The Alchemy of Shadow Work and What Spring and Autumn Can Teach Us About This Important Work

Bet that title has you scratching your head, wondering what can Spring and Autumn teach us about shadow work. Maybe you have scoffed at the regurgitated old analogies of what shadow work is about. Maybe you’re just beginning your learning. Whatever your thoughts, questions and such, I hope you have some curiosity as to what Nature through any of its seasons can teach us about the important work of Shadow Alchemy.

I’ve been a student of Nature, life, us humans since I was a child. I’ve been an initiated person of spiritual wisdom, healing and such also since I was a child. I watch, listen, ask questions, always curious and understanding that there is more and more to learn and understand.

I’ve also come to understand that we humans are not allowing ourselves to evolve, change, heal or grow. We are hindering ourselves by not allowing our stories, myths, analogies, metaphors and other things to change or grow. We’ve also turned important truths upside down and firmly believe our lies.

Which brings us to shadow work and the alchemical process that it is !

We’ve turned shadow into a scapegoat for all the messed up things we are capable of. We believe that shadow only contains the messed up things. We keep being fooled into believing that we don’t need a different approach to our relationship with shadow work.

Yet we can find that nature has a lesson about the truth of shadows and really it’s lessons!

I willingly admit that what I’m sharing isn’t the end all and be all of answers. For even I am a student and I understand I can only know but a portion of any given thing. I also know that each person has their own unique journey of learning to accomplish. Yet my life’s journey thus far because of how I’m always wanting to reach understanding of things, has taught me some things.

Nature, life, our world, each human, animal, element  and all the cycles, seasons, processes  and such are always patiently teaching us important truths. Really life, nature, our world is one big classroom! What I mean by that is, our world, ourselves and life are the micro versions of truths about the much larger or macro of The All That Is and it’s truths!

So what does Nature and it’s many cycles have to teach us    about shadows and our own shadow work?

We have to start with a couple basic things about shadow. Yes, I realize you may know these basic things about how shadow needs light and usually a solid object or person, such as you! But what do these basic things about shadow have to teach us about our shadow work.

Well with this first basic fact about formation of shadow needing light and then a solid something in order for shadow to be able to happen, we then see if this correlates to how our minds and our senses work.

We take a look at our minds and how the information of various things are all first processed in our minds. Then we speak, act and such from those thoughts and we formulate ideas, judgments and beliefs about the outer world we live in. Our minds are an interesting mixture of solid and yet subtle things and our senses we use to carry out different tasks can be seen as as the light and strangely as the shadow also.

So the true point of shadow for us happens between a thought or feeling moving towards an action and or reaction with the outside world!

Shadow lies between each thought, belief, self talk, action and reactions and so much more. Shadow lies in us making our minds conscious and aware of what it’s thinking and believing. Even when we aren’t actively being aware of how we are reacting and interacting with life,  shadow is still there between the mind and outside world.

Another intersting basic fact about shadows is that they change according to the direction of light upon a thing or person!

This basic fact about nature’s ways with shadows can be an amazing teacher in showing us that change is a very natural thing within life and ourselves. Which is a really big truth that we humans struggle to accept especially about our minds and lives.

Yet nature is showing us that change is a very real and natural thing that goes on from moment to moment, day by day, season to season, year by year and so on!

Which brings us to what Spring and Autumn can teach us about shadow work!

When we look at the placement of these two seasons within the seasonal cycles, we see Spring and Autumn at mid way points towards days getting longer or shorter, and same for the night time.

Spring time’s shadow play is one where the shadows look to be getting shorter. For the sunlight during the day is at a point more directly over our home, trees and such. So it’s almost as if shadow is receding.

Another thing about Spring is we start getting excited and making plans for outdoors type of things we want or need to do. So we are engaging the outside world more and more during Spring moving towards Summertime.

This time of year can encourage us to take a good look at how we are engaging and connecting with the outside world, including our interactions and beliefs and such with ourselves and one another.

Another lesson Spring has for our shadow work is all about planting and cultivating growth of things! Spring  can be a big help in guiding us towards the things we desire and long to heal and change. Because we have positive, negative and things in between those two points. Shadow and darkness are actually neutral ground so to speak.

