growing

Going Back to My Roots

December, 2018

(Roots by Frida Kahlo)

 

Be like a tree. Stay grounded. Connect with your roots. Turn over a new leaf. Bend before you break. Enjoy your unique natural beauty. Keep growing.”

-Joanne Rapits

 

I’ve been going through major internal shifts in the last year. Recently, I’ve been making some changes in my life that are shaking up relationships with people I love. Some of these patterns are co-dependent and that is a no-go for me. When I read this quote by Victor Hugo, I realized that I have a changeable mind and ways of being that used to work for me in those relationships stop working as my thinking shifts: “Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.” But one thing that keeps uncovering itself at deeper levels are my values; these, I’ve discovered don’t change. They do, however, reveal themselves more completely as I get older. As I grow towards my chronological elder hood, I see how important it is to be who I am at my essence. The intent that takes the most courage for me to keep meeting is to be who I really am, no matter what.

 

Over the last month or so, my paternal grandma–who I called Avó Maria–has been showing up in my 
dreams at night. She died when she was in her nineties in 2014. She had a big hand in raising me. As a 
child I spent a lot more time with her than I did my parents. My family were new immigrants to Canada 
at the time and my parents worked hard to build a life for us here. 

I am so grateful for the time I got to spend with my Avó Maria. 

In my dreams, we are back in her house only this time, I am in my adult body. 

We are doing the same things together that we always did: cooking, picking vegetables for meals, crocheting,
praying, and talking. The overwhelming feeling in the dream is one of comfort: You know, the kind you feel
when you are with someone who really loves, accepts, and gets you at an essence level. My dream ends with
her telling me in Portuguese to go back to my roots: volta para tuas raízes.

I’ve been sitting with this directive for a few weeks now. I’ve taken this question into ceremony, I’ve prayed about it, and I’ve stayed silent to hear the response from Avó Maria or Great Spirit or my ancestors or the land. It turns out they all had something to say about it! Paradoxically, this statement– volta para tuas raízes–has so many meanings on different levels. I remembered the many lessons Avó Maria taught me about the things my ancestors valued. Like all children, I’ve taken the values from my culture that resonate with me and left behind others that don’t. Among those that remain into adulthood are: inclusion, community service, hospitality, open-mindedness, and open-heartedness. Then there are the spiritual values that I feel come from Great Spirit of unconditional love, unity and equality among all of Spirit’s creations. From the land, I remember the values of diversity, creativity, and advocacy.

 

When I talk about raízes now, I see this going past my blood line to the earth, the sky, and all my relations in nature. My body comes from the earth and I am rooted in the Great Mother herself. It took me a long time to feel like I belonged here on earth but the Earth Mother was patient until I remembered the truth. My spirit comes from the sky; no matter what happens, it can never be damaged or destroyed–only transformed. I believe that Spirit will simply give me many chances and lifetimes to grow and change until I am finally living in alignment with the essence of who I am and why Spirit created me so.  Rumi reminds me that Everything [I] see has its roots in the unseen world. The forces change yet the essence remains the same.”

 

As I work through the spiritual causes of the autoimmune issues I’ve been facing in my body, I notice how part of my spirit has been living in the past searching for the answer to the question of where I belong. Through journeying in the spirit world, I realized that much of my consciousness was holding onto a past life where I felt I’d been completely accepted for who I was. I was living with this desperate feeling that if I let go of that past lifetime that I would never find my place in this present lifetime. Buddha reminded me that the only time is NOW: Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”

 

I am aware that I have little control of what happens in the universe save for my response to the present moment’s happenings. My life hasn’t turned out the way I expected it to, however, I am so grateful that Spirit’s hand reached into my life at pivotal moments to re-direct me to stay on my path with heart. The truth is that I have no idea where my Sacred Dream is taking me and this scares me sometimes. I wonder if I will drift so far away from my raízes that I will be unrecognizable to those I love. But these are simply fears and I’ve never let them stop me before from creating positive change in my life. After all these weeks, I do know one thing…If I stay rooted in my values and I keep sharing my gifts through my essential being, my life will be well lived–no matter what surprises the universe sends my way.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

August, 2018

 

Hello Hello my lovely Broom Closeted Sisters & Brothers!

(Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash)

This is my third love letter to you all, slipped under your doors, and I thought I would cover the ever witchy herbs this month having covered flowers. Witches use herbs in all sorts or magick and mundane ways and you can, too, without anyone knowing you are using Magick!

As you may, or may not know yet, herbs have meanings, magickal, and healing. There are many great websites and books with this knowledge and I am not going to get into all the herbs out there and their meanings in this article. This article is to show you how you can use them on the down low in your everyday life.

 

Growing Them

(Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash)

Growing herbs is a great way to learn how to work with herbs. Many people grow their own herbs to cook with. There are many kits out on the market today that help you grow your own small herbal gardens to make it easier for you to learn. Even kids kits help to begin to learn. I start with children’s kits, and single pots. I find them easiest, since I have a black thumb, rather than a green one. They come with a tiny pot, seeds for your herb, and a dirt disk that needs to be soaked. You can find them in many stores or online. I have even found mine at the dollar store. But you do not have to start or stop there. If you are an experienced gardener, have at it! Go crazy, grow all your witch supplies!

 

Cooking Magick

(Culinary Blends Sample Pack from Inked Goddess Creations Magickal Mail Boxes and Products Site. Product reviewed here in the column Worth the Witch.)

The first, most obvious way to use herbal magick is by Cooking. Did you know you can impart your intent in your meals and baked goods? If you look at the picture above you can see how the bottles labels say things like Money, Protection, Love… These are all magickal workings you can work into your food. The herbs you choose to place into your food can have a magickal effect on you and others. Be sure to look up ingredients you use. Or look up the ingredients in recipes to see what they mean. Then as you cook, concentrate your energy and your purpose to your cause. Or you can buy magickal culinary blends like the ones pictured above that are simply delicious. If you read the review of the blends in the article Worth the Witch you will see how I baked some love cookies using one of the blends. They filled my house with love, laughter, and happiness! They were also delicious! This is a great way to perform magick because no one is usually with us in the kitchen and a lot of the time the spells can be performed in our heads. Drop in your herbs. Stir your pot (cauldron) and cast in your mind!

