Retha’s Crystal Reflections

March, 2019

Crystals for Luck & Happiness

month with both the winter & cold weather dragging on (in my neck
of the woods) and St Patrick’s Day coming, I thought we can sure use
some crystal aids for bringing us more joy & happiness and some
good old luck! Are ya with me? Good! Read on to see which are my
favorite go-to crystals to get my happy on and when I need some luck
on my side.

Yellow Apatite

or golden apatite is best known for its amazing manifestation powers,
but for me it’s also just as fabulous for bringing joy. It’s sunny
gemmy color makes me feel happy upon looking at it! Yellow is a
cheerful color, and if you ever don’t know which crystal to choose
for a certain function you can always choose based on the color.
Colors are important because they can tell us which stones align with
the chakras, but also pretty much everyone knows the feelings that
are induced by looking at different colors! And yellow crystals are
bound to bring happiness and cheerfulness. Yellow apatite is a stone
that brings positive energy into your auric field. It also has solar
vibes and strong male energy. This bright and stimulating energy
strengthens your willpower and can help you discover what you really
want in life. It strengthens your confidence as well. Helps you to
become MORE…..of whatever you want more of in your life. Makes you
more positive overall and enthusiastic. Very powerful yellow ray


Jasper is known as the “happiness stone”. They say it’s
like valium in crystal form. If you are feeling down or blue, this
stone will be your best friend! It encourages feelings of joy and
helps you to release negative feelings so you are more optimistic. It
aids you in reframing negative experiences into a new positive light.
It helps you to communicate positively and helps you to verbally
express feelings of love to others. It relieves tensions, stress and
worry and makes you more aware of the good things in life. It
promotes self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. Ocean Jasper
has a strong heart based energy and I hope you will try this for
yourself next time you need a boost!


is another beautiful yellow color crystal and it is indeed a mood
booster and will cheer you up. It’s known as the “merchant’s
stone” and should be put in your wallet or in a cash register if
you have a store to attract abundance and success to you. It has a
strong sun energy and brings light into all areas of your life.
Brings joy, happiness and good energy to you. Citrine also transforms
negative chi energy into positive beneficial chi energy. Since it
doesn’t absorb the negative energy but instead transmutes it, citrine
never needs to be cleansed. Wear this bright sunny stone to tap into
the beautiful properties.


Aventurine is best known for its ability to promote growth. Whatever
you are wanting to grow or multiply, this is your best tool. I always
add green aventurine to my plants. (Just place on the soil or bury).
It also can help grow your luck. This is the stone recommended for
good luck rituals of any kind. It’s the stone you want if you’re
gambling or playing the lottery, as it’s the stone that boosts your
chances in any situation and helps align opportunities for you. It’s
also what is referred to as the “stone of personal growth”
and also aligns opportunities for learning, growing and personal
development. Green Aventurine is an optimistic stone and promotes a
zest for life. It promotes success and confidence and draws abundance
of all kinds to you. It can protect your heart, acting as an
emotional anchor of sorts. It can even help you to work through
unresolved emotional issues. This stone is such an important one for
anyone’s collection. A workhorse for sure.


doesn’t love pyrite? Its glittery golden sparkles that look like
literal gold. It looks rich and expensive, so if you want luck
(especially prosperity luck) then it makes perfect sense that this is
a great choice. This is a perfect stone in feng-shui for bringing
prosperity and abundance into your home or place of work. Pyrite
helps to relieve “poverty consciousness” and limited
thinking. It increases focus and gives you motivation and
self-confidence. It’s a symbol of wealth and success. It’s revered to
as “fool’s gold” but if you use this stone a fool you
definitely are not! Brings vitality, creativity, protection and
instills a warrior attitude. Gives you the ability to pursue your
dreams. Dream in gold and dream big and use pyrite as your partner to
create your bliss.


is known as a lucky charm. It promotes success, wealth and wisdom. It
is the best good luck charm for wealth, abundance and prosperity
specifically. Green represents growth and vitality (as with
aventurine) and not only growing a richer life in respect to material
possessions, but a richer experience in all aspects of your life.
It’s a wish stone or dream stone. Hold this or wear this stone when
you are visualizing your goals and dreams. The stone for dreamers,
reach for the stars with this powerful ally at your side and make
your thoughts become your reality! Jade is also a well known stone
for eternal youth. Using a jade roller for your skin, or making jade
water to spritz your skin is a great practice to incorporate into
your daily skin care regiment.

hope this gives you some crystals to get started with to tap into
happiness and joy. Try out one or more of these stones and see if
they make a difference in your life. If you need luck or good mojo
get yourself one or all of these good luck stones and start
experiencing their magic. All of these crystals work together
beautifully and complement each other, so the more the merrier!

invite you to make a happiness or luck grid with these stones, adding
quartz to magnify them all! How powerful that would be! Have a very
happy and lucky month and I hope you will come back next month to
read more!




the Author:

Retha N. Lent has been married for 17 years to her husband Mark & they have four cats that are their life. She lives in Norristown, Pa. Retha has her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Behavioral Counseling Sciences from Drexel University. She is the owner of “Retha’s Crystals” & sells sterling silver unique crystal jewelry & specimens on her FB business page. She has a FB group for her customers and those interested in learning more about crystals & all things magical called “Retha’s Crystal Circle“. She is also an advisor in the Sage Goddess Affiliate Program. She has her Holistic Healing Certificate and Pillars of Priestessing certificates from Sage Goddess. She is also an Ordained Pagan Minister from the Universal Life Church. Retha has a passion for crystals, nature, astrology, working with moon cycles, ritual practices, tarot and oracle cards, runes, essential oils, herbs, manifestation work, ancient cultures, magic & music. Her favorite place is New Orleans, La. Retha has an extensive personal crystal collection and loves sharing her love of crystals with the world. She has been a practicing pagan since she was 16 years old. 

