Wednesday, November 27, 2013

6. Shamanism?

It took me awhile to do this activity and to write it here. I've felt a bit under the weather today and have slept a lot - not wanting to push myself since tomorrow is turkey day and I want to be in a good, healthy mood with my family.
Immediately, the word Shaman brought to mind for me a medicine man. The old paintings and drawings you would see of tribal practices with a mysterious man with a variety of piercings and/or tattoos. I knew that the belief of nature magic and deities have a link to the old native religions found all over the world, but the word "shaman" never really connected with me until now.
The first thing that came to mind was the natural connection to nature. Like many people on similar paths of mine, nature has always been a factor in my life. Even as a child, I loved to be outside. Not only to just play, but to go into the woods (which were on my grandparent's property) and look at all the different types of nature. I was, literally, a tree hugger.
I've also had two near death experiences. At 16, I was hit by a car and, before the age of 17, had somehow contracted a deadly virus that nearly killed me. 16 was a very difficult year for me. But, there's good in everything. Getting hit by that car was how I met my best friend - and no, she wasn't the one that hit me.
More than anything, I'm more interested in the healer part of the shaman. Even in my future career, what I'm going to college for, I want to help people - it's what I know I've been put here to do.
When it comes to the madman, or madwoman rather, the thing that stuck out for me was getting lost. When there is too much going on and I don't have a place to center, I can get very confused and manic and it does take me awhile to reach back and set myself back into reality. I have improved on this, on being able to step back before things get to be too much, but it's something I think I'll struggle with for the rest of my life. It will always get better, but never be completely eradicated.
To anyone reading this in the states, I hope you have/have had a happy turkey day. To everyone else, just have a good day =)
Blessed be

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

5. Amber Butterflies

This exercise was, once again, very familiar for me. I've meditated on my life force before and am quite familiar with it - but it was still quite the experience to knowingly spread it through out my body as usually it seems to have a mind of it's own.
Even though I have meditated on it before, I've never looked into or studied this and it came as a bit of surprise to me that, according to the book, the life force is in the solar plexus chakra which is located between the chest and belly button. I have always, even this time, envisioned my life force in my lower abdomen - actually close to where my uterus is. I'm not sure what this means, but I'm definitely looking into it.
When it comes to my life force itself, I have always seen it as an amber orb of light - not unlike the sun. When I'm meditating on it - as I breathe in I feel a slight swelling pressure and envision the orb swelling. As I breathe out, I feel a slight flutter and see little almost translucent amber butterflies release from the shrinking orb and out into the universe. When it comes to the energy reaching the rest of my body - the orb doesn't move or swell to that size - but instead reaching out sparkling tendrils of amber light that run through my veins. Perhaps the amber color of my life force is the reason why I connect with fire and go for warmer colors, even when it comes to the gems I enjoy such as citrine and, of course, amber.
The most significant part of this for me is the butterflies. I was very close with my great grandmother, who also loved butterflies, and it was something we shared closely. I even have a butterfly necklace that her father made for her during the depression and I didn't start seeing butterflies in my spiritual ventures until after she died. Perhaps it's her way of connecting, or perhaps it's something I hold closer to me than I've yet to realize.

