A Day for Reading a Book

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I have books that seemed to call to me to be purchased yet are rarely opened.  There are three books in particular that really “called” to me which I have slacked on reading.  Those three are:

  • The Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak
  • Wicca for Beginners by Thea Sabin
  • The Witches’ Goddess by Janet and Stewart Farrar

Today I have been reading Wicca for Beginners.  It seems fitting after watching a documentary last night about how Gerald Gardner founded Wicca.  Although I don’t consider myself Wiccan, the religion does provide a foundation for modern witches to learn from.  There are also certainly aspects of the religion that jive with me.  Some of its basic principles that I connect with are:

  • Divine is too large and transcendent for us to fully comprehend.  Thus, Wiccans perceive Deity in different facets/aspects.
  • Psychic abilities are real and innate within each of us.
  • Magic is real.  To practice magic (or magick, as I prefer to spell it) is to create change in accordance with one’s will.
  • Sex is sacred.  Thus, sexual relationships should be approached with consideration.
  • An ye harm none, do as ye will.  Or in other words; Do your own thing as long as you are not behaving like a horrible person.

As you may have assumed, I finished reading the chapter on Wiccan principles before typing this post.  I believe I have read from the next chapter before.  It is about the fundamental energy tools of grounding, visualization, and and shielding.  I figure it will be good to reread that information.

I hope you are all having a lovely day.  Perhaps somebody else will be inspired to dust off a book and open it.

Park Adventure

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I enjoyed the second day of Spring by spending some time at a park with a friend.  It was a warm and sunny day, however the temperature has been up and down a lot lately.  This probably explains why most of the trees around here have no leaves on them.

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There was some greenery to be found though.

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The best part of the visit was getting to dip my toes in the river.

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Blessed be, y’all.

 

The Shack

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This is a free stock image, not the shack featured in the film

*Spoilers Alert*

I recently went to see The Shack.  I knew it was going to be a Christian movie.  What pleasantly surprised me were the Christo-Pagan elements of it.  Most have heard of The Holy Trinity.  However, how often do we see God represented as a trio in a movie?  This is probably the only time I have ever seen God represented as The Trinity in a movie.  When I was growing up God was simply presented as God The Father.  Christ was presented as the son of God.  I don’t recall the Holy Spirit being discussed as one of three Divine personalities.  If the Holy Spirit was mentioned, it seemed to be in a manner representing The Father.  The name the Holy Spirit goes by in The Shack is Sarayu.  The actor portraying Christ in the movie says “Sarayu is creativity, action, the breath of life.  She is my spirit and even if you can’t see it, you are in the center of our love and purpose.”  The name is said to mean “wind.”  It is apparently derived from Sanskrit.  The air element is often associated with creativity in pagan belief.  On a personal note, I have stated that I feel The Goddess’ presence in breezes.

An interesting note about the representation of The Father is that an actress played the roll for most of the movie.  She was referred to as Papa, but presented as a woman who was kind to the main character when he was a child.  The reason given for this in the movie is that God knew he didn’t need a father at that time.  Thus God the Father in the movie played more of an aunt-like roll until later in the movie when the main character did need a father.  (His earthly father was not available, but I won’t get into that in this post.)  The message there is that God presents to each of us in the way that best appeals to us at the time.  Also, different representations of Deity come from the same Source.  This is also a familiar belief under the pagan umbrella.

Wisdom is character in the movie as well.  She is not presented as Deity, but does seem to represent the wisdom of our Higher Selves or Divine Sparks.  The soul is represented as a garden that Divine enjoys.  This “tickles me” (as many little old ladies would say) because the name of my blog is The Spirit Garden.  As the main character is in a garden with Sarayu, he comments on the wildness/messiness of the garden.  She responds by agreeing that the garden is wild and saying “It’s wild and wonderful and perfectly in process. This mess is you.”

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Here are some lessons this movie taught:

