The last few months have been pretty chaotic and upsetting, but things feel like they’re finally settling down into some semblance of normal again. Tonight was the first full moon esbast I’ve really been able to sit down and devote some time to since Yule. My mother got sick towards the end of last year, and died in January. Through the last couple of weeks of her life, we knew she was going to die, but we didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. In any case, that has been the source of a lot of rumination, contemplation, questioning and general introspective inquiry for me over the last few months.
It’s also been an interesting time for talking to my children. They’re not little anymore, so discussions about in-dept spiritual concepts have a much different flavor to them now than they used to. It’s interesting to see how their ideas about death, dying, the after;life and spirituality are unfolding and what they think about those concepts. It’s also interesting to me how very different they are from each other with regard to their thought processes and general spiritual ideas.
I have been working on creating a little outdoor space in my yard lately; I repainted some old patio furniture and bought a lovely bright umbrella for the table. It’s been nice to have diner outside, and gives me a pretty, dedicated space to meditate and/or commune with nature, especially when I feel like going outside at night. This evening was one such occasion; I brought my esbat journal and affirmation cards, incense and tea to my little spot and just bathed in the moonlight. Then I took a walk around my yard and mentally mapped out some future plans I’d like to implement for outdoor living spaces. The moon was so pretty and bright – I love walking around outside under the full moon!
I have been meaning to re-plant an herb garden, but haven’t followed through with it for various reasons. After my mom crossed over, it seemed like a good time to make those plans blossom. As part of my grief self-care and healing process, I have been buying plants and herbs. I love green growing things; I’m not super great at keeping them alive past a certain point, but I really love them. It’s been healing, because my mom had quite the green thumb and also loved her plants, so it’s almost like sharing this with her. In addition to garden basics like basil, thyme, oregano, lavender and catnip, I added several variations of common varieties, like lime basil and purple basil; hot & spicy oregano; several varieties of mint (spearmint, sweet mint, peppermint and chocolate mint); and other staples like lemon balm and be balm, succulents, bell and jalapeno peppers, and quite a few greenery plants and flowers as well.
When my mom died, my aunt brought me a cabinet that belonged to my grandmother. She had been keeping it for my mom (who inherited it when my grandmother died). My grandmother collected all kinds of dolls, and the cabinet is where they lived. I re-purposed it into my herbal and apothecary cabinet, with the top housing my living room altar. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a full altar in a public space in my house; my main altar is in my bedroom. Right now, it’s just a generic altar, but I’m planing for it to become more of a family space. I’m sure that with time, it will take on a life of its own as we add to it.
I spent some time the other day making honey incense. It’s been a long time since I’ve made incense; I’d forgotten how much I enjoy the process. It’s really easy, and can basically be customized with either what you have on hand, or for specific purposes. I made a prosperity and protection blend for Beltane. This has a lovely sweet scent, and doesn’t smoke a lot; it just kinda smolders, which is nice if you have allergies.
Homemade Springtime Prosperity & Protection honey incense
1 tsp comfrey leaf
1.5 tsp lavender flowers
1 tsp orange peel
.5 tsp fenugreek seed
2 white sage leaves
.75 tsp. frankincense powder
1 tsp copal tears
honey (aprox 1.5 tsp)
Grind all dry ingredients. I put everything in a mortar and grind with a pestle until the larger bits are about evenly sized, then move to an electric finder and give everything a spin – just enough to get a rough sand-like texture. Then pour into a small bowl and add honey, sparingly. You inky need enough honey to bind the ingredients together so they’ll hold the ball shape. Roll and place on parchment paper to dry in a cool, dark place. You can use them immediately, but the are better when dried and aged. Burn by placing a ball onto a lot charcoal disc.
I’ve also been spending time with my cards. I read with the Medieval Scapini Tarot, and have been experimenting with different ways to read. This was a year forecast reading, which I’ve never attempted before. It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming months.
‘Hierophany’ is a word that I’ve heard a few times over the past few years, and every time I hear it, it strikes a chord within. It’s a lovely word, and one that isn’t used very often, so when I do hear it somewhere, it definitely stands out. Hierophany is defined as ‘a manifestation of the sacred’, but this simple definition doesn’t quite measure up. I’ve found that hierophany is something that you experience, not necessarily something you can define, or even point to as ‘other’.
For me, it’s come at different times, but usually when I least expect it – this feeling like I’m not alone; like there’s a thing being shown just to me – a private thing between me and The Divine. It might be a feather floating to the ground, a butterfly (or moth of firefly) appearing out of nowhere, or a beam of sunlight that crosses my path just so. Oh sure; it’s as likely as not that these things are coincidence, or happenstance, and that I was just in the right place at the right time to see such a thing, and I’d probably agree with you most of the time that it was just a cool little thing that happened. But sometimes, there’s a definite feeling of Other to the Thing That Happens that just feels like more than that, and I think that’s really cool.
