Monday, February 25, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journaling: week 4

This week's prompt: sacred space

What does your sacred space look like. Is it inside or outside or both? Do you create a special altar or is it a corner in a room or something entirely different?

 Being an urban pagan, my space is mostly inside, particularly for my daily practices. That said, I would love to meditate outside without worrying that my neighbours are watching! I may have to hunt down a secluded nook by the river when the weather gets warmer in my corner of the world.

That said, my sacred space has a definite Buddhist feel to it. I'm not quite sure how that happened but it's not full of Goddess or God paraphernalia. It doesn't have a particularly pagan vibe to it at all. In fact, most people who walked into my craft/practice room would find it very Buddhist/Yogic in nature. I have a small altar table with a Buddha head, mala prayer beads, a candle, and incense holder. In front of it, I keep my yoga mat out most days. Above the altar I have a Buddha painting that a friend did for me and on the right a chair that I sit to meditate in.

The funny thing in all this is that all of this converts when I do circles. My altar gets turned sideways and out comes the candles, wand, athame, cords, quarter candles, circle cord etc... It's almost as if I keep my most sacred space secret until it's needed for an actual rite/circle. The daily space is about creating a calming, contemplative space and the sacred space for workings remains special, only witnessed in the sacred circle.

I'm not sure if I created the space this way because I wanted to keep it from prying eyes or if I wanted to keep it sacred. But either way, whether chicken or the egg came first, it works for me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Talismans & art journals...

So I've been reading Regardie's book on the How to Make and Use Talismans and have been thinking about his proposal of making more modern talismans using the Golden Dawn symbols/frames of reference.

Regardie - How to Make and Use Talismans
image from pinterest

For example he suggests combining:

Elements: "Water: Pleasure, marriage, fertility, happiness, parties, etc" (Regardie 30). 

Tattvas: (used by the Golden Dawn but taken from Hinduism)  "Water: Apas, a silver crescent. Heh of Tetragrammaton" (Regardie 31). 

Pinned Image
from pinterest

Tarot:  "Some of the symbols on the Tarot cards could be reproduced to great advantage on the talismans, if the student wishes. For instance, if he were making a talisman to produce pleasure and joy, the Ace of Cups in any of the conventional packs is a beautiful symbol to be copied in ink or painted on to the silver crescent of Apas" (Regardie 34).

Ace of Cups - Thoth deck
also taken from pinterest

Now of course because I'm particularly interested in art journaling, I started to think about what it would be like to infuse an art journal page with a talismanic image. And then, if we were to take it a step further, could we turn our art journal pages, with practice and belief, into spells of their own? I don't know about you, but damn I find this to be an intriguing idea.

My magical spell casting isn't honed enough yet for me to trust my ability to do this, but I'm definitely fascinated by the potential of this idea!

One thing that I wonder about though is the ramifications of sharing this on the web. If you ascribe to the notion that talismans are connected to their maker and drawn energy from their maker, then would putting this up on the web mean that the talismanic art journal page would draw more form the maker.

I like to think that the maker could create a limited bond that cannot become vampiric, but this bears contemplation. I'll keep you posted!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

52 lists: what makes me feel healthy

Another list prompt, this time about the things that make me feel healthy: 

It's ironic, isn't it, that the things that make us feel healthy can so often be the things we let go of first when things get rough?

Life is funny that way...


Monday, February 18, 2013

52 weeks: week 3 of pagan art journaling

Week 3 prompt: Teachers

What do you look for in a spiritual teacher? What would make someone your ideal teacher? Have you ever found that there is a difference between what you think your ideal teacher is and what that teacher turns out to actually be like? Or are you struggling to find a teacher and how are you dealing with that?

I find that I am looking for a rather complicated blend in my ideal teacher and I suspect that it might be a bit of a tall order! I want someone who will help me be inspired to learn, grow, and keep doing the work, but at the same time, I truly believe that a good teacher, as Kahlil Gibran wrote, "leads you to the threshold of your own mind" awakening that which is already in you by showing you the door that will lead you to self-discovery.

What can I say, I'm a complicated student. 

I want a teacher I can trust, who is both a friend but also a mentor and knows how to walk the divide between the 2. I don't believe that a teacher should be a best friend, but rather, should be someone who sees you clearly and maintains just enough distance for you to always be able to learn from them. Sometimes I think that in becoming too close we shatter the veil that makes it possible for us to learn constructively from another, without begrudging the other person's flaws. Because let's face it, we all have them and sometimes it's hard to see our friends clearly or take their advice when we cannot see past their own baggage. 

So yeah, it's a fine line between being a friend and being a teacher, but a good teacher, in my opinion, always stays a teacher first. An approachable teacher, but a teacher. 