can reach her at [email protected]
or on her business
page on FB

in her
FB group

affiliate link is:

follow her on Instagram at @spookygirl16

The Sober Pagan

March, 2019

Packing Up To Move

still only February as I write this but in ten days it’ll be the
first Monday of March and I will be moving into a new apartment. I
am so excited but I have to admit that I am just a bit overwhelmed!
I have all of my books packed and most of my fine china and
collectibles. I still have to pack up my kitchen – except for what
I’ll need on a daily basis until moving day. And all my pictures
will have to come off the walls here. There were lots of holes
punched in the walls in this place I’m in now – the people who
lived here before me argued a lot and apparently like to throw things
at each other – so I covered the walls with dozens of pictures to
cover up all the holes and marks from their stupidity. I’ll miss
my collage but the new place is really nice and I won’t need to
cover the walls at all. They all have a coat of fresh paint – a
lovely peach color in the bedrooms and off-white in the living room
and dining room. The place is spotlessly clean.

a huge front porch and I can hardly wait to put a porch garden up
there. I want tomatoes and peppers and cukes and lots of colorful
flowers. I have missed gardening these last few years – stuck in
apartments with no porch, not even a small balcony – so I am more
than ready to get my hands in some dirt! I am so glad I held onto my
gardening tools.

last two years I have been about as depressed as I have ever been but
I have hung in there and told myself over and over, “This too shall
pass” – and it did. I am finally moving out of this
dead-end neighborhood – moving to a far nicer section of the city –
moving to a bigger, lovelier apartment – closer to everything that
I need in my life. I am so thankful and happy.

I know this is a lame column this month but I am wicked busy! I just
wanted to stop in and tell you all – if you are struggling, if you
think it’s not worth it – HANG IN THERE. It gets better. It
really does.

Brightest Blessings, Polly Applequeen.


the Author:

in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change,
since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the
divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has
three cats who all help her with her magic.

philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly
based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

blogs at
She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a
novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Celebrating Autumn with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

September, 2018


Autumn Smudge Bundle with Gemstones

Hello, I’m Norma with Forevrgoddess Boutique, I wanted to share some info on Smudging herbs, gemstones and smudge rituals.  I don’t know about you, but the first day of September feels magickal, with apples and pumpkins abundantly everywhere.  I think it’s the perfect time to do an Autumn ritual smudging to cleanse home, sacred space or people, to remove negative or stale energy, banish and release emotions, illness, and other energy needing to be removed from home or person, to prepare for the coming of the Autumn Equinox & Samhain. You might have seen a few smudging herb bundles in new age stores, witch shops or online, there are many to choose from.

Smudging has been done in ancient cultures to Native American, in Spanish countries like Mexico, through Central and South America. Some of these herbs are used in smudging rituals by Shamans.  Some of these herbs can also be used in blessings, after ritual cleansings of homes or people. You can perform a blessing within a home  to invite harmony, love, laughter, tranquility, happiness and prosperity, or what ever is needed at the moment. For personal blessings you can do any of these ideas as well.

You can typically find in stores or online: White sage,  Juniper, cedar, Yerba Santa and Palo Santo. Any of these bundles of herbs can be helpful. Combining them with gemstones and crystals is an additional bonus and can help give healing/loving energy to aid with manifesting the properties you need most. I’m going to talk about a few of my  small smudge sets from Forevrgoddess Boutique, what they can do to help cleanse, rebalance and refocus energy to a positive and harmonious environment or how they can be used for personal blessings.


Small Autumn Smudge Blend

Here we have a beautiful mixture of Mexican cinnamon, Cloves, Cedar, Rose, Rosemary and White Sage. Very aromatic smell. Here’s a information on a few herbs we use for our Autumn blend.

White Sage: Can be prefect for magickal workings – protection, banishing/ releasing, seek wisdom through meditations, helps with grief, good health, healing, longevity, and psychic awareness.

Red Roses: Love, respect, beauty, courage, passion, romantic love, blessings, attract, banish, consecrate/bless, devotion, happiness, harmony.

Palo Santo (or Holy wood): from Ecuador forests, Palo Santo – Shaman have used it to clear energy, and positive energy. To reestablish peace, balance enhance focus to meditation, heals people physical and spiritual level.

Cedar: Calming, comforting, purify, protection, healing, harmony, prosperity, abundance, cleansing, helps focus on goals and meditation.

Mexican Cinnamon: Brought from Mexico to USA. – actions, attraction, inner balance, dream work, harmony, healing, attract luck, peace, passion, protection, wishes, consecrate/blessings.

Our Small Smudge Set is portable, you can do a quick smudge ritual anywhere. The Small Smudge Set is in a little tin box (we’ll provide ritual at bottom of this article). You can either burn them together or separately.  If you decide you want it to be stronger then make a bigger flame.  You can  always break the smudge blend into little burnable pieces and use a small abalone shell to burn it in. (We carry various abalone shell in boutique in 2 sizes.) If you wish to get a little smell burn small bit of each, cinnamon, cloves, rose, and rosemary with a bit of sage. The choice is yours.


