Thursday, October 31, 2013

eight sabbats: Halloween

Samhain, Halloween, Hallowe'en, All Hallow's Eve.

What do you call it? Despite being of partially Celtic descent, I have no affinity for calling this Sabbat Samhain. For me it'll always been Halloween and honestly I don't feel the need to change it.

But what does it mean to me as a Sabbat and is it still valid as a Sabbat in today's society (not as the pop culture holiday that it is but as a spiritual holiday). 

First things first.... I have a hard time with the shifting/fixed days of the wheel of the year. They make no sense to me and I'm not sure that I believe that the veil is thinnest on one particular day, every year, as measured by the Julian calendar. First, while I believe there is space for a solar calendar, I think that a lunar calendar is potentially more accurate in terms of charting specific times of the year. Thus, I don't know that I agree with the idea that Halloween falls on Oct 31st every year. I know... radical thinking going on here.

Let me explain why this is on my mind this year in particular.

I have spent a lot of time at home, in the same space for the past 3 months and I've noticed a mark shift in energies in the land/space around me. So much so that I feel the need to purify my home and put up protection charms for the first time in my life. No, I don't believe my house is cursed or that anything is wrong per se. But I do feel the shifting energy out there and how unsettling it can be. I feel it accumulating and shifting as the veil gets thinner between the realms. Yes, I believe the veil thins. But it doesn't at the same time. I think that the season invites introspection and thoughts of those who have passed as we prepare for winter. Thus, our thoughts and the collective mind of those of us prepping for winter causes the energies to shift, creating a thinner barrier between the realms because we are emotionally more open to the other realms at this time.

Does that make sense?

Maybe it does or doesn't, it's not the point of this question. Moving on. This year, for me, these energies peaked much earlier than Halloween. For me they peaked somewhere around the week of Oct 13th. Now maybe when they peak is different for all of us, based on our emotionally sensitivities to the season, I don't know. But I know that for me, around the time of the new moon (Oct 4th) my space/land around me started getting a little wonky and calmed down as we approached and passed the full moon (Oct 18th).

So what does this all mean in terms of the Sabbat to me? That I think that this is a time of spiritual and energetic cleansing. We slough off the old, say our farewells to what has passed, and welcome in what is new in preparation for Yule and the rebirth of the light.

For me this is a time of planning, cleaning, preparation, and energy. I started to feel reinvigorated even though I know that the roughest parts of the year are ahead. It's like the final burst of energy before hunkering down. For me this Sabbat marks a turning point, one in which we make an active effort to help turn the wheel forward and move into the next cycle. Beyond the costumes and decor (which I love), this Sabbat is still an important one because it asks us to turn inwards and at the same time look outwards.

This year I'm really trying to connect more to this Sabbat by doing the 8 reviewed posts, getting into the season through decor (to be visually reminded of the symbols of this time of year/spiritual process), and rethinking my traditions in order to manifest this turn of the wheel more in my daily life. Of course, this is easy to do given that this really is the season of the witch and society makes it easy to merge the spiritual into the mundane because it embraces the holiday. But that's ok, it works to my advantage so it's a win for me.

What are your thoughts this year about this Sabbat? What does it mean to you? How do you celebrate it?

*By profane I simply mean non-sacred.


Halloween decor: outside

As promised, a quick view of our front yard.

I have plans to add a dumb supper scene on our front porch with day of the dead dolls. I found some skeleton dolls but probably won't add them in this year. I'm going to keep them for next year... you know, to keep the neighbours guessing!

Happy Halloween!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

8 reviewed: day eight

something to let go of (death, friendship, habit, emotion)

Oh this list could be endless because let's face it, as a culture we love to focus in on what we need to change or how we need to be different. 

So I'm going to surprise you all and pick something really small but important.

I'm going to let go of the habit of not drinking enough water. I struggle with this. I never drink enough water. My goal for the year ahead is to change this. Drinking enough water will mean that I feel fuller, than my skin is better, my joints more lubricated, etc, etc. It's such a small thing but has a huge impact on overall health. So as I approach 37 it's time to make a change in the ways I take care of myself, starting with agua.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

8 reviewed: day seven

8 things you're grateful for during the past year

My life has been filled with so many blessing this past year I don't know where to begin but since I said I would, here goes. 8 gratitudes, chosen at random and by no way representative of all the great things that have passed in the past year:

