New Column: Ask a Pagan Parent

One question that seems to come up over and over again is, “How young is too young to teach my child my beliefs?”

My answer is always that there is no “too young.”

First, no one in any other religion asks this question. They may not teach everything; there may be mysteries reserved for adults or for specific rites of passage. But no other group of people avoids telling their children about religion starting from a very early age.

Keep in mind, this is not school we’re talking about here. This is telling stories, talking to the moon, hugging trees, playing with energy. It’s lighting candles and saying prayers. It’s absorbing all the things you’re already doing.

And lest you worry about “indoctrinating” them…it’s likely that your faith does not believe your deity is the one and only way to a happy life after death. Pagan faiths are generally pretty open about there being other gods and other ways of belief – and if your child finds one of those other options more fitting as they grow up, there’s nothing stopping them from following that path.

Hey, do you have a question about being a Pagan Parent that you’d like some input on? I’ve got answers – 20 years as a Pagan, and almost a decade as a parent. Post your question in a comment below and I’ll answer it on a future post!

The Seeds of Harvest

We are coming upon the Harvest festival time, along with many other types of festivals and festivities. For Pagans, the folks who are seasonal minded and our farmers , we know we are gearing up for the harvest and Autumn.

Yet why would I title this as Seeds of Harvest? Well if you were able to chat with a farmer, a gardener or country folk, you’d get to hear about the seeds that are gathered and saved for the next harvest. This is a vital practice that allows us to continue to grow food for ourselves and animals that may have a plant related diet, like cows.

Now you may be wondering what do seeds of harvests have to do with anything outside of food related things.

Well it has to do with the spiritual, mental and emotional work that goes on as we get to know ourselves and as we learn to heal ourselves. For many generations we humans have used aspects of our lives and nature to tell stories and teach lessons about life and how to live it or to teach a moral point and to help guide somebody along a path.

So today I want to share about the harvest of metaphorical seeds from the harvests of prosperity, healing, help or guidance and other such positive things that have been happening in our lives, and also the seeds of us getting to know the self and gaining our power.

I want us to take a look at seeds that have multiple uses and different stages of those uses. What comes to mind are our seeds that are edible at different stages and that they also are used for future crops.

Corn and beans are a couple of the sort of seeds that has different edible stages and can be used for future crops that will be harvested.

We love to harvest corn and beans before they are fully mature and they are tender still, so we can enjoy their freshness and juiciness. This would be a first harvest. When it comes to our personal work and magic, this would correlate to the first results of our work. It may be that first paycheck or fresh perspective on a long term challenge that helps you change direction or get answers you needed.

Yet as we know with personal work and such, there isn’t an end to the directions any of it can go or the continued work and help, we need to do and receive.

So back to our seed metaphor.  Hopefully you didn’t consume all of your first harvest. As an experienced farmer or gardener may be able to tell you, save some of your first harvest by canning and freezing the rest of it for future nourishing meal ideas. Your first results and answers and such can continue to help guide you and help you in your personal and magical workings. More so if you don’t just think you reached the final results just yet, and sometimes you don’t.  So the fuel is there so to speak to help continue the work.

We know though that things don’t stop at the first harvest/ first results of the person work of growth and healing.

We have further harvesting/work that needs to be done. This takes us to a second harvest that happens after we’ve allowed the remaining plants to finish maturing. At this point with corn and beans, we get to take part of this harvest and turn them into easier to store dry forms of food. The corn gets turned into grits, meal or flour and these forms can be used as hot cereal or baked goods.  Beans after soaking and cooking to soften them get turned into meals that are very different from the fresh green beans and such that you have in the freezer. You may use them in soups and stews or baking them into delicious meals.

What the second harvest can teach us when it comes to personal growth and magical workings, is that things will need to reach a certain level of maturity to ensure further growth, healing, help and answers.

We also gain a different level of understanding and realizations of goals being accomplished. The help and guidance becomes more self sustaining and we can at this level of things free up some of our time and efforts, so we are not overthinking and over working ourselves. In fact having that time to step back or away from things allows things to move more favorably in you favor.

               Then comes the last bit of the harvest.

Hopefully we’ve had forethought in saving seeds! Hopefully we didn’t consume all that corn and beans or storing all of them for food. For we will need seeds for future crops and they need to be stored properly, so they don’t rot or get eaten up by animals. For when the next growing season arrives we will need to plant those seeds for future sources of nourishing food.

This last harvest represents to us the need to use our power, thoughts and action in such a way that blessings of healing, growth, answers and guidance continues on into the future. For it isn’t really a natural thing to stay stationary or stagnant. Life is ever ebbing and flowing. Life is ever growing, maturing and ripening. And life is always somehow nourishing and caring for all living beings. So too is it good for us to follow the example of life.

I leave you with wishing you all a bounteous harvest in all your personal growth and magical workings!

How to Eat Well At Festivals Without Breaking the Bank

Ah, festival season. A time of making new friends, spending time with old friends, and hitting a few workshops for entertainment, enlightenment, and education on the side.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my body is not always happy with the old standby of no sleep, with extra caffeine and sugar on the side during these sorts of events – eating well and sleeping have become important factors in getting the most out of events.

The trouble with this, of course, is that “eating well” in the hospitality suite of most indoor events is not likely to happen, and most outdoor events don’t even have a hospitality suite. And if you’re in a hotel, the hotel restaurant is always an option….but that gets expensive. So do food vendors at outdoor events.

So, what’s a Pagan who is looking to eat real food to do?

First, you have to plan ahead. Will your residence for the next few days have a refrigerator? Microwave? Electricity? How many meals will you need? (Does that include meals on the road, which are more likely to be fast food because you’re traveling?) How much space is in your luggage?

