Tales of a Southern Pagan Mom

Posts tagged “sacred space

Full Moon in Aquarius & Rune Crafting

I was browsing Pinterest and found a post featuring a Rune Chain crafted for home protection & goals. I thought it was a really innovative way to use runes as decor, especially the combining of runes into multi-meaning symbols (kind of like sigils). I am very interested in how people create tools and objects that ‘hold’ their intent, and this seemed like such a wonderful idea that I had to see if I could make it work for me. I am so pleased with how well it turned out!

In the original post, the author was very thorough in laying out all of her steps, so I won’t cover that again. The part that interested me most was the actual crafting of the runes and how they were combined, so that’s what I am going to focus on in my post.

Here’s a disclaimer that I feel like I should probably make: I am in no way a rune-work expert. Other than a couple of classes I’ve attended on runes, and a couple of craft days where I made sets of runes, that’s about the extent of my knowledge. They’re not a thing that I use terribly often, though I have gone through phases in the past where I’ve been more interested in using and working with them.

That said, I really like them: the having of them and holding and handling of them. I like the way they’re shaped and formed, and find them incredibly visually appealing. I like them for their simplicity and their complexity. On the surface, runes are a fairly straightforward type of tool. They can be used to create words and text, or cast for their divinatory meaning, or used on a daily basis as a meditation focus or ‘wisdom/warning of the day’ type of practice. On a deeper level, runes carry ancient memory and meaning. Using them ties the practitioner to an ancient history, and sometimes that connection is felt more than others. I like divinatory tools with more than one meaning, and runes fit that profile. To some degree, the interpretation of the runes – be it a single drawn rune for the day or a casting – is left up to the practitioner to interpret. Those interpretations vary according to so many factors, and it is that kind of personalization of practice that appeals to me so very much. That’s why this project spoke to me with such a loud voice!

I spent some time looking up the meanings of various runes, and deciding on words, meanings and aspects of their meaning that I liked. As I wrote and doodled, I found runes that worked well together or complimented each other and worked out how I wanted to combine them. Once I had a few that represented the main ideas I wanted to bring to life in the chain, I drew them in the order I planned to arrange them in on a piece of paper.  Then I created a word cluster for each of my created symbols, which helped me decide what aspects I wanted to draw on, and how the runes worked together to create a specific or more focused meaning.

To start with, I created a rune symbol that combines ‘Algiz’, ‘Eihwaz’, and ‘Jera’. I really like her concept of ‘binding runes’, but I tweaked her meaning a bit; rather than a rune that reinforced the symbol above it, I chose to create a binding rune that reinforces the entire chain, and is repeated throughout it as a central feature. My binding rune pulls on the parts of the runes used throughout the chain to ensure that the goals expressed in the chain are reasonable, and that the efforts we put into realizing them are matched with the strength to see them through. There’s a protective/defensive element as well; to protect our home and family, both physically and spiritually.

I made my chain with 6 binding runes. I began the chain with it, and ended it with a binding rune, to reinforce the intent and purpose of the chain. The binding rune is also between each rune and the next, to reinforce the strength of will and restate the intent.

The second rune (and the next to the last rune) is the most complex. I am calling this the ‘marriage rune’. It’s another type of binding rune, and holds space both in the beginning and end of the chain. My husband and I celebrated 18 years of marriage (and over 20 of coupledom) the first week of August, and our marriage is the platform from which every other aspect of our home and family are built upon. It is the stable base that serves as the foundation for every aspect our lives. It is the thing without which our family would not exist, and is therefore absolutely central to anything else that will happen in our home. From that perspective, this is perhaps the most important rune form in my chain.

The runes I chose to create this symbol are ‘Ehwaz’, ‘Mannuz’, ‘Dagaz’, ‘Gebo’, ‘Wunjo’, ‘Ingwaz’,  and ‘Othala’. Combined in this way, the symbol draws on the individual aspects of each of the runes used to create it to reflect the importance of, strengthen and protect our bond and union as the touchstone of our family, as well as calling on the elements of the individual runes that speak to home life, communication, harmony and joy.

After the binding runes and marriage rune, there are three focused runes, intended to reinforce the values we favor in our home, and what we want for our children, separated (and reinforced) by the binding rune between each of the three focused runes.

The first, I call the ‘prosperity’ rune. It is made up of ‘Fehu’ and ‘Uruz’. There’s an element of good fortune and luck tied to this one, but also the wisdom and vision to make sound investments and financial decisions. There’s a fair amount of self-direction as well, and since independence and leadership are two things I value for my children, I think that makes for a good combination to represent prosperity in both a financial sense and generally-in-life sense.