Friday, February 15, 2013

pagan owl nursery room quilt

So I've finally started working on my owl inspired baby nursery. Right now I'm creating the quilt:

I've finished sewing the branch/leaves and am currently working on the colour blocking for the owls. I'm planning on changing the belly colour of the big owl because I feel like it's too much blue. We'll see though. I have to play around with it.

I'm happy with how it's turning out so far (the photo is a crappy iPhone photo, I apologize for the poor quality) because the colours are really fun and cheerful.

I really want Baby Faye's room to be whimiscal, happy, and full of love. To me owls do that in 2 different ways: they make me think of the Horned God and they make me think of my Grandma (who is the bestest person in the world, IMO).

More importantly though, I feel like the act of making the quilt fits in nicely with the idea of surrounding my son with love and all the positive aspirations that I want to fill my life with (ie, living with an open heart and generousity; taking the time to be present and to create memories together). I hope that one day, despite being a boy, he'll be able to see (in the quilt and other things we do along the way) all the love that went into opening our hearts to him and the work we did as a family to nurture him.

To my mind, the fact I think of those things as I'm crafting these items for him, is an act of magic in and of itself.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

my special valentine friend

This morning I was thinking about the list I just did the other day and about how I give love to the people in my life.

So for a dearly beloved friend who has been with me for the last 10 years of my journey, I'd like to say:

You've held my hand through shitty break ups, through grad school angst, through should I or shouldn't I questions numbering in excess of any reasonable amounts, from fertility worries to holy shit I'm preggers, to just about everything in between. 

I don't say it enough but I love you and am truly blessed to have you in my life.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: The Path of a Christian Witch

Image from Goodreads
All right. Bring out the lit geek hat... cause I want to talk about a book I've been reading, or trying to read, for a very long time now: The Path of a Christian Witch.

Now I was raised to believe that all paths are just variations of the same truth. Man's (and woman's) interpretation of the Divine, thus subject to flaws because we are flawed, and also subject to change because we are continuously growing and evolving as individuals and as communities. So when this book came up on my suggestion list, I thought, hey, why not? I'm open to the idea of exploring this combination.

I'm not finished the book. I am trying. Really. But I can't help myself because I have thoughts about what I'm reading and the biggest one is this:

Why is she trying so hard to merge Wicca and Witch into the same meaning and then superimpose it onto Christianity?

Can't she just be a Christian Witch? Why does she need to be a Christian Wiccan Witch?

I say that with the public disclaimer that I am a Wiccan Witch who doesn't believe that you need to be Wiccan in order to be a Witch, which is why I am so boggled by her need to cling to a framework that is Wiccan (or Celtic depending on your point of view) in nature. 

The other issue that is bothering me a lot in this book is the very scatological nature of the text itself. Chapters that attempt to delve into topics like "creating sacred space" "astral space" "a moral code" just end up falling flat because they lack a depth of analysis that would actually be helpful for newbies and seekers wanting to reconcile paganism with Christianity.

Even if you were to approach this book with the understanding that this is another's path (which I did), you'd likely find the way she movies from topics to be disjointed and somewhat trite. Honestly, I got way more out of Ravenwolf and Cunningham than I did from her own take on it. I feel like she's presenting Wicca lite through a manipulated lens of Christianity in an attempt to justify her own path.

But here's the thing, she doesn't really need to justify her path within Wicca so much. I'd be happier as a reader if she'd own her Christian Witchiness more!

The biggest irony to me is that underneath a lot of the fluffy bunny stuff of this book, there are hints that this woman has some experience and studying to add depth to her own knowledge. That said, I feel like it is likely lost on the reader because of the very topical and scatological approach she's taken and her need to merge 2 paths so much. If she concentrated more on the mystical nature of the Bible and the inner teachings of it as a text, I would find her pathworking so much more compelling than hearing about how she holds a dumb supper on All Saint's Day, just after the Witch Sabbat Samhain (so I can appreciate an overlap that I was already aware of, thank you very much).

Overall, I've found the book to be disappointing because it really lacks the depth that could have been exploited by the material in lieu of  reductionism and superficial story telling that really doesn't even give me all that much of a sense of who she is on her own path.

No, I'm not a nice reviewer but I'm honest!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

52 weeks of list: giving love to others

Week 6 List of 52 weeks of Lists:

Some days things just work out perfectly. I was having a pissy morning today, mostly because I was left feeling less than stellar about my prenatal appointment (everything is good, it has to do with bed side manner). So I came back into work, just feeling CRANKTANKEROUS! Yes, that's a word: my word for the mood I was in!

And let's not even talk about work politics. Seriously... don't get me started!