  1. The office baby shower. My coworkers decorated, potlatched, and gifted me off into motherhood. I have some amazing colleagues and it was such a warm send off that I was overwhelmed by it. It was more than I ever expected and touching beyond belief to know that I have such loving coworkers
  2. A year full of adventures : from seeing live rollerderby, to local theatre, to Q, to dinners out, and art galleries. From soap making, trying to grow my own garden, and Halloween decorating. I wanted to make this year count and get out there and live it more fully. And I have. Inside the home and out. 
  3. The practice of doing gratitude journals/calendars. It's amazing how many little things we have on a daily basis to be grateful for but that we lose track of if we don't write them down. While I'm not a pessimist per se, I definitely can be more of a complainer than thanker and I think taking the time to remember something to be grateful for has been a good practice to introduce into my life.
  4. Fall colours. I know. It's an odd one to put into a list but as I'm currently surrounded by them again, I can't help myself. I love this season. Always have and even more so now that I'm living out east. The season always reminds me to step back and appreciate beauty, to get outdoors before it gets too cold, to marvel in how amazing nature is. 
  5. My family this year. Especially my little brother who despite his social awkwardness, keeps trying to be there and reminding me that he thinks this family business is important. That he keeps fighting the fight to keep family together. That we're in it together and that I'm not alone in trying to maintain family bonds with people who live across the globe.
  6. Follow up care from both my doctor and my doula. I'm pretty jaded about health care in my province. Ok. REALLY jaded. But when push comes to shove and I needed information or quick responses both have been phenomenal in terms of their attention and follow up. From making sure that I got important results back asap to answer tricky questions and doing extra research for me, both my doctor and doula have really helped to lessen my jadedness. 
  7. My HPS and fellow coven teachers for giving me the space I needed this past year. For weathering the hot/cold storm that has marked my practice and commitment over these 12 months. I've not been an easy student or coven mate as I sorted through my shit and as I adapted to pregnancy and parenthood. I appreciate that they have been willing to stay on the journey with me and have done so with love and flexibility. 
  8. The fact that my husband took my most terrified confession and held it safely without judgement. That he stood with me and by me as I fell apart and picked myself back up again. Repeatedly. Spiritually, physically, and emotionally, several times this year. That despite all the bad sides of myself that I show him, he still sees good in me and reminds me of this all of the time. When anger and frustration make me far from the parent I mean to be, when pain and sickness cause me to sacrifice my ideals and feel hypocritical, or when I just feel lost and waiver back and forth constantly over decisions that I rehash over and over again. The list of times that I have been grateful for my husband this past year, for picking him and him picking me, is a long one.
So that's it. 8 big gratitudes. 8 big lessons in love and kindness that others have brought into my life, reminding me to pay it forward and back; reminding me to aspire to living a life of loving kindness.


Monday, October 28, 2013

8 reviewed: day six

moment that filled you with pride (for yourself, for others, for something achieved, learned)

Watching my baby brother graduate from college. After not completing high school and moving in with my husband and I for a year and a half to get his life together, watching him cross the stage 2 years later was amazing. 

Yes I cried and took a few dozen pictures. I was also 8.5 months pregnant so I might have cried a lot. But each and every one of my tears was of joy and pride over watching the resiliency of another. 

You see, my brother was beaten up so badly 5 years ago that he was put into a coma and suffers from brain damage to his short term memory. This in someone who didn't like school to start off with and who struggled to maintain a C average. The challenges he faced in going back were pretty intense and yet, he really wanted it and he did it. With As and Bs. 

When he moved in with us he could barely go out in public without trembling he was that much of a mess. And I was worried that he was potentially showing signs of schizophrenia, which runs in his family (he is adopted). When he first moved in with us, I wasn't sure if he'd make it and pull his shit together. I have never prayed or worried for anyone as much as I worried and prayed for him in that first year. He gave me a glimpse of how intense a journey parenthood was going to be and honestly, sort of scared me off of it for a while! 

But, in the time that he lived with us, he came out, overcame his social anxiety, learned coping mechanisms for his memory, figured out what he wanted to do in his life, and sought out a program that would offer him the skills he needed. 

So when he crossed that stage at 23, I have never been prouder of anyone in my life. He earned each and every one of my tears of joy and pride, even if it meant that I was 8.5 months pregnant and crying in public like a crazy lady.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

8 reviewed: day five

world event, person, or artwork that impacted you this year

There are so many things that I could talk about in this post. But I'm going to leave it at one person or show: Q with Jian Ghomeshi. I love this show. I don't always love the interviews or music or info, but I love his dedication to his work and the topics, more often than not, make me think about the world I live in. 