 

 

The second rune, I’m jokingly calling the ‘upward mobility’ symbol, and is made up of ‘Raido’ and ‘Kenaz’. In reality, it would probably better be described as the ‘self-actualization’ rune. Raido is traditionally the ‘travel’ and ‘protection in travel’ rune, which works for my kids’ futures as they’re getting to the age where plans for college and embarking on their own journeys outside of our little nuclear family are imminent. More than that, though, I am calling on the ability to see the right move and make it, and the power that is inborn within them (and in all of us) to shape our own futures into happy and successful ones. I very much want both of my children to find their calling – to find the thing or things that make their souls happy. I want them to find their unique rhythm, and their place within the rhythm of the world, and thrive there.

The third symbol is my ‘strength and endurance’ rune. It’s made up of ‘Pertho’ and ‘Nauthiz’. Pertho calls again on being able to determine your future path, and Nauthiz for self-reliance, strength and endurance. Though I am not ashamed to call on good fortune and blessings, I know that a happy life isn’t just handed to you; it takes work – and often a lot of it. Along your path, there are adversities that help shape you into the person you will become, and help you see yourself more clearly; to become who you are ultimately meant to be. Mental illness runs in my family, and it is with a realistic eye that I recognize that my children may also struggle with mental health issues, however much I hope that they escape them. Strength sometimes means accepting weakness and asking for help; endurance means recognizing when you need to stop or slow down so that you can rest and regroup before continuing on. It is those qualities that I call on in this symbol, for my children and for myself.

 

Finishing the chain are the marriage rune again, and the last binding rune, to seal the chain and reiterate the intent and purpose of it.

Last week (last night when I started this post) was the Full Moon in Aquarius. I took my oracle cards out, my moon journal, and my rune chain to cleanse and charge it under the light of the full moon, with palo santo and sage to smudge. It was such a pretty night; fresh from rain all day, but a clear sky towards the evening. Afterwards, I hung the chain on the back of our front door, so it’s visible every day as we come and go.

 

Brightest Blessings,


Simple Full Mon Esbat & Update

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.

 

Brightest Blessings,

 


Is reviving the religions of the ancients even compatible with modern life?

witch_DanaidesAs a practitioner of a religious path that is both utterly modern, but that has roots in the ages, obviously, I think the answer to this question is ‘yes’. Though I am not sure if ‘reviving’ is exactly the right word, because religion, like all things, must change and adapt with the passage of time if it is to survive.

There is great debate within the Pagan community as to whether or not Pagan practices (if not entire Pagan paths or traditions) are truly continuations of the Old Ways, or if they’re modern revivals and interpretations based on what limited information we can glean through history and archaeology. I tend to think the latter, but I suppose that some Pagan traditions may go back further than others relatively in-tact. Please let me be clear here; I do not mean ‘Wicca’ when I say ‘Pagan’; I think it’s widely accepted that Wicca is a modern religion. When I say Pagan, I include folk religions from the United States stemming from Africa and Haiti, as well as European and Germanic Pagan traditions, indigenous religions from the American continents, and tribal religions from the Americas, Africa and Australia (which may *actually* be continuations of older/ancient practices).

Some practices may have existed and may well have been handed down through the generations from parent to children (behind closed doors when necessary), but I feel like almost all of them, through various forms of persecution combined with the societal Christian indoctrination we tend to have in this country, have been eroded or tainted what would have otherwise been ‘pure’ Pagan traditions and practices. Part of that was systematic; other parts of it was purely due to the passage of time and the necessity of change to preserve the spirit of the tradition if not the path as a whole.

Back to the question at hand … is reviving the religions of the ancients even compatible with modern life?

In a word, yes. I would even go so far as to say that as our society and world becomes increasingly ‘high tech’, the fundamental connection with Nature and the Spirit World that most Pagans enjoy will lure others to seek out a similar connection. As the song says, “The Earth is our Mother“, and without an intimate connection with the ground we walk upon, we lose something of ourselves.

So how, in this high tech age, do we maintain that connection? If you’re Pagan, then you likely have a good handle on that already. In some form or fashion, you’re probably honoring the Turn of the Wheel each year, Observing the Cycle of the Moon each month, and Marking the Change of the Seasons. You may also, depending on your path and preferences, maintain a garden, meditate, work spells (pray), invoke deities and otherwise interact with either/both the physical Earth and the Spirit Realm. But if you’re not, then the answer is simple: go outside. That’s it; that’s the answer. Go outside. Be IN Nature. Look around and marvel at the wonders of the natural world. Look for signs and symbols, instances of hierophany, that move you to appreciate that the Earth is a Living Thing and it is our privilege and responsibility to be here on Her.