 

Wearing Your Herbs

Did you ever think about wearing your herbs? I’m not talking about oils, though that is a great way to wear your herbal scents, as well. I’m talking about on your clothing. Sachets are a way to keep your clothing smelling lovely but also bestowing them with purpose. Lavender keeps you calm, magickally and medically, so add some lavender to sachets in your drawers or on your hangers in your closets with a quick chant about keeping you calm and anxiety free. Then as you go through your day you have the scent of peace about you. Take a nice sniff to remind yourself daily. For happiness try sweetpea, for love jasmine, or musk for courage. Whatever you feel you need more of, you can make up for in herbal scents. Everyone will just think you smell great!

 

Teas

(Photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash)

Ahhhh nothing like a relaxing cup of herbal tea! Between the magickal and medical correspondences of the herbs in tea the benefits are out of this world. But did you know that the types of tea themselves have correspondences?

Rooibos:

  • Fire Element
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Determination
  • Steadfastness
  • Patience
  • Controlling (Personal) Emotions
  • Love
  • Romance

White:

  • Water Element
  • Air Element
  • Serenity
  • Purity
  • Purification
  • Calming
  • Creativity
  • Wisdom
  • Knowledge
  • Psychic / Paranormal Abilities
  • Astral / Otherworldly

Green:

  • Earth Element
  • Growth
  • Luck
  • Healing
  • Prosperity
  • Protection
  • Joy
  • Success
  • Friendship
  • Good Fortune
  • Abundance

Black:

  • Spirit Element
  • Binding
  • Cursing
  • Hexing
  • Curse / Hex Breaking
  • Banishing
  • Exorcism
  • Sexuality
  • Lust

and yes, Coffee:

  • Fire Element
  • Spirit Element
  • Energy
  • Mental Clarity
  • Summoning
  • Enhancement
  • Power Boost
  • Power
  • Speed
  • Travel
  • Exorcism

(Information from: https://green-tea-in-the-cauldron.tumblr.com/post/149522774366/tea-correspondences-in-magic)

So now we can drink with purpose & a small chant in our heads!

 

Dream Pillows

Dream Pillows are handmade, small, herb stuffed pillows to help you sleep or have good dreams. Some people put little stones in them, also. They are really fun to hand sew up and fill with a little stuffing and some herbs. Kids love them. You should be careful as to what herbs you put in them, because some can have an unpleasant odor. Mixing some pleasing smelling herbs with some more pungent ones helps. Here are some mixes that may help:

 

For A Stress-Reducing Rest

Sweet Hops

Mugwort

Sweet Marjoram

 

Sensual Dreams

Rose Petals

Rosemary

Lavender Flowers

Mint

Ground Cloves

Chili Powder

Lemon Verbena Leaves, Crushed

Piece Cinnamon Bark, 1 inch long, broken up

 

Natural Remedies

(Pic from eatyourselfskinny.com)

Homeopathic remedies are no longer thought of as wisewoman traditions anymore, so it is safe for us to use our natural remedies in public. So get out your herbs to help in healing yourself. A good way to heal a headache is lavender. You can find a lovely recipe for Lavender Lemonade on Eat Yourself Skinny. On a hot summer’s day, when your find yourself battling a headache, why not cool down with this helpful drink recipe?

 

Garden Magick

Growing certain herbs for their properties and placement in your garden can be very beneficial to your household. Placement of potted plants can be as, well. Like a nice Rosemary by a kitchen door for Protection to keep the baddies out. Did you know that planting Lemongrass, Lavender, Lemon balm, Basil, or Catnip can help keep mosquitoes away? So try to plant these around your outdoor gardens in abundance.

 

Well, my loves, I’m going to lay out some herbal Pot Pourri for a house blessing, throw some Basil in my pocket for some money luck while I head out the door, and say Toodles for now.

 

Until Next Month…

Stay Witchie, even if it’s just between you and me -xoxo

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is simply a Witch. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMag.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way & trying to make the world a better place with her family.

 

Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

July, 2018

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

July, 2018

 

For My Witches in the Wardrobe

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

 

I have come again to sit in the closet with you and share in our circle of thoughts, ideas, knowledge, & secrets in solidarity. I am very excited to be here again with you! This time in my Carpet Bag I’ve brought none other than a seasonal favorite for us all, Flowers!! What could be more beautiful, witchy, yet mundane then those? Everyone can use them, and we sure as heck need them!

Many beautiful plants bloom through spring and summer into fall. If you are not a gardener and did not plant your own, that is fine, there are many home improvement shops with bright blooming flowers and local nurseries, as well. You can easily move these flowers into your own pots to make them even more lovely.

Before we delve deeper into the meanings of plants let’s go into the way we can display these beauties. These are normal, everyday displays that do not bring attention to the witch.

 

Flower Window Boxes & Planters

(Photo by Anastasiia Tarasova on Unsplash)

 

Now a Flower Window Box or Planters can be anything from a small box on your balcony filled with fragrant herbs to a potted plant on your window sill blooming with something bright and fragrant. Remember it is the room you have. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. It just has to be right for you!

 

(Photo by ur Aleksanian on Unsplash)

 

If you have a small garden outside you can put your Plants & Herbs in movable Planters and Pots to keep them safe from weather, making them easier to move about. Then, you can, also, move your scents about.

 

Along a Fragrant Path

(Photo by Felicia D’Ascanio on Unsplash)

 

If you have a pathway around your house, maybe leading to your backyard, or from your driveway, placing flowers along each side makes a fragrant walkway.

 

Bowers & Hedges

 

(Pink Rose Bower)

 

Now if you like a bit more drama You can go for something like this, a Bower. They are quite stunning. They don’t scream witch either, just gardener. A nice fragrant hedge adds to the party, too.

 

The Magick of Plants

Now let’s get into the magick of some plants. This is where our fun begins. While everyone is admiring your beautiful garden you are thinking inside what all those uses are for those beauties.

 

Some of the More Fragrant Flower I Have Found to Have Around Are:

 

Sweet Pea: It attracts friends & Allies. It draws the loyalty & affections of others to you.

 

 

Heliotrope: Brings cheerfulness, gaiety, prosperity, & protection. Use in rituals of Drawing Down the Sun or in magickal workings requiring strengthening of the solar aspects of the self. Place under your pillow to induce prophetic dreams. It is said that if you sleep with fresh heliotrope under your pillow, you will dream of the person that has been stolen from your home. Other Names for Heliotrope: Turnsole & Cherry Pie

 

 


Tulip: Because of the many colors and parts of Tulips, they can be used in many parts of magick. Here is a good link to some information Tulip Magic Legend and Folklore at Thought Co.