So all facets of beliefs and such reside there! Shadow is very much capable of holding seemingly opposing things! So when we bring this understanding into our shadow work we then can have fuller and easier access to the whole of ourselves!

So during the Spring and going into Summer we can do the work of planting and cultivating the change and healing we long to have happen. And if we understand that shadow and darkness of our minds contain all that we need or can guide us to the things we still need for growth and healing, Spring will help us in big ways to heal and change our interactions with the outside world.

Another point I want to make about shadow is it can be a gentler and safer terrain to travel versus the darkness, because we do have light along the way to help guide us better, versus what can happen with darkness! 

Which brings us interestingly to what can Autumn teach us about shadow work! I’m bringing up Autumn along with Spring in this writing because while the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing life awakening, the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing life heading towards certain levels of restfulness, of becoming dormant for a time!

With Autumn the shadows lengthen because the sunlight is at more of an angle. So we have more to shadows during the Autumn. Also in Autumn we have the nights start to get longer and we ourselves with the cooling down of the temperatures, start to stay indoors more. Autumn is the season that gets us ready for the cold and freeze of Winter.

So as we are seeing with Autumn we have a season that we have of preparation for the freezing time of Winter. This means getting the harvesting done, getting seeds planted for early spring, making sure our windows and such don’t leak and getting our Winter clothing out and many other sorts of preparations are done during the Autumn in time for the Winter freeze. Autumn then is a time of pulling inward and making preparations for the dark time we call Winter.

So Autumn as a teacher and guide helps point towards us having opportunities to do the work of understanding the inner world of our minds! 

Shadow work during the Autumn is all about navigating the inner terrain of our minds and getting to the things that limit us, shackle us, or may be toxic and poisonous that need healing. It can also though help us train up the positive aspects so that we can accelerate our growth and healing.

Another reason I am writing about both Spring and Autumn is because shadow work needs to happen in both directions of outer and inner worlds. Especially if we are doing all we can to grow and heal. We need to pay attention to how we are reacting and interacting with the outside world. While also on a regular basis doing the work of checking into what’s going on within the innner world of our minds!

For us to truly become whole and healed we must do conscious working with both the inner world of mind and the outer world of living! Hence why both Spring and Autumn are much needed teachers and guides. Because together they help us have a more holistic approach to ourselves, minds and lives!

Blessings to you all this Spring! Let it be a time of growth and healing in your life that it can be! And let Autumn guide you as you work with your inner world of mind and gain fuller access to your power!

 

 

Working with the Land

This morning I  sat my desk and looked out side to see it snowing on the second day of spring.  As the snow falls I see at least 6″ of snow all over the ground from a blizzard that occurred last week.  This is how it is every year where I live.  Lots and lots of snow that never seems to go away.

Yet when you walk into a retail store you will see seeds for sale and signs of spring every where.  people longing for the time where the days are warm and gentle and that they can be outside with out harsh heat and those pesky bugs (we have a lot of bugs in my area).  Spring time in Maine can be a wonderful time of year when it finally gets here.

Its hard to be thinking about planting your gardens when its still covered in snow and the temps outside can still reach below freezing.  There were times when during this past year I thought about getting started on my prep work outside, but once that thought hit me another draft of snow appeared to come our way.

It may be weeks before we actually notice spring here in Maine.  As a pagan and as a witch I work with the spirits of the land and the current of the land energy.  Hug a tree to talk to the spirit now and they are often annoyed that they got woken up.  They are not yet fully awake and the land is still very much asleep.  Some trees like Birch and Maple have started to have small leafbuds.  Looking outside at the trees in the back and I largely have an image of this:

Maine Winter 2018
Photo courtesy Jeannine Kari Martell-Morris

The grips of winter largely still hold over this land.  Yet we see the squirrels and chipmunks darting to and fro finding food and the birds looking for any seeds or food they can find out in the snow.  Life still moves in Maine spring, just moves quite slowly.    Once the spring rains get here then I can say that the season has begun and that Spring has come to Maine.

This is why for myself I really dont celebrate and honor either Imbolc or Ostara.  To me neither one really represent spring.  Its not spring here.  To me honoring the birth of the sun at Imbolc makes no sense, its still very dark here during that time.  Then the Spring Equinox often has snow storms and ice going on, which to me is not very spring.  Its not really the season of spring, at least in feel or look.  Its still in the grips of old man winter.