Autumn Gemstones

We selected these from our Wiccan Magickal Sabbat Mabon and Samhain box sets.  With autumn equinox coming soon, seasons are changing for fall. It’s the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings winter.

Here are the Stones for Autumn:

Citrine: Stone of happiness, positive energy and thought mental clarity, abundance, healing, uplifting.

Carnelian: Motivation, calm emotions, banishes negative emotions, replaces with love.

Smoky Quartz: Dispel negative energy, protection, grounding, transformation, brings calm.

Tiger eye: Stone of wealth, protection, self-confidence, balance, grounding.

When charging or programming your gemstone, keep in mind the goal or desire you wish to bring into your life. Help manifest this desire to life, say a prayer to your deity, angels, or elemental, ask for their support to bless this new path you wish to journey on. Keep them in your pocket, purse or coin purse as a reminder of what healing qualities you wish to be blessed with at the moment.


Autumn Smudge House Blessings Set

House Blessings Manifest Kit

Brightest Blessings, I’m so happy you decided to change a new part in your life, for the coming of Autumn and all her glory. This kit is designed to help you focus you and your home or sacred space to help “manifest” a new beginning and bring in the desires in your life..

How to Set up your Stones..

You will noticed you have 6 gemstones and an Autumn Smudge blend. The Autumn Smudge blend is to cleanse the area and give it a fresh start with positive energy.

Gemstone Selenite: ( Don’t rinse in water or leave in sun) quickly unblocks stagnant energy and removes negative energy. It magnifies the energy of any other gemstone that’s placed upon it. Combine selenite with black tourmaline. It will protect home and clear any negative energy, and help in protection crystal grids. Expands awareness opens psychic abilities.  Brings mental clarity and deep peace. Helps with angelic guidance.

Gemstone: Iron Pyrite ( fools gold): recall beautiful memories, protective stone, attract wealth and prosperity, energy shielding stone, blocks out negative energy, positive stone. Relieves anxiety frustration and boosts self-worth. Great for memory, this stone helps when depressed or deep despair, luck, money, protection, strength, willpower.

Gemstone: Pink Calcite: balance emotions, calming, grounding, spiritual growth, love, Healing, self work, well-being.

Gemstone: Carnelian: career success, grounding, motivation, personal power, helps with creativity, good health, protection, stop – negative energy, stimulates the conscious mind, helps you focus on the present and current needs, helps over come difficult times, manifesting energy to have your desire come to life.

Gemstone: Amethyst: all healing (mind, body, spirit) inner peace, calming one’s mind, a sense of spiritual insight when in a deepen stage of meditations, protective stone, esp, psychic attacks, helps with grief or loss, releases tension, helps over come bad habits tendencies, and calm anxiety attacks.


Cleansing Stones

Cleanse each gemstone with smudging blend burning in shell, to ensure it’s a positive energy to help with your goal you wish to create. It’s to ensure the gemstones, which have passed through so many hands, to get to you at home, are cleaned of other’s energies that might not fit in. Hold stone in hand take shell and pass it over and under stone to encase it with smoke.


Arranging Gemstones

Once stones are cleansed, set up an area where your stones will be seen through the day (altar, mantel, etc..) arrange stones however you wish. I suggest to put selenite in middle and surround other stones around the selenite so the selenite will energize the other stones. Like a mini crystal grid. If you have more stones, flowers, candles feel free to add them, to help further the goal you have in mind.


Autumn Equinox Celebration Ideas

  • Take walks with autumn changing in your wooded area, feel the cool crisp air.
  • Collect leaves with family, and place them on your altar.
  • Or … Write with black Permanent marker in one word what your thankful for on your leaf then poke a hole thru it, tie a string and hang it where you can see it everyday.
  • Create memories with family and friends and bake autumn sugar cookies talk about what you grateful for or just spend time with them. (our Sabbat Mabon and Samhain cookie cutter and recipe box set is available check the boutique.)
  • It’s time to reflect this time of year on what Autumn means to you, the balance of day and night, finding balance within one’s life ( work, family, school, children, etc) and what goals you want to set for this month September or October.
  • Go to pumpkin farm.
  • Drink cider with friends and family, share sweet goodies.
  • Collect Apples.
  • Do some Autumn crafts with Family and Friends (look on for ideas).
  • Go to some Fall Festivals.
  • Enjoy the fruits and the favorite foods we enjoy this time of year, did someone say “pumpkin spice.” Nothing to big, just go enjoy the Beauty of Autumn. May this Season of Autumn Bless you with Abundance, love, good health, and little wealth. Brightest blessings – N


Forevrgoddess Boutique Charge/Smudging Ritual

Ground/center calm mind, hold the Shell with Smudging inside in your Power hand and say a simple prayer ask for divine power, to bless the Smudging herbs, encircle Smudging herbs with white light.

Open a window.

Light your Smudging herbs in shell.

As it Burns try to focus on cleansing goal/ intent you wish help with. Feel smoke surround you.

Take cupped hand and brush smoke all over body or bless rooms of home, draw sigils with them in air and empower them to life, by visualizing a gold light and start to glow.

Visualize the negative energy, stagnant energy, negative emotions being removed and pushed out.

Feel free to use feathers or broom to push out smoke thru door way or window.