 

Geranium: For overcoming negative thoughts & attitudes, lifting spirits, promoting protection & happiness. Repels insects. Balances mind and body.

 


Hyacinth: It promotes peace of mind and peaceful sleep. Also, attracts love, luck, & good fortune. Named for Hiakinthos, Greek God of homosexual love, this is the patron herb for gay men. Guards against nightmares when used as an oil, burned as incense, or included in dream pillows. Carry in amulet or sachet to ease grief or the pain of childbirth.

 


Freesia: Used in spells for love, peace, lust, pheromones, harmony, comfort.

 


Datura: Datura is also known as jimsonweed and you can find some incredible information on Tess Whitehurst’s Site Live Your Magic.

 


Lavender: It’s magickal uses include love, protection, healing, sleep, purification, and peace. It promotes healing from depression. Great in sleep pillows and bath spells. Believed to preserve chastity when mixed with rosemary. Burn the flowers to induce sleep and rest, then scatter the ashes around the home to bring peace and harmony. Use in love spells and sachets, especially those to attract men. Also known as, Spke, Nardus, Elf Leaf, & Nard.

 

Rose: Magickal uses include divine love, close friendships, domestic peace/happiness, and lasting relationships. Great for use in incense, potpourri or bath magick. Place around sprains and dark bruises to help them heal faster.

 

Narcissus: Calms vibrations and promotes harmony, tranquility, and peace of mind. Also known as, Asphodel, Daffy Down Lily, Fleur de Coucou, Goose Leek, Lent Lily, & Porillon.

 


Violet: It calms the nerves, draws prophetic dreams and visions, stimulates creativity, and promotes peace & tranquility. Violet leaf provides protection from all evil. Violet crowns are said to cure headaches and bring sleep. Carry or give to newly married couples or new baby & mother to bring luck to the bearer. Keep a spray of violets on the altar to enhance night magick. Wear the leaves in a green sachet to help heal wounds and prevent evil spirits from making the wounds worse. Also called: Sweet Violet, Blue Violet, & Wild Violet.

 

Lily of the Valley: Is soothing, calming, draws peace and tranquility, and repels negativity. Assists in empowering happiness and mental powers. Use in magickal workings to stop harassment. Married couples should plant Lily of the Valley in their first garden to promote longevity of the marriage. Note: Poisonous, use with caution. Also know as, Jacob’s Ladder, Male Lily, Our Lady’s Tears, Ladder-to-Heaven, May Lily, Constancy.

 

Wisteria: It raises vibrations, promotes psychic opening, overcomes obstacles, and draws prosperity.

 

Lilac: Wisdom, memory, good luck and spiritual aid. Also called: Common Lilac.

 

Peony: For protection from hexes and jinxes. Good luck, good fortune, prosperity, and business success. Hang in the home or car for protection. Used to attract faeries. Use in rituals to cure or reduce lunacy. Warning: While the flowers & petals have the positive qualities listed, the seed is called ‘Jumby Bean’ and is known for promoting dissension and strife.

 

 

Honeysuckle: It draws money, success, and quick abundance; Aids persuasiveness and confidence, sharpens intuition. Ring green candles with honeysuckle flowers or use honeysuckle in charms & sachets to attract money. Crush the flowers and rub into the forehead to enhance psychic powers. Also Called: Woodbine, Jin Yin Hua, Dutch Honeysuckle, Goat’s Leaf.

 

Jasmine: It’s uses include snakebite and divination; good for charging quartz crystals. Use in sachets and spells to draw spiritual love and attract a soul mate. Carry or burn the flowers to draw wealth and money. Use in dream pillows to induce sleep or burn in the bedroom to bring prophetic dreams. Helps to promote new, innovative ideas. Also Called: Pikake, Ysmyn, Jessamin, Moonlight on the Grove

 

Now remember, these are just a few!! There are so many flowers out there with magickal uses, those without scents, like ferns for instance!!! They are good for mental clarity, cleansing, purification, and dispelling negativity. Keep them in your room where studying is done to help concentration. Burn a sprig of fern before an exam. Use in sachets and amulets for powerful auric protection. Now did you know that???

 

Creating Your Own Flowers

There are ways to bring flowers into the home for those of us allergic to flowers, without green thumbs, or who just like to craft. If you are not allergic and are just like to create or lack a green thumb you can add essential oils to the following creations.

I have found many crafty ways on the net to create flowers and I am happy to share the following with you:

 

How to Make Lavender Flowers from Crepe Paper

 

Simple Realistic Hydrangea

 

How to Make Crepe Paper Rose

 

There are so many more tutorials on YouTube for different types & sizes of flowers made from a variety of different materials. You can really have some run.

 

How to Incorporate Flowers Into Your Craft

This is the easy part. Flowers can be brought into your craft in many simple ways that will not bring attention to the witch. You can simply wear one in your hair. I’m not even talking about the headband crowns that are popular these days, but a single one behind the ear is fine. Say, a simple violet to calm the nerves.

 

(Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash)

 

There is nothing wrong with a vase of fresh cut flowers or even planted flowers around the home.

How about a nice bowl of floral pot potpourri?

Sachets for your drawers & closets?

There are garden/seed growing kits in stores made for specific reasons. This one gives you all you need to grow yourself lavender and then turn it into a facial scrub! How relaxing is that for a nice Witch Spa Day!

 

All of these can be mixed into mojo bags and witchy doings. It’s all in the eye of the Magick Maker.

 

Until Next Time…

I bid you farewell for now in this aromatic jungle of ideas.

Stay Witchie, even if it’s just between you and me -xoxo

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Sacasa-Wright is simply a Witch. She runs PaganPagesOrg eMag.  She loves hearing your opinions & thoughts on the eMagazine and welcomes comments. You can email her at jenniferwright at paganpages dot org.  When she is not working on PaganPagesOrg she is creating in some other way & trying to make the world a better place with her family.