Let’s start with breakfast. We’ve successfully taken frozen breakfast sandwiches in a cooler, and let them thaw over the course of a couple of days, which is great if you have a microwave. For those times without a microwave, I usually stick with muffins or oatmeal – coffee pots can make water hot enough for instant oats, and campfires boil water pretty quickly as well.  On more ambitious outdoor weeks, we often do eggs and biscuits (using a “Bakepacker” or similar steam cooking device).

Much of my daily lunch and dinner suggestions for these sorts of things are based on dried foods and lightweight backpacking experiences, because the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking when you could be having fun. Besides, not only do dried foods store well and cook quickly with just boiling water, but they’re a good thing to have on hand in emergencies where you can’t get to the store.

 

A package of
The ubiquitous Mountain House freeze dried meal – usually edible, but high on sodium

While there are commercially available freeze dried meals, and the ubiquitous military surplus MRE, you’ll likely eat better making your own meals – and at a better cost too.  Interestingly, the Mormons and their penchant for keeping a year’s worth of food on hand are a great source for this sort of thing, including portioning them out into canning jars for use over the next few months. Backpacking websites are good for this sort of thing too, usually planning single-serve meals (which is not a bad thing – have a whole box of them, and let people grab their own, on their own time!)

Package of Thrive Life's Snackies - freeze dried peach slices
“Snackies” from Thrive Life are snackable dried foods, but Thrive Life has a ton of different foods, and make good pantry supplies that make a good dinner any night, even if you’re not on the road

We have a list at home, from the days when my children were often in the hospital. When someone would ask what they could do, we’d send them grocery shopping for a specific list of sandwich fixings and healthy (portable) snacks – and we’d eat that way for days in the hospital. If you’re careful not to squish your bread, you can do this for festivals too.  Pick 1-2 condiments, 1-2 lunch meats, 1-2 cheeses, and bread. Apples, oranges, and grapes don’t need a lot of handling. Pre-washed salads, single serve snacks, and cans or bottles of beverages may need a fridge or cooler, but don’t require fancy prep work.

And, as always, remember to consider bringing plates, silverware, and glasses that you’re going to wash, rather than disposables, because it’s generally better for the environment!

Gaining Motivation From Your Failures

Even if we’ve done everything right in our lives, at some point, we are going to feel like a failure. Whether it’s because we didn’t accomplish a task we set out to accomplish or we simply failed in terms of our inability to create the dream we had in our head, we aren’t likely to win all of our battles in our life. But does this mean we should simply stop trying? Absolutely not. In fact, failure can be the greatest motivator of them all – if we begin to look at it in that way.

Failing is Still Trying

Your motivation to create something in your life is mostly driven by the idea that you are going to have something at the end of your journey. Whether this is a tangible thing or something intangible, you set out to do something in order to see a result. And even if you don’t see that intended result, you can rest assured that you have the ability to see that you tried. The journey you take from one point to another, after all, is filled with the experiences and the sights you saw along the way.

Though you might not get to where you want to do, you can still congratulate yourself for trying. In many cases, people don’t even attempt that because they fear failure. So, they don’t actually accomplish anything they want to accomplish – so trapped in this fear of failure. If you can change your motivation away from fear and into the idea that you are learning, you will begin to see more success than you do failure.

Helping Yourself to Your Feet

You’ve fallen down along your journey – it happens to the best of us. It’s happened to all of the greats in this world at some point or another: Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Malcolm X, etc. What has set these people apart from others is not the tasks they achieved, but rather the fact that they not only failed, but that they also continued anyways. You could simply stop what you are doing and try to give into the failure, or you could launch yourself into a new direction – as apparently that other one didn’t work.

Pulling yourself back up is a matter of momentum. Allow yourself some time to wallow in your feelings of despair, but instead of making yourself comfortable on the ground, start thinking about new possibilities in your current situation. If you were on a journey and there is a blocked road, turn around and find another road. This seems like the standard decision you would make on a literal journey, so why not begin to do the same on your personal journey?

Here are some tips:

– Make a list of your failures

– Make a list of what you’ve done right

– Make a list of what you’ve learned along the way

– Burn the list of your failures

Your failures are not mistakes – they are stepping stones that are leading to your success. Finding motivation in these wrong turns will help you continue to feel motivated, no matter what happens. In fact, you might even begin looking for failure to ‘help’ you out.
Article Source: Articlelogy.com

Tips On the Go: Remembering to Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

 

As a member of the local business community, I am often approached by friends and other business owners with queries on business tips, marketing techniques, and overall tricks of the trade to get their brand out there. Out of all the questions I’ve ever been asked –or have ever asked, myself!– the one question that I have found which provides the most insight into the very unique experiences each business owner has gleaned traveling their own paths is,

“What is the best business advice you’ve ever been given, or could ever give to anyone?”

The best business advice I have ever received is the best advice I could ever give. Ironically it has absolutely nothing to do with professional business techniques, management, or even PR.

Image: Charleston Gardens

No mater how much you have left to do ahead of you, pause for a moment to look behind you and cherish all you’ve already done.

Running a major event and everyone’s running around like chickens with their heads cut off? Pause, look around you at the success you’ve made, at the people enjoying themselves, and know that you (and your team!) have made it all possible.

Got a long list of items you’ve got to get up on your website, get bar coded, post the unique blurbs about every one, analyze the trends and the traffic to your site? — Stop, look at what you’ve already sold, what you’ve already done, and feel blessed to have done well enough that you have to put new product out so quickly.

So many business owners –both online and brick-and-mortar–, event coordinators, and traveling vendors get lost in all the chaos and upkeep, trying to keep up with the times and the rapidly changing economy. Not enough of us make the time to take a look at all we’ve already built.

After all, there’s no use in planting a garden if you’re not enjoying the view, right?

This is something I’ve learned the hard way over the years, and it has been a gainful journey.

 

Witches Red Salt: Powerful Love Charm

Witches Redsalt:
A traditional Witches Love Charm

 

With tomorrow being Valentines day alot of people are thinking about love spells and love charms.  Love magic can be effective.  It can be used to attract a long term relationship, a sexual relationship, friendships and more.  Like with any spells love spells need to be made very specific.  You may find that if you target an individual that the relationship is not a healthy one and they end up being obsessive or controlling.  This is why it is best in love spells to gear them towards a specific type of person (meaning qualities, interests etc) rather than an individual.