  • God is not wrathful.  God is good.  People tend to pay a price for bad deeds without God smiting them.
  • God should not be blamed for “allowing” evil deeds to occur.  God does not want slaves.  We are loved.  Free will exists so that we have the choice to have a relationship with God.  The consequence of free will is that people can decide to do horrible things.  This is how evil leaks into the world and causes pain.
  • You shouldn’t expect God to condemn anybody to Hell for all eternity because we are all His children.  Good parents love their children even when they are upset by them.  Asking God to condemn anybody in such a way is comparable to a person being told to choose which of their children goes to Heaven and which spends the rest of eternity in anguish.  It is unfair.
  • We can recognize evil deeds without becoming the judge of others’ souls.  Wisdom states that the burden of judging God’s other children is too heavy for us to bare.  Judging other souls weighs down on us and reduces our heart’s ability to love.
  • Know that life circumstances can warp a person and cause them to act outside of their soul’s true nature.  Hence bad deeds do not necessarily mean a soul is bad.
  • The past is a place to learn from, not dwell in.  Keeping our eyes on Divine prevents us from sinking in regrets and anger.
  • We can still be angry after deciding to forgive somebody.  You may have to forgive somebody a thousand times for the same hurtful action before you are ably to fully let go of that anger.  We need to let go of anger so that we can move forward instead of being ruled by thoughts of what was done to us (or to our loved ones).  Forgiveness is to heal the self.  Forgiving does not make what the offender did “okay.”
  • Tears are “healing waters”.
  • People were not meant to war over disagreements.  We were meant to have friendly conversations with each other and treat each other as family.  It isn’t right to declare our goodness and place ourselves higher than our neighbors because of their “badness.”
  • Sometimes we must intentionally make room in our gardens (our souls) for the purpose of planting something that is needed.  The Divine is ready to help us create space and plant what is needed.
  • The representation of Christ in the movie tells the main character that we can each have a relationship with God without being obedient to a religion.  He reminds the main character that He himself is not Christian.
  • As well as forgiving others, we need to forgive ourselves and stop allowing ourselves to be burdened by blame.  (Especially when something was not our fault.  Ie.  “If only I had been there maybe I could have….”)
  • Tis good to imagine ourselves and each other through the loving eyes of God, in which we are each seen as radiant beings.  We are not our flaws or mistakes.  Sometimes we get covered in muck and that dims our glow.  God sees our light even when we are unaware of our radiance.

To summarize, I greatly enjoyed watching this movie.  I was leaned forward in my seat as though the movie was physically pulling me in.  I may not be able to speak for every Christo-Pagan, but I think this movie is a delight for pagans influenced by Christianity.  It may even be a delight for some people who have no ties to Christianity.  I enthusiastically recommend it.  Blessed be, y’all.

 

What is it like?

Some people may wonder how the dynamic of a romantic relationship works when one person is spiritual and the other person is not.  I have some experience in this area and can describe the dynamic from my perspective.  Keep in mind my spirituality is not of the mainstream variety.

I’m a whimsical witchy woman and my man is a skeptic.  That difference can be challenging.  No surprise there.  Although they may be frustrating, challenges help us to grow as individuals and as a couple.  The key to harmony in this type of relationship is to try to be respectful of your differences.  Not only to be respectful of those differences, but to accept the likelihood that they will be lasting differences.  You can’t be too easily offended.  I know my guy thinks some of my beliefs are silly.  I accept that when a woman says she believes in faeries (or at least the possibility of their existence) that her fella is more likely to giggle at her than to proclaim “Me too!”  Also, it is kind of nice to have my “own thing”.  Part of the joy of being in a relationship is having a partner to share with.  However, it can be beneficial to individual identity to have an interest or hobby that is one’s “own thing”.  An interest in spiritual topics is a major component of my individual identity.

Even though he doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs, he admires that I have faith.  There are times when scientific thought isn’t enough to help a person feel better.  In those times, the faithful person may have to have enough faith for both.  Those times push the spiritual partner to stay rooted in spirituality, and the skeptical partner can benefit from the balance his or her partner’s faithful optimism can help bring.

Finally, I think the success of such a relationship depends on the belief that somebody being a good person is more important than their beliefs (be those spiritual beliefs or rationale for skepticism).  It is difficult to imagine a healthy relationship in which one person is convinced the other is going to be damned for their doubts.

Blessed be, y’all.

Another Snake Dream

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copperhead via www.ohio.edu

I had another snake dream recently (I believe it was Friday morning).  In the dream, I saw sections of large copperhead bodies all over the ground, most of which were coming through a concrete driveway.  The bodies were as big around as python bodies.  However, no heads were visible.  It was as if the snakes peaked up above ground and then stuck their heads back into the ground leaving the middle of their bodies exposed.  One of my nephews and my Dad were with me.  I was a bit frantic and trying to protect my nephew by telling him to be careful of where he was stepping and helping him get inside my grandmother’s house.  I recall Dad trying to protect us.  He picked up a shovel and stabbed one of the snake bodies.  I seem to recall seeing that snake body split.  After I got my nephew inside the house I think the dream jumped to me being in a bathroom and having water coming out of the tub faucet as if I were drawing a bath.  I looked into the toilet that was beside the tub and saw the tail of presumably a baby copperhead at the bottom of the toilet boil.  I think the dream ended quickly after that.

I’m not sure what this dream meant if it did indeed have a meaning, but I can speculate.