A Leap of Faith

June, 2018

 

Early in my teaching career, I was at a crossroads.  After three years as a public schoolteacher, I wasn’t sure whether I was cut out to be an educator.  I loved the kids and teaching, but it was clear from my run-ins with school administrators and colleagues that I was not on the same wavelength as them.  Even during my practicum work as a university student, I was told by my mentor that she would do everything in her power to make sure I didn’t become a teacher. I was upsetting the applecart with the new education ideas I brought with me into the field. Luckily, my faculty associate at university advocated for me, citing my willingness to take risks and try new things in service of my students as being essential qualities of a good educator. After a year of rough practicum experiences, I graduated with a Bachelor in Education and I was ready to enter the profession as a certified teacher. I looked forward to leaving these challenges behind me.

Years after this event, I was sitting at home one Friday night when I got a call from a teacher whose class I substitute taught in the day before.  I listened for fifteen minutes as she tore a strip off of me. She criticized my teaching methods and attacked my character.  I’d never even met this teacher before. What could have been a really good professional development moment where she got curious about my teaching strategies to learn more, turned nasty. She ended by saying: “They should never have certified you.  You are a horrible excuse for a teacher. I don’t know how you made it through your teaching practicums.” I never got a chance to say a word.

I didn’t know if she was right or not. I was in shock.  When I recovered, I reached out to one of my experienced teacher friends. He was outraged when I told him what happened and urged me to complain to the principal of the school and file a grievance with the union. At this point, I felt so discouraged and tired of swimming upstream in the education system that I quit all three school districts I was working for.  I needed to find clarity. I prayed for help and said to the universe: “If I am meant to be an educator, please send me the job that is right for me.”

At the encouragement of a friend who was a horticulturist with her own landscaping company, I started working full-time as an apprentice gardener.  Gardening and farming were in my ancestry; Portuguese people have a deep reverence for the land and find ways to create gardens wherever they live.  It’s not uncommon for apartment balconies to be filled with pots containing edible plants.  My paternal grandpa was a farmer in Portugal and continued that practice in his East Vancouver lot when he moved to Canada. It felt comforting to be walking in his footsteps.

Each day working with the plants in silence, I began recovering more parts of my soul that had left me bit by bit during my years as a public schoolteacher.  I got really clear in my mind about the reasons I became an educator and began questioning all the negative feedback I’d received from colleagues.  Why were they so threatened by my methods?  Why was it so horrible to include parents in their children’s learning?  Why were my students expected to follow unjust school rules?  Why did students have no say in their education and in helping to develop the school’s ethos?  I simply didn’t understand why we as educators couldn’t team up with children.  Why were we at war with learners and families when we didn’t need to be?

After a year of working with the plants, I developed a plan to open a small school. I started talking to professionals in the community who had already done this.  During my research, I found a school and learning philosophy I really grooved with.  I called the founder to see if he would meet with me and teach me how to begin manifesting my dream. Surprisingly, he said, “We’re already doing what you want to do.  Why don’t you just come work with us?”  That was in 2004 and the rest is history.  During our first meeting, I looked around at my fifty colleagues sitting in a circle discussing pedagogy and I knew I’d found the “staff room” I belonged in.  We were all on the same team and we all had similar values when it came to our work with children. I’d finally come home as an educator.

Most of all, I learned from the plants to accept myself as I was and to trust what I knew deep inside of me: I was a good educator with a passion for advocating for children’s rights to learn in ways that matched their sensibilities.  I found a place deep inside that I anchored into to draw strength.  Though I honour and respect my public school colleagues, I don’t regret my decision to leave and take a path less traveled.  Plants stay rooted while they reach for the sun.  They give life without asking anything of us in return.  They stand in what they know with tremendous trust. They showed me that what I was actually doing as an educator was aligning with life and its natural flow.  It paid off big to stop warring with the truth inside me, even though it flew in the face of conventional “wisdom.”

In the years since, I’ve worked with hundreds of children– many of whom are now adults who are thriving. They know who they are as people and they are aware of what their strengths and weaknesses are. They have learned the skills to excel in their interests with confidence. They are not afraid to follow unconventional paths in life. I am so humbled by the fact that I’ve been able to walk alongside them on their journeys for a short while.

Today, I know that I wouldn’t have been effective at guiding children if I hadn’t had the courage to take leaps of faith myself. How could I ask children to take risks if I hadn’t practiced that skill? All those early challenges had a purpose: to prepare me to bring forward the educator I really was in my heart. I learned that it is not how other people see you that determines your character or worthiness. We are all worthy. Today, I respect the kind of educator I am even when colleagues do not agree with my methods. Honouring myself­–like I do each of the vastly different children in my care–was the key that was there all along inside of me. I am grateful I found the courage to turn it and walk through the door into my new life.

***

About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

June, 2018

June 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings.

I had a delightful conversation today with a neighbor.

This neighbor is one of my buddies. You can find us out front, giggling, gabbing, venting, chatting with other neighbors, and going gaga for the neighborhood dogs together.

We became unexpected teammates in gardening four years ago. I had ran out of gardening space on my back patio, and had planted everything I could in my front space, so I begged neighbors at my building to allow me to plant things in their spaces. He was the last one I asked, and he turned out to be the most enthusiastic.

My husband and I had planned to have our condo sold, and be gone from here by now, so last year, I told everybody I would not be doing more gardening. Well…we are still here…and although I decided to only garden on the patio, guess what? I ran out of space out back again! In the front, an unexpected, and unwanted invader showed up.

A TON of poison ivy!

I have been fighting a losing battle with it for years now, and I enlisted the help of the condo manager to help tame it.

One year, they sent somebody who “could not find it” until I made an appointment to have him come when I was home, so I could show him where it was.

Sigh.

Last year, there were small patches of it I controlled by pouring boiling water on it…or so I thought…

This year, it came back for revenge, and has spread into my mint and lavender. I planted both of these in 2006, and it appears I may have to give them up to kill the poison ivy.

I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to sacrifice my sixteen-year-old herbs, but I am less certain if I have a choice or not.

So, after my neighbor buddy lamented to me something that is bugging him, I lamented about the poison ivy.

He just so happens to have some poison ivy killer, and Sunday, we are going to murder it together.

The growing season is my favorite for a lot of reasons, but things like poison ivy make me cringe, and when I am bitching about the cold of winter, and missing my plants, I can at least be thankful I won’t have to worry about being covered in the awful itch and bumps of my least favorite plant.

Up until a few years ago, I LIVED for Summertime, and could not understand people who needed cold.