The land does not have flowers blooming and baby animals all around.  Its still quiet, cold and mostly slumbering.  The lakes will start to crack and the ice will start to melt, and some flowers will start to peek through the snow in a few weeks.  When that happens I will gladly honor and welcome to start of spring, but for now its very much winter still here.

It took me a while to get comfortable with not having those two sabbats in my practice, but then I realized if I was really going to honor and work with the spirits of the land I should honor the seasons when they actually come to the region.  When they come to Maine, and Winter by far is our longest season.   I’ll acknowledge the light and increase in day when we see that happen and I’ll welcome spring when I see the first flowers popping up in gardens.  Till then I’ll simply continue to ask Old Man winter to be gentle with me and hope the ice and snow spirits accept my prayers of protection and my offerings when I give them.

I look forward to connecting to the spirit of the land when they wake, but for now I will let the land sleep.  I have some plants I can work and grow in my office to try and feel as if Spring is here, but until the land wakes and the mud is here its still a land of snow with ice and cold and fires are needed to keep warm.

Be mindful of your land and the climate.  Don’t force yourself to work in rituals or holidays that dont fit what you see and experience as your land.  The land spirits will guide you and direct you and may even help you find new ways to look at everything you have been doing.

Smoke and sanity for cannabis in the public ritual community

Did you hear that? That was the sound of several folks coughing in the ritual rooms across the nation. That sound happens when cannabis is not listed as one of the smokes present in a rite, folks who may be allergic to it. That sound is also accompanied by the sound of retreating footsteps made by persons with jobs that drug test. Contrary to popular belief in some circles, many asthma sufferers do NOT use it to help their disease. In fact, reaching for an inhaler is a common response.

Cannabis is an herb that has many ritual and recreational benefits. It also has medical ones, as well. I am not debating this in any way.

What I am finding questionable is the fact that its usage in the community, like vaping, is obnoxious in  some cases. The habit of blowing smoke into someone’s face as a part of the conversation is just as rude when it is cannabis as when it is tobacco. Actually, it can be worse, because tobacco usually will not get a person fired when drug tested.

This goes back to common manners. If people are in ritual space with you in public, it is common courtesy to ask if there are those who are smoke sensitive, or are unable to be around certain scents. To include this and not let the persons in attendance know before the rite begins is a bit negligent.

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8730

The spread of legalization of using this natural herb brought with it a giddiness of freedom. That freedom began a descent into boorishness in the last years. In enclosed areas, it can be overwhelming. Not everyone wants to go home smelling in a way that can lead to a potentially horrid traffic encounter with law enforcement officers.

So, just think about asking if folks are able to be fumed with the herb next time, please.

Just to show I have no bias against those who enjoy this green gift, here is a flashback song for toking.

Let’s Change Our Stories About Our Relationship With Darkness And Shadow

A Winter Sunrise

This time of year for the northern part of our world go through the dark time of the year. Further north you go the more shorter the days are. The other thing about this time of year for the north is the shadows get longer, same as the night hours do.

Winter has its own expression of beauty. Yet it also has some unique challenges and lessons. Some of those challenges seem to have so much to do with this season of long shadows and long nights, long times of darkness and shadow.

And I can’t help but wonder if we could heal those challenges we can have during this time of year! By healing our stories, beliefs, perseptions and such!

For life and the cycles of nature can help us see where we may need to change or heal a belief, a pattern we are stuck in, something of our past traumas and so forth. Creation and nature are great healers and teachers. And the seasons and their rhythms have so much to offer us.

                   

I also know that we as individuals and as a collective can point towards what is needing healing, transformation and change! 

And oh my goodness am I feeling and knowing in a deep way we need to change our stories and even maybe language about darkness and shadow!

Oh I know it may seem I’m talking crazy here!

But I’m not alone in understanding that the true relationship we need to heal is with our Minds! For it is there that All things come from in our lives! Our minds is where our power is to bring about change or destruction!

And dear ones, when we close those eyes for meditation or sleep, there you get to see Darkness and Our Shadow, it’s where we have a fuller access to ourselves!