  • Snakes are known to represent transformation (or shedding of the skin).  Perhaps the snake sections protruding through concrete represented the strength of transformation.  The fact that only the midsections were visible for most of the snakes (excluding the baby snake) might indicate that my head is still in the ground or that I am stuck in a phase of transformation.  Then again, the heads may have not been shown in the dream to prevent me from feeling too scared.  In the previous snake dream I was absolutely horrified, horrified to the point of feeling like death might be the only relief.  This time I was of course still worried because this was totally bizarre and potentially dangerous.  I only seemed to be maybe half as scared as before though.  Maybe less than half as scared.  The fear and reason for my Dad hurting one of the snakes in the dream was likely just the natural human response to venomous snakes since the dream was not lucid.  Thus I didn’t realize in the dream that the snakes could be symbolic.  The fear could have potentially represented a fear of change though.
  • “Snakes do not generate their own heat, and like them, we can find strength and motivation in environmental energy. Like the snake spirit, connect with the warmth of the earth and the sun; find balance in both the energies above and below. Once you are grounded, you can better channel the energies that surround you into positive growth and action. Snake guides are intensely earthbound and can detect tiny tremors in the ground, open yourself to the subtle vibrations around you and tune out the racing chatter of your mind. Once you accomplish this, you’ll feel in tune with your surroundings, and your inner being/desires.” (Sourced from http://alltotems.com/snake-spirit-meaning-symbols-and-totem/)  This makes sense in regard to the dream because part of each snake was above ground and part below ground.  The same website continues to state “As humans we use a great deal of our energy just keeping ourselves warm, snakes are ectothermic (they don’t generate their own heat) so they burn no calories staying warm. This is why snakes can go weeks without eating, and why they bask on sun touched earth and stone. The message here is to take things slow and fully digest knowledge and experiences. Don’t rush around in day to day life, and don’t be hasty in your decision making, be patient, meditative, and deliberate.” This also makes sense because the snakes were mostly seen on concrete during the day.  Concrete tends to be warm while the sun shines on it.   None of them were moving either except for the baby snake that was inside the house.
  • As mentioned above, the snake could be telling me to balance energies from above and below.  This seems to tie into the snake sometimes being associated with Persephone.  Persephone spends Winter in the Underworld and then resurfaces in Spring.  I can tell you that as a witchy woman with Persephone as my craft name, this weather has been messing with me.  I go through changes with the seasons.  The past month or so has been absolutely bizarre in North Carolina.  We had weather in the 70s starting in February I believe.  Then this past week the temperature dropped back down to lows in the 20s and we had a little snow this most recent weekend.  One day it’s “Hello Miss Merry Sunshine” and the next it’s “Hello darkness, my old friend” with cloudy skies and a chill in the air.  Maybe the snakes in my dream were confused by the weather too.  They started coming out into the sunshine because it seemed like Spring and then they realized it was getting cold again and decided to burrow back into the earth.  They left a little bit of their bodies out of the ground because they were so freaking confused.

That’s all for this post.  Blessed be, y’all.

It’s Witchcraft

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The word Witchcraft makes most people think of something like Harry Potter, the Wicked Witch of the West, or some other fictional face. That’s if you’re lucky, anyway. Another part of the non-witch population will hear this word and immediately be sent into convulsions of hymn, warnings of everlasting life in Hell, and may have the tendency to go collect firewood – seemingly out of no where.

Ok, yes. Those two examples may be a little bit stereotypical. But, let’s be real here: Haven’t you run into both these versions if and when you ever say you’re involved in Witchcraft?

I have. My friends have. And while there is a generous smear of good response out there, I find that it is spread so far and thin over the ones with ridiculous ridicule that it’s hard to see those good ones some times.

It’s because of that, many…

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Joy Altar Collab

 

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This is my first collaboration post.  My collaborator is PeaceNowFlower.  This is about, as the title suggests, joy altars.  This is not only going to feature ideas for typical altars, but also joy alters (as PeaceNowFlower might say).   A joy alter is something that serves the function a joy altar does but without an actual altar.  For anybody who is unknowledgeable about altars, the function of them is to provide a dedicated space for spiritual purposes.  Having a joy altar thus functions to help you keep joy plentiful in your life.  An altar can be set up on various types of surfaces depending on space and what is available.  For a more typical altar, you can use a table or wooden chest.  You can use a tray or storage container that slides under your bed if you are short on space.  There are many more options that can be imagined for setup surfaces.  You should put your altar somewhere you can have privacy if possible in order to improve focus.  Of course the first thing you need to do before creating this altar is to think about what brings you happiness.  You should then be able to recognize things that symbolize joy for you.  Now I will provide various ideas for creating a joy altar (or joy alter).

