Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Recommendations: Pampering Yourself.

If your life has been chaotic and stressful, it may be hard to take a breather and just do some self care. Now, some self care is challenging stuff. (Gods know that my doing yoga 6:30 am before I even have a cup of coffee has been difficult over the last few months, but it is good self-care so I am doing it.) Some self care doesn't look like self care to others because it means things like setting boundaries and doing other stuff that effects relationships and your time involving others. (That is also some really hard stuff to do. If you're struggling with it, don't give up. YOU are worth it!)

When a lot of people talk about self care on social media, they feature the cutesy things like taking a bubble bath, enjoying a glass of wine, or painting your toe nails (if you're into that stuff). There is a pretty strong push back against this image of self care because it is pretty incomplete and ableist. If you're someone who has problems with tachycardia, for example, that hot, relaxing bubble bath is going to be decidedly unpleasant pretty quickly. So, I am not going to promote those ideas, but I am going to encourage you to take some time to do what makes you happy.

We are all engaged in difficult times and dealing with life that just seems to become more challenging every day. It is pretty easy to get overwhelmed and just focus on what you need to do to survive. If you have people you are responsible for, it is even easier to just focus on what you need to do to meet those responsibilities and the bare minimum of what you need to do to survive. This is alright if you are in crisis mode but after a certain point, you are going to start suffering from burn out. That is just not good for you.

One of the things that helps with preventing burn out is proactive self care. It is like my doing my morning yoga routine. It helps keep my back problems under control, which lets me be more effective as a stay at home mom and a partner to my husband. Another thing, which those silly memes try to get into but fail pretty hard, is taking time to pamper yourself. This is not about being selfish in a bad way. This is about taking time to recharge your batteries, to rest and recover from all of that hard work you have been doing. Your self pampering is going to look different from mine (which is wonderful and good, everyone having different things that makes them happy is part of what makes the world a wonderful place). The goal, however, is the same.

Take some time to do something that brings you joy. This could be listening to some of your favorite music, having a nice cup of tea, or spending a blessed five minutes alone with out small children harrying you. (I confess, I will lock the bathroom door and pretend I'm not mom for a few minutes to give myself a breather.) Your goal is to seize that sweetness from life where you can find it. Some days it is going to be harder than others. Some days, it may just be that sweet feeling of release that comes when you kick off your shoes after a long day on your feet. Other days, it may be indulging in that bit of chocolate you have stashed inside the broccoli bag in the freezer so that your significant other doesn't eat it. (I don't do this, but another parent I know does it so that he can have his mini-Snickers bites when his wife isn't looking. To each their own!)

No matter what, take some time to do the things that help you feel more hopeful and happier about life. You matter too. Your happiness matters and your well being matters. So, I highly recommend taking sometime to attend to what gives you happiness and promotes your well being.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Divination: Runes - Lesson 1 : Intro

Image from Wikipedia
Anyone who has a familiarity with Tolkien's work will immediately recognize runic, as this was what he based the dwarven alphabet off of. Anyone who has encountered anything connected with Germanic paganism is going to recognize runes because they are very prevalent. (Which makes sense because this was the alphabet used by these people, with regional variations. Many of which were lost during the era of Christian conversion, sadly, when the written records were destroyed.) A little bit of digging, even the student of the English language is going to find runes. Indeed, they are still present in the English language after going through some transformations over the millennia.

The runes are more than just a system of letters. Or should I say, they are a system of letters that harkens back to the eras before literacy was common and letters carried a sense of magical weight behind them in addition to the common understandings. Some of this is remembered in things like individual runes being associated with specific deities (such as Kenaz/Cen being associated with Loki and Ing being associated with Freyr). The runes have a stronger attachment to magic than their descendant alphabets. Some would say that it is because they are 'pure' iconography from the ancient era. Others would argue that it is because they don't have the modern indifference attached to them as is with the letters of the English alphabet, for example.

It is my opinion that these arguments are helpful but they do not fully encompass the depth of the strength of runes as a magical system. In the next few divination articles, I am going to do my best to detail the history of runes as a magical system and a method of divination. I am also going to give a simple guide to how to use them. I will not discuss bind runes in great detail here, because this is a very specialized form of rune magic that really should be covered on its own. I will also try to present some information on how different regions used runes historically and the influence they had on modern language. This is a very big topic, so please forgive me if I gloss over some details, but my focus is going to show how runes are still very present in modern day languages even though their appearance has changed.

It is my hope that this series of nine posts help make runes a little less intimidating and provide a good starting point to grow as a person who performs divination. It may happen that the techniques of divination that I present are different from how others do this. There is a very good reason for this. My approach to reading the runes is intuitive and based in what I have learned over the years in rather undirected study. I will do my best to present information on how others perform divination using runes, but I apologize in advance for any errors that are in my work. I invite any who are experienced in this specialized system of divination to please contact me when you see any errors in my posts so that I can correct the material accordingly.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Opinion: Benefits of Devotional Journal

Image from Pexels.
Keeping a devotional journal sounds like a lot of work. People tend to think of the practice of Bible journals when it is mentioned. While Bible journals is a method of keeping a devotional journal, it doesn't work for everyone. Not everyone is Christian or finds inspiration in the Bible. So, what are the people who are not Christian going to do? And why would they keep a devotional journal?

