Card of the Week wb: Monday 24th March 2014

IlluminationI’ve just begun to use a new Oracle deck in preparation for the next deck study with Sacred Mists. It is a beautiful deck by a Native American woman called Linda Ewashina, with really evocative artwork by Jody Bergsma. Based on the medicine wheel of Native American tradition it’s called Spirit of the Wheel [meditation deck]. Although sold as a meditation deck it is, in fact, an oracle deck. however one can use it for meditation too; in fact it really lends itself to this (as does any oracle deck).

So, today I drew ILLUMINATION: Spirit path of the East. Now I make no claims to really know anything about Native American traditions, which is something that drew me to this deck (and the fact it was suggested by a very dear friend of mine). But I thought this card was rather pertinent for a new adventure and oracle study.  Illumination…don’t we all want a bit of that at times? Especially when we are going through situations that are a bit muddied by emotions etc. Traditionally (for me at least) the direction of East has always been tied with knowledge and inspiration. On the card we see a bird of prey (is it an eagle or a hawk?). It doesn’t matter really because what most of us do know is that birds of prey have excellent vision. They can spot their dinner from high up, at long distances and, in the case of the owl, in dim light. So I think this picture  this guide – is helping us to realise that we need to have this kind of spiritual eyesight, or you can think of it in metaphorical terms if you like.

We don’t always see the full picture of any situation do we. It may because we’re too emotionally close to a situation, or perhaps not involved enough. This can lead us to be fixed in our thinking and judgements. However, if we have a bigger picture, a larger vista (like a bird of prey) we can see a lot more and so understand more.

How do we do this? Is it possible for us small humans to transcend our view of things? Well, yes it is but like the card says in its suggested key words, we need Divine Communication, Spiritual Knowing and Inner Light. We ALL have these no matter what our religion (if any) or our world view. The approaches might be different but the end result is the same. Some other associations for these three things might be – spirit guides, ancestors, intuition, gut feeling, prayer and Higher Power etc. We can work on drawing closer to these things, trusting their help and guidance. Of course we probably won’t get the feeling of ZAP! And everything is clearer although it might be – synchronicity has a part to play here if you’re open to it.

Another thing I drew from this card is *patience*. Sometimes birds of prey have to spend large amounts of time scanning the ground from on high looking for their prey. They wheel and arch on the thermals, flying in circles for minutes on end but they don’t give up. This is what we need to do also; we need patience with ourselves and others AND the Universe – it doesn’t always give us the answer straight away and it most often doesn’t give us the answer our human ego wants but will prove the one that is best for us.

Some associations for the direction of East:

Now you may have very different associations here but some of mine are – dawn, rosy sunrise, air, the birds dawn chorus, birds (in general), yellow, Beith (Ogham for Birch), new beginnings, renewal, Sylphs (spirits of air), Aventurine, Yellow Jasper, Lavender, Eyebright, Meadowsweet.

G is for Growing

rose60-pinkorangeThis is my second post for The Pagan Blog Project ‘G’ week but also a journal post too. I think it’s high time I just meandered my thoughts down on paper…well on the screen. It’s a funny old world isn’t it, you have ideas and dreams and suddenly, if you’re working in line with them to cause their fruition, then something blossoms. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we grow spiritually, and I guess I should really say evolve but it’s growing too. You’ll all know by now that my speciality is herbalism – I love plants in all their wonderful glory; from the tiny daisy to the fantastic tropical trees. I never thought I’d be a herbalist though. Over the years I’ve nurtured a great interest in plants and this interest kind of grew without me even really doing anything about it but I guess it is my deep love of nature. Then my wanting to help others in some way. How could I do this? I had a deep urge to be a healer but of what kind? I am a master in Celtic Reiki and also a crystal healer but plants urged me on from tiny seedling thoughts of being a plant healer to actually doing something about it via certification.

Of course it is my belief that plants offer us insights that require no paper certificates but in this world I’m afraid some kind of professional standing is valued. But I’m really a down to earth woman of wort cunning even though I’ve done professional courses (and am still doing this actually as I’m taking a Masters in Phytotherapy). However, it’s really nothing extraordinary – anyone can do this…all you have to do is spend time with plants and trees and truly get to know them and they will impart their wisdom and knowledge to you. Of course getting to know other like-minded herbalists is important too.