Recently, I came across some notes I took from a conference I went to a few years ago. I saw the word again, and it made me determined to look for those moments to see if I could find them just through the course of a normal day. The day turned into the week, turned into the month, and surprise, surprise – I can’t. Something about the act of looking makes them impossible to find, apparently. I mean, yes – I’ve seen butterflies, and sunbeams and rainbows and other things that ‘could’ be heirophany but clearly aren’t – because the feeling isn’t there. So now I’ve decided to top looking so hard and wait and see. I’ll report back when I have one of those moments of hierophany again!
What about you – do you know what I’m talking about? Have you experienced it?
Last year, Bridey and I went to a retreat for Pagan Women, and our hostess had this amazing bowl of stones on the counter. Literally every time I passed by it, the urge to bury my hands in the stones was too overwhelming to resist, and so I indulged. After the retreat was over and participants started posting pictures from the weekend, I saw that I wasn’t the only one – virtually all of us, at one time or another, were caught with our hands in them.
It was there that I decided that I had to have a bowl of grounding stones in my house. Last week, I ordered several sets from Fire Mountain Gems*, and they arrived today! I bought several packets of mini – large nugget and small to medium chips, plus several bags of individual stones that I wanted for my bowl. You can use whatever you like, but those are perfect or my purposes.
You may have some questions, like:
- what are grounding stones?
- why do you need them?
- how do they work?
- how do you use them?
Basically, grounding stones are just a big bowl (of whatever material you want; I like wooden bowls – they’re charming), filled with semi-precious stone chips. The stones can be whatever size you want, and you can use whatever kinds of stones you want, from commercial pea-gravel to semi-precious stones. I like semi-precious stones and crystals because of the correspondences and variety of energies and attributes that stones and crystals have within themselves; your preference may vary. Size-wise, they need to be small enough to flow freely; you want to be able to dig your hands in without the stone clinging to your skin (so not too small or fragile) or getting under your fingernails, and not so large that you bruise yourself while handling them. Mine average about the size of my pinkie fingernail, with some chips larger and some smaller. I had one stone that was about an inch long and half an inch wide that was ‘too big’ for the rest of the stones, so I took it out – but the rest seem to flow well.
Grounding stones have different meanings and uses for different people. First of all, they’re incredibly fun to play with. If you’ve ever been to a playground with gravel to cushion the play surface, then you know how appealing it can be to feel the stones flow over your hands. Aside from the sensory delight that small stones offer, the rhythmic feel of pushing your hands through the stones keeps them busy and gives your mind the opportunity to wander. It’s a great thing to do while you’re reading, or meditating, or even watching TV.
I find that anything dealing with the Earth is a great way to ground – either after Ritual or spell work, or just as a way to de-stress from the day’s activities. Lying prone on the ground, letting the Earth support your whole weight and absorb your cares and worries is awesome, but so many factors can interfere with that, from inclement weather to pests (fire ants!) to just not having the time to go lay in the grass. Having a little bit of Earth easily accessible – even if it’s just for a minute or two, can really help you let go of whatever’s on your mind and re-center.
If stones aren’t your thing, or you have an affinity for water, water marbles (polymer beads) might offer an alternative that works in a similar way. We found several containers of them at the $1 store, and they always have them at craft stores and online.
Do you use grounding stones?
*Just for the sake of disclosure, I am not affiliated with FMG or Amazon, nor do I receive any sort of payment or product for recommending them; I just buy my things from them.
A friend of mine recently game me a name for something I’ve been making for a while, but calling something else. I’ve been making art shrines – little boxes full of paint, decoupage, paper, miscellaneous bric-a-brac, shiny and glittery things, handwritten notes, printed bits of paper, old torn up books… all arranged in some way that pleases me, but with a definite thought or concept tying the whole thing together. Her name for them, intent boxes, makes perfect sense, because that’s what they are – not so much ‘spells’ or ‘altars’, but similar to both and yet not quite either.
Well, she says ‘boxes’, I say ‘shrines’. Boxes, I would think, are more a home for a collection of things that you may gather and store for a purpose – things you can get out and touch and physically experience while meditating or to re-focus on your path when you may have wandered. I can see the value in creating such a box, with tangible reminders designed to be taken out and savored, or contemplated, on the path towards a goal. I have keepsake and ‘remembrance’ boxes that serve a similar function. Even my kids’ baby books have grown to the point of needing a box to keep them in because there are so many things filling them and falling out. For a tactile person, holding the physical memento or symbol of a goal can be a very powerful tool.