Visualize open window to push out negative energy and welcoming positive energy in. Feel spiritual and physical uplifting of emotions and cleansing.

Once done with smudging ritual, give thanks. Place Shell in a fireproof bowl if necessary to catch ashes and to let it burn out in a safe place.

Brightest Blessings to you – Forevrgoddess Boutique

Look for our Smudging set, blends in Candle, Incense, Sage Section.


About the Author:

Norma Clark I’m the owner of Forevrgoddess Boutique, I live in small rural Paris,Idaho Both me and Hubby are Wiccan with 2 beautiful children and gang of critters. I love to share, inspire, create many Magickal items for my Jewelry and Metaphysical boutique. Come sit for a spell and see the Magick of Forevrgoddess Boutique.


The Road to Runes

August, 2018

The Road to Runes: Raidho, The Traveler’s Rune

The fifth rune in the Elder Futhark, Raidho is also the fifth rune in first ætt, or set of eight runes. These first eight runes are known as Freya’s ætt, and relate to physical and emotional happiness, nurturing and compassion. Raidho literally means riding or wagon, and as such is strongly associated with journeys, arrivals, departures, reunions, relocations, traveling and vehicles. The overriding theme is not remaining stationary. Of course, not all journeys are physical. Each one of us is a traveler, making our own winding way down life’s path. We are all on a spiritual journey as well as physical one. Our experiences and insights on our journeys shape us and create the individual soul and presence that makes us who we are.

For this reading, I followed up on a previous divination I did for myself, and asked what the next year held for me in terms of starting a freelance career in writing. I was focused solely on the future, rather than the here-and-now. Previously I pondered about whether I was making the right decision, and was basically told, “Get on with it!”. Now I’m wondering if the runes have any insights about what I might expect along the way, at least in the short-term future.

The traveler’s rune seems an apt response for this question as this is definitely an exciting journey I am on. Each day holds new challenges and new anxieties, yet many small triumphs that make it all worthwhile. Raidho is all about trusting your own inner compass, and not being still but having the courage to step away from where you are, towards where you need to be. I feel like I am doing that, one tiny step at a time, and this reading definitely encourages me to keep going.

When I initially asked about my change in career, I was given Ansuz, Odin’s rune, the breath of the universe and the rune of words. The message seemed to be to concentrate on the words, the power within them and trust in my leap of faith and not indulge in self-doubt. This next rune, focusing much more on what will happen next, and what the future holds, seems much more focused on the challenges this journey may hold. I feel as if the runes or the power channeled through them has recognised that this is, indeed, a new and significant journey I am taking. Though I have written for many (so many!) years, this is the first time I am relying solely on my own skills with words to feed and shelter my family. That’s a huge step, and the journey is very much based on my own determination and willingness not to give up when things get tough.

The Rune Secrets website tells us that one of the key concepts for Raidho is freedom from imprisonment, and in a way, my decision to work from home is just that. I felt trapped in my office job, even on good days. Feeling trapped makes everything about us smaller, until we remember the ultimate responsibility of every prisoner: to escape. But like anyone who has been in confinement for too long, adjusting to freedom will be difficult, and this rune tells me that the journey may be arduous, and I may have to let go of concepts about my life or my inner self that I have clung to for too long. I don’t even know what these might be at this time, but I am not surprised to be told this. I have formed serious work habits based on ‘having a boss’, deadlines, hierarchies and so forth. Breaking these habits will probably be the key to becoming a successful, full-time freelance writer.

I hope my journey with the traveling rune has bought you some insights about what this rune could mean for you in your own divination. Feel free to tweet me @Mabherick if you want me to choose a particular rune to study for next month’s Road to Runes. Take care!


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: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

Book Review: Mudras – Yoga in your Hands by Gertrud Hirschi

January, 2018



Personally, I love mudras; they are such a simple way to heal, both physically and emotionally. The mudra book that I currently own is in pieces, and so this one coming to me is doubly welcome.

Part I explores the “concept” of mudra, which, simply put, is yoga for your hands. Ms. Herschi introduces the mudra, its’ possible origins and how and when to practice them. This includes how the hands themselves correspond to the chakras (energy centers in the body), Ayurveda (the Indian art of healing through food, acupressure, reflexology using the hands instead of the feet and meridians (energy paths).

Part II, which is the bulk of the book, introduces the mudras themselves. The author describes how to hold the hands for each mudra, the issue for which the mudra is being used, how to use the mudra in combination with pranayama (breathwork), asana (posture), plus movement. Each mudra also lists an herbal remedy that can be used for the specific issue being worked on, as well as an affirmation. There are 52 different mudras presented within the book.

There is a short section toward the back of the book which describes different mudras that can be specifically used in easy pose (cross-legged seating) and some that can be used with specific movements.

(Note: My own training would posit that there are many more of these seated and moving mudras than are listed in the book.)

The book closes with several appendices, as follows: Nutrition, Herbs, Chinese Five Element Theory (wood, fire, earth, mental, water), and very basic Chakra information.

If you are looking for an easy way to begin healing or to add meditation to your daily life, this book would be a great way to go about doing so. I can easily see myself reaching for this book when looking for something specific.