And we are not going to be able to be whole, complete and having full access to our power. Oh no we won’t! Not if we keep making Shadow and Darkness places of nightmares or turning them into our scapegoat for all the nasty stuff we do to ourselves and each other. No! Instead we will run and run and run away! In fact that’s why we are hurting and our world is hurting!

Can we do anything to change this? Oh! Yes we can! But only if we are willing to change our stories about Darkness and Shadow! And only if we are brave enough to want fuller access to the fullness of our Minds!

So! How do we go about changing our stories, beliefs, perceptions and such about darkness and shadow? Well, are we willing to accept we are talking about our minds, when we speak our shadow and dark side?

That’s the first step is realizing we are having all kinds of stories and philosophies about the dark and shadow parts of ourselves being such terrible parts of our human psyche and that we are really talking about our thoughts, our mind.

I’ve had the humble privilege of being able to share my philosophy and my thoughts about humanity’s relationship with shadow and darkness and how we are really speaking to the inner workings of the mind. Yet when I’ve had some understanding from folks, I could still see they didn’t quite understand where I was coming from. That was until I had them do a few interactive things.

First I have them put on a blindfold or close their eyes. I like the blindfold better, by the way. Then I ask them first what they are seeing. Answer is, maybe you guessed it, darkness. But I take it further I ask them to remember a happy moment in as much detail as possible, with as many of their senses as possible. Then I ask them what they are recalling and then ask them where is this all coming from? Then yes, I have them recall a sad moment, all this is happening while they are blindfolded mind you. Again this time safely bringing up a sad memory as thoroughly as safely possible. Again my question of where is it coming from. Now mind you, some of them are getting that information through smell and touch. It isn’t just visually. I ask them a final time, where is this all coming from. Most of the time it’s darkness. The more visual type people can have a harder time with this. So I tell them clear the mind’s screen. Then they also realize it’s darkness that they are experiencing. In our sleep time is another time we are pretty much alone with the darkness of our mind. Our dreams happen there too.

For shadow, it becomes a bit of a fun time of shadow play. But I also take people outside to see nature’s shadows, building shadows and their own shadows in the natural light. I ask them things like, in the summer on a hot day isn’t sitting in the shade, the shadow of a tree nice when we’re hot? I ask them to look at the shadows and ask are the shadows detailed, do they look identical to the things casting the shadow? Then I ask, are these scary terrible things they are looking at? Most of the time the answer is, no.

As you see, through experiencing through ourselves blindfolded we have a real personal look at the mind, which when blindfolded we realize all our thoughts are coming from a place of darkness. With the help of nature we find that shadows are not perfect reflections of the things casting them. Yet in certain ways they can bring us comfort.

The most interesting thing about the darkness of the mind when blindfolded, is that darkness is neutral space till a thought brings up information. And for shadows they are not mirror images of things. Which allows us to see things in a different way.

We also have stories that are positive stories or myths about creation coming forth from darkness. Again darkness being as a neutral space till something happens.We have stories about how the people wanted it to be daytime all the time. Well those people changed their mind after awhile because they couldn’t sleep or the lands were drying up and no food was available. So they had to ask for darkness to be around again.

Life through the birth and growth of life happens often in a space of darkness, wether it’s the womb, the inside of an egg, the seed within the soil or the networks of roots and animals within the ground, under our feet.

But the most important thing I’ve learned is both shadow and darkness are very important parts of our human psyche!

Just as the people that asked for daylight to be all there was, we become bankrupt, dried up and starving because we are afraid of sitting with our minds. We get too caught up in specifics that we can’t see things in new ways.

But most important is the darkness of the mind and it’s shadows is where all things come from!

Yes! Our most amazing ideas, love and compassion come from our mind! Yet also our most nasty, fearful, judgmental and condemning things come from our mind. And that mind until we think, imagine, or sense something, all of it comes from the neutral fertile space of darkness and shadow!

So to heal this relationship for yourself, try the blindfold experience. Try the shadow play and outdoor exploration of shadows. Track down positive stories about darkness or cautionary stories about why darkness is important. And the best pictures I can recommend are of space. To see all that potential of life in the star systems is an amazing example of the amazing things that come from darkness. Look down an animal hole into the ground and you’ll see roots and such down there in the dark of the earth. And be amazed at the network of plant and animal living under your feet. Look at pictures of a baby growing in a womb and marvel at the miracle of life. And know this is your mind seeing all of this, learning and reading and such.