My version is more an art piece with intent built-in. This box, for example, is along the lines of ‘being kind to myself/yourself’. The mirror, with its persistent requirement of looking oneself in the eye (to see the ‘truth’ of yourself) is a prominent addition, with banishing oil in a vial (for banishing negative thoughts); a butterfly for transformation, Stella Maris for mercy and forgiveness, the key to unlock a brighter future… each element has both meaning and adds to the visual whole.
Another aspect of such a creation is the time and energy both spent on and invested in the box, itself. Energy work is a major part of my path, and it’s one of the reasons I choose to try to make most of my own tools – the energy I put into creating the tool literally makes it the tool I need it to be. My focus and intent and will imbue the tool or object with whatever my goal is, and I believe that makes it all that much more effective. There’s also the placement of the tool, whether on my altar or tucked away for use only in Ritual observances; this box, for example, is still tucked away in my art cabinet, because I am not quite ready to have it placed just yet. I’m still waiting for a final bit of inspiration to call it ‘done’ and figure out where it lives.
I have created others; one that I made several years ago still hangs on the wall by my bed. It’s focus is on both unlocking and honoring the creativity that I rediscovered during an art course I took. The shrine was the final project, presented at the end of the class. It is one of the first things I see when I wake up in the morning, and it’s been very inspiring.
Do you create similar ‘boxes’?
So you may have noticed that I made plans and included a time frame that I didn’t stick to. Unfortunately, Life doesn’t always check with my notebook to make sure it’s a good time for a curve ball. Knowing this, I will ever make goals, and just try to remember that it’s okay to be flexible about meeting them. I think the most important part is that my goals aren’t abandoned – just occasionally postponed (at least, that’s how I am choosing to think abut it).
To re-cap, I was on my ‘step 2’ of my ‘Sacred Space‘ plan that I outlined earlier this year. While I didn’t make the deadline for completion, I am happy to say that I have completed not only that step, but also skipped ahead an completed the living room as well (step 4) and bits of the office (step 5)! We some major repair work to do in one of the bedrooms, which was the main thing that threw me off, schedule-wise. Several weeks worth of home improvement really transformed a space that was feeling very negative into one that is just lovely and so peaceful to be in. I’m so glad we were able to finally do the repairs needed, and that it turned out so well. Finishing that space also helped me clear out some of the clutter I was holding on to, including the boxes in my living room. I was also able to clear the hallway. There is a feeling of peace and space now; I was right about thinking that the clutter there was stopping up the energy flows in our home. It felt so good to finally be free of that clutter. I didn’t realize how much it was weighing me (and my kids) down. It’s made me eager to move on to my next steps. I’ve been skipping around a bit, so I really need to refine what needs to be done still.
I definitely still have some work to do on my wardrobe. I have been really drawn to the practicality of the ‘capsule wardrobe‘ idea, and found a style planner and closet organizer app called ‘My Dressing’ that I am going to try to see how the concept works for me. I am working more now, and so my ‘at home’ style isn’t really cutting it anymore. I’m also a larger size than most style bloggers, but have found a few who have created plus-sized capsule wardrobes, like CraftyMinx and FullFigured&Fashionable which helps. I’ve recently bought some pieces that feel more ‘grown up’ (which is funny to see – I didn’t realize that’s how I thought of them until I’d typed it out). I have discovered that I really like dresses, so my plan is to add a few more pieces from Lane Bryant and Torrid to my regular wear over the next few months.
The next major part of my plan is my kitchen. As a Pagan, the kitchen is the Hearth – the center of family togetherness, and I am really looking forward to getting that space in order. What’s funny is that it’s not necessarily ‘out’ of order if you’re judging my looks. Our kitchen is rather small and plain – nothing fancy; perfectly serviceable in every way… and yet something’s missing; rather, it feels ‘overstuffed’ to me. While I’d love to do a complete overhaul, that’s not in our budget. My original thoughts, with planned changes include:
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
- add art
I’ve removed the ‘time frame’, as it’s somewhat irrelevant. We recently did some deep cleaning, so everything ‘feels’ fresh right now, which is nice. Now, it’s time to tackle the unseen spaces!
Something else that’s come about as a result of some of the purging I’ve done around the house is the creation of small devotional spaces. I have always had my main altar in my bedroom, with smaller (mostly unnoticeable unless you knew what you were looking at) altars in the kitchen window and on my desk. I’ve added to the kitchen altar and created altar space in the living room as well.Not only is it a reflection of my personal beliefs, but an assertion of them in my home. I’ve been hesitant to have outward symbols of my convictions visible in the past, but as I get older it’s become more important to be visibly more ‘me’ rather than try to conform or preserve someone else’s sensibilities (when in my own home). That probably seems like old news to many, but it’s been a discovery process for me.
