New Routines

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For a long time, my evening routine, such as it was, consisted of coming home exhausted, getting on the computer, and staying on it, even if I wasn’t doing anything at all, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. At least when I’m working.

And when not working, even less than that. It would be a “good” night if I spent time exercising or cleaning or anything at all, really.

Lately, I find myself turning off the computer, putting on a new age station on Pandora and sitting on the porch as twilight turns to dark.

Sometimes, I simply sit.

Sometimes, I read – right now: You Are Here by Thich Naht Hanh.

Sometimes I write, either in my personal journal or working on The Desire Map or one of my other journaling/goal setting notebooks. A couple of times, I’ve taken my watercolors out there, too.

I think it started with the Mindfulness class I did at the VA Mental Health Clinic. I started meditating in silence, which I think I’ve mentioned was a little new to me. And I began to crave the quiet time.

And then Tuli came along.

She’s so different from Pumpkin.Image

She likes being outside (Pumpkin didn’t like open spaces).  But it’s dangerous around here, so I can’t really let her out to just explore.

As often as possible, I open up the sliding glass door to the porch and let her go out there.

Having the door open somehow makes me want to go out there more.

I’ve spent more time out there in the last month than I probably have in the 6 years I’ve lived here combined.

I keep wondering why I didn’t do this ages ago. It’s pleasant and relaxing. My allergies act up a little, but still, it’s nice.

Next step: work yoga into the routine, either in the mornings or evenings. I need more movement in my daily routines.

Pagan Blog Project: H is for Herbs

When I was a baby witch, just learning my craft, I got really into herbs.

From Pixabay
From Pixabay

Like REALLY into. 🙂

I had the classic Herb Book, which is likely still in my library somewhere!

I bought herbs at magick shops and food co-ops.

I had mason jars and containers full of herbs.

Cooking herbs.

Healing herbs.

Essential oils.

Tinctures.

I made my own incense.

I made massage oils and candles.

I made tea (technically tisanes) and potions.

Wet and dry potpourri.

Cordials.

I’m not much of a cook, but give me a shelf full of herbs and a pot of water, and I’ll mix something that smells good, at least.

At various times, I’ve had herb gardens.

Herbs are at the heart of magick for me. laurel-272961_640

In pretty much every culture, there has always been a healer, a witch, a wise one that knew the ways of plants and how to use them to ease suffering or to conjure dreams and visions.

And this is another thing that somewhere along the way I lost touch with.

I had an herb garden when C was a baby. When we lived in Washington, there was a huge herb farm nearby (which seems to have “retired” now).

But as we moved around, I had to leave behind living plants, or give up space on my shelves for things that had a higher priority.

I used up or got rid of my stash.

Eventually, all I had were the basic cooking herbs.

As our financial situation worsened, and my daughter grew, and my faith waned. . . I gave up my herbs. I gave up my magick.

Last summer when I was going to one of the local farmer’s markets, there were big bunches of purple basil and mint.

I brought them home and used some of the basil for a tomato sauce and mint to flavor my water, but I didn’t want to waste the huge bunch, so for the first time in a long, long time, I hung up my herbs to dry.

Weeks later, I was looking for my regular, old, bought-for-cooking dried basil and couldn’t find it.

Then I remembered, among my cluttered shelves, I had hanging this beautiful basil.

My mortar and pestle, if I still have them, are in storage, so I pulled the leaves off the stems into a bowl and rubbed the dried leaves between my hands to make them smaller.

As I was doing it, I wondered, “How did I ever get away from doing this?”

My hands smelled like fresh basil, and the taste of the herb was strong in my sauce.

Basil is for flying, faithful love, and drawing money to you.

I felt so good to be doing that simple thing. Refreshed.

One of my Core Desired Feelings is “Restored”.

I felt restored.

As my daughter is pretty much grown up now, and I’m rediscovering who I am without the “C’s mom” added to my name, I know that I need to bring the herbs back into my life.

I regret leaving them behind and not bringing my daughter up with the full appreciation of the art of herbal magick.

I don’t know if I can realistically fill up my shelves again the way I did in my early 20s, but I want to start again.

I wonder if the apartment complex will notice if I cut a few rosemary branches?

 

Pagan Blog Project, D: Divination & Dreams

Oneiromancy: Divination by dreams.