I got the opportunity to see him do the show live and it was one of my best nights out in the year. And this past year was a good year for adventures (I packed a lot in before Baby Faye entered the world. From Roller Derby, Art Exhibits, New Foods and Comedy). But of all my adventures, my first night out post baby, without baby, was the high point of my year because it was just so interesting and thought provoking. 

So while there were many events, people, works that moved me this year, this reviewed topic goes to Q because it made my commutes more interesting and filled a void that I didn't even know I was missing in my life: a daily dose of media, culture and contemplation.


mamahood and a few spiritual lessons along the way

We all have a dark side/shadow self; a side of ourselves that we want to hide from the world and from ourselves.

I've mentioned before that motherhood has been a bit of kick in the pants for me because it has forced me to look at how anger shapes my life. Here's the thing... it's not easy to admit that you find yourself angry over the sacrifices that the newborn phase demands of you. It's not easy to share that with the people in your world and seek help for it because it is so taboo.

Mothers are supposed to be self-sacrificing and happy that they are giving to a greater cause. And it feels pretty damn shitty to realize that you're not as noble as you'd like to be! Or at least appear to be.

And this is fodder for a great deal of spiritual contemplation... like... more than you really have time to process in the chaos that is a new baby. [Before you start worrying about my son and my mental health, rest assured that I am writing this post meltdown and we're doing much better now].

You see, for me this path isn't just about the maiden, mother and crone [hell, to be honest I'm really not all that into reducing womanhood into these 3 archetypes because I hate how quickly archetypes can become rigid]. For me this path is steeped in a tradition of service and higher aspirations. Now, I don't mean that I am striving to be perfect or even think that I will anywhere near attaining it [I know I'm no Buddha under the tree and that Nirvana isn't in this lifetime]. Rather, I am trying to learn to live my life in line with my higher aspirations; to not get bogged down in the mundane petty stuff (or at least not that often).

My path centers on a few core tenets:

  • To remember to see each and every person who I cross paths with as an expression of the divine and as the divine him/herself even if they don't remember this and live far from that realization
  • To remember my own divinity and seek to embody (as best I can) the higher nature of said divinity
  • To live a life that reflects that higher aspiration; including how I treat others and the land around me
  • To learn the crafts of healing, sustainability and creativity in order to be able to manifest my will and higher aspirations in service of the greater good

I think this about sums it up (off the top of my head anyways).

So as I fuddled my way through the newborn phase, so often out of sync with those goals and unable to find my way towards them, I found myself in a state of spiritual crisis (while oddly also being in a state of great spiritual awakening... funny how life works out sometimes). I couldn't process the lessons that life was giving me because I was overwhelmed by how many lessons life was throwing my way.

Stepping back and admitting that the darker side of what I was going through was key for me to be able to begin the process of making sense of some of it (not all... far from all). And like always, the minute that I did this, the universe stepped in and offered me a helping hand. Hell, it had probably been shoving said helping hand down my throat for a good while but I was too stubborn to see and accept it. [just call me a goat headed Capricorn].

Like the end of a great storm, the clouds broke and Baby Faye made his way out of the newborn stage, past a huge developmental milestone, and life suddenly got easier. And while I'm not sure which came first, my relaxing and accepting, thus becoming calmer and Baby Faye feeding off of that or Baby Faye crossing over, thus becoming easier and my relaxing, life has gotten easier over here in Faye land. I am once again able to see my higher aspirations reflected in my attitudes and choices again. I am far from perfect but I am closer to embodying my ideals today than I was two weeks ago. It only took facing my darkest self/fears and asking for help but hey... nothing worth learning in life is easy? After all, Inanna didn't just descend into the pits of the underworld on a whim...


Saturday, October 26, 2013

8 reviewed: day four

celebrations of abundance

This one goes to a simple celebration: a small dinner party with my son's godparents a few days after we came home from the hospital with Baby Faye. They came over, bearing a cornucopia of gifts (food, belly massage oil, baby blanket, etc). The generosity was overwhelming and the thoughtfulness behind all the gifts, from bringing dinner to helping us set stuff up and making us feel human again after the roller coaster ride that was the delivery experience. 

It was the most amazing reminder that not only have we picked the bestest godparents/guardians for our son, but that our world is surrounded with an abundance of love. I think I have shed more tears over the overwhelming love that has been shared since Baby Faye's birth than I have over the hardships that have marked the motherhood journey. That dinner not only made us feel like we weren't going it alone, but that we had a community of love to lean into; people to celebrate with us and to hold us when the going gets tough. 