Yes dear ones it’s even with the darkness and shadows of your mind that is reading this!

Blessings to you all this Winter Solstice time of the year!

Crystal forms: A variety of curio magic

Crystal forms: A variety of curio magic

An assortment of Crystal types and forms

Crystals are simply larger and more defined pieces of minerals. They are often polished and tumbled for sale and decorative pieces. Most of the ones you find for sale at metaphysical shops are likely tumbled and polished. Raw crystals like the ones above are the ones that you can find yourself when you visit a local quarry or dig site. In these locations you will be able to find stones yourself in their natural environment. When you pull them from the earth yourself you have a closer connection to them and can feel their natural power more easily.

Crystals are natural curios regardless of the form. Crystals come from the earth and are natural items. While humans have shaped them and formed them for us to collect, play with, enjoy, and work with they are still gifts from the earth. They grew deep within the earth and are the bones of this planet. They are very powerful natural curious for this reason.

shapes, sizes,and forms of crystals
Crystal forms
shapes, sizes,and forms of crystals

In the above photo you can see several different forms of crystals. There are small totem stones, you have a crystal mala bracelet, angel carved crystals, shaped animals, hearts, raw, tumbled, skull, spheres, towers or wands, pendants and a pyramid. All of these different forms provide many different ways to work with crystals. By combining the shape of the crystal with the properties of the crystals you can find unique ways to work crystal magic that suit your personal body and style.

Raw and Tumbled

Raw crystal curios

Raw and tumbled stones and crystals make the best talismans and charms. They are easy to carry and to create into jewelry. For many stones and crystals the tumbled varieties are readily available and less expensive than working with a pyramid, sphere or object in that manner. Small tumbled stones and raw stones are easily obtainable. Which means depending on the stone obtaining what you need for the work can be done.

When it comes to crystal magic the best way to work with them is to carry them as a talisman or amulet. A Talisman is typically a piece of jewelry that is worn or a stone carried that has a symbol or phrase inscribed on it describing the magical use. Talismans are typically for draw something to you. An amulet is typically an item worn or carried to ward off something. Both talismans and amulets are used for protection. One tends to be more about removing it the other is more about preventing it from getting there to begin with.

Two of the best examples of stones carried as charms for protection come from warriors. Both of these stones were associated with blood and bleeding. The first is Bloodstone and the second is Hematite. Two very different stones that share a common historical use: Protection from bleeding or excessive wounds on the battlefield.

Hematite is a stone that has associations with blood and protection in battle. The name comes from the Greek word for blood. It has been used as an amulet against bleeding, and so is known as the “blood stone”. Many people believe that Hematite is actually the original stone referenced when folklore mentions “bloodstone”.

Blood stone was historically carried by warriors in battle. It was thought that it was a charm that would protect against bleeding in battle. Which is why warriors wore it or carried it for protection. Occasionally it was worn as a pendant hanging over the heart chakra to cleanse the blood and protect from wounds.

In the case of both Hematite and Bloodstone they are both working as protection charms. Bloodstone worked more of preventing and removing so it was more of a talisman while Hematite was more of an amulet designed to try and ward excessive or unnecessarily wounds and fights in battles. Both stones worked to protect the warriors and both stones dealt with blood.

Amethyst, quartz, Hematite Hanging Pentacle charm

Today wirewraped crystal gifts have become very popular. They are made with crystal chips or small raw or tumbled pieces. Witches by knowing the properties of the crystals can create charms that are hidden in plain sight. They will be able to place the decoration on the wall or in the window to catch the light and the properties of the crystals will be brought into the home. Creating powerful subtloe natural magic.

The above photo is a crystal sun catcher in the shape of a pentacle made out of Hematite, Amethysts, and quartz. Hematite isused for protection and grounding. Amethyst is used to promote peace and protection. Amethyst being an empath’s stone is also one used for healing and working out emotions. Quartz is also a good one to have in the mix. Quartz provides power to all other stones and is a good overall energy stabilizer.