Anyway, I digress because this post is really about how we evolve on our spiritual path if we are open-hearted and open-minded enough. When I look back at who I was at the very beginning of my pagan path I was really an entirely different person to who I am today. I had fixed ideas about who I should be; what kind of pagan I was or wanted to be, called myself a Wiccan and followed quite a strict Wiccan protocol. But over the years this has changed quite dramatically – yes I am an initiated Priestess in a Wiccan Coven and I don’t regret this decision and being part of this group is very important to me. But my path has diverged into many different branches since then. I feel I’ve truly become a tree!

I guess my spirituality is very eclectic with old ways witchcraft roots, shamanism, Daoism as well as Wicca. Some would call this a mish-mash and probably berate me but I just think this is what my Spirit wants – this is the human experience my Spirit incarnated to have. After all, when I pass over all this will be gone…only Spirit remains and the material will not matter. So I’m passed worrying about whether or not I have a particular religion or set of protocols to follow. I just do what Spirit and the Universe encourage me to do.

How do I know? Well, actually I think synchronicity plays a huge part in knowing if I’m on the right track or not. The more open I am the more meaningful synchronicity happens. Then there are those things that happen to warm me off a course of action. Of course, being human I don’t always see, or even if I do see I don’t always pay attention, or choose to ignore and then I pay the consequences. But even these are lessons to learn. Each choice we make is an opportunity for our Spirits to learn. Even choice and actions that don’t work out the way we want are important for our growth. When we think of ourselves within the tree metaphor we can see how many branches and twigs there are on a tree and each one of these can be choices and actions, some working out and producing new growth and some not. But it’s all ok because they’re all part of the overall beauty of the tree, which is each one of us as individuals.

Janus face in 2012

Janus-dimon21

No, this post is not about Janus per se but rather it is more about looking back and looking forward, as we near the end of this year, 2012. I thought, however, that the Roman god of  beginnings and transitions to be a rather apt metaphor to use. And it echoes a little Yule poem I wrote recently, which I used on a Yule card to my Coven:

This card is sent to you all with love
Coming swiftly on the wings of a dove
As we embrace the newborn Sun
Let’s not forget to have some fun
As the Wheel slowly turns anew
To our spirits let us remain true
Kiss the Holly King as he now sleeps
Half the year his brother now keeps
Embrace the Oak King as he now wakes
His upturned face touched by snowy flakes
Yule is a time for looking back and looking forward
Your efforts will reap blessed reward
So merrily sing
To the newborn King

So I’m doing some looking back and looking forward on this year to discover what I’ve reaped and what my goals are for the coming year – kind of like News Year’s resolutions except not. My actual new year began at Samhain following Celtic tradition but there’s something special about Yule that encourages us to look back and look forward I think.

So what did I achieve this year? I completed my Clinical Herbalism Diploma, the Sacred Mists Herbalist Course (well, everything but the Final, which I am going to be turning in in the next few weeks), I also completed 4½ years of therapy (with 1 year of intensive therapy), I shared my greatest ‘skeleton in the closet’ with my therapeutic group just before ending and it was a HUGE relief, I was Student of the Month in my Coven in September, I started The Herborium newsletter (at Samhain), my relationship with my daughter continues to improve, I’ve carried on with Oracle Studies with very good results and I have really improved in taking personal responsibility for myself. Last but definitely not least I’ve learnt to practise mindfulness and remain in the present moment to a greater degree than ever before.

That’s not to say things have been easy for me – there have been a lot of ups and downs and quite scary patches for me to deal with. A couple of times I’ve faltered and resorted to self-harm. However, even at these times I mustered the courage to do the things I had to do in order to sort the situation out and didn’t rely on someone else doing it for me. That’s not to say I haven’t asked for a bit of moral support, and I think it’s important one does ask for support when going through difficulties. I’ve had experiences and learned valuable lessons in 2012 and I thank my patron deities and the Universe for these, and also thank my guides for steering me in the right directions. I also thank my friends, spiritual, human and animal for their support and help in ‘keeping it real’.