For Amazon Information Click Image



About the Author

Susan Morgaine is a Daughter of the Goddess, Witch, Writer, Teacher, Healer, and Yogini. She is a monthly columnist with Her writings can be found in The Girl God Anthologies, Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak” and Jesus, Mohammed and the Goddess, as well as Mago Publications She Rises, Volume 2, and “Celebrating Seasons of the Goddess”. She has also been published in Jareeda and SageWoman magazines. She is a Certified Womens Empowerment Coach/Facilitator through She is the author of “My Name is Isis, the Egyptian Goddess”, one in the series of the “My Name Is………” children’s books published by The Girl God Publications. A Woman International, founded by Patricia Lynn Reilly. She has long been involved in Goddess Spirituality and Feminism, teaching classes and workshops, including Priestessing Red Tents within MA and RI. She is entering her 20th year teaching Kundalini Yoga and Meditation, being a Certified instructor through the Kundalini Research Institute, as well as being a Reiki Master. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Avalon. She can be found at and her email is [email protected]

For Amazon Information Click Image

5 Easy Tips to Help You Relax

October, 2017

With all of the technology available to us today, you’d think life would be easier. Certainly, we don’t have to do many of our daily chores by hand if we choose, but still, stress remains one of the biggest threats to health (source).

So what can be done to manage stress?

The first important thing is to recognize that we might not even realize we are being affected by stress. So it’s important to work some practices into our daily routine that help us deal with the stress that we may not even be aware of.

The biggest problem with this for most people is finding the time. So here are five easy ways to help manage stress levels as part of daily life.

#1 – Meditate

In its most simple form, meditation is setting aside some time to spend in quiet contemplation. Scientific research indicates that meditation can have a significantly positive effect on stress.

Meditation doesn’t have to take long – even five or ten minutes is enough, it’s portable, and doesn’t have to be complicated, although it is a skill that takes practice to develop. A good way to start is just to sit in a comfortable posture, with your hands resting gently in your lap.

Close your eyes slightly or fully, and focus your attention on the pattern of your breathing. Try not to think about anything other than your breath. Some people use the technique of recognizing any thoughts that might come into their mind, and gently pushing them aside, or allowing them to float out of the mind while returning their focus to their breathing.

Alternatively, you could try a guided meditation, many of which are accessible online, like these (source).

2# – Get outside

Being outdoors in the open air, and spending time in natural places helps you to recharge and appreciate the simple things in life. It is possible to do this virtually anywhere, and beaches, woods, forests and even city parks or the tiniest copse of trees are all fabulous places to be.

Clinical studies have long proven that spending time outdoors, especially in the sunshine, and walking are both highly beneficial to health, reducing stress, anxiety and depression (source).

Walking barefoot – making sure that it’s safe to do so first – helps to connect with nature and become attuned to natural cycles. Observe the beauty and harmony, and the natural forces at work.

In daily life, make detours that take a more scenic route on your way to work, use your lunch break to get out into nature, and make family walks part of your regular routine.

#3 – Eat Chocolate

This is the yummiest stress buster ever! Studies have shown that daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate (and to a lesser degree milk chocolate) can significantly reduce stress levels.

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (above 75%) has also been shown to decrease blood pressure, risk of heart disease and diabetes. This serves to illustrate the fact that treats in moderation really can be good for you (source).

#4 – Do Some Gardening

Once you’ve made short work of your daily chocolate quota, it’s time to head into the back yard. Not only can you work off a few calories, it’s also good for reducing stress.

Numerous studies have shown that caring for plants, weeding and tidying the yard can have numerous significant benefits to health, including reducing stress, anxiety, depression and increasing life satisfaction and self-esteem.

So whether it’s your window box, someone else’s yard, or even a corner of a park or woodland you regularly visit, a daily dose of gardening – even just for a few minutes – is definitely on the stress buster list (source).

#5 – Laughter is the Best Medicine

You know those moments when something just tickles you, and you start to giggle? Moments later, you find the giggle gradually escalating into a fit of laughter that you just can’t control…doesn’t it feel great?

There’s a reason for that. Laughter is thought to release endorphins – chemicals that make us feel good, and has been shown in research to help to decrease stress, anxiety and depression, and give increased quality of life.

So make it a habit. Find a memory that makes you laugh, or a joke, or spend time watching what the children are up to when they think you’re not looking – anything that gives you that feel good factor. And when the laughter comes, don’t hold back…just let it out! (source).


About the Author:

Helen Sanders is chief editor at Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.


August, 2017

(Apprentice of the Wind.  Original Piece by Imelda Almqvist)

Here is last night’s conversation in the Almqvist family (I wrote it down verbatim as it unfolded)

Youngest Son: “Mum, I know you fly around on your broomstick but I can’t see it anywhere!”


Me: “I have made my broomstick invisible – so no one borrows it without asking first. For instance Middle Son when he runs with elks in the Forest at midnight…


My husband: “I want a GPS on my broomstick so don’t end up having a full frontal collision with somebody else flying around in complete darkness…”


Middle Son: “I just want a normal broom for cleaning with no magical purposes…”


Eldest Son: “I want one that works!”


Youngest son: “And I want one with a special seat for a jaguar, my familiar!”



Middle Son: “And I want a secret locker on my broomstick for a special supply of crisps and treats!”


Maybe I should explain that Middle Son (15) really does go running in the Forest (here in remote rural Sweden) at midnight, often accompanied (or closely observed) by an elk or a herd of deer. After “women we run with wolves” it seems the next big thing is “teenagers who run with elks” – and never in the daytime. (His power animal is a wolf. I hope that those deer are safe!)




To me this is what it means to raise a family who keeps the innate gift for magic alive. Practising magic requires imagination and a good sense of humour!


Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, July 2017




About the author

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in August 2016.  



She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True.



In the Words of Mama Bear

December, 2015

I had been working in a small community within the larger Pagan community when I received a very insidious Facebook message that began with, “You’re too emotional when it comes to this community. It’s not all about you, nor is it all that important”. The sender then began to question my skills as a community leader, because I was still “new” (after 10 years) and told me that the pagan community as a whole, the one I worked tirelessly for, “wasn’t that big of a deal.”
It ended with a smiley face emoticon and a message of “You know I’m only saying this because I love you right?”
It was a quick, and destructive little Facebook message, but everything about it and the situation in question was a perfect example of the quagmire of disrespect, insidious, gas lighting, boundary-pushing nature of the Pagan community (within a community)I was involved in. If I had called this person out on their emotional manipulation and denigration in a Facebook message, what would have happened? I could have screen shot it and posted it to my wall, but what good would it do? I would have been seen as a crazy troublemaker while this person was vilified as a God/Goddess (sexual identity concealed to protect the guilty) and I would be laughed at and mocked.
I was depressed. I felt powerless in a situation involving a community where bullying, slander, libel, gossip, harassment, stalking, sexual harassment, sexism, and homophobia seemed to be celebrated. I had been told that I needed to “grow a pair” and acquire a “tough skin” to do the kind of work in the community, that I was doing and that I needed to “not take it personally” when people exhibited these behaviors. When I complained about the toxicity of the community, I was told it was just the way it was for this community to be blunt and rude in order to have an authentic and truly open dialogue. This was the only way that we, as pagans could have a true authentic pagan experience.
When I was questioned about decisions I made for the position in the community that I held, I went from politely firm to loud and angrily defending myself in just a few short moments. I was told that I was overly emotional and that I just didn’t understand where the community was coming from! Talk about double standards! When I got that Facebook message, it was the last straw in dealing with the insanity in my community. I couldn’t do anything in that community without the threat of harassment or physical injury; I made a hard decision, and let my feet cast the deciding vote to leave.
I remember that day so vividly. I had gone to St. Louis with my husband for a weekend away, and as we were riding around the old neighborhoods, I received a phone call telling me that I was indeed still welcome with open arms. In fact, I was being asked to continue to be a leader. I remember chuckling and telling them “No, just give it to someone else, but you know I love you right?”
What I wasn’t prepared for was the grief I felt over the loss of my “big fish in a small pond” role I had carved out for myself in the community. I grieved hard core. People I had been friends with for years suddenly dropped me like a bad habit. Phone calls weren’t returned, people began to drop off of my friends list, and the people who had cheered me on and held me up for over 10 years suddenly disappeared.
Then came the feelings of helplessness and worthlessness. I started to doubt people and my own feelings. Whenever I met someone new, I always criticized them, wondering if they were just pleasant to my face and secretly undermining my dreams for the larger community that I’d started working on in earnest? Thankfully, my handful of longtime friends who had stuck with me showed me a way out of that dark and scary place. I still felt sad and lonely and often times avoided social situations so I didn’t have to deal with people in general.
I’m lucky, because it turned out that my core group of friends, who weren’t in that particular community supported me and my decisions. I didn’t go in to great detail about my woes with the other community, but I did tell them that I was suffering from burn out and needed a break, and a new project to work on. They understood, and supported me in several new endeavors. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how loving and supportive my entire core group was, but they cheered me on and helped me get to where I am today. I will never forget that and I am amazingly blessed by their love.
In retrospect, I didn’t leave that pagan community because there was a huge price to pay for doing so. You were cut off, ostracized, and often times your name was disparaged so badly you just left, rather than to deal with it. Paganism is supposed to be what we sleep, eat, breath and it should be our passion, something we work on even in our spare time. There is incessant talk about community, cohesiveness, unity, spirituality and working on projects for the greater good. To walk away from a community within a community for mental health reasons is considered selfish and not for the good of the greater community. Talking about why you walked away from a toxic community is also one of the largest no-no’s in the world. People don’t want to risk burning bridges and closing down the chances of keeping important relationships. The impact is that no one talks about leaving a toxic pagan community. They quietly leave and find somewhere else to spend their time and talents. When people don’t visibly leave a community, it tends to make others in the same position think that they don’t have any options either.
It is my personal opinion that when someone leaves a toxic pagan community, they need to loudly let everyone know why they are leaving, so that people in those positions know it’s ok to prioritize themselves over anything else. We need stories of people switching covens, dropping leadership roles and telling these toxic communities to “get bent”. This is the main reason that I’m sharing my story.
I don’t ever want anyone to experience the racism, homophobia, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, and all of those other nasty –isms that are going on around the communities these days. No one should have to ever endure putting their heart and soul into a body of work for the greater good only to have it all trashed by people who are threatened by their fresh ideas, new outlooks and positivity. No one.
How do you identify a toxic community?
That has got to be one of the most difficult questions, yet one of the simplest questions to answer. The answer at its simplest form is to watch. Watch how people interact with each other. Are they assholes? Seriously? Is there lots of backstabbing and gossip? Then it’s probably toxic.
Most importantly do the larger groups value the smaller ones? Does the leadership of the larger groups interact with the smaller ones in a positive manner? Do they reach out for input on festivals and events?
How do the larger groups who run festivals and events treat people? Are they welcoming of new ideas and people? Are they a bunch of money hungry business owners hiding behind a festival or an organizational name? Do they donate money to the local community for smaller events? Are they really pagan or just using that as a mask to hide behind so people will support them?
How do the shop owners treat people? (Not the employees, but the owners) Are they welcoming, accommodating and enthusiastic about the local community? Do they think they’re better than everyone else? Do they treat their customers as important individuals or do they brush them off indifferently, seeing them as only a part of their profit margin?
Does the local community value their people? How are newcomers treated? Do they thank them for reaching out, encourage them to get involved or merely pat them on the head and tell them to “let those of us know what’s going on” do the work? Will you fit into the community? Does the leadership build up people, or does it tear them down?
In the end, you may not be able to find a good pagan community that also fits your learning interests. You may want to found your own pagan community where you can build in respect and encouragement from the start. You may decide to leave the public pagan life for a chance to develop your own beliefs and paths. You may even decide to leave the toxic community all together.
The point is you have options. You have valuable skills and the drive to help in a community you still see as new. There are good people willing to help you in the larger community, and within smaller, more concentrated groups. Just because they are pagan, don’t lump them in together with that which is toxic, because they need your help to form a healthy community.
The toxic community will survive without you, and your new community will value your skills even more.
Find a community where you can be loved, respected and appreciated, because you deserve it.