When the person who bought this pentacle hangs it in their house they will be bringing the energy of those crystals into the home. The shape of the pentacle ensures protection as it is a protective symbol. The way the crystals are aligned balances the energy of the three crystals in a repetitive pattern so that none of the energy overwhelms each other and they all work in harmony for the purpose at hand. Now all they have to do is charge the crystals like they would with any other crystal item. once it is charged and dedicated by hanging the crystal on the wall they bring that magic and energy into their home.

Mini prosperity and succsess grid

Raw and tumbled stones are also the corner stones of grid work. Crystal grids are a way of laying our crystals in a pattern that sends out your intent and desire into the universe. Most crystal grids are more complex, the one above was a simple one created for one day. The Aventurine stone was the anchor or core for luck, prosperity and succsess. The five citrine tumbles were arranges around the center piece in a star or pentacle pattern to direct the desire for sales and succsess into the universe through the directions and elements. Citrine was chosen for its money, luck, and prosperity properties.

Wands

Wands of crystals and stones

Wands are actually a new thing in my life and in my practice and I have to say its a new way to look at one of the most common tools in witchcraft and magic. Wands are the most common tool in magical traditions and practices. Wands are used to direct and raise the energy manipulated for the spell at hand. Wands are tools traditionally made out of wood and fashioned with crystals feathers etc. Crystal wands allow us to work with crystal energy in spells by directing the energy trough that crystal.

A Selenite wand is good to banish and remove energy. I use it regularly to wipe myself down after a day of high anxiety. The properties of selenite are clarity and dispelling negativity. Its an excellent stone to use to work with banishing and removal work. My wiping myself down with selenite after work is an example of banishment and removal work.

An Aventurine tower held over a money incense as it burns would be a great way to work with the energy of the wand. The wand will absorb the energy from the incense, add its own energy to the blend and then direct it out into the universe amplified and further charged. As seen in the grid photo posted earlier the wands also can work effectively as core components of grids. This allows them to direct the energy from their root (bottom) to the universe up through their tip. They in the end focus the energy of the other crystals from one point into the universe to create your change.

An amethyst wand would be a great way to direct specific healing energy. Simple hold the crystal wand over the area with the specific ailment and direct the energy through the Crystal into the area. The point of the tower will provide pinpoint accuracy to the area. The energy channeled will also be charged by and effected by the energy of amethyst infusing any healing energy with amethyst healing and protecting properties.

One thing wands are really good at is directing energy long distance. Lets say you have a friend that is feeling depressed and you want to help them heal and feel better but can’t travel to them. A Rose quartz wand with lavender and catnip incense burning and a photo of your friend combined together can make an effective love and healing spell. You’d burn the incense and chant something about love and healing for your friend then take the Rose quartz wand and direct the energy of the chant, the incense, and your mental/emotional energy at the photo of your friend sending it into the universe towards your friend.

The more assortments of wands you have the more opportunities you have to work crystal magic. You can work with many different wands until you find the right crystal wand for a specific task. You may even find that some crystals dont work well for you in a wand form but they do work in tumbled or shaped or other forms. The crystals will speak to you.

Totem Stones

Totem crystal collection

Many people work with animal symbols within their spiritual practice. These totem stones and soapstone or gemstone animals are tools that can be used to call upon animal energy and powers. The shape and image of an animal can be a powerful way to connect with that animal when physical contact or items are not possible.

By carrying those stones with you in the shape of an animal or with the engraving of an animal you have that energy with you. Not only that but you also have the combined power of the stone with you. Its a double wammy. Great way to create charms and talismans with very few tools.

So if you have an Unakite totem stone with a dolphin carved into it you not only have the power of the dolphin in your hands but also the power of Unakite as well. In this case the symbolism of dolphins can be protection, rebirth, and renewal. The stone Unakite encourages psychic visions and the development of the third eye. Unakite is a powerful healer too. Unakite helps balance emotions, it can help with sleep, stress and healing addictions. With these two sets of symbolism there are a few different things that we can have here.

For someone trying to overcome and addiction they could carry the stone to help balance their emotions, relieve stress, and protect them self from the addiction. The healing of the addiction will also lead to renewal. They would simply need to create a dedication spell for this purpose. That spell should include herbs to heal for strength and for power. Lavender, Woodruff and Rosemary would help in this working.