Now, poison ivy, asthma, and age induced heat intolerance has me understanding how so many have issues with my favorite season.

I am learning there is more to life than the good and the bad of Summer, although there was a time that is all I lived for.

While some of us see the seasons as being broken up into two, one being Winter beginning at Samhain, the other Summer beginning at Beltaine, these days, most people feel there are four seasons, and Mid-June brings us to the Summer Solstice.

What is the Solstice Anyways?

Most simply stated, the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, meaning it is the day when there is the most amount of sunlight. It is marked by revelry (of course!) bonfires to represent the sun, and ritual in many faith traditions. I had not realized this, but Summer Solstice is observed in over 30 countries, some of which are actually in the Middle East, and members of both Xtian and non Xtian faiths celebrate it in various ways. Of course, as with most Xtian celebrations, it originated in Pagan times.

One thing many of us have known for a very long time is a site where we find evidence of Pagan Midsummer celebrations is Stonehenge.

 

Stonehenge

Stonehenge has intrigued us since forever. Sitting on Salisbury Plain, it cuts a dramatic figure with it’s huge stones, and the fact many are missing lends an air of mystery, as well as stirs the imagination.

From tales of human sacrifice, to devil worship, today’s folk like to say all sorts of far fetched things about this stone circle.

The fact there are no written records left by the people who both built and used it add to the mystery, and there are too many “experts” throwing theories around they can never prove. Instead of sharing mounds of these theories, I will share what is known through evidence.

It was developed through four stages of construction. I find it interesting that when I was a kid, they were saying it was THREE stages, and now, they are saying it’s four. So CURRENTLY, it is accepted there were four stages of development.

The first stage took place around 3100 BC, and it included the famous Aubrey Holes, which some claim can be used to calculate lunar events, cremations, a ditch, and an earthwork and bank. It was then abandoned for about 1,000 years. Nobody knows why.

The second stage was around 2100 BC, and the very heavy bluestones were hauled from mountains 240 miles away, some of which weighed four tons. This was all supposedly done via waterways, and then dragging the stones by log rollers on land. An incomplete double circle was formed, and an avenue was constructed, which lines up with the Midsummer Sunrise. This is evidence that over 4,000 years ago, Midsummer was observed at Stonehenge.

The third stage around 2,000 BC, less than 200 years later, they hauled what are called the Sarasen stones from about 25 miles away. The heaviest of these is estimated to weigh about 50 tons. They made another ring of stones, laid the stones atop, which we call lintels, and formed a horseshoe ring of stones we can still see today.

The final stage took place around 1500 BC, and included rearranging he bluestones.

There has been generations of researchers, and no matter what the discover by this or that fond onsite, we can only piece together so much because no written record was left by the people who built it. We know when what was put where, and where it came from. We know it was all very sacred. We have no idea exactly what was done.

It is pointed out that both solar and lunar events can be marked by where moon and sun rises when, and the Aubrey Holes, as was previously mentioned supposedly work by moving a stone from hole to hole every day to keep track of lunar events. The sun and moon, marking seasons was significant to the builders, and due to the fact cremains and animals teeth have been found buried on site, it is believed the teeth were used as sacrifice to gods, and the site was a sacred burial grounds.

We are never going to have the whole story.

Fortunately, Pagans have our spiritual selves to let us know sites like Stonehenge are sacred. Today’s Pagans have been hosting Midsummer Sunrise celebrations for many years. Last years was well documented by video, which I will share here. This is a 40 plus minute video, and in it, you can see the Druids doing their ritual and talk.

 

 

 

The Solstice

The Solstice worldwide is about celebrating life, gathering with people, enjoying a festival, and doing ritual purification.

In Denmark, they have bonfires to drive away bad spirits, and there was a time when people visited healing wells, which has fallen out of practice.

In Finland, of great importance is the midnight sun, or the 24 hour daylight they have at that time of year. They also have their bonfires, and erect summer Maypoles, and fertility is the focus, as opposed to at Beltaine time.

In Iran, ancient celebrations are observed. They light bonfires, of course, and thank their god for crops, and pray for peace for the souls of the dead.

Neo-Pagans, of course are just as varied as other peoples, and space allowing, there are bonfires, and rituals thanking and honoring the sun, and celebrating its strength, and power over darkness.

A modern story some Wiccans embrace tells of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King rules over winter, and the Oak King rules over summer. At the Solstices, they battle. Summer Solstice, the Oak King, the youthful, physically powerful king overthrows the Holly King, who has become old and weak.

Many of the Pagans in town near me like to attend sunrise gatherings, some of which are by a local lake, and done non-religiously, and others like to walk a local labyrinth.

Some of us (me included) don’t want to wake up that early, and we don’t feel ashamed for that…

A bonfire come night time is something a lot of people, even if they are not Pagan love to have for cookouts and barbecues this time of year. It’s just a great time for everybody to gather, and celebrate being alive outdoors when the garden is growing well.

I’m not sure what your space allows, but this Summer Solstice working I will suggest is both simple, and versatile enough, anybody can do it.

 

Saoirse’s 2018 Summer Solstice Fire Working

Fire represents both destruction and purification. We all have things in our life we want to both get rid of, and to also have blessed. On the mundane level in my own life, my garden needs purged of the poison ivy, and my garden soil and all her plants aside from the green terror needs blessed to help it succeed. Some are in need of healing, emotional support, a new home or job, or even just inspiration. Rather than have a structured circle with many words said, I have a simple idea you might love.

Do this alone or with loved ones. Do it day or night, whichever is best for you. Have a big fire, or a small one. Do it indoors or outdoors. It’s all up to you.

Think of all the things you want blessings for, and all the things you would like to purge.

Either write it all down, on a one piece of paper per item, being as specific as possible, or select an easily burned item that represents all of these things.

Also select a sacrificial offering to the gods, whichever ones you venerate, or the powerful sun itself. This also should be burnable.

Instead of making a fire and then tossing it all in to burn everything, build your pile of burnable things, praying over these things, and either speaking them aloud or in your heart as you build the fire pile. If you have other people doing this with you, have each person take turns, and build your fire pile together. Last of all, give the sacrificial offering, and light the fire.

One concept of spellwork many embrace is letting the intention go once the working is complete, having faith the blessings of the gods will make it happen.