Dream divination is not a new thing. It’s been around as long as humans. The earliest cultures talk about dreams and interpreting them, from Joseph interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream to Gilgamesh sleeping on things to think them over to Aristotle’s treatise, “On Prophesying by Dreams“.

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from lucindafaye on Pixabay http://pixabay.com/en/users/lucindafaye/

I think Dreams may have been my initial introduction to divination and magick.

Being young (preteen maybe?) and experiencing very strong cases of déjà vu, remembering a flash of a dream months earlier. Luckily my mother was open to the idea that this might actually be divination, in fact, she’s probably the one that told me that’s what might be happening.

Over the years, I’ve kept a dream journal on and off. Sometimes my dreams have been intensely rich, colorful and true-seeming. Other times, they have been confusing, dark, scary.

You know, like everyone else’s dreams. 🙂

But sometimes, still, that strong sense of déjà vu hits and I start flipping through my dream journals, and sure enough, I find something in there that directly relates to what I was experiencing. The frustrating thing is that I can never tell what dream is going to be “real” and what’s just stuff working out in my head – until an event actually happens.

For a few years I didn’t remember my dreams very well at all. Maybe that was sheer exhaustion and depression. Maybe it was medications. Maybe it was my crisis of faith. For whatever reason, I lost touch with dreaming.

It’s coming back – strong, vivid dreams that I can remember in meticulous detail. I need to put a notebook by my bed again.

Do you keep a dream diary/journal? Do you talk to other people about your dreams? Do you think dreams are significant, either from a psychological or magickal perspective? Have you ever analyzed your dreams?

Changing tracks

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My life is going through some transitions right now.

I’m working a lot of hours at my day job. That’s a good thing because it means I have steady money coming in.

Steady income does a lot for my mental health. Not worrying about if the basic bills will get paid is a huge load off my mind. I’m not rolling in money, but I know the basics are covered – and that reduces my stress immensely.

I haven’t had any time to pay attention to the blog or to business lately. I’m even cutting back on tutoring!

Which has me thinking about what to do with the blog.

Instead of walking away from it, I want to write on a more regular basis. I think it’s a good outlet for me.

But I’m not sure how the business side will be. I don’t have time to do readings, so for now, that’s down.

I still feel that I have valuable things to say, and I want to write.

As you can see, I’ve changed the look and feel of the blog. I had been on Blogger forever but decided to move to WordPress. There’s supposed to be better customization and widgets on WordPress. We’ll see. So far, I’m not finding it as intuitive as Blogger, but I’m learning.

The theme will likely change a few more times before I settle on something.

I’m being a bit rambly now, so I’m going to end. 🙂

Pagan Blog Project: C: Cunningham

I was almost certain my “C” post was going to be about candles or candle magick.

But I also felt like that is soooooo overdone – I’m sure there are at least a million websites and blogs that talk about candles. After all, they’re a mainstay. And I’m not sure my take on it/them is unique in any way. I couldn’t think of a way to make it interesting.

Then I looked at the prompts given for the week.

And I saw Scott Cunningham on the list.

This is an old story, one my close friends have probably heard way too often, but others may not have heard at all.

1988/9.

I was in the Navy, training to be an electronics tech in Great Lakes. Some of us started playing with psychic energy – and when you get that many young adults in one place that can get interesting all on its own.

There were some things that I knew instinctively were “right” and, well, some were bullshit. My personal life was an absolute mess.

But somehow I managed to make it through, and was high enough in my class to pick my own specialty school.

Shortly before I left, there were rumors that this one girl, K, was a witch. Like a really real witch.

I was not friends with her; she was fairly new as I was getting ready to leave. But one day I saw her give a book to someone else. It was this one:

A couplefew weeks later, I was home in Florida on leave before driving out to San Diego for my specialty school.

My mother had just bought the same book. She hadn’t read it yet, but it was sitting on the table.

I picked it up and read the back and the “about the author” blurb.

And I found out the author lived in San Diego.

Well, if the book is going to follow me around the country, maybe I should read it.

And read it I did.

When I got to San Diego, I checked out some of the stores he mentioned in the back of the book. Well, haunted them really.