Monday, November 25, 2013

4. My Path

Sorry - no pictures today! Too lazy.
Anywho, the exercise today was to ponder over our path. What made us start it? What obstacles have we come across? What's our hopes and our fears about exploring this. The book is based on Wicca, but I just changed "Wicca" into "Pagan" and it worked just the same =)
I debated on making a blog post on this day because some parts I feel like I'm repeating myself, but it never hurts to expand on things a bit.
I'm exploring this path, simply put, because it's the only thing that I can sink into. I tried to be Christian, mostly because of my grandparents, and it never felt good - I knew I was faking. I also looked into religions under the Pagan umbrella, and one specific path - such as Wicca - never fit either. I even went to Atheism at a particularly cynical point in my life (not saying that being cynical equates to Atheism or vice versa) but I could never get rid of the nagging feeling that, no matter how pissed off I was at Christianity, that my true belief is that there is a divine - just not the one I had been taught.
My hopes for this program, and my path, is to become more knowledgeable and in tune about the divine, with the world around me, and with myself. I've always been quite intuitive and can read people easily - sometimes too easily to the point of alienating them because I sometimes just can't keep my mouth shut - but there's always room for improvement. I wish to know how to focus my intuition and energy, how to really get the most out of it - not just for myself but for other people, I want to help to the best of my ability.
My biggest fear in this path is losing my grandparents. They know I'm no longer Christian, though they refuse to believe it, but I still have yet to have that discussion with them on what I truly believe. I know how they feel about the subject and I know that, without a doubt, they would disown me if they knew. I rarely see or talk to them because they don't live near me, and when I do talk to them I don't want to ruin the moment because I know it would lead to a heartbreaking argument. I know that the day is coming, but I'm just not ready for it - not yet.
When it comes to my other family, I couldn't care less what they think as I'm not close to any of them. My mother and sister know and are fully accepting - the two of them even asking me questions about what it is that I "do" as my mother is a Catholic and my sister, she's decided for the time being, is an Atheist. The majority of my friends aren't religious, and those that are are very open minded and accept me for who I am as I've had most of my friends for 4+ years. They know who I am, I know who they are - we're good.
When it comes to things in the way of me exploring my spiritual path - the biggest one is school. I am in college but, so far, the activities have not been time consuming and I have balanced the two well. I found out today that I will not have the job I'm working now for next quarter. That is a bit stressful, but I'm not freaking out as I do have a nest egg to fall back on and am looking at promising opportunities as a tutor.
This is the perfect time for me to explore this path. I've been tiptoeing around the edge of this mystical forest for almost half my life, and where there were shadows there are now beams of positive light and the creatures aren't nearly as scary as they were before. I not only want to do this, I need to do this.
Don't dream it, be it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

3. Rage

Today's activity was to meditate and look over the words from yesterday, what we believe they mean and what other people think they mean - and think of a problematic word that was a common theme. Going into this, I thought my words - hands down - would be anxiety or, perhaps, sadness or fear because of what happened to me when I was 14. But, to my surprise, what I felt was fierce, intense anger; rage.
Even though it seemed as if we were supposed to think of how these words meant to us in our lifetimes, my mind went further back then that. The Burning Times and Salem are just two of the countless persecutions of people like me and people who were even suspected of being like me. This has filled me with endless sadness since I learned about it years ago, but - apparently - I'm also extremely angry.
As sympathetic and understanding as I try to be - I just can not respect violent people. Even the threat of violence instantly pushes my buttons. From the grown man who told me - a 14 year old girl at the time - that he was going to hang me that I was a witch, to the people who stoned, burned, hung and otherwise brutally murdered people for what?
If I was a violent person, I could be a hypocrite and hold onto this anger and lash out at those who wish to harm me; but that's not the person I am. I knew that, no matter how justified I felt for being this way, that I had to let it go.
I carved the word "rage" into my candle three times. Not necessarily because that's the "magic number," but because I felt that once just wasn't enough to put all of my intention into it. I put it into my little makeshift candle holder, as I don't have one for a tapered candle, and lit it. The candle holder was glass and had little pebbles and dirt from my front yard in it. I wanted this thing buried as soon as possible.
I waited until the candle burned out to write this blog, wanting to report my feelings of ease. This was a very simple ritual, something I have actually done before, and it's never failed me so I was especially excited to do this. When I think of the bad experiences I've had regarding those words, and even the horrible things that happened long before I was born, I don't feel anger anymore. I am saddened for those in the past, but I feel immense hope for the future. Things are shifting, and I've never been as one with it as I am now.
As T said, 2014 is the year of the witch.
Blessed Be