The Witchy Altar:

This altar probably requires the most thought in its creation because it requires knowledge of magickal and/or shamanic correspondences.  There are widely accepted correspondences within the craft, but not every correspondence or association is going to click with everybody.   It is okay to come up with your own correspondences (even though not every witch will agree with that statement).   Sunny yellow shades are often considered joyful, but it probably won’t achieve that feeling for you if you dislike yellow.  Some questions to ask yourself when creating a witchy joy altar are:

  • What element most relates to joy for me? (Some may relate joy to calming water energy while others may relate joy to passionate fire energy.)
  • Do I believe joy corresponds to a particular direction? If so, which direction is that?
  • What crystals help put me in a good mood when I hold them or have them in my environment?
  • Is it safe (or allowed) to burn candles in the altar space available to me? (Some pets may be tempted to snoop around the flames, and I have heard of dorms not allowing candles. Having a burned pet or getting kicked out of your dorm is not likely to bring joy.)
  • Do I have clean-burning incense? (It is not easy to feel joy while coughing or experiencing a headache.)
  • Do I have any sentimental items that may contain joyous energy?
  • What animals represent joy to me?

There are a few ways to go if putting a candle on your joy altar.  You can choose a candle color that you associate to happiness, a while candle (which tends to be thought of as a multi-purpose candle), or a black candle (which many consider to ward of negative energy).  You may use an altar cloth that has a cheery color or print.  I personally find flowers to be quite cheery.  I tend to decorate with faux flowers because they are long lasting, often inexpensive, and require no care.  Real flowers tend to have uplifting smells in addition to beauty though if you don’t mind the cost of replacing them.  Small stone carvings of animals are appreciated by many as items to put on their altars.  If you can find such a carving in the form of your joy animal, it could be a great addition to your altar.  I could go on and on, but I suppose this is enough about this option.

Plant Altar

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Plants can really improve a space.  Not only do they produce oxygen, some are known to purify the air.  The clean air, beauty, and pleasant aromas plants can provide can certainly inspire joy.  I personally love walking around a plant nursery or even a small floral section in a grocery store.  You should probably research plant care information before making a purchase for this altar.  Plants require varying amounts of sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc. in order to survive.  Some plants are poisonous to consume, in which case you need to place them where pets and small children cannot reach them.  Plants also have drastically different life spans.  Some will live for a season while others will live for years.  Your plant will likely bring you just as much disappointment as joy if it quickly perishes.  This is especially true if you splurge on some plants.  With that in mind, check plants for gnats before buying them.  I once invested maybe $75 into a small succulent garden.  I didn’t know to check for gnats then, and the result was quickly rotted plants.  I tried changing the soil, but the damage had already been done because the gnat larvae had apparently already worked their way into too many roots.  I was super pissed off at those gnats.  I also will not buy plants from that store location anymore.

There are perks to easy care plants and plants with more care needs.  A plant that requires more care forces you to focus more on it, and thus to concentrate more on the joy you wish you cultivate.  However that can backfire if you don’t have a green thumb or adequate free time.  Also, a finicky plant may cause you to sacrifice a joy to help it survive.    For example:  I had a lovely African violet that was supposed to be “easy care”.  For the most part it was.  However, leaving my window open one day changed the temperature and/or humidity in my room a little bit.  That caused the plant to go limp and I could not get it to recover.  I will probably not get another African violet because I am not willing to sacrifice the freedom to have my window open.  Easy care plants may be preferred because you have a better chance for them to thrive.  It is uplifting to see something you take care of doing well.  My go-to plant is pothos.  I find it to be the easiest plant to care for and to cultivate.  It is also a plant said to purify the air.  Your plant altar can simply be one plant on plant stand or it could be the top of a dresser covered with potted plants.  That just depends on how much time and energy you are willing and able to dedicate to the upkeep of your plant alter.  Something important to note is that you are required to focus on joy while caring for the plants and/or looking at them.  Otherwise you just have a collection of plants instead of a joy altar.

Wall “Altar”

You may want to have a joy alter on your wall.  Find a wall with plenty of empty space and then put up pictures of loved ones, beautiful landscapes, cute animals, etc.  You may like to put up some of your child’s artwork if you are a parent.  The images don’t necessarily have to look great.  They just have to incite joy within you.  I have a wall with several images of hummingbirds on it because hummingbirds represent joy to me.

Computer  “Altar”

The easiest option may be to put up a computer screen background that brings you joy.  You could make a digital collage, a photo from one of your happiest moments, cheerful art, or even use a goofy picture of a donkey to bring you joy.  You may also decide to add to this by creating a playlist of songs that stir happiness in you.  It might seem silly in spiritual context to sing along with “Baby Got Back”, but silliness can certainly arouse joy.  Similarly, you may want to create a “Joy” playlist on YouTube.

Click here to read PeaceNowFlower’s suggestions.  Blessed be, y’all.