So when I saw this prompt, I was less than thrilled about it. Cause honestly, I wasn't feeling the love. But then the universe conspired to make me feel better. My group of fellow facebook ladies expecting this summer talked me off my pissy ledge, helping me get perspective, which stilled the raging beast inside.

And at lunch I sat down with a colleague and we ended up talking about work stuff. I think just having a good vent was all I needed. So now I'm feeling better, which makes me feel a lot more like appreciating the love that is all around me, every day, especially when I need it most but don't expect it. Just being able to stand back and ask for help made a huge difference and helped me gain perspective. Which in turn made me think about how I offer up that help to others.

Yeah, thinking about how I can give love or nurture others was totally what I needed to think about today even if I didn't really feel so inclined at first!


Monday, February 11, 2013

art journal prompt 2

This week's prompt: Mundane Rituals

Do you think it's important to create rituals for your mundane, muggle, day to day stuff, or is it superfluous?

For me personally, I don't know that I feel the need to turn every day rituals into magical acts, but I do feel drawn to trying to remember to make some of them more conscientiously sacred. Like when I'm doing my art journal pages or yoga. That said, brushing my teeth can remain boringly mundane. I don't feel the need to mess with it. 

In anything that I try to remember as a conscientious act, I try to do little, manageable things to remind me of my aspirations so that I do them with loving kindness, self directed and outwardly directed. I'll admit though, it's a work in progress! 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

tradition vs intuition: finding balance in pagan learning?

This is one of those posts that's going to take me a long time to write because I'm going to struggle to articulate what I mean. Eventually I'll just get fed up of rethinking what I want to say and admit that the post is imperfect but done because I won't be able to express it any better.

 So bear with me.... here I go:

Image from Amazon
I just started reading Isreal Regardie's How to Make and Use Talismans. If I haven't mentioned this before, I am part of a coven and said coven, while Wiccan, has a strong element of Hermetics included in it's teachings. Thus, I have spent quite a bit of time learning systems that are more Hermetic than Wiccan, which is fine because magic is magic and if it works and I learn from it, so be it.

But lately I find myself questioning the complicated nature of Hermetics. Oh, don't get me wrong, they work and I know they do. But I'm craving a more simple, ecstatic approach.

The thing is, since I've been taught in a system where form is used to help build a strong foundation, I have a hard time imagining how people learn without said framework. As someone who works in education, I know and see all too often how people crave structure in order to know where they're going or what they're working against. Often, when students are given all the freedom in the world to learn, they balk at the opportunity, their minds overwhelmed by the possibility. This is not to say that all students do this. Some absolutely thrive on the freedom and others can learn to thrive on the freedom when they've had enough experience with it.

What does that mean in magical learning though? We follow a path (pagan in general) that often attracts us because of its unconventionality, only then to find it either very traditional or too unstructured depending on our experiences along the path. How do we meet the needs of both types of learners on the path in order to ensure growth? I'm not saying this in a way that means that you and I are responsible for someone else's learning, just meditating on what it means to each of us as learners on the path.

How do we figure out what we need as learners when we're often floundering about for meaning and understanding when we're starting out. I've been with my group for 2.5 years and sometimes my learning seems intense and at other times it feels stagnant. Why? Partially because I as a student need to step up and take more ownership in my learning and partially because sometimes the structure of what I'm learning isn't my cup of tea.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and what I've come up with is this: I am responsible for my own learning. I've fallen into the trap of waiting for others to lead the way and it's time for me to take more ownership in creating my own practice, even within the framework of my coven teachings. I can only expect structure so much when it comes to learning and ultimately, the best teachers are guides... if I don't eventually take up the lead then I run the risk of being trampled by tradition in my own education process.

Am I making any sense? And what on earth does Regardie and talismans have to do with this ramble? Nothing necessarily, other than this is what I'm reading right now and it strikes me as so formulaic. But it works, so it's worth learning because it will enhance my magical understanding. That said, I can't help but ponder the idea of a simpler, more intuitive magical approach, or a more intuitive, ecstatic approach to learning magic in general. I can't help but wonder about how as a student I feel the need to have someone hold my hand and show me the way, and the need to leap a little more and be freer in my own ownership of my path, my tradition, my journey.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

52 weeks of lists

I love lists and I found this fun list project over at Moorea Seal's blog about doing 52 lists every Tuesday.

I think it'll be a fun endeavour, so I'm doing it. I've already done this week's:

If you're interested in joining in, go here for the prompts. I'm going to play catch with the other lists later. I'll try to remember to share them!


Monday, February 4, 2013

52 weeks of pagan art journals: letter to self

And so it begins...