Saturday, November 23, 2013

2. The Power of Words... and a Cat.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get work done with a 17 week old kitten who wants to play in your lap? I do, every day! I don't like to make her go away because I have a strong connection with her, even though I've only had her for a couple of weeks, but it's so difficult to write with a kitten hugging your wrist! Not to mention, she never fails to come say hi when I'm doing work. Whether it be doing my YAAD, doing tarot, or even watching some spiritual stuff on Youtube - she always comes around to check it out. I thought I'd introduce her to you all, she refused to look at the camera, but I did get a good shot of why I named her Casper =)
It's upside down in this picture but, considering she's an almost all white cat, those markings look just like a little ghost face on the back of her head. Isn't it adorable?
Moving on to today's reading. I was given a list of words and the instructions were to think over how I felt about them, what I think they mean, and how do I think others who are not familiar with Wicca react to these words. The words were: Wicca, witchcraft, power, ritual, magic, occult, Pagan, spell and Earth-religion. 
I feel like I have a good understanding of these words and the context in which to use them. I've been studying for about a decade and thus have been very comfortable with these words for quite some time. When I came out of the broom closet and started practicing a year ago, I quickly adopted some of these words to describe me, most noticeably Pagan as - though I identified as Wiccan when I was 14 - my feelings have changed since.
People who aren't familiar with Wicca, or even Paganism as a whole, not always react harshly. Quite a few, including my best friend, are accepting of these words but are a bit confused to their meaning because, quite simply, they aren't Pagan themselves. The other side of the coin, and the most noted, are the people who react to these words with anger and fear. It's a sad fact that some try to avoid completely or lash out at which they don't understand. Especially when it comes to religion, it's difficult for some people to realize that their way is not the end all, be all, correct way and rather respecting that they are - for reasons I don't understand - scared out of their wits, angry to the point of violent, or sometimes even both.
As someone who has a high respect for other people's opinions, as long as they respect mine, and as a psychology major - I try not to judge people who judge me, but it can be very difficult. I also try to understand the other side to the fullest that I possibly can, but at the age of 22 I still fail to grasp the logic of hate.
One more thing. Last Thursday I wrote about the King of Swords, how he was the first card I picked in the three card spread about my finances - as well as the one I picked for the card of the day. Yesterday, it completely skipped my mind to pick a card, but I did this morning - guess who showed up?
The King of Swords AGAIN! Granted, I don't know a whole lot about tarot, but I know that this is important. I shuffle very well, and looking further into this card there has been some things that have come up that fall into place. I know you have to be cautious reading for yourself as you are biased with yourself, but I feel like I have a good hold as I've always been an objective person with the ability to step back and assess the situation and this... this just makes sense.

Friday, November 22, 2013

1. A Few Surprising Discoveries

For my daily activity, I went to the nature park by my college - somewhere I've gone countless times since the age of 14 as the high school I went to is right across the street. If I had a car, I would have gone to Mt. Rainier - an amazing dormant volcano about an hour's drive away that I have always been fascinated with - but I had to make a compromise for this park with a view of the mountain in the south. It's times like these that I'm so thankful to live in Washington. Even in a city like mine, nature parks are never too far away.

There's a small lake that flows through the park I was in, and so I made myself at home on one of the banks with my back against the base of a tree. Looking around me - the park was so familiar yet I realize something new about it every single time I visit. Last time, it was the lily pads - this time it was the daphnia in the water before me. I stuck my hand in to see them better, their tiny bodies almost impossible to see in the murky water, and I understood why they were called sand fleas.
Ready to get on with my meditation, I took my hand out of the water and moved so my back was conformed to the way of tree. I closed my eyes and let myself "breathe" with the tree, my "roots" spreading and intertwining with it's roots - an anchor for myself to come back to.
I focused on my connections - first on things as something startling came up. I am so afraid of Mt. Rainier erupting. I never gave it much thought before, at least not consciously - only seeing beauty when I look at the big mountain - but it was the first thing that came to mind as soon as I tried to connect with it. A few years ago I watched a mini documentary about the likelihood of it erupting, and what would happen if it did. The consequences would be disastrous, it's true, but I put it away as something that wouldn't happen in my life time... at least, that's what I thought. This fear is something I'm going to have to work through as leaving fear alone will only make it fester.
What didn't surprise me was that, when it came to people, my strongest and quickest connections were to both my sister and my best friend. Born when I was almost 9, I watched my sister grow up into the intelligent, gorgeous 13 year old girl she is today - and there's not a doubt in my mind that we will always be inextricably connected by blood and spirit. My best friend, my soul sister, has been the only person in my life to never judge me for a single thing - more often than not being just as odd, if not more, than I am.
My weakest connection is with my mother, which I feel so so about. Part of me was surprised, as she is my mother, but on the same coin I was almost expecting it. My mom and I get along far better than we used to, but our conversations are mainly superficial - rarely going beneath the surface. I have been trying to change this for the past couple of years - but she is usually busy doing this or that and there's only so much I can give.
It didn't occur to me until I read Gypsy's blog that, for the full 30 minutes I was there, I didn't once try to connect with strangers and I'm often like that in real life as well. If I'm in a class with a person, or if someone asks me for directions on the street, I'm friendly and sociable - at least compared with my previous high anxiety agoraphobic self - but when it comes to complete strangers I never make the first move. I never put myself out there, but I do feel a shift. It won't happen overnight, but things are changing.
And on the final note, I'm super stoked! And not just for YAAD. When I got home, I saw that my mom had picked up two books she knew I had been wanting to read at the library.
I'm gonna be a busy, spiritual bee this weekend =)
Bright Blessings!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