In thinking about the biggest stumbling block to achieving what I would like to do in my life, and my growth, I think that it is still my nemesis FEAR. Yes fear has stalked me and is the root of everything that holds me back. So, this time at my Coven’s Yule Ritual I made it my purpose to cast fear into the depths of the Cauldron of Life:

I release fear into the depths, where its power can be transmuted and changed into that which is positive and healthful. So Mote it Be!

Next, I made my spiritual goal for the coming year 2013.

I draw into me the power of the Universe in order to help me achieve my goals in 2013, with courage and fortitude. So Mote it Be!

Making these simple affirmations really helped me to focus on being able to achieve what I want out of life, what I would like to achieve and what would make me happy…maybe not straight away but working towards these steadily and with courage and purpose instead of being consumed with fear and doing nothing. I truly believe the power of affirmations is immense but in order for them to work you need to keep saying them, make the saying of them into a simple ritual perhaps – light a candle, write your affirmation on a slip of paper, repeat it three times and then burn it in the candle flame. This way your intent rises upwards in the smoke into the Universe, where it can be directed in a positive way for your benefit. Keep repeating the affirmation throughout the day too. If you’ve never used affirmations before all this might sound silly but believe me, the more you do it, the more you can actually manifest in your life and the happier and more grounded you’ll be.

Many fruitful blessings to you for the coming year, 2013!

A new witchy blog award

What a lovely comment I had waiting for me this morning. I have been awarded another award…this time a Witchy/Wiccan/Pagan themed one and that’s really nice since it’s the first of this kind I’ve ever been awarded. It’s really lovely to be appreciated in this way. I would like to thank Poppy for awarding this to me. Do please check out her lovely blog!

What Ayslyn says about the award: “Today is a very special day. Not only is it Samhain, the most important Sabbat on the Wiccan Wheel of the year, but it is also the unveiling of a project Cassandra and I have been working on for a couple of months. Over the past weeks, we have both been graced with several blogging awards, but we couldn’t help but notice that none of the awards floating around were Wiccan in nature. And so, the idea was born to create an award specifically for Wiccans/Pagans/witches.

Thus the purpose of this award is to bring positive recognition to those bloggers who share their experiences on the less-traveled path, whether in the form of a journal or by standing up for themselves and others. Our award logo was a collaborate endeavor made with love that we are both very proud of. So without any further ado, onward to the details of the newest award to find its way to the blogosphere!

The Rules:

Post the award logo within your blog post.

Thank the blogger who passed the award to you.

Answer the seven questions below.

Nominate five Wiccan/Pagan bloggers (If you don’t know five other Wiccan bloggers, nominate as many as you can).

Notify your nominees of their pending award.

Give a short description of the blog/blogger and why you nominated them.

Stop by Ayslyn’s Corner and Book of Shadows to add your name to the list of bloggers awarded.

You may customize the questions as long as they are still Wiccan- and Pagan-related.

Seven Questions:

How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Paganism? I think I’ve been a pagan all my life although probably didn’t realise it when I was young. I guess I ‘found’ my pagan path in 1994 when I had an ‘experience’ with Cernunnos in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire. However, officially I began my Wiccan/Witchcraft path in 2006 when I joined Sacred Mists.
Do you grow herbs? I eat, sleep and breathe herbs! LOL I love all things botanical, not just for growing but communing with too. Check out my Botanical website here – All That is Alive!
Are you “in the broom closet”? If not, share your coming out experience. I’ve never been in the broom closet. I am blessed and fortunate to have very understanding and open-minded friends and family, and live in a country where paganism of all kinds is well tolerated.
What tradition do you follow? I follow a Celtic Wiccan tradition, which is the tradition of my Coven. However it is also eclectic so I’m open to learning from many different sources and traditions.
Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?) Yes, I’m a witch! I refer to myself as a shamanic witch but I am an initiated priestess of Sacred Mists, which is a Celtic Wiccan tradition. I use shamanism heavily in my practise, and also aspects of druidry too. However, there’s also some Buddhism and Taoism in the mix too.
How much of witchcraft/Wicca/Paganism are you able to incorporate into your everyday life? I don’t incorporate my spiritual path into my life – it IS my life! There’s no boundary between the spiritual and the mundane – it is all one beautiful whole! There is spiritual in all things, even the washing up.  My favourite expression is…All is Alive!
Do you have a familiar? If you do, tell us how you meet him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all). No, I don’t have a familiar but I have plenty of Spirit Guides and Allies who frequently participate in my spiritual practices. I have two beautiful, wonderful, and very funny cats but I wouldn’t call them familiars – they are my furchildren and bring great joy to me.