With this in mind one of the most powerful love charms out there is Witches Red Salt.  Witches Red Salt is an herbal charm that is made out of roses, sea salt and other herbs associated with love such as cinnamon, dragons blood, and Apples (the peel or flower would be best here).  The goal of the Red Salt is to attract love first other additions depend on the individual witch.

Now that we know what Red Salt is used for let’s make an All Purpose Red Salt.  This witches Salt will ensure fidelity, attract love, happiness, and friendship, all things that are essential in a healthy relationship.  Once we have the Red Salt made we will take a look at how you can apply the red salt in a spell.  The first part of the entire process is the crafting and charging of the Red Salt.

The act of making the Red witches salt is a spell in itself.    When you are creating the salt you are directing, manipulating and focusing various energetic forces into the salt.  You are working with the energy of the herbs and your own emotional energetic forces to create an item used to direct those energetic forces for a change in your life or the life of another person.  You are effectively working a spell through the process of making the Witches Red Salt.

Crafting the Red Salt

Materials:

4 cups Sea Salt *Any salt will work.  Sea salt is best.  Kosher salt works as well.  Pink Himalayan salt will add to the spell from its color.  (Salt is used to cleanse and remove blocks in the way of attracting love)
1 Cup Sugar (to sweeten them to you)
1 Cup Red Rose Petals (for love)
1 Cup Dried Apple Peels (Love)
1/4 cup Catnip (Happiness)
3 Tablespoons Dragonsblood (lust and love)
2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon (lust and love)
1 Tablespoon Ground Allspice (Fidelity)
Red Candle (for love)
Green Candle (For the herbal spirits)
White Candle (Spiritual force in general)
Mixing Bowl
Mortar And Pestle
Rose Quartz (self love and friendship)
Jar or Container with a lid to store your salt in

Spell:

On your altar place the three candles in a triangle with the white at the top point and the red and green at the bottom point.
Place the mixing bowl in the center of the candles
Around the Mixing bowl lay out the Rose, Apple Peels, Catnip, Dragonsblood, Cinnamon, and Allspice.
As You light each candle state:

“I call upon the spirits of the herbal Green
The powers from the worlds unseen
Lend me your blessings on this night
Bring me the powers of love shining bright
Empower this charm today
Bring us love which will stay”

Next you take the  Salt and pour it into the mixing bowl
Pick up the Rose Petals and Hold the Rose petals over the candles.
As you hold the rose petals over the candles feel the powers of the spirit awaken.
Thank them silently and put them into the Mortar and Pestle.
As you grind the Rose petals into the finest powder that you can  see love surrounding you.
Feel the energy of love flowing from your hands into the salt
Once the Roses are ground add them to the red salt
Stir the roses into the salt clockwise once again visualizing love.  See the salt covered in a bright red light that is warm and welcoming (Red being love, desire and passion)
Take the Apple Peels and repeat the process using the Mortar and Pestle.
Once the Apple Peels are ground add them into the salt again stirring clockwise visualize the red light
Take the Catnip and awaken it as you did with the Apple Peels and Rose.
Once again grind the Catnip into as fine of a powder as you can and add it to the salt stirring clockwise
Awaken the Dragons blood, and add it to the salt followed by awakening the Cinnamon, and Allspice together.
Next add the sugar
Now that all the herbs are combined continue to stir the Red Salt together.
As you stir the salt visualize the salt glowing with red light.
While you stir and blend chant the following chant five times:

“Love come to me
One that freely loves me
Bring a lover that’s true
Open me to a love that’s new”

Once you feel that the energy has reached its max potential place your hands over the salt and draw a pentacle and a heart sealing in the energy
Pour the Charged Salt into your jar or Container
Cover With the lid and place the Rose Quartz stone on the Lid to continue to charge the Salt
Extinguish the Candles

The red Salt is now ready to use.  Simply take out a small amount as needed for spell and ritual work.

Working With Red Salt

Now that we have made the red salt it’s time to talk about how we can work with the witches salt. It is important to remember that witches have always been very practical.  They worked with what they had on hand and when they could.   Working with red witches salt is designed to be practical and easy.

Working with red salt is fairly easy. The salt is already charged and ready to go.  You can simply use the red salt as it is.  That’s right.  Since the red salt is already charged all you need to do now is give it a specific direction to work in.  You can sprinkle the red salt into your shoes with the intent to attract love with each step.  Just sprinkle the salt and say your intent for love.    If you are the type to be a little more formal with your application of powders the following two spells are more structured ways to use the sprinkle in your shoes trick.

Walk to manifest Love
Materials:

Red Salt
Your Shoes
A piece of Paper with your petition written on it

Spell:

On the paper write out your desire to have love.  Be sure to include any specific desires and qualities about the type of person you are looking for.  Things like hobbies, music, general interests, etc as well as personality traits (supportive, strong, good with animals etc) down
Once the paper has been written on sprinkle a little bit of the Red salt over the Paper and state:
“”May every step I take this day bring true love my way”. ”
Fold the paper towards you with the red salt and place in your shoes.
Then as you walk every day the energy in your steps will activate the salt.
Your walking ever day will attract the energy that you are sending out through your steps.

Dancing for Love
Materials:

Red Salt
Your Shoes
A piece of Paper with your petition written on it

Spell:

On the paper write out your desire to have love.  Be sure to include any specific desires and qualities about the type of person you are looking for.  Things like hobbies, music, general interests, etc as well as personality traits (supportive, strong, good with animals etc) down
Once the paper has been written on sprinkle a little bit of the Red salt over the Paper and state:
“Every move I make tonight brings a lover that is right”.
The more you dance the more energy you will gather and direct.
The salt will act as a focal point directing the energy from dancing and the salt into the earth through your feet.

