some of the small rituals that I perform daily that identify me as a Pagan practitioner, and some of the little rituals that I’ve helped my kids develop as they’ve grown and taken on more of a personally active role in their spirituality.

 

4594485-bowl-of-pure-water-and-lavender-petals-on-the-old-wooden-surface-spa-treatments-compositionLike many Pagans, I keep a bowl of water on my altar. Sometimes it is moon-blessed water, sometimes it is sun-charged water, sometimes it is salt water, sometimes it’s Holy Water made during a Sabbat or Esbat observance. I usually press the tips of my fingers into the water, then to my forehead every time I pass it, but I often start my day standing before my altar, taking a few moments to connect with the quiet inside before going about the start of my day. I will go back again to my altar when I need to think, or chill out or meditate, sometimes with incense or chakra music or meditation music, as needed. I’ve mentioned before that we made meditation jars to help the kids learn how to focus and find their inner calm. They keep their jars in their rooms now, to use when they feel the need.

In addition to the water, incense also plays a big part in my persona practice. I make my own, but am not adverse to buying it; my particular favorites are from sandalrose and bergamot from ElvenKeep and the Hari incense from RamaKrishnaNandaStore.com. I love the way that the scents of incense permeate my house, and how the scent lingers long after the ember is gone. The I often use incense for meditation, and just to have that subtle scent that is ‘other’ to keep me grounded and focused.

My youngest child has found quite a desire for incense in his room. A year or so ago, we deemed him old enough to have access to incense, a burner and lighter in his room. He’s 11 now, and that was a responsibility that he’s taken well to. When we go shopping for incense, he’s always on the lookout for something that calls to him now.

Tea time is another big ritual for me, and for the kids. We started having ‘tea time’ when we started homeschooling – a time to relax and connect between lunch and dinner. We have the chance to talk and re-connect in the middle of the afternoon over a nice hot cuppa. This isn’t a ‘pagan’ ritual per se, but it certainly can be depending on the discussion.

Tea time can also tie into tasseography, or the art of fortune-telling through tea leaf reading. It’s a practice that I am not terribly experienced in, but enjoy immensely. I’ve been learning more and more about it over the past couple of years, and it’s been a fun journey.

Candle magic is another ritual that I engage in almost daily. From lighting my altar candles, my devotional candles (even if for only a few minutes), to lighting spell candles (what some might view as ‘prayers’), candles play a central role in my daily practice. Fire in my element, so connecting with primal elementals helps me keep my focus, even when things are hectic and life gets chaotic. Oddly, this is one of the first things that I tend to stop doing when things get busy, and one of the things I most enjoy picking back up when I realize how much I am neglecting my spiritual path.

One of the amazing things about rituals is the calm and comfort that comes from the performing of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stressed or scattered, and been able to fall back on established habits and rituals to find myself again. Whether big or small, rituals help me be the best that I can be as a practitioner.

I was poking around WitchVox the other day and came across an article called ‘Living Your Religion Every Day‘ by James Bulls. In it, he writes about moderation:

 As it concerns living your religion everyday, the loud dramatists advocate set rules and habits for life: meditate for an hour every day; read cards every day; exercise every day; never eat this; never drink that; always perform the quarter, cross-quarter, full-Moon, and dark-Moon rituals; and so on. And so the misguided accept one absolute after another into their spiritual devotions until all their time and energy is devoted to planning for the next event.

The trouble with living your religion in terms of absolutes is that each of us is fallible and will fail to satisfy an artificial schedule and arbitrary definition of “spiritual perfection.” Absolutes invite failure, failure invites discouragement, discouragement invites dissatisfaction, and dissatisfaction invites mediocrity. This “mediocrity” of which I speak is the ball-and-chain, which prohibits daily expression of one’s religion…

The article is wonderful, and I highly recommend reading all of it, but I especially agree with the last big. Holding unrealistic precepts for yourself is a sure way to burn out. Instead, I choose to focus on what I am able to do, and enjoy each thing fully. The more I appreciate and find joy in what I can do, the more I want to do. The more I want to do, the more I make time for. And when I start expecting too much of myself, then I find joy in re-establishing  communion with my deities in more simple ways.

I’d love to see how you make and re-make those connections if you’d like to share!

Brightest Blessings,

RH_med small


Candle Magic

It’s been a while since I participated in Pagan Blog Prompts. This have been pretty busy lately and I have been missing out!
This week’s prompt is on candle magic.

Do you use candle magic in your spells/rituals?
How do you do it?
What would you recommend for beginners?

I am a longtime fan of candle magic. It’s one of the easiest magics to learn and perform, and in its simplicity, is viable for a wide range of magical uses.

Candles hold several appeals for me. Fire is my element, and the obvious connection between candles and fire makes the magic easy for me to access. Having something to focus on (the flame), having something to write on (inscribe the wax), and even embedding objects on the wax make candles ideal for so many things.

I use a variety of candles in my personal practice: pillar candles, votives, tea lights, tapers, seven-day devotional candles, tiny tapers – even the odd jar candle has a place. Though they all serve a purpose in my practice, not all of them are ‘magic’ candles. I use tapers for my God and Goddess devotionals, I use a pillar (or two) for a Working Candle (usually inscribed with runes, symbols, words, and other tokens pertaining to my personal practice; I use a white pillar for waxing moon and a dark pillar for waning moon) and votives for various purposes – elements, devotions to specific deities or ‘for’ someone. When I do magic ‘for’ someone – more than just a candle to send healing, peaceful thoughts and energy – when I work a spell for someone (which is rare outside of my immediate family and very close friends), I use the tiny tapers. They’re meant to burn hot and fast, which means that I can work a spell and have it on its way relatively quickly – faster than votives.

If you have children, candle magic with tea lights is a great way to introduce them to spell-casting. The cups are just the right size to hold herbs or trinkets imbued with intent, and they burn fairly quickly and safely. Simple spells, like banishing bad dreams (add lavender and chamomile to the cup, then have your child write a description of the bad dream or draw a picture. Light the candle and burn the paper in the flame while saying something simple, like ‘Fire light, burning bright, take these dreams with you tonight.” Repeat as many times as it takes to burn the paper, and then ‘So mote it be’), or creating space to study for a test (add rosemary, frankincense, and sandalwood to the cup, then light the candle. Place on your desk while you study. This candle can be re-lit for each study session).

One thing that I have done in the past is to make candles similar to these:

decorated candles courtesy of Lightly Enchanted blog
http://lightlyenchanted.blogspot.com/2011/01/decorating-candles_18.html

The herbs, flowers and other things can be glued on with Mod Podge, school glue or with melted wax. If you’re making them with kids, then you can add bits of poems, songs or spell couplets to the outside (though use caution when burning!) or pictures that the kids draw.

In short, candle magic rocks! If you’re new to simple spell-casting, give candle magic a try.

Brightest Blessings,