Archive for the ‘Original blog post’ Category

I never knew 19 years ago that someday having a stockpile of herbal tinctures would make me feel witchy.

I never knew 19 years ago that someday having a stockpile of herbal tinctures would make me feel witchy.

I’ve become one of them.

Them. The older Pagans and Witches that I remember from my early days on the Pagan path. Those that would nod encouragingly but with a smile hiding at the corners of their mouths as I relayed my early endeavors with the elements, meditation, and such. They were always supportive, but now I understand the smile tugging at the corners.

Meeting folks new (or old) to the path is always a pleasure – we are always eager to share what we’ve learned with others and trade suggestions. But after almost 20 years, I’ve heard those same early experiences so many times that I can’t help but smile a little now too. But like the elders I looked up to, I wouldn’t dare act like it’s not a big deal because it is a big deal.

Some recent experiences like this made me think of the evolution of witchy-ness that I and many folks that I know have experienced. Anybody else remember when they were a bright and shiny witch or pagan? That giddy feeling from buying the first few books or magazines? That so-anxious-you-might-puke sensation at your first ritual?

I remember when getting a subscription to Sagewoman magazine felt like a big deal, and being given a tarot deck was HUGE (yet kept hidden in case my mother saw it during a visit). Over time, things became more elaborate and my above-average memory came in handy to remember the order of a ritual as well as the chants, the correspondences of herbs and stones, and folklore and mythology.

As the years went by and ritual participation moved into ritual writing and leading classes, what also made me feel witchy changed quite a bit. As experiences became more richly woven, they often became more complicated as well. After a few years, I found myself wanting to focus more on building my own knowledge of applicable skills like herbalism and sustainable living. To strip away the excessive elements of the practice and be creative in a different way. I made a few teas, soaps, infused oils, and bee’s wax lotion bars as I started to experiment.

A year and a half ago, I started taking herbal classes, most of them lead by an herbalist from The Golden Light Center in Missouri, and this expanded my knowledge and confidence in using herbs more than traditional spell work ever did.

Harvesting my own herbs – like this chickweed – for herbal tinctures and tonics has proven rewarding