There are other ways that you can sprinkle witches salt and form a love spell.  Many men and women use lotions and colognes or perfumes to male ourselves feel good about ourselves and to feel attractive.  You can use red salt to strengthen the feelings of attractiveness when you work with those products.  The goal in this application is to maximize how you feel attractive so it gains the attention of those who you are attracted to.

Makeup and Lotion Attraction Spell
Materials:
Red Salt
Lotions and or any Beauty supplies (this includes hair styling supplies as well as makeup and colognes)

Spell:
Gather all of your Beauty Supplies together
Envision yourself in a pink (for self love) and red (for general love and attractiveness)
As you pick up each item see a red and pink light entering the items until they glow.
Once they are glowing pick up the red salt and sprinkle it over the item stating
“Love come to me freely
One who accepts me
A love that’s meant be”

Now these items will be charged for the next month for both self love and romantic love.
Simply use them as you would normally.

Notes:
Repeat the spell once a month to keep the items empowered
Perform the spell as needed when items are replaced

These spells should help you get started.  Working with witches salt can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be.  The charm is powerful and ready to use.  Be wise.  If you are unsure about performing a spell or working do a reading and look to find out if its a good time to do the spell.  If its acceptable to perform the spell get to work.  If not do a reading and you’ll find out what you can do instead.

If you do not want to make your own, of if you can’t find the supplies there are many places you can find Red Witches Salt
Try:
Mystic Echoes Red Witches Salt
Arte’s and Crafts Hoodoo Powders and Salts

For supplies Try:
Mystic Echoes Herbs and Curios
Arte’s and Crafts Apothecary
3 Crowsmagick Herbs, resins, and Roots

Best of luck finding love.

A Free Form Sort of Way

I started teaching and facilitating workshops in 2013. Of course I didn’t know where to begin in the big ocean of all that my life had taught me and continues to teach me. All I knew, was I need to share what I’ve learned. It took me a few teaching experiences to know really where I needed t0 start. For I came to understand that there were some needed tools that could help with the life changing things I have to share. It was also in some ways that I knew that these tools were the things that really helped with my healing and transformations that have been going on for the last 11 years. I had at first called my class that had these tools Unscript It! and Unscript Yourself!. Yes I did have a rough time knowing how to name my classes. Then when the decision to do my tools class I settled on A Free Form Sort of Way! In fact I will be teaching this class at this year’s ConVocation. But now I know you are curious as to what this is all about.

My first painting I did using ArtRage app January 2017

A Sunlit Evening by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

It is all about active, expressive meditation styles that are free-form in nature. These meditation styles teach us to make use of our voice and bodies in a free-form sort of way. Another way of seeing free form use of voice and bodies is things like ecstatic dancing and singing or sacred dance and singing.  I also share how we can use creative arts in free-form sort of ways, so that we can freely express ourselves. It may seem odd to hear that free-form dance or singing and art can do so much to help us. For I know that most of what we have available, while very helpful and such, they require that we do things a certain way. In fact much of our lives are set up to follow certain ways to seeing things, doing things and so much more. I know I myself was struggling still to find my path and find myself within all the should do this and that this way and believe this and that. I had been doing meditation, chanting, prayer and ritual and so much more. Yet I was still somehow stuck in certain patterns and was feeling guilty when I couldn’t do ritual in the suggested ways. Often I found myself doing spontaneous things that really helped shift things for me and empower me. Yet I felt guilty for these spontaneous things I was doing during ritual and such.

That all started to change though when somehow Gabrielle Roth’s work showed up in my life!

Gabrielle’s books Maps To Ecstasy & Sweat Your Prayers, became a part of my life about 11 years ago.

A Book By Gabrielle Roth

 

Another great book by Gabrielle Roth

With these books I started another part of my healing journey. There has been other peoples work that has added to her work and my understanding of free-form expression of our voices and bodies. Two such people are Bradford Keeney PhD his book: The Bushman Way of Tracking God and a local person in the Detroit Metro area Michael Patrick through his: Dance Meditation Technique.

A book by Bradford Keeney

These three people in different ways guide us in the benefits of free form body movement and expression of our voice. In different ways they show us how this path to meditation can help us get to know ourselves and how our mind and bodies respond to things in our lives. In different ways they show us how movement and use of voice help us to heal the disconnect we have between body, mind, feeling and emotions. They also show us how we can use these styles to make our connection with the divine in a more authentic way. These meditations styles also help us to in a conscious and active way to navigate our tougher challenges that are a part of our healing journeys. And as we are getting to know how our bodies and mind interact and react to things around us, we find means to move through stressful and tough things, because we are aware of things and we also are aware of how we can diffuse things. Why this works is because we are learning to face things and to express those things and this is a part of what can help us heal. For we are listening and paying attention to ourselves and we are giving voice, expression to things. Often just that act of acknowledging something , we start a process of diffusing things and calming things down.

The other thing that started to happen with my practice of free form expression of voice and body, was my spiritual practice deepened. I in more consistent ways experienced  connection with the whole of life and it’s energies. I found myself wanting to commune with the wind, trees and animals, to where I’d dance with the trees and sing with the birds and insects. I often find myself being a bit more playful and filled with joy from the simplest of happenings and things. There is a certain freedom I gained in expressing myself through body and voice. I could feel the energies building easier and better for me when I do ritual or pray and chant freely and well, as raw as possible. Now mind you I still have the times I follow prescribed procedures when doing ritual, meditating and such. Yet so much for me has come from adding free form expression of my voice and body, as a part of regular practice also.