For someone who is still developing their psychic abilities the protection and rebirth aspects of the dolphin can be of help while the Unakite stone itself can help them deal with the new information and regain balance. As with the above the person carrying this stone would now need to create a dedication spell or ritual for the purpose of strengthening their psychic abilities and providing a new start. Here I would recommend using herbs like Frankincense, Mugwort, and again Rosemary.

Lets take another stone and animal combination. Red Jasper is a very common stone. Red Jasper is known for dream work, sleep aid, and protection, Eagle is a popular bird to call on for spiritual aid. They bring independence, vision, strength, power, and freedom. Here are a few different combinations here.

Lets say you feel that you need more insight and are looking for dream wisdom. By sleeping with a Red Jasper Eagle totem stone under your pillow you can call upon the eagles vision for insight and you can call upon the Jaspers properties for dream work and sleep aid. Together you have a sleep magic dream work charm. As with the Unakite an actual spell to dedicate and charge the stone would be required. Chamomile and lavender with rosemary or ginkgo would work well in this spell.

Eagles are strong and powerful. Lets say you aren’t that physical strong but want to feel more confident. Red Jasper is a stone of strength and protection. It will bring you protection energy and build your confidence. By charging this crystal in a spell calling upon the animal and stone spirits you can create a charm to carry for protection that fits in your pocket. In the charging process I’d personally add Dragons Blood, Frankincense, and Nettle Leaf for additional energetic and spiritual protection.

Skulls

Crystal Skulls

In witchcraft communities you will find a lot of people who love their skulls. Many witches wear skulls in various jewelry and there are those who have skulls on their altars. Skulls are powerful symbols for many cultures. For many witches skulls are a symbol of the powers of death and rebirth and decay. Witches dont see death as a bad thing. Its seen as part of the life cycle. For many death is not an ending but the start of something new. For other witches death is the end of this life but not our full journey.

For most witches skulls are symbol a symbol of the dead and of our ancestors. They provide us a way to connect with our ancestors. Some witches use animal skulls on their altars to represent the God and some use human skulls to represent ancestors. Most of these skulls are resin or made out of clay/ceramic. For those who want to have a skull on the altar but dont want ceramics or resin and a more natural material crystals provide that opportunity.

Skull shapes crystals offer us a unique way to work with the dead. The skull shape due to its symbolism allows us to call on ancestral powers and properties fairly easily. Like with the totem stones crystal skulls would retain the properties of the crystals that they are. They also gain the additional property of being able to connect to the dead and be used to channel ancestral energy.

A quartz crystal skull is a great addition to an ancestral altar. Quartz crystals are good all purpose crystals. They also empower and power up any and all other magical workings. So with a quartz skull on your ancestor altar any workings that you do with your ancestors is automatically amplified. Quartz skulls also hold energy so it can be charged with the energy of your ancestors and brought with you so that you can take their energy any where with you. To charge a quartz crystal Frankincense and Copal are good for generic all purpose spiritual cleansing and workings.

An Opalite Skull would also be a great addition not only to an ancestor altar but a working altar as well. Opalite is a highly spiritual stone and is great for communication, meditation, and all around healing. Opalite can also help us be successful in business. By placing the Opalite skull on the ancestor altar it opens your communication with the dead making it easier to let them teach you and help you in your life. Magically lets say you had an ancestor who ran their own successful business and you want to do the same. When you do a spell or working to help with your business succsess add the Opalite skull into the working. This will allow you to call on that ancestor, their wisdom and the energy of the crystal at the same time. To add further assistance I’d add herbs like Cinequfoil, Cinnamon, and Dragons Blood.

Obsidian Skulls are probably some of the most popular Skulls out there. They are Black, which is a color associated with the dead and underworld as well as death and they are simply beautiful. Obsidian is also a very protective stone. Its great against psychic attacks, removes negative energy, grounds, and protects. IN many traditions the first spirits that should be called on for protection magic or any magic is our ancestors because they will answer before any other spirits will answer. An Obsidan Skull allows for that instant connection to ancestor energy and protection. To charge it I would run it through an incense that is a combination of Wormwood, Dragonsblood, Basil, White Sage, and Frankincense.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the many different shapes and forms that crystals can take. There are many other shapes and forms that haven’t been mentioned that all have their own unique properties and benefits. Let these styles, shapes and ideas be another way for you to begin your journey into the world of crystal and gem magic.

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.