Whenever I had money, I spent a good chunk of it at this one particular store. I used to spend a lot of time there. They had free psychic fairs every couple of months, and speakers/classes happening quite often.

One day when I was just hanging out, Scott Cunningham walked in the store, greeted the store owner, and started signing some of his books. I had a total fan-girl moment. 😛

The most recently published was his aromatherapy book. He was in the store to make arrangements to teach a class on the topic. I chatted with him for a few minutes and signed up for his class.

I went on to immerse myself in Wicca and magick for many years. I made contacts at that store that led me to others. The really real witch from Great Lakes came out to San Diego and we connected for a time.

Would I have found this path without his books? Maybe. But these were the events that led me to this path.

Cunningham’s books were many people’s introduction to Wicca, and I’m glad that I found them. They lacked oppressive dogma and arcane knowledge and didn’t hint at more secrets to come. They were ARE straight-forward and easy to read and easy to begin a practice with. I’ve passed some of them on to my daughter.

When he died, I was once again living in San Diego and attended a public ritual for his passing. I was grateful to be there.

 

Pagan Blog Project: B is for Breath

So, yes, I’m really, really late with this post. 😛

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Apparently, it’s really hard to get into therapy in the mental health clinic at the VA’s mental health clinic these days. When I talked to my psychiatrist about it, he said that I should try to get into some of the groups that are available and use that as a way to get to know the therapists.

So, back in January, I joined an 8-week mindfulness class.

I was mostly thinking of it as a way to return to a regular meditation routine; I wasn’t really expecting to learn a whole lot. After all, I’ve been meditating in some form or other as long as I can remember.

I should have known better – everything is an opportunity to learn more.

First off – I find it amazingly wonderful that a conservative organization like the VA is doing mindfulness and meditation groups in their mental health clinic!

Most of my meditation experience has been using prompts, guided meditations, or music.

What made this different was that there was not a . . . FOCUS for the meditation that I was used to.

Except there is; there’s the breath.

Everything comes back to the breath.

The breath is the center.

The process is so simple as to be childish.

Just breathe, and pay attention to it.

People tend to think of meditation as making your mind blank and feel like they fail when their mind wanders all over the place. Quotes like the one below (often mis-attributed to Buddha) feed that mental image. So do movies and other parts of popular culture.

It may be stating the case too strongly to say that in meditation one seeks to gain nothing. For there is an increase in happiness and peace of mind. But when asked, “What have you gained from meditation?”, the answer would be: “It is not what I have gained that is important but rather what I have diminished, namely, greed, hatred, and delusion.” – Apparently NOT a Buddha quote, but from World Buddhism by the World Fellowship of Buddhists. 😛

This class acknowledged that your mind WILL wander – and actually the mind wandering and you corralling it back to a focal point *is* the process of meditation.

We were asked to commit to 5 minutes a day, with the idea that 5 minutes a day, most days, is more beneficial than longer periods less frequently.

During the class, I had all these things I wanted to write down and talk about and now I can’t think of most of them – isn’t that always the way?

Try it.

Set a timer. 5 minutes? 10? more? it’s up to you, but if you’re new to it, start with 5.

Sit comfortably, but so that your back is straight: a dining chair, office chair, cross-legged on the floor. The reason you want your back straight is to allow your lungs to fully expand. If you’re hunched over, you can’t fully breathe.

Close your eyes.

Start off by just paying attention to your breath. You don’t have to control it, just pay attention to it.

Your mind will tell you this is a stupid thing. Do it anyway.

You’ll start to think about stuff you need to buy at the store, things you need to do, people you need to talk to.

That’s ok, but when you notice it, come back to your breath.

It’s that simple – and that hard.

The class started out with 18 people, 3 of us women. One woman dropped out after only 2 or 3 sessions. Another woman only made it to about half the sessions. In the end, there were 12 of us.

During the course, some of the things we talked about were forgiveness and the fact that as you do this, as you gain experience with this, you might actually have some uncomfortable feelings, fears come up.

I was intrigued that a mental health clinic would be doing this, and so did a little research and found out Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is totally a thing.

That means I need to research it more. I bought two books:

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
The Mindful Way Workbook: An 8-Week Program to Free Yourself from Depression and Emotional Distress

I’m still working through them so when I come up with insights, I’ll write more.

But if nothing else, remember to pay attention to your breath.