If you’re inclined towards a Pagan path, you’ll find the right steps as you go, but the main thing, I think, is the connection to the natural world.
What do you think?

Brightest Blessings,
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Hierophany

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‘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?
Brightest Blessings,

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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?
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Mind, Body, Spirit

mindbodyspiritWhen I think of nurturing myself, both within and outside of my spiritual practice and path, I tend to think of three areas that need attention: mind, body and spirit. For me, this is a very clear, easy to understand and relate to concept, but I recently had a conversation with a friend that helped me understand that it’s not for some people. In her situation, coming from a charismatic Christian faith as a child and moving into a less-defined, secular world-view as an adult, the term ‘spirit’ was a loaded term, and brought up associations with the supernatural that don’t work for her. I thought that was an interesting take on it, and wanted to explore that some in this post.

The idea of nurturing my mind is both simple and complex. At its most basic, nurturing my mind can be as easy as reading an article about something I am interested in, or watching an educational show or video with my kids, or even just having adult conversations with my husband or friends. It could also mean meeting someone new, or learning something new, or something new about an old friend; trying a new game or practicing music or planning something. Anything that engages my brain in learning or organizing or thinking works for me in this area.

Nurturing my mind can also mean quieting it. I try to make time to look inward, examining my thoughts or motivations and contemplating where I have made progress and where I still need to make changes. My meditative practice is an important part of both my personal Pagan practice and just general self-care; the mind directs the rest, so keeping my mind healthy and active is important to me.

The concept of nurturing my body is similarly multi-faceted. Movement is a big part of nurturing my body. Taking a walk or going on a hike is a great way to ‘move’. Dancing, whether it’s silly dances with the kids, ‘exercise’ dancing like Zumba or belly dancing, or more meditative ‘dancing’ like Mandala or Shiva Dance all have value in different ways. Anything that makes me sweat counts, from hula hooping to martial arts or other sports, swimming, biking or skating… it all works for me.

Tending to the basic needs of my body also factor in, from getting enough rest to eating healthy foods, or even indulging in a nap or slice of chocolate-chocolate chip cake. Taking/Making the time to shower and moisturize, and indulge in skin care and makeup or hair styling rituals can also satisfy the ‘body’ aspect of this triad, as can basic interaction and touch, from therapeutic touch like massage to cuddles on the couch with my kids. What I look for is often a release of endorphins, adrenaline, oxytocin or dopamine – those things that are released with exercise, contact or feeling good!

Somewhat less hard to define is the concept of nurturing my spirit. Even defining what one means when they say ‘spirit’, as I learned in conversation with my friend, can mean different things to different people. For me, the concept of ‘my spirit’ has to do with the inner-most part of me; the core ‘me-ness’ that makes me, me. It is the sum of all the things I am and do and feel and believe and that which animates me. It is the unspoken thing in me that makes me whole and unique. In that context, the idea of ‘nurturing my spirit’ means doing that which sparks joy in my heart, gives me energy and satisfaction, and fans the vital flame of my existence… and there are a great many ways that I can go about doing that. My ‘spirit’ things change daily – one day, I might feel the need to read purely for pleasure. Another day might see me creating art. A different day, I might need some romance or date night with my husband. Still another day might mean connecting with friends or spending time with my family. Sometimes, it’s sitting on the beach, or under the Full Moon, or smudging my house. They also change and have changed according to both the physical, earthly season (decorating for Samhain or Yule), and the season in my life I am in. Before I had kids, I had spirit things that I loved doing that were impractical with small children, so I tucked them away until they were more feasible as my kids got older. Some things I never picked back up again, and others, I’ve relished being able to add back into my routines.

Another aspect of ‘spirit’ for me does relate to my path and practice. My connection to deity, the sacred spaces I create within my home, and the practice part of my spirituality feeds my inner flame. Sometimes, my ‘spirit’ overlaps with a ‘body’ or ‘mind’ thing, especially in Ritual observances or meditative practice. Celebrations usually include all three of these areas!

In curious how you define ‘mind, body & spirit’, and what nurturing them mean to you. If you have time, post a comment and tell me how you nurture yourself!
Brightest Blessings,
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Grounding Stones

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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.

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Do you use grounding stones?

Brightest Blessings,
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*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.