For this award I’m nominating the following:

Forest Fay

Ashtoreth

Brighde

Phoebe

Darrell

F is for Fluffy Bunnies…or not!

In Pagan circles we’ve all heard of the expression ‘Fluffy Bunny’, we may have even used that expression at one time or another, I know I’ve used it once or twice over the years. However, I’ve been thinking about it lately what with all the posts on tolerance that have been appearing lately.

So, what is a Fluffy Bunny? Well, in my fantasy a fluffy bunny is someone who just plays at paganism or witchcraft. Usually a younger female but occasionally men too. Someone who thinks witchcraft in particular is just about fairies, casting love spells, dressing up in black etc. Someone who does not know the deeper arts of the Craft, or only performs magick once or twice a year, wears lots of pentacles perhaps. Actually I think there could be many definitions of fluffy bunny. What I do know is that a fluffy bunny is looked upon with distain from more seasoned members of the Craft and it is used as a derogatory term.

But I’ve been thinking. Perhaps a lot of us were fluffy bunnies at one time, when we first began our journey in the Craft. I’m not saying all of us were but I think that a few of us could have been like that. We were newbies weren’t we and most likely didn’t know beans about what walking the path really meant. If, like me, you started out in a coven and worked your way through the Degrees, at the beginning everything was new and maybe you had a certain idea about what Witchcraft meant, which was far removed from the REAL meaning – you learnt that fast if you took your training seriously.

Again, maybe you’re someone who is trying to find the right path for your soul, so you’re trying things out for the first time. You read all the books (and most of the really popular books are Witchcraft 101), you may not even have someone to teach you and are going it alone for the first time – that’s hard believe me! You’re bombarded with all kinds of information over the internet both good and bad (actually there’s a lot of complete nonsense written about the Craft on the Net) and you haven’t yet learnt to be discerning. This takes time and it is right for it to take time. One doesn’t learn true discernment in a shake of a wand. It involves trial and error. We make mistakes and fluff up and even the most seasoned of us can still do that occasionally believe me.

Maybe some just like to be a bit fluffy around the edges. Maybe they’re not ready for the real nitty gritty yet. Maybe they will be in time or maybe they won’t. After all it is the soul that decides as it is the soul’s journey. Each person’s path is completely individual to them and no two witches are even alike. I have the honour and pleasure of being a Priestess of Sacred Mists, and yet even though we have a tradition, I can tell you that each witch is different from the other in certain ways. But that’s what brings so much colour to Witchcraft and Paganism as a whole – so many hues and tints of individuality, and that’s what drew me to it in part. A myriad of colours, not just green, or black, or red, or yellow but umpteen shades of green, of black, of red and yellow – get my meaning?

So why should we distain these so-called fluffy bunnies? In fact I don’t think it’s a very tolerant attitude at all. Those of us who have some years and experience under our belts are in a great position to take younger ones under our wings (so to speak) and guide them. This isn’t prosetalysing but merely helping those who want to learn but are maybe confused right now. And even if someone wants to walk on the surface of the Craft, why not let them? After all, who are we to cast a distainful eye on someone else’s soul path. Perhaps they are just not ready for the commitment that the meat of the Craft entails. I know without a doubt that if I were called a fluffy bunny when I first started my journey it would have completely put me off. What I needed (and bless the Goddess thankfully got) was guidance, support in real terms.

So let’s try not to use this derogatory term and try to be discerning and helpful to those new to the Craft.