Hell, I get weepy eyed just thinking of it now. Stupid mama hormones... I'm a bloody mess! 


Friday, October 25, 2013

8 reviewed: day three

something you learned this year or something you want to learn in the year ahead

What do I want to learn in the year ahead? This is such a simple thing, but so important to me. I want to learn how to make my practice my own. As I delve back into my spiritual routines/practices, I want to move beyond the rigid formality (which has given me an amazing foundation) of the lineage I have been taught in and learn to adapt it into my own practice. Ironically, despite the formality of my tradition, there is room for this growth and personalization. In fact, in many ways it is encouraged. 

There are things that I have to complete from my training within the tradition (like consecrating tools and learning the foundations of skills) but as I come back into my practice, I want to learn to hone them into my own. I want my own prayers to the divine, prayers and dedications that fuse what I have been given with my own personal flavour. 

In the year ahead I want to work at figuring out what a practice imbued with my own character would look like. I want to learn how to do this, what works and what doesn't. I want to learn what my own practice is.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

8 reviewed: day two

vision board (something that reflects what inspires/defines you now) 

This past year has been one of nesting. Even in my spiritual, earthy adventures, it's been about nesting. Planting seeds, making soap. Trying to create a practice space that is also a crafting space. Yeah... it's been a big year of domesticity and setting down roots. I hope that the year ahead will be see all those roots grow and become more grounded so that I can start seeing the benefits of merging my crunchy earthy practices into my daily life. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

halloween decor

I think I might have been waiting my entire adult life to make the holidays special for someone else.

I know, that's an odd statement but it's true. I love the holidays. All of them. Wiccan or Muggle. I've been looking for reason to justify going full force on the holidays and making them magical for someone else for years.

And now, even though he'll never remember it, Baby Faye has given me that reason to go there and do it with a bang.

So let me share some of what I've been up to in regards to holiday decor around here:

This is what I have so far for the mantle. I'm eventually planning on replacing the paintings with a mirror (as a permanent home decor thing) so I think that next year things will work better together thematically. What can I say, the bamboo painting just doesn't quite fit, you know? The banner is from here

Some close ups:

My husband is vastly amused by my fall love of candles. As soon as the weather got colder, I started lighting candles. I think they've helped me get more into the season.

And then there's the dining room. I created these candle holders for our dinner table:

They're simple really. I took some fabric and vellum paper and wrapped them around some candle holders I already had. And then added these bats to finish things up:

Simple touches, but just enough to make the house feel Halloweeny! Later I'll show you what we did outside!


8 reviewed: day one

spiritual experience of the year

I wish I could tell you it was motherhood or labor. But it isn't. It wasn't dealing with trying to conceive or navigating work issues. While experience was pretty intense and life changing, I think that they don't quite compare to the act of returning to my coven, trusting the process, and letting go of my expectations/need to belong this time last year.

The entire experience challenged me in ways that I never expected to be challenged. I always thought that when I found a coven, I would find my spiritual family. Honestly, coven life has been far from the romantic ideal I had of it. And yet, there are members of my coven who would tell you that the group has become a second family for them. Which is amazing but also somewhat of a bitter pill to swallow when you want it so badly.

And therein lay the problem. That I wanted it so badly that I was getting in my own way. When I found out I was pregnant and my focus shifted, I found my new priorities changed what I needed from the group and by extension, my relationship within it.

The ability to let go and try to trust again in order to learn that I have all that I need within me to follow my path isn't the greatest of all realizations to write out. And yet, it has been the spiritual experience of the year. I'm facing the next turn of the wheel from a very different place than I was last year. I know my place in the grand scheme of things in my group, what I need, what I'll put up with and what my priorities are. I've spent the last few years playing someone else's game out of a desire to fit in and fear of losing out on something that I really wanted. The spiritual experience of this past year has been all about learning to return to myself and be true to my own inner journey instead of kowtowing to others. And in true Faye fashion, I've had to learn that the hard way!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

5am resentments and realizations

It's been a rough night (and day) over here in Faye land. Baby Faye is giving Mama a run for her money and it's making Mama think a lot about who she is and her attitudes in life. And let me tell you, it's a bitter pill to swallow at 5am on little sleep.

You see, I'm 12 weeks into this motherhood gig and I haven't cried, not once. And while that might seem like a good thing, I'm realizing tonight that maybe it's not. Maybe it says something about how I hold in my emotions. Most of the Mamas I know have cried at least a half dozen times by now.