Spend time around the fire, and keep adding wood and other burnables for as long as you like. Feast, revel, and enjoy fellowship, or the peace of solitude.

Blessed Solstice. Blessed Be.

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

Book Review – The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

March, 2018

THE MAGIC CIRCLE

Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within

A year ago I wrote a brief review of this book on Amazon but in this review I will expand on what I wrote in February 2017:

This is an amazing source book for families, schools, grandparents and youth leaders in different capacities. It offers a breath-taking range of ideas and ceremonies – ranging from fast and simple to more complex. These ceremonies can help children and young people navigate life transitions and events. From losing a loved one, taking courage, the magic of our own body, the weather, animals, ancestral sleuthing and so forth the possibilities are endless and very inspiring! The future of our Earth depends on young people staying attuned to the Web of Life and honoring all different life forms. This book is a must have for anyone raising such children or hoping to raise such children one day! It has given me ideas for the children and teenagers I myself work with!”

This book was co-authored by a team of three people: Ann Dickie, Jennifer Engracio and Katherine Inksetter. As parent, shamanic teacher and author of a book about shamanic parenting it always makes my heart sing to find high quality resources about shamanism for families, teachers and youth leaders!

Essentially this book provides ceremonies for every conceivable occasion, following the Medicine Wheel (starting in the Center: the Land of Void and from there moving South, than West and so forth).

All this material has been tried and tested extensively and a lot of reflection has gone into the way that activities are introduced and structured. This is important because it reduces the risk of misunderstandings or things “going wrong”. – Having said that: when proper preparations are made, things going “wrong” usually means that the spirits are playing with us and getting creative. In a sense you cannot go “wrong” in ceremony when you work from the heart! – Still, some people feel a little nervous about using shamanism with children, which is understandable, so using properly tested material takes some of that anxiety away.

The authors also point out – very correctly! – that any deep spiritual work or personal growth work will flush out issues needing attention. As a shamanic teacher just want to echo how true this is but, I will also say how those things are ultimately the ingredients of life-changing adventures, they open portals and rewire us on the level of soul. Don’t let that put you off.

Working your way through the whole book can certainly be done but it is a big commitment. It might be better to use the book intuitively – do what calls out to you or what resonates with an issue your child (or grandchild, or youth group etc.) is facing right now.

The Medicine Wheel is a wheel in a very literal sense: one could start anywhere and a journey will unfold. Wheels per definition do not have a beginning or end.

Another good thing about this book is that it includes a suggested age range for every activity. If you are going to be working with younger or older children – no problem, but you may need to simplify things a little or add some complexity. Any parent or teacher (or person who spends time around children) will do this very naturally.

Ceremony is a key-concept in shamanism because it opens the door to our soul and allows us to step outside time. Powerful work is done in the place where the spirits, ancestors and sacred dreams of our collective reside. Healing occurs naturally when we perform ceremonies.

This book gives families tools and high quality activities. Following those encourages children to stay tuned and – most importantly – to keep the connection to their own spirit allies alive and strong as they grow older and face the challenges life will throw at human beings. I truly believe that this is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child.

This book encourages creativity, time spent outdoors, connecting to ancestors, knowing that (as my eldest son once put it when he was just four years old) that “everything is medicine” – or can be, when used or embraced the right way.

I invite you to take this journey around the Medicine Wheel and discover what your own calling and unique medicine is – so you can fully embody and birth this in our world. – Our world in great turmoil and transition (paradigm shift) needs every person alive right now to activate their divinely granted talents and medicine. If we all do that – our world can change overnight!

Thank you Ann, Jennifer and Katherine for this magical book!

Essentially a book like this is spiritual dynamite (and the authors may quote me on that!)

Imelda Almqvist, 22 February 2018, London UK

For Book’s Website Click Image

***

About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and SACRED ART. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit  2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. Her second book SACRED ART, A Hollow Bone for Spirit : Where ART Meets Shamanism will be published in the Autumn of 2018.

For Amazon Information Click Image

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist  (Youtube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86  (Year of Ceremony)

 

Notes from the Apothecary

March, 2018

Notes from the Apothecary: Dill

Feathery and fragrant, the herb dill is so much more than just a flavouring for fish dishes or pickles. This magical herb has been used for centuries as a medicine, and as a potent tool for magical practitioners. From a muscle toner for Greek athletes, to a medicine for treating boils, this versatile herb is truly fascinating.

The Kitchen Garden

You can find dill growing wild, so if you manage to harvest a few seeds, or purchase some from your local supplier, you could cultivate a little patch of dill yourself. It likes loose soil with good drainage, and you can plant the seeds directly where you want the herb to grow, ideally in a sunny spot. It’s an annual or biennial, which means that at most each plant lasts two years, or two growing seasons. However, it self-seeds, which means that you should get plenty of fresh seedlings the following spring.

The delightful, tiny yellow flowers are a real draw for bees, butterflies and other essential pollinators, so planting dill will definitely increase the number of visitors to your garden. Conversely, dill helps repel aphids and other pests, making it a great companion plant to cabbages, lettuce and many other food crops.

If you don’t have a garden, or quite frankly, the time and energy to grow herbs, dill is widely available at grocery stores as well as herbal retailers.

For culinary purposes, it’s normally the leaves that we’re talking about. Small amounts of leaves can be cut from each plant, so that you don’t kill the plant by harvesting. If you have more leaves than you need to use immediately, put some in a sandwich bag and pop them in the freezer. Don’t forget to label them!

Dill leaves can be added to salads, cheese (such as cottage cheese), soups and other foods as a garnish and to add flavour. Leaves or seeds can be added to a bottle of vinegar to create a unique, flavoured condiment.

The seeds are also used, primarily for flavouring the liquid that pickles are soaked in. Hence the term ‘dill pickles’.

These are but a very few of the culinary uses of dill. It is used all over the world in dishes from curry to crayfish. Because of this, it is relatively cheap, and very easy to get hold of.

The Apothecary

Charlemagne had dill tea made available for his guests who dined with him, to aid their digestion and prevent hiccups. It has been used as a ‘gripe water’ for infants, helping relieve colic and gas, but obviously don’t feed herbal remedies to children without consulting a pediatrician first.

It is normally the seed of dill that is used medicinally, as it has high amounts of the oil anethol, or anethole, also found in anise and caraway. Mrs Grieves recommended it as a stimulant and for easing stomach issues, flatulence and simply as an aromatic.