In other news, tonight New Moon, so I am working on setting intentions for the coming cycle. Last cycle, my intention was with my mental health in mind. I’ve re-established my meditative practice as a priority (rather than ‘fitting it in’), and started working on creating a deck of affirmation cards for myself. Art is part of my path, so that’s been very fulfilling for me. This cycle, I am working on my physical health. I recently discovered the mandala dance and found it to be a beautiful (peaceful, welcome, grounding, centering) addition to my morning routine.
Wishing you a Blessed Esbat Celebration tonight,
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 arranged 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!
When it comes to protection magic, there are a lot of different methods and ways to go about doing it. There are also many aspects to protection magic – protection for yourself, another person, your possessions, other objects, warding against harm or evil by ‘chance’ or by ‘intent’, and myriad other applications. So how do you know what the best methods are? How do you learn them? And if you’re eclectic and don’t follow a specific path, or are totally new, how do you create protection magics, spells and rituals that carry enough power to do the job? And once you figure all that out, how do you teach kids?
There are several things to consider before you start working on major protection mojo. For any energy work, the basis of all of that is control. By that, I mean connectivity with the spiritual energy within, and ‘able to access and manipulate it as needed’. So right off the bat, if your control isn’t very good, then it is well worth it to practice. A lot. A good way to do that is through meditation and visualization. Having good control within yourself is also what will allow you to raise energy in Ritual or in a group more effectively. That connectivity with your spirit and energy is what allows you to shield effectively, and shielding is the very core of protection magic.
As a mom, teaching my children to connect with and access their personal energy has been challenging. Since I wasn’t raised in a pagan household, and pagan parenting books are few and far between, it’s been a lot of trial and error on my part to find ways to help my kids learn about various practices and views without ‘indoctrinating’ them. I think that meditation is useful, pagan or not. It’s fairly easy to learn how to do, and the benefits of mindful practice go far beyond religious usage.
When the boys were smaller, we made ‘mind jars’ – basically, glass jars with a mixture of water, water-based hair gel (to thicken the water), glitter and food coloring, sealed with gorilla glue and a lid – to help them settle down. They’d shake the jar up, stirring the glitter throughout the jar, then sit quietly and watch the glitter settle back to the bottom. About a 5-6 minute process, that was a great way to help them find quiet places inside of them and just BE there for a bit. We’ve gotten out of the habit, but are working on getting it back into the routine.
For small kids, or kids with attention issues, weight can help keep them grounded. I made lap blankets for my boys – 12″ x 18″ mini-quilts weighted with poly-pellet doll fillers and sewn in a grid. They are the perfect size for their lap, and work in SO many situations! For an older child (or if you don’t have access to a lap blanket or weighted materials for sensory kids), having them hold large, smooth river stones can work. A lap blanket or rice sock distributes the weight over more area and keeps them from feeling like they are floating away. As an adult, if you find meditation difficult, that technique can help you as well.
Never under-estimate the power of music! When my children were very small, I would play a certain collection of classical music at naptime. For years, that CD was sleep-zone-inducing, even if it wasn’t time for a nap! We even managed to sleep through a couple of hurricanes, thanks to the awesome power of association.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of meditation and visualization, it’s time to work on shielding. Shielding, in my mind, is another form of meditation, and visualization plays a key role. But rather than a ‘normal’ meditation session, where you actively meditate, shielding involves learning to maintain that focus unconsciously, or subconsciously. Whereas some feel the need to shield continuously, I tend to feel like there’s a lot you miss out on when you’re so shut down, so I reserve shielding for when I feel it’s needed. One of the benefits of practice is that you learn to quickly bring up your shields when necessary.
With my kids, we started with personal shielding, and used visualization in the beginning. I started with typical imagery – that of walls, or a bubble, or light. I personally generally prefer the vision of a shimmery barrier or bubble that begins in my solar plexus area, and expands outward to encompass my body. It keeps things I don’t want out, but allows things I do want in. I also use imagery for a ‘harder’ version of my personal shield, reserved for emergency situations. My kids have, at various times, used different images or visualization to invoke their own shielding. I encourage them to use imagery and visualization that works for them.
Once you (or they) have gotten the hang of that, you can move on to more complicated shielding work, like creating wards to protect places or objects. We use witch balls often around our house, both inside and outside. The kids have helped make them – we use the fill-your-own Christmas ornaments – and hang them in windows, on tree branches and in other places around the house. I sometimes use stones and crystals to anchor warding magic, and symbols, like mandalas, Dutch hex signs, sigils and other graphics can anchor protection magic as well.
Have you worked with your children on shielding and protection magic? How did you teach them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!