Another thing I’ve experienced with my free form meditation practice is that I can separate and know what emotions, energies and such belong to me and set myself free of others emotions and such. This is an important thing if you are an empath, energy worker, counselor or healer. It is also a helpful thing if you are Autistic. But even if you don’t identify with any of those things, it is good to be able to know what is your emotions and energies, what belongs to you versus what may belong to another person. Reason is we all take information in of varying types and in a variety of ways. We can get lost in all that information that we take in and it can leave us wondering why we are feeling a certain way, when it feels like we shouldn’t have a reason to feel say angry or depressed. So being able to move other peoples energies and emotions out of our system can be a big help in taking some of the edge off of being overwhelmed or buried under so much. Chances are if we feel this way we’ve been taking on to much of other people’s things. So it’s good to have means to let that excess energies and emotions out in a safe way.

This is just some of how free form expression of our bodies and voices can help us.

Now I want to share a few routines that can help:

First pick a favorite album or play list; Then ask yourself and your body ” How am I feeling? How is my body feeling?”;With the music playing start moving your body in how ever way it is feeling!

examples; can be you are feeling sluggish. So you droop down, move slow. Another is you are stressed filled with tension, go ahead and tighten as much of your body as possible. You are feeling happy, do a happy dance then”

The point is move your body according to how it is feeling! As the music plays work through the way your are feeling. Let yourself feel and express what you and your body are feeling as much as you feel comfortable with.

” It is alright if you can only do this for say 5 minutes or a couple of songs” even that short bit of time can do wonders in diffusing the tough stuff and giving you more energy with the upbeat stuff! As you do this practice at least once or twice a week you will get better at helping your body and mind navigate how you are feeling both emotionally and physically.

You can also use this method to do energy work and to set intentions and work with affirmations! You also can spend time with The Divine and express your love and gratitude!

So allow yourself to work with and express your body and emotions through free form movement and see how it can help you.

Next is your voice!

This is a bit trickier if you don’t have any just instrumental type music you like. Yet your usual music can be alright for this also.

As for body movement, you now pick a playlist or album that you have found yourself humming or singing along with. Now you ask” What needs to be expressed?” and you express it through singing, humming or even just making sounds. We don’t always need words! The objective is to put as much feeling as you can into your voice as possible. It’s alright if words fail you! Just use your voice!

Once again it is alright if you can only do this for 5 minutes or a couple songs! All that matters is you consciously express what you are feeling through the music and your voice!

Again this can be used for a multitude of reasons!

Then comes the part that you combine your voice and body movement! And yes things can really take off when you combine the two! This is what you are working toward!

This is just a snap shot into how you can use free form expressions of your body and voice. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover these things for yourself!

I had mentioned free form expression through creative art styles in the earlier part of this article.

So let me share this particular style of free form expression with you.

I love art and I always hoped I could be an artist, even if it was just for myself. Yet sadly I didn’t have acceptable natural talent or ability when it came to art classes and such. I couldn’t draw like my sister could. Yet I did love to create cards for holidays and birthdays. Yet it never was something I thought I could do. So I never pursued anything with art.

Then I became a mother and one of my tough choices I made was to home school our child. It took me a few years to put together something that worked for myself and our child and fulfilled the state requirements also. It was during those early years that the Waldorf Education style arrived in my life. Fortunately I was able to find home school resources for this path of education. It helped us out a lot. It was also where I found that art was one of their core aspects. For the children are encouraged to do their own lesson books, in which they were encouraged to illustrate their lessons and write about their lessons in their own words. Working with our child through this style, opened some doorways for me to see what artistic things I could do.

A Zentangle

The Many Paths To Learning To Love by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

That was when some drawing styles came into my life. The first was: Touch Drawing, created by Deborah Koff-Chapin. Then came: Zentangle: created by Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas. Also two other books caught and grabbed my attention and those are: The Art of Silliness by Carla Sonheim and the other: Doodling with Jim Henson.

So what all did these styles teach me and still are teaching me? Well they first gave me the means that did not require me to know how to do this shape or this form and making sure that I got them proportioned right and the lines are right and well you know get it right! So they freed me up by giving some guidelines, yet gave me plenty of room to just draw! Some interesting things started to come to my notice. I’m a very creative person and learning this about myself seemed to free me up to take that creativity and use it to change my past history’s stories and programming. I also had some repeated “Aha!” moments as I saw that even though I couldn’t keep forms, shapes, lines and proportions right, I still got to see neat things come forth. It showed me that my life choices that I had made that weren’t right or healthy or did more harm than good, could be things that were still a part of who I was, yet could be turned around to help in my growth and understanding of things. That mistakes and such aren’t necessarily the terrible monsters we can make them out to be. That mistakes really are lessons. We weren’t meant to be perfect and have all the answers. Life is about exploring, learning, growing and healing. That the messiness of life can still be useful and it’s okay that we don’t get it right all the time. Learning this started helping me to feel alright around other people and helped me to not be so scared that I’m going to mess things up. Sure I do bumble and fumble, but guess what we all have our awkward moments with each other. I started to understand that we all are students in this thing called life.

A Zentangle Session

A Turtle That Showed Up by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

I could share so much more! But that is for a book project that needs to start happening! What I hope you take away from all this, is learning to know ourselves and love ourselves is the biggest job we have. I found that making free form expression a part of my routines has done so much to help me learn about myself and love myself. It has taught me and continues to teach me things about life and how to navigate it. It has helped me in being able to better to know what is my stuff and what belongs to other. It helps me by giving me an outlet to express and release things that have overloaded me. It has taught me that there can be good lessons in my mistakes and it has giving me so much in healing my connections with the layers of myself and also the greater wholeness of life and my fellow human brother and sisters. And it keeps giving so much more!

So please accept this invitation to explore these teachers I’ve shared with you and give these meditation styles a try and see what they do for you!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

 

 

 

 

Ritual Baths- Above and Beyond Cleansing

In Wicca and other forms of religious witchcraft it is common to take a ritual bath before you enter the ritual space.  This is to cleanse you and prepare you to interact with the God and Goddess.  This practice varies from a light sponge bath wiping down the body to coven members sharing a tub with individuals taking a quick dip in and out, to simple washing of the face, hands, and feet with a basin of ritual water.  No matter the style of ritual cleansing all of the above examples are types of ritual baths.