0. Pre-YAAD Contemplations and Encouraging Tarot

Year and a Day starts tomorrow... and I don't think I've ever been more ready than I am right now. I have a knack of starting something and then not finishing it, my shelf full of half-written manuscripts is proof, but I need to do this. After studying for about a decade and then a year of, admittedly, half-assed practice - it's time to dig deep and really start this path that I've been too anxious to go on, until now that is. I've always told myself I'm not smart, pretty, wise, old, young or skinny enough to do things - and that's bullshit. Yes, I'm new to practicing, but everyone has to start somewhere and I'm done with the excuses and being afraid of my own shadow.
Some wonder what took me so long to practice, and I often wonder the same thing. I first found Wicca when I was 12 years old and instantly felt attracted to it. Not only was it taboo to everything my grandparents taught me, having grown up in their Baptist home, but it touched on things that I knew deep down to be true as I've always had a strong connection with nature and, regardless of what I had been taught, a belief in magic. I absorbed everything I could until I hit a wall when I was 14. A friend's father had found out about my beliefs and one day when I walked to the bus stop to go to school, he was there. He went face to face with me and asked if I was a witch - and I froze, having rarely been that scared of anyone in my life. When I didn't give him an answer, he proceeded to threaten to hang me if I ever went near my friend, his daughter, again.
Now, of course I told my mom and she called the police and this was handled - but it was enough to make me all but drop Wicca entirely. I still picked up a book from time to time to study, still did my meditations - but the fast track had come to an abrupt halt. That is, until about this time last year.
Having dropped the Wicca title, I didn't call myself anything but "spiritual." I wasn't in school then and I felt the call to do more meditations than I usually did - locked up in my room to the point where my family was starting to worry, and then it happened. I was called to come out of my shell and to start walking my spiritual path that I had been stuck at the start for far too long. I felt a connection with something and a name came to mind that, at the time, I didn't recognize; Nekhbet. After my meditations, being in the modern era, a quick Google search brought up this magnificent Goddess of upper Egypt - a protector of the Pharoah, a carrier of the Shen (Eternal Protection) Ring, and a Mother Goddess as well. I instantly felt a connection, and continue to work with her today - though admittedly not as well as I should as coming out of my shell proved to be a lot more difficult than I had thought.
That brings me to today, inspired to start this journey and forever grateful that there is a community that I can talk to as I don't know any Pagans in my area, at least ones that I get along with. This blog will mainly be focused on my Year and a Day work, though there is bound to be some extra stuff tagged along as everything is connected though I will try to stick to the appropriate theme ha I do hope to post everyday, every other day at least in case school and work get busy.
Now, onto something that gave me the chills with Tarot, in a good way - though I'm not entirely sure I should be excited though it does seem unlikely. I found it funny that Sunshine posted a three card spread of her finances today because I actually did the same - though I posted no picture. My spread was the King of Swords, Wheel of Fortune, and the 5 of Hearts (Cups). This was fine and, as usual, I shuffled the cards and put them away for a few minutes as I wrote down what I felt in my Tarot Journal. Then, after that, I reshuffled the cards, cut the deck, and picked a card for my "card of the day" and it was the King of Swords, the very first card I had picked previously. I haven't been doing Tarot for long at all, and perhaps I am being silly, but it just struck me that I had picked the same card which has never happened before and, loving math, deduced that the chances of doing a three card spread and then picking one of those cards out of a 78 card deck like I had is a mere 3.85% chance...
Have I mentioned how inspired I am? =)
Blessed be.