Witches Soul Work

September, 2015

Witches Soul Work: Laughter and Ritual













Usually when we think of ritual or ceremony we think of serious prayer led by serious officiates. We can’t imagine a church ceremony where the priest and the congregation laugh uproariously in lieu of prayer! Yet there are many good reasons why humour and laughter can be used successfully in ritual and many examples from around the world where it does.

In Nepal the Gaijatra ceremony, also known as the festival of holy cows (!) featured a parade of participants who had lost loved ones during the previous year. These sad people brought their cows to walk in a parade because cows are thought by the Nepalese to transport the souls of the dead to heaven. The cows were presided over by representatives of the bereaved cow owners but if they could not afford cows, the representatives had to dress up as funny colourful cows instead. People in general that attended the Gaijatra also dressed up, trying to make themselves look funny and made a lot of noise by dragging iron wheels or broken pieces of metal. This festival dates back to medieval times when King Malla, who was the ruler of Kathmandu, lost his son to small pox. To console his queen he gathered people from the populace who had also lost sons, like a royal support group, and asked them to show ‘funny items’ or to entertain the queen. Many decorated themselves like cows (for the same reason mentioned above) and when the queen began to laugh her grief was finally resolved (Deep 1992, 57-60).

Nowadays they make sort of parade floats carrying the photos of their loved ones and the only resemblance to cows are horns stuck up on top with four legs represented by sticks that the ‘pallbearers’ use to move the cows forward in the parade. The noise is made with a stick dance. (Gaijatra, 2013)

Laughter has a physiological effect and can lead to an increase in heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory depth and oxygen consumption followed by a period of muscle relaxation with a corresponding decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure. Post laughter relaxation can last up to forty-five minutes and is caused by the H-reflex depression of spinal motor excitability (Bennet and Lengacher 2008, 37-40). This translates into a relaxed group of people who are ready to connect with the energy and focus of the ritual.

We read about the Japanese laughing ritual dating back to 1199 when the stone fish was used to create humour and appease the Mountain Goddess (Abe 2010, 31-34). In fact there are seven major traditional festivals in Japan that feature ritual performances of laughter called Wa-Rai-Ko. All of these rituals are carried out in or near Shinto shrines where they dedicate the laughter to entertain and please the Kami hoping the laugher’s wishes will be granted. The word kami is translated loosely as ‘gods’, ‘spirits’ or more accurately ‘sacred’ (Milner 2006, 37). So participants are laughing to the sacred.

Doreen E. Martinez is an ethnographic researcher and trained sociologist as well as being an assistant professor at the University of Colorado and the Director of Culture and Community with the Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative (NASHI). Her paternal grandmother was Mescalero, Apache, born in 1899 and paternal grandfather was Chiricahua, Apache, born around 1897. She describes a cultural ritual she calls ‘Traditional Kindness and Ritual Laughter’(Martinez, 2012).

In this ritual if a person admires something that you have “in the right way”, that is not for material gain, then you should give it to them. Teasing, reflected in the ‘coyote trickster and Native clowns, regularly occurs and reinforces humility’.  The Apache believe that teasing promotes laughter of a certain type and makes the subject of the tease feel they are cared for. As one of her examples she tells of admiring a watch worn by another woman who gives it to her with much ceremony. Actually Doreen never wore a watch but it was considered rude to refuse a gift offered with such grace and friendship. A few days later her friend started teasing her because the watch was in Doreen’s bag, not on her wrist, and she laughingly suggested that she should give the watch back if she wasn’t going to wear it. Doreen returned the watch and later that night found a pair of bone earrings on her pillow.

Another example of cultural laughter comes from the story of the Laughing Buddha, called in China Budai and in Japan Hotei. He is one of the ‘Shichic Fukujin (seven gods of good fortune) and is considered to be an incarnation of Amida Nyorai (the merciful Buddha) and Miroku-bosatsu (the future Buddha)’. He is depicted as a ‘fat, jolly, bald priest with fat pendant lucky ears’ surrounded by laughing children. He carries a sack (hotei) which holds a bottomless pit of sweets and good food for the children. His image is placed at the entrances to many shrines, restaurants and stores both in China and Japan. The ritual of rubbing his tummy is supposed to bring smiles and good luck (Ashkenazi 2003, 168).