Another year of prompts and this time I thought I'd start with:

Write a letter to yourself, a year from now, about what you hope to get from this journey/year

Here's what I did:

 To start off another round of pagan art journaling prompts... I thought it would be nice to take some time to think about what I hope to get out of the year ahead from this project and also from my spiritual practice.

So I wrote about the things I see as major decisions in my path ahead and skills that I'm hoping to feel more comfortable with by the end of this turn of the sun.

Of note... I finished this page at work (alright, I started AND finished this page at work while on break so my resources were limited).

I upcycled an old, discarded library book (which will be this year's journal for me), used microsoft office word images (lotus and postcard), and played with these acrylic paint crayons that I have (I don't love them but they work in a pinch). I also used tape, staples, and my every day work pen.

Yup, make do and carry on... but squeeze the creativity in any which way you can! That's my motto for the year!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

pagan art journaling adventures 2013

After hosting a pagan art journaling project in 2011, I've been asked several times about when this will happen again, but I've been reticent to make the commitment. After 2011 I just needed a break, I'll be honest. I made my pages out of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper because I wanted to shop my stash and use resources sustainably. But these ended up starting to feel like a huge chore after a while because they were too big by the end of the year. I vowed that after I took a break that I would never do such a large art journal page again!

Another reason I've been hesitant to sign up for another round is because I'm expecting a wee little monster this summer and didn't want to take on too much. (I'm totally a type A and tend to have way too much on my plate at any given time). I thought that maybe if I put a call out, my fellow pagan art journalers would be interested in taking on prompts, but the feedback was limited.

So I thought that this might be a sign... you know... that it might not be in the stars for this year.

But I've been thinking about hosting another year of pagan art journaling prompt for a while and would like to do something creative again, something that forces me to step up a bit in terms of being more artsy again.

So here's what I've come up with:

I'm going to host another year of prompts BUT there will be prompts that I won't necessarily be painting. There may be an entire section of the year that is just a set of subjects for your contemplation and a few words from me. I'll try to do as many of them as I can, but if I can't, then I won't.

If any of you along the way think you'd like to host a prompt, or provide your art journal page for one of the scheduled prompts... please, feel free to contact me about this throughout the year.* The catch: if it's between July and Oct, you'll need to send me you page by July 1st cause I can't guarantee having enough sanity to deal with it after then!

*It goes without saying that you can always link to any post with your page and comments, and if you do decide to guest post, I will give you full credit. 

Ok, that said, let's do this thing!

52 weeks for 2013, starting Monday, Feb 4th (cause we all need something to look forward to on a Monday, and it's just after Imbolc which is an auspicious time to start things). See you soon with some art journaling prompts and crafty fun.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Imbolc Goals

Hmm... I was just looking for my Imbolc goals on the blog today and I realized I never posted them because I meant to add a photo later and never did! Oops. I'm totally blaming this one on hormones. That's my excuse for everything these days!


For this turn of the wheel, this is what I've decided to do:

1. I'm signing up for a basic drawing course. I haven't taken art since elementary school. I'm stoked!

2. Keep up with my new morning routine (allow for modifications as needed because this is about making it my practice, not a set script)

3. Learn about magical herb gardening (as in, what 5-7 herbs should I start with this spring).

4. Start using my Rune sticks (they arrived Thursday and are awesome).

5. Work on prompts for art journaling (ideally get everything pre-planned as far as in advance as I can manage without losing my marbles!

6. Get my butt to this amazing local art show featuring several dissident contemporary Chinese artists (many of whom have had their work banned in China)

7. The weather is warmer... sort of.... so it's time to start walking to the train again, which kills 2 birds: walking and eco sustainability!

8. Start working on the baby's nursery


Friday, February 1, 2013

Yule goals recap

First off: Happy Imbolc! 

My Yule 2012 goals were:

1. choose my word of the year: done (it's story... I wrote about it here)

2. read a pagan education book: fail. I was still struggling with energy and I just kept falling asleep (big sigh)

3. fun way to announce baby news to friends: done, see:

 then adjusted to:

4. blog more regularly again: I think I've done better in Jan than I did in Dec, but it's still a struggle

5. pre-natal yoga: Thanks to this post by EcoYogini, I tried YogaGlo and am digging the pre-natal courses, especially cause I can take shorter classes when I'm drained or work it into my morning routine, which is the best time for me to do anything. And seriously... you can't get much cheaper with that much content and variety.

6. water and fruit: ok... I'm doing better. 3 fruits a day (I know, that's a lot but maternity issues (that shall remained unnamed are forcing me into it)

7. finish up project life 2012, yule 2012, and start project life 2013: Ok, finished project life, scrapped the holiday album and have been slowly plugging away at the 2013 album

8. figure out a new art journal prompt: wait for it, I think it's coming soon!