Instead I feel like I'm building up resentment and anger.

I know. I'm not supposed to admit that. And don't get me wrong. I love my son. I chose this journey. It's fracken brutal, more so than expected, but not necessarily in the ways I expected. But that's a different conversation.

In fact, this conversation isn't really about motherhood at all. Motherhood just happens to be the lens/vessel by which the universe has chosen to teach me this very important lesson about myself: I bottle up my emotions and eat them. Literally and metaphorically.

I find myself stuffing my face lately, in a way that I've never done before and it's not because I'm hungry. No, I eat to suppress the emotions. To stuff them down.  I always thought that I ate when I was bored. But no. I eat when I'm angry or resentful. I hold on to things and then eat to cover the frustrations I feel over not being able to let them go. Instead of getting out and doing things that make me happy, I eat. Instead of scrapbooking or painting, I've been baking. And eating. And eating. The kicker is, with breastfeeding I can get away with it. The extra calories don't add up right now but they'll catch up to me if I don't nip it in the bud now.

So this is the season of letting things go. Learning to let go of my resentments and self-criticisms. Learning to express my insecurities in ways other than anger and frustration. And letting go of things that just don't work in my life right now.

The first of which is the 52 week art journaling project. Oh, I'll still art journal, but no more self imposed obligation to post a prompt. I took up the challenge because people had asked for it even though I knew that it wasn't right for me this year. I tried to make it work because I knew that I could. But it doesn't speak to me in my life right now and I feel like it has no life because of this. It feels artificial and superficial at this point. Like I'm just trying too damn hard to make it flow and it isn't. So instead of beating a dead horse, I'm going to bury it and let it be.

This is my journey and I need to stop resenting things and remembering that it's my life, my choices, so I need to find happiness within it/them. And on that note, I'm off to breastfeed my biggest challenge and choice again...


Monday, October 7, 2013

52 weeks of art journaling: week 36

This week's prompt: Letting Go

I always associate Autumn with wrapping things up, introspection, and new beginnings.

I'm never sure if this has more to do with the season itself or years of going back to school at this time and associating the season with new beginnings. Regardless of what it is, I always think of this time of year as one of organization and fresh starts. And with that comes an act of letting go of some things past.

This year I feel the need to let go of things even more as things change rapidly in my world. I'm letting go of old clothes (I just donated a top I've had since grade nine - I loved that top but it was time). I'm letting go of some expectations I had on a personal level, and full of inspiration for new beginnings. All of which has me thinking about my word for the year 2013: story.

If I were to let go of one thing for the next year in order to write a new story it would be letting my insecurities get the better of me. Too often I catch myself letting my insecurities dictate my interactions with others because that inner monologue still keeps telling me that I'm not quite up to snuff, even after all these years. We all have that voice. You know the one. The one you'd like to take a baseball bat to but know that no matter how often you bash it, it'll bounce back.

For me that little voice is all about likability. It's ridiculously stupid and I end up holding myself back because of how I let this particular narrative shape the world around me and my need to belong. So yeah... if I could let go of one thing this fall, it would be that. I would kill the bastard, deal him the death card, and then start fresh again on the other side of the river. You know?


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

our latest eco addition to the home

I'd like to introduce you to the newest addition to our eco home: the unpaper, paper towel.

Check them out:

They just arrived today, so I'll get back to you with a review on how well they work!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

new project: eight reviewed

Over the years I've participated in various end of the year/new year prompts such as Reverb10, 10Q, One Little Word, none of which actually syncing with my own spiritual traditions. I've long thought about creating my own mini end of the year/new year reflective project but have never gotten around to it, until now that is.

So I have a new project that I'm challenging myself to do and would love to invite you to join me if it appeals to you (or spread the word if you think it's a good/fun idea).

eight reviewed
Starting October 23rd, 2013 and ending Oct 30th.

The premise: 8 prompts (one daily) that encourage reflection/review of the past year as we approach the Wiccan (pagan) new year (depending on your traditions of course). The prompts will be framed loosely around themes related to the 8 sabbats.

The 8 prompts are:
  • spiritual experience of the year
  • vision board (something that reflects what inspires/defines you now) 
  • something you learned this year or something you want to learn in the year ahead
  • celebrations of abundance
  • world event, person, or artwork that impacted you this year
  • moment that filled you with pride (for yourself, for others, for something achieved, learned)
  • 8 things you're grateful for during the past year
  • something to let go of (death, friendship, habit, emotion)
If you're interested in joining me, let me know and I'll create a blog button and link up.