It is a very flexible practice. Just as keeping a regular journal or diary has as many different methods as there are people who use one, the same is true for a devotional journal. One person may find that keeping a written record of their prayers is helpful. Another person may find that a scrapbook filled with inspiring items, photos of important moments, and notes about their prayer life is most useful. And there may be yet another person who uses a book of abstract coloring pages for their meditative focus and as their prayer journal, wherein the meanings of their prayers is coded within the images by the colors used and the order of their application.

The devotional journal practice that you choose should be most comfortable for you and one that you feel has the strongest connection to the ones you are contacting via prayer. A person who has a devotional relationship with Brighid is going to have a different style of devotional practice than a person who has a devotional relationship with Al-Lat because these two deities have entirely different sets of iconography and symbolism connected with them, which is completely separate from the individual quirks of each person's own methods of communicating. The devotional journal is a practice that can be very helpful to either person regardless of their experience at engaging in devotional work.

A devotional journal allows one to keep a record of the prayers and observances they keep. It is also good for noting when said prayers are answered and what themes arise in one's prayer life. It is an excellent tool for building up into daily prayer practices. Devotional journals are also, generally, highly portable and allow one to enter into prayer in a fashion that is rather inconspicuous. If a person is in a position where they want their prayer time to be with out distractions, the focus of working in a journal can do much to filter out external distractions because a good deal of attention is required. A devotional journal also helps the devotee to find their voice, which is a good thing when the devotee is working on building their personal practice.

Prayers said by rote can not be forgotten when they are noted down in a journal. Instead, there would be a section for reference that one could turn to when it is needed. That, in many ways, is really the best part about a devotional journal. It is easier to remember things because it is not necessary to absolutely memorize them. Instead, a note can be written and depending on the style of journal writing used, there is going to be an index or some other sort of organization to the journal that allows for easy access of the notes.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hiatus & Equinox.

Hiatus is the time of non-time in the Filianic calendar. At this time, the holy Daughter, who was slain on Kala (the day before, and the final day of the month of Moura), hangs upon the pillar that passes through all worlds. It could be likened to the time of mourning that Christians observe in honor of the time that Jesus hung upon the cross and then was laid in the tomb before his resurrection. This traditionally in the Filianic and Déanic communities is a time of deep reflection and a moment when all things come to a brief halt to await the resurrection of the Daughter. (This year, it comes on the day after the Equinox. Other years, it is the day of the Equinox, but it always falls on the 21st of March in the Northern Hemisphere and on the 21st of September in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Thinking about the future and discussing future events is generally considered taboo in this religious tradition. As someone who practices a blended faith, I try to adhere to this taboo, but there are things that simply force me to break it. A fine example is the fact that I have mundane things such as doctor's appointments and bills that I need to address. This requires some future planning. So, I focus my efforts on attending to only matters that require my attention at this time, so if future planning is done it is only what is most essential. Like others of the Filianic faith tradition, I cover my icons of the Daughter with a veil. I use a dark blue cloth, as it is the color associated with Moura and mourning. Technically, this is a time for mourning the death of the Daughter. I also try to keep my clothing simple and I generally go with darker colors.

It is also the Equinox, which is celebrated in Wicca and much of the Norse/Germanic based faith traditions as Ostara. Rituals are done to honor Ostara, the goddess of Spring and fertility. It is also considered the time when Freyr returns to the lands of the living after having been slain at the time of the autumn harvest. From this perspective, today is an auspicious day. Though there is snow on the ground right now, the sap is running through the trees and I have heard robins out singing when I was taking a walk this morning.

I sit here pulled in two very different directions today. The blessing here is the fact that the celebration of Ostara is not tied to a specific date on the calendar and the astronomical equinox does not fall on the same date every year (because precession is a thing and such), so I am not bound by a hard and fast date to observe Ostara and the equinox. I am going to use this to my advantage this year. I am spending time today treating life as though seeds are germinating beneath the soil and I am in a sacred period of waiting. Tomorrow, when the Filianic celebration of Eastre comes, I will celebrate Ostara at the same time. I am going to give my children some sweets for the day. I got that ball started early today with some donuts. I will also be invoking blessings on my seeds and such.

Today, I am going to prepare my 'soil' and wait. I am going to do my best to focus on what I need right now and address that. While I had wanted to have a few projects done by today, I recognize that life chose otherwise. And today I must accept this. Tomorrow, things will begin anew. I will be renewed. So, today, I will tidy things up and do my best to be as focused on the present and my needs as I can be. This day is a day of necessity and addressing what I must let go to proceed forward into a healthy new year.

Regardless of what ever festivals you celebrate at this time, may your and yours be blessed with happiness and health.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Moura Week 2: Thoughts.

This is a bit late. I think we're nearly half though week three of Moura. My sense of time has been a bit bent by the fact that I am not well. My anxiety has been through the roof and I have been struggling to put together coherent sentences. I also didn't exactly have a good day today when I had someone who was rather scary follow me as I was out on my daily walk. It was terrifying. I wound up darting into the Post Office to hide for a bit in the hopes that he wasn't going to try to confront me. I then kept looking over my shoulder on my way home.

I think I am going to resume my practice of carrying my cane or a walking stave with me. I am depressed right now and struggling with an enormous sense of despair right now. I am trying to ignore the unhealthy and just plain awful thoughts. It is very difficult, though. I feel like I'm falling apart. I'm not sure what to do about it right now. I pray to Dea for guidance. I pray to Loki, Freyr, and Odin for guidance. But my thoughts are so .. deadened by this sense of depression, I have a hard time perceiving their responses.