Modern research has found that the active oil has antimicrobial properties, which are effective against some bacteria, fungi and yeast. It’s even been found to be effective against salmonella in some instances.

It can also be used as an insecticide, which probably explains why it’s effective at repelling certain unwanted critters in our gardens.

Wash your hands after handling dill and don’t use the oil in massage. It causes photosensitivity so can lead to burning. Don’t take if pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can affect the uterus.

The Witch’s Kitchen

Mrs Grieve notes that during the Middle Ages, dill was used by magicians in spells and in charms against witchcraft. If this is true, we can surmise that there is a protective aspect to dill, particularly against supernatural or magical attack. Dill can be used in a poppet to provide protection to the person you are visualising. You could carry a sprig to ward off negative intentions towards yourself, or sprinkle some seeds around yourself and visualise a wall of light rising up from the seeds, protecting you from all harm.

In the bible, the Scribes and Pharisees are berated for paying a ‘tithe’, or tax of rich goods, but neglecting their morals and ethics. One of the items in the tithe is dill, along with mint and cumin, so we can assume that dill was very valuable. This can be translated magically into using the herb for money spells, perhaps a little in your purse to protect your existing funds, or used in a little pouch with other herbs to draw wealth towards you.

Both Culpeper and Cunningham assert that the plant is ruled by the planet Mercury, which one can also extend to include the god the planet is named for. This reaffirms the wealth and money connection, as the Roman god Mercury is strongly connected to financial gain, especially commerce and trading. He is also associated with eloquence, so dill could be used to help you find the words you need in a tricky situation. Linking the two, a charm made with dill is ideal for a sales person, as it will boost the holder’s communication skills and promote wealth coming to them.

Cunningham also states that placing dill in the cradle protects a child, which most likely links back to the herb having been used in children’s medicine for centuries. A sachet under the mattress where the child cannot reach it, or even under the bed or cot itself would be best for safety.

Home and Hearth

Sprinkle dried or fresh dill leaves or seeds around the boundary of your home to keep out unwanted visitors or negative energy. Walk widdershins (anti-clockwise) whist doing this if you feel there is an existing energy you need to banish. Walk deosil (clockwise) if you are wanting to boost the current mood or atmosphere in your home. You can boost the power of this simple spell by adding elemental energies, if appropriate to your path and beliefs. Sprinkle water, salt for earth, carry a candle for fire and walk the boundary again holding a lit incense stick to represent air. Don’t try and carry them all at once! Juggling candles and incense might seem impressive but actually it just leads to burnt fingers and clothing. If you are not mobile, hold the dill or have it near you, and visualise your energy surrounding your home or sacred space.

Once a year (I would do this at Imbolc as I have the idea of early spring cleaning firmly ingrained in my psyche) sweep the boundary and refresh your protective ward.

I Never Knew…

There is a superstition that burning dill leaves will cause thunderstorms to clear up.

Image Credits: Anethum graveolens by Forest and Kim Starr via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2007; Dill seeds by o Alanenpää via Wikimedia Commons, copyright 2008.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals: Celtic Witchcraft.

Follow Mabh on TwitterFacebook and her blog.

For Amazon Information Click Images

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

August, 2017

Bright Blessings!

 

August already!

 

(pinterest.com)

 

Depending on your tradition, you will likely celebrate either Lammas, or Lughnassadh, and while I’ve written about Lughnassadh, I’ve delved into little about Lammas.

 

(drieddecor.com)

 

The difference lies in what is being harvested. Lughnassadh is about corn harvest, and Lammas is about wheat harvest.

 

The underlying principle is the same. Both wheat and corn were very meaningful to the people who grew them, and both crops can be used in multiple ways. Meal is ground from corn, while wheat makes flour, and both can be used to bake spectacular things tons of different ways. Both also store well, and were important food for our ancestors. While many shun both corn and wheat these days for reasons ranging from wanting to avoid carbs to stay thin, to gluten intolerance, ancient people relied heavily on these foods. They celebrated the success of the harvest of these important foods, and thanks was given to the gods.

 

Many modern Pagans don’t grow wheat or corn, let alone rely on those foods like our ancestors did. However, Pagans still celebrate harvests. For those like me who are gardeners, carrying in the first fruits and vegetables to feed your family with makes you prouder than most anything else. Imagine how much more proud the people were of a successful harvest whose livelihood depended on the work they did on those foods in the fields.

 

For most of us, this is the first of three harvest celebrations, the next being Mabon, and the final Samhain. We typically celebrate symbolically, and ascribe the term harvest to things we have accomplished in our lives. Maybe there was a pay raise, or a new baby is on the way. Maybe a new furbaby joined the family! Maybe you were able to get into grad school, or earned good grades for the year in your classes. Maybe a loved one got over an illness, or maybe there was reconciliation in a relationship that was thought beyond saving. We all have our own personal harvests to celebrate, no matter how great or small they happen to be.

 

Unexpected Harvests

 

What about the things we feel like we failed to do? The goals we have been unable to reach? What about when we had big goals we planned well for, worked towards, and we watched them crumble before our eyes?

 

What do we celebrate during the times we feel like he failed ourselves, and feel we have nothing to be proud of, or thankful for?

 

I hate to say it, but if you live long enough, you might feel this way about yourself.

 

Fortunately for us, the ambitious species we are, we are also an intellectual species, and we can shift our perception.

 

The trick is going to be to focus in the unexpected things you DID accomplish, no matter how small they were, as opposed to grieving the things you were unable to do.

 

Sometimes, we pick the wrong goals, and our attention, and time are better spent on things we are able to do. You would never expect a blind person to pilot an airplane, would you? No, because that would not be fair. It’s equally unfair to expect yourself to do things you are not meant to do.

 

Then again, there are times when you just need to dig your heels in, and keep trying!

 

It’s difficult to know which is the case when it seems you are failing. Nobody but you can decide whether to keep trying, or to go try something else.

 

When I think of all the things I have tried to excel at in my 41 years, it makes me chuckle. Hell, at least I tried, but you never know whether you are gifted with something UNLESS YOU TRY IT FIRST.

 

I’m not sure what is on your list of things you tried, and moved on from, but mine include music, math, dancing, being skinny, trying to make my first marriage work, trying to get pregnant, trying to be tan (I burn), trying to be “normal” , being politically correct, keeping mosquitos from eating me ( OMGS, they LOVE me!!!!) and much more!