Recently I wrote a ritual for Beltane 2014 which involved laughter and kissing. My hope was to bring together between 60 and 100 participants, many of whom did not know each other, and help them experience the energy of the Sabbat which I identified as sexual-laughter. In this ritual I created or recruited 5 couples: one to cast the circle, one to bless the maypoles, one to read the Sabbat reading, one to bless the young King and Queen of May and the last couple to be the King and Queen of May. Since this was a non-specific gender ritual I had the circle casters as a married man-woman couple, the may-pole blessers as a man-man couple, the Sabbat readers as woman-woman couple, the King and Queen blessers an older man-woman couple (myself and husband Bran) and the King and Queen of May a younger man-woman couple. The drumming troupe raised energy for the maypole dance and the women’s belly dancing group danced the quarter callings wearing fancy dress.

The circle casting couple kissed very deeply, cheered on by the crowd and then Mielka ran off from her husband going clockwise from East. He gave chase and finally caught her again back at the East quarter after going full circle and they kissed again (more cheering). Hawk and Mitch (two guys) blessed the maypole making a lot of hard pole jokes and then kissed which brought a lot of laughter because it was unexpected. Mitch’s wife laughed the hardest. The Sabbat reading was done by Serafina and Oshun and then they gave the biggest sexiest kiss of the day, which surprised us all as they are not a couple and both are not gay. Bran (my hubby) and I kissed and blessed the Young King and Queen of May played by Ivy and her new boyfriend Paul. This was only his 2nd ritual and as the scheduled King and Queen were late Ivy ‘volunteered’ them. Poor Paul was quite unaware at how much kissing he had to do in the ritual and also that he was expected to perform the “Great Rite” when he got home to finish the ritual.

( Paul: You’re kidding right?

Me: No, it’s part of the ritual. Do you have a problem with that?

Ivy: giggles.

Me: Don’t you love our religion?)

The ritual was full of a lot of laughter and kissing in the spirit of the Sabbat and I achieved what I hoped to with the ritual use of laughter. I want to continue to explore the use of ritual laughter by incorporating a variation of the stone fish ceremony to create laughter and honour the gods during the Summer Solstice Ritual. I was inspired to work on this project by the Laughing Buddha Ritual (Laughing Buddha Ritual , 2013).


  1. Dhurba, Deep. 1992. The Nepal Festival Kathmandu. Variety Printas: 57-60.
  1. Gaijatra Festival. 2013.
  1. Payne Bennet, Mary and Lengacher, Cecile. 2008. Humour and Laughter May Influence Health: III Laughter and Health Outcomes. Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine 5(1): 37-40.
  1. Goh Abe. 2010. A Japanese Ritual Performance of Laughter.
  1. Milner Davis, Jessica. 2006. Understanding Humour in Japan. Wayne State University Press: 37
  1. Martinez, Doreen E. 2012. Traditional and Kindness Ritual
  1. Ashkenazi, Michael. 2003. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Oxford University Press:168.
  1. Laughing Buddha ritual which inspired the paper, June 2013.

Spiritual Seeker

October, 2013

Over the past couple of months I’ve written a few times about the rules that govern and guide different religions. I feel that these rules, as much as the deity, make the religion. They provide the framework for all the practices and beliefs of a faith, and if you can’t follow the fundamental rules then I don’t think you can consider yourself a member of that faith.

Since I’m still on my spiritual journey with only a generic version of the Golden Rule to guide me, I thought that perhaps I’d better take a look at the rules that govern my life. Maybe laying out my personal commandments will point me in the right direction.

In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about her own personal commandments and how they help her to frame her choices and also help her to be happier. She is more aware of who she is at a deep level, recognizing things like she finds it easier to abstain from something than to partake in it moderately. So, taking her as my role model, I came up with the following commandments for myself:

  1. Be me
  2. Do it now
  3. Lighten up
  4. Be polite and be fair
  5. Be mindful and intentional
  6. Thrift over acquisition
  7. Observe; don’t judge
  8. Recognize abundance
  9. Seek always to learn
  10. Let go of what isn’t
  11. Patience
  12. Sleep on it
  13. Practice compassion

In the weeks since I’ve written down these personal commandments I’ve discovered that I struggle to live up to many of them. For example, sometimes it is so hard not to judge a person, especially based on their appearance. But, when I find myself falling into that trap, I remind myself of my commandment. And thrift? Well, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t lusting over the new iPhone. I can’t wait to make it mine!

I’m sure you are wondering what this has to do with a search for a spiritual path. Well, how can we know if we are walking the right spiritual path if we don’t know ourselves? I started on this journey when I was finally able to be honest with myself that Wicca wasn’t the path for me. I knew myself well enough to know that it wasn’t providing me with what I needed to sooth and nurture my soul. And, as I learn about many different religions, being aware of my deep personal beliefs and commandments can only aid me in making the right choice.

If I am honest with myself with regards to these commandments, I can definitely see Pagan influences throughout. Lack of judgment, patience, and an emphasis on learning and intellectual exploration, compassion, and patience were all aspects of the path I used to follow. And, clearly, they need to be part of the path I follow going forwards.

What about you? Do you have a set of personal commandments or rules? Do they mesh with the spiritual path you walk, or are they at odds? If they are, how to you reconcile the differences. I’d love to hear from you. Comment below or email me at [email protected].

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