Magically baths can be used for so much more.  You can use them to cleanse and remove things from your life.  You can use them to prepare for sacred spaces and rituals.  Baths are very powerful in that tool and have been used that way for a very long time.  However there is much more than can be done with a magical bath.  Magical baths can be used to open roads, bring money, bring love, heal, and protect.  Soaking in a bath of herbs is one powerful way to get magical energy to surround your entire body mind and spirit.

The first thing you need to know is that you do not need bath tubs to work with magical baths.  Not at all.  You just need to have a basin to stand in and a bowl of water with the herbs. You can use a sponge bath or simply pour the water and herb mixture over your body from head to toe.  The important thing is that you physically touch the herbal mixture in some way.  If you have a shower stall you can work ritual baths.  You can do a sponge bath from head to toe or you could tie the herbs in a bit of cheesecloth and hang that over the shower head so that the charged water comes through and touches your skin.  You have options.

Now that we have that cleared up its time to talk about the different ways you can use baths.  Full immersion baths or the shower method are excellent for cleansing and removal.  So let’s start with a good cleansing bath.  A ritual bath needs just the herbs and the water to contain them.  You can use soap and water in a cleansing bath if you would like, but just having the herbs is fine.

Cleansing Ritual Bath

Materials:

5 Bay Leafs
1 Tbs Rosemary
1 Tbs Hyssop
1 Tbs Rue
5 White Sage Leaves
2 Bowls
1 cup
(Optional: Soap and or normal bathing supplies)

Ritual:

Take the herbs and mix them in a bowl.  As you mix them pray over the herbs.  Ask that their spirits and the spirits of your ancestors cleanse and clean you of any negativity.   See them radiating power.  Know that their energy together will bless you and remove everything that does not serve your highest need.  Add enough water to fill the bowl with the herbs about half way

Pour the bath water or fill the tub.  If you are standing in your shower either tie the bundle up in cheese cloth or have the basins of water ready.  Add the herbs to the water.  Stir the water clockwise visualizing them full of a white cleansing light.

Now begin to pour the water over your body starting from your head to your toe using the cup.  Always go from top to bottom when doing a cleansing or removal.  Never cross back up or you could cross yourself up (hex yourself and loose the cleansing work you are currently doing).  As you pour the water over your body a chant like “water wash away, water cleanse today” is important.  It continues to charge the water and the herbs while reminding your spirit and mind about the work going on.

As you soak in the bath  (or pour the herbal bath over your body) you should be sensing and feeling anything that doesn’t serve your highest good being forced into the water.   When you feel as if all of the stuff has been removed from your body stand up.  Pour the other bowl of water over your body to rinse off any residual energy from the water.  This will leave you feeling light and clean.

The water in your mind should have a gray or black appearance to it when you pull the drain.    That darkness is the negativity you are cleansing from your body.  Watch it go down the drain and feel yourself lighter and freer.  Towel dry off again from head to toe to seal in the cleansing you have just performed.  Once dry go about your day as planned.

That cleansing bath was one example.  Before you can do any work to bring good into your life you need to remove obstacles from your life.  That is what cleansing work is for.  Cleansing work opens the way for you to succeed in other areas of life.  A common area people are looking for help in is love.  A love bath is something that could benefit someone looking for love.

 

Love me sweet Bath

Materials:
Rose Petals
1 Tbs Honey
1 Tbs Lavender3 Tbs Sugar
2 Bowls
1 Cup

Ritual:
In the first bowl mix the rose petals, honey, lavender, and sugar.  As you mix the herbs pray over them and see them filled with a red light of love.  Feel and know that you are a person worthy of love and are open to love.  Remember to pray to the herbs for assistance in love.  Be sure to be specific about the type of person you want and the type of relationship that you want.

Once you are sure that the mixture is charged add the water to the bowl and begin to fill the tub. Fill the bowl with water about 3/4 of the way.  Once the tub has started to fill to a nice level (for me about 1/4 of the way is enough to start soaking but use your judgement) step into the tub and rub yourself down from head to toe with the hot water.  As you run the hot water over yourself see yourself in love and being loved by another person.  Visualize that person holding you and caressing you lovingly.

Now start to pour the love bath mixture over your body beginning with your head ending with your feet.  Use the cup to gently buy accurately pour the water over your body.  As you wash yourself with the bath chant something along the lines of “Love be new, love that’s true”.  See yourself in a lasting relationship.  Feel yourself full of love and all the happiness associated with it.

Once you have completely soaked in or covered your body with the love bath mixture take the other bowl of water and slowly rinse off.  If you are in a tub now is the time to pull the drain.  See the water returning to the earth sending your desire for love into the center of the earth.  See your love energy and the water bath combining as they flow down the drain into the earth.

Any water and herbs that remain in the bath mixture pour outside your front porch and if possible at a cross roads.  This will send your desire for a relationship out to the entire universe.

As you can see cleansing is one example of baths and love work is another.  There are many more ways to work with ritual baths out there.  Simply use your imagination and get to work.  If you don’t feel like making your own baths there are some excellent sources of precharged ritual baths out there.  We recommend Mystic Echoes

Mystic Echoes: Mystic Echoes Ritual Baths

 

 

Kindness, Compassion and Love: A Quiet Yet Potent Personal Revolution

I know you would never think of kindness and compassion and self-love, as something to be a revolutionary act. Yet a few months ago while 2016 was slowly coming to a close, I posted on Facebook this little blip on my approach to activism:

My activism is a quiet yet potent one. I treat all people with respect and consideration. I’m open to another person’s point of view even when they differ from mine.

For I do not have all the answers. I am willing to do my best to want to understand someone, than to judge and condemn. I’m not perfect in this. Yet I know I do the best I can and fortunately that this is what I am able to do most of the time.

Well this little blip on Facebook got a conversation going between myself and Melissa Welsh:

She shared how being kind is a huge deal. That also kindness shouldn’t be a big deal, yet sadly in the world today during these times it is a very big deal.

She sadly had a very good point as to why kindness seems a rare thing in the world today. We are encouraged on so many fronts to be afraid of this and of that, of this group of people and that group. We are encouraged to judge and condemn one another. We are told how to be, what to do, what to say, what to wear and so much more, so we can be acceptable, to be loved. Then we are faced with the fact most of us feel that others can’t relate or understand us, our lives , our challenges.

In fact most of us feel like we are the only ones facing challenges. Too many of us also feel like life hates us, life is too hard, that life is out to get us and that all that people know how to do is use us.  We live in constant stress and overload. So it isn’t a surprise that most people are in what I’ve come to understand as Survival Mode.

In this mode, that way too many of us live, kindness and human decency can go out the door. We often operate from a very enclosed space that is filled with our stress and worries, it is the only thing we see most days and we lose touch with one another and even ourselves. We lose touch with the rest of life. The part of life that is beautiful, friendly, amazing and surprising. The part of life that makes us smile and laugh and get a glimpse of joy.

As this conversation moved along and another in person conversation in December that I had with  Kenya Coviak  it got to the important part of what this article is about:

Kindness, Compassion & Love starts with us, with each individual, with each person that looks in a mirror!

The three of us, in these different conversations got to the core of why kindness is a big deal. Most of us struggle with loving and accepting ourselves. We struggle with being gentle, kind and understanding with ourselves.

We keep being stuck on the hamster wheel of thinking love, kindness and compassion comes from outside ourselves.

That if only we have this or that, wear this or that and so forth and all of this just so we can be loved, accepted and feel good about ourselves. It’s an even tougher thing for those of us that in one way or another ended up being different.We have mental and emotional things that make us different. Our skin color, our body shape, hair, eyes that makes us different. We have temperaments, personalities and intelligences that make us different. We hold different beliefs and opinions of our families, religions and so many other ways that make us different. Sadly we are not encouraged to celebrate and honor these differences.

So how do we get to that place of being able to love and be kind and compassionate toward ourselves?

There are many ways to getting to that place of love. So let me guide you through some of this. First order of business:

Look in a mirror at least 3 times a day, then as loudly or as quietly for you may have folks in the house or place of work, yet say: I love You!

I know that may seem too simplistic and silly too, yet I tell you it starts the process, it gets the ball rolling. I start you to with a mirror because that sort of puts you outside of you. Let’s face it we can say we love our kids our, partner, friends and many others. Yet we struggle with saying that and feeling that for ourselves. So a mirror is a good place to start. And because there is great power in words and voice it is important that you speak the words I love you!. So yes shout those three words or whisper those three words at least 3 times a day.

Then I have another step I share with you, it is something I do for myself I sing this, chant it or just speak it at least 2 times in a day. Here it is:

I love myself!

I love my life!

All the way through

the deepest depths

the highest heights.

All the way around

and all within

I love myself!

I love my life!

Another thing I chant, sing or speak and I suggest you do this one also 2 times a day is this one:

Oh dear love!

With these eyes let me see

the love that is shining down.

With these feet let me feel:

the love that is rising up.

With these ears let me hear

the love that is all around.

And with this heart and mind

know the love that is within,

everything, everyone and everywhere!

This is just your start! I start you out this way for you start to love yourself, your life and realize that love is there within you and is all around! This gives you a good foundation and also the energies needed to start the next part. Which is deprogramming yourself, disconnecting yourself from all that stuff that tells you, that you are not lovable or that you can’t love yourself or that you can’t know love till this or that happens or this or that you have to have in order to love yourself and your life.

I want to share with you a teacher that writes some wonderful books on how to free ourselves from our programming and how to live a life in which we love ourselves and our lives and can live it with joy. The first book I read of this teacher’s works was suggested to me during a growth and healing spurt that being challenging. I was at ConVocation during that time and some things were being stirred up when somebody recommended Miguel Ruiz’s book: “The Four Agreements“. I didn’t know what to expect. The book isn’t a thick one and it was the first I had heard of this person. Yet I am so glad I bought the book.  Let me share a bit of those agreements:

The Four Agreements: By Don Miguel Ruiz

1. Be Impeccable with your World:

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.

As you can see just by this introduction, that these agreements are about learning to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves. These agreements help us to not use our words against ourselves or others. That it is alright to communicate yourself clearly about how you feel, what you want and to not be afraid to ask questions. These agreements teach us so much more. And Don Miguel Ruiz’s approach is gentle. It at times felt like I was sitting in front of a loving Great Grandparent that is sharing what life has taught them. I also highly recommend don Miguel Ruiz’s other books for further reading.

Other authors I recommend is Nirmala and Gina Lake. Both of these authors have much to share on how to love yourself and getting free of the programming that keeps you trapped in the loop of not loving yourself.  A couple of both of these authors are:

Nirmala

Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self

Living From the Heart

Gina Lake

Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy

Trusting Life: Overcoming Fear and Beliefs That Blocks Peace and Happiness

There are many other authors and teachers I could share. But I know what I am sharing is a lot in this writing. But each of the mentioned authors can be great guides helping you to deprogram yourself. Will help you learn how to love yourself even when things are challenging and you make mistakes. They will give you a great foundation that will make the next recommendation a bit less challenging with time.

Unplug yourself and start limiting your media interactions.I would suggest start by limiting the amount of news and commercials you watch or listen to. I know I know, I can hear it the What! and such. And I want you to know I’m not suggesting that all media is bad or that all news sources are bad for us. But it does help to unplug ourselves some from certain parts of the media. For let’s face it, most news is all about all the hurtful ways we harm each other, or compete against each other.You are lucky if the news on TV can even share one positive event that happened, save this team or that team won, or hey tomorrow is going to be a sunny day. News on TV can really can get us spooked and stressed.

So yes unplug from the news some. Then commercials sit there and tells us what will make us cool, interesting and such. Commercials will tell us this or that can fix us.  Yes I know when you are watching a show you want to stay on top of things with that show. Yet it is a good thing to watch a lot less commercials. The other area in our lives with media is, social media.

I love social media. It lets me stay in touch with people I meet at festivals and ConVocation and also with some of my family. Yet I know that with social media comes all that sharing of information. Some of it is great and fantastic. But some of it will stress us out and put us in a place of fear. With most social media engines working on watching your likes and loves or even what you hate. They go by what we are responding to!!!So you see on a day you get on and most of what you are seeing is this and that going wrong somewhere or somehow.Don’t click on every single one of them and don’t click the emotes showing how you felt about said thing.

Limit your responses for what lifts you up or what encourages to love yourself or what might help in a difficult yet positive way to see something different about yourself or your life. I know this is a radical idea.

Yet I tell you as a highly sensitive empath  and highly functional Autistic person, cutting out some of that media does a world of good to ease some stress in our lives. Helps us not feel so overwhelmed. We start feeling less fearful. We also start being able to really get to know ourselves and what we really want, because we aren’t getting hammered as much by others telling us what’s good or not good for us through the media. So just do your best to limit some of your media time and what you take in as you look and read.

I know this has been an extensive sharing of things. Yet I know that it is a needed thing for each of us to learn to be loving, compassionate and kind people toward ourselves. We need to learn that we, us, each individual can heal and change things for the better toward ourselves and our lives.

It all starts with You and Me doing our individual best to be kind, compassionate and loving toward ourselves and our lives!!!

Be Blessed Dear Ones and Love Yourselves and One Another!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee

 

2016 Looking Back and Moving Forward

I have been trying to figure out just the right way to write this article without taking sides on any of the issues and just trying to help others and myself move foreword into 2017. 2016 has been jaded with mass shootings a total of 462 so far. During those 585 people were killed and 1,732 were wounded. ( https://www.massshootingtracker.org/data) It has been a time of unrest and uncertainty and certainly the year that everyone found something to find offensive. Legalized Gay marriage turned a year old in 2016, but, there are still many hurdles to climb. 29 states still do not have laws to prohibit housing discrimination, 30 states do not prohibit discrimination in public, 16 states still have no laws protecting  the hiring process. (https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/06/gay-marriage-scotus/488816/). Even though President Obama announced the first national monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights (http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/24/travel/stonewall-inn-first-lgbt-national-monument/) there is still a long way to go.

By Rhododendrites (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0
We have seen “bathroom bill laws”, (http://time.com/3974186/transgender-bathroom-debate/), debates over the “religious freedom laws” (which seem to end up being a debate of whose religion matters and whose doesn’t), (http://dailysignal.com/2015/03/27/the-true-facts-about-religious-freedom-laws/), and an even more wide spread feel of racism and tension since the 1964 debates between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon B. Johnson. (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-02/racial-tension-in-the-2016-presidential-election) It has become a time for not only the LGBT community to have fears, but also for any non-white Christian male.

As a Pagan and witch myself, and having been out of the broom closet for many years, I am not only in fear for my beliefs, but also the fact that I am a woman.

 

Woman holding a sign, listing black people killed by police, and after each name, "no conviction" for all but the two most recent.
Photo Credit: Kenya Coviak all rights reserved

We have had to deal with not trusting our own police officers the same ones who take an oath to honor and protect. As of this point in 2016 1,096 people have died at the hands of police. Many of whom were unarmed, mentally ill, and people of color. The bothersome part of all of this is that even with that total amount of people killed, several officers have gone to trial but, none have received jail time.  (https://thinkprogress.org/this-is-how-many-people-police-have-killed-so-far-in-2016-7f1aec6b7098#.tw3kiuw7x) It is no wonder why most of us are looking foreword to 2017 in hopes for a better year.

We lost 111 famous people in 2016 as well, and quite a few were a shock. David Bowie, Prince, Arnold Palmer and Alan Thicke to name just a few. It feels like this year has taken up back in time to a place we long thought to have grown from. The attacks on humanity itself have seemed over whelming. Suicide rates in the US are at the highest they have been in almost 30 years. Rates for middle-aged women, aged 45 to 64 have jumped 63 percent, and 43 percent for men in that age group. The suicide rate has risen 24 percent since 1999.

 

 

The nation’s suicide rate is the highest it has been since 1986 with 13 per 100,000 people. (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/health/us-suicide-rate-surges-to-a-30-year-high.html?_r=0)

Image: Youth.gov

 

However, I do not want this to be all doom and gloom. There were several really good things that happened in 2016. Child mortality is down world wide and continuing to fall. New chemotherapy breakthroughs have increased the 5 year survival rate for pancreatic cancer from 16% to 27%. Coffee consumption has ben proven to help curtail cancer and suicide rates. Massive strides have been made in Alzheimer prevention.

The Anglican church resolved to solemnize same-sex unions the same as opposite-sex unions which required a super majority of all three orders of the church (lay, clergy, bishop).

Photo: Oscar Guzman

Death by heart disease has decreased by 70% in the United States. Over 800 Boko Harem Hostages were rescued by Nigerian Army. Pokémon Go players went insane with placing lure modules near hospitals for sick kids. Not to mention birthdays, family, friends, Thanksgiving, rainbows and even puppies to name just a few.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/11/amazing-list-of-good-things-that-happened-in-2016-delights-the-i/)

 

Will 2017 be better that 2016? Who knows, but, if we all work together and build up trust, respect, and communication with each other, I believe this could be one of the best years yet.

Hopefully we can all take the negative things that have happened over the course of this year and turn them around into positive things. Remember to call family, tell people you love them, value friendship, be kind to each other and most of all be a role model for others to aspire to. Be the best possible you that you can be and be true to yourself. Hopefully we as the human race can fix what has been broken and start mending this planet before it is too late.