 

Every last time I do not excel or accomplish something, I beat myself up over it, and take it as a personal failure, and I get all upset for days on end.

 

Eventually, I have to stop boo hooing, pick my ass up, and start doing something else, instead of feeling bad.

 

I don’t know what the list of things you are a success in are. Mine are being a good cook, and mastering new foods regularly, learning to crochet, being a good customer service professional, graduating college, and then getting a professional certification beyond that, moving cross country and traveling all I wanted to- much of which was done on my own, btw, gardening, raising furbabies, a happy second marriage, reading tarot professionally, and much more, including writing for this amazing ezine!

 

If I only focused on what I could NOT accomplish, I would never have achieved any of the wonderful things I have in life.

 

None of us would. These things are our unexpected harvests. The things we accomplished and are thankful for that were not our number one plans! These are the things we were meant to do while we were making plans to do other things! These Unexpected Harvests are sometimes the most abundant, and joyous things in our lives.

 

Keeping this in mind, I will share a very simple personal working you can do for Lammas to celebrate these Unexpected Harvests.

 

Saoirse’s Unexpected Harvests Working

 

This is a very personal working, and you don’t have to share if you don’t want to.

 

There are two ways to do this.

 

First, you can do this alone, with nobody else knowing about it, or two, you can do this with a group.

 

For the group working, do circle, or open circle as you prefer, and for the working part, pass out pencils and paper to participants.

Have everybody write ten things they accomplished or “harvested” since Midsummer- or if you want to, a longer timeframe, even for the whole year.

 

Then, have each person read their list out loud, and give a gift to thank their person gods for their help in accomplishing these things. Feast and do fellowship as you prefer! People can keep the lists, or discard them as they prefer. Another good thing to add to this working is a gift exchange. That way each person gets a little gift, or treat for their good work towards their harvest. You can have everybody wrap the gifts, and put them all on a table together. People can draw numbers, and choose their gift in the order of number they drew.

 

If you are doing this alone, I suggest a longer list of twenty or more things. You can sit down all at once and do it, or you can work on your list for a week or more. When you have finished, give thanks and gifts to your gods who helped you, and reward yourself with a little something. Hey, after all, you put work in to do the harvest, didn’t you? Yes, you did, and you deserve a little gift!

 

You can cast circle, light candles, or not. Be as simple or as detailed as you would like to be about this.

 

You can seal your list up to read at a later time if you like, or you can discard it as you see fit.

 

I personally, like to burn my papers, and release the ashes to the wind. However, saving your list to read another time is always beneficial to show you how far you have come. You can even make three lists. One Lammas, one Mabon, and a final one at Samhain.

 

May you have a Blessed Lammas.

 

Blessed Be!

 

 

Spiralled Edges: Finding Nature in the Edges

April, 2015

Spiralled Edges: Seeds of Change

We are moving out of winter, a season of potential and stillness, a time for reflecting on the past and planning for the future. There may still be days with snow and frost, or where I live rain and chilly mornings, but the subtle signs of a month ago that the Earth was waking from slumber are now clearly visible. I saw a magnolia tree in bloom the other morning, and every day I pass dozens of patches of blooming daffodils and crocuses.

I’ve noticed that I am becoming more fully awake as well right now. Ideas and thoughts which I had begun ruminating over back in December are starting to come together. Gentle synchronicities are guiding me to put thoughts into actions.

In thinking of these things, I am reminded quite clearly of the Amulets I use in divination and oracle work. Winter’s time of stillness can be found in the ‘Hand with Seeds’ amulet. This is an amulet of responsibility, or as I like to say it “response – ability”, but it is also an amulet of potentiality.

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A potential for growth is present, but is not yet ready to emerge. The tools for change and growth are in your hand, but you have not yet planted them.

This is where I was over the past few months. Slowly finding and gathering the seeds needed for my next stage of growth. One very clear message I kept getting is that I need to find a ‘warrior’s healing’ and continue practicing being in my body.

Not sure where it would lead, I planted those ideas, those seeds, and left them to grow. The thing with seeds is that once planted, you can’t keep digging them up to check their progress. Have they grown enough? Are they ready to come up through the soil yet? Doing so will kill them.

It’s the same with our own potential for growth when we plant our ideas. We have to allow them to grow in darkness. We have to trust that even though we can’t see results, things are happening as they should.

Some seeds peep through the soil in a matter of hours, some take days, some may take months. Some ideas may be planted in a place that can’t sustain growth, others fall on fertile ground. I am reminded of one of the parables of the New Testament Christian Bible.

The Parable of the Sower.

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

This parable, according to biblical passages refers to people hearing the messages of God and heaven which Jesus was telling.

I think it can also very easily bring meaning to the Hands with Seeds amulet. We each hold the seeds for change and growth which we need in our hand. Those seeds which we plant in good soil are the ones which will come to fruition. Those which we carelessly scatter on unsuitable ground may begin to grow but will quickly perish.

I planted my own seeds over a month ago, and in recent days and weeks I have seen the beginnings of growth starting to emerge. My seeds in hand have become seedlings.

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These ideas which were planted are beginning to emerge. One friend’s off hand comments about Forrest Yoga which led to me reading “Fierce Medicine.” A Tai chi/qigong class I started taking in February. An opportunity to be a case study for someone seeking certification in Emotion Code Healing, and work I have been doing on myself in this area. A link a friend sent me on a global EFT webinar which led to reading a book on using EFT for body acceptance. Another friend’s random recommendation to her Facebook followers for a book on learning to love one’s self. “I (heart) Me: The Science of Self Love”. A computer generated book recommendation based upon other things I have read which led to my finding “Warrior Goddess Training Becoming the Woman You are Meant to Be”.

Some seeds which relate to ideas I have on my own body image have emerged that I don’t particularly like and believe me I would love to be able to stamp them back down into the ground, but I can recognise that these seedlings are opportunities to remove obstacles from my past which have held me back and kept me from being fully present inside my skin.

It may be that over time some ideas will be thinned away so that the strongest can thrive as I re-evaluate just what it is that I want and need. For now though, I am letting each grow to see what it can become.

What seeds are you growing right now in your life?

 

Hand with Seeds and Sprouting Seed Amulet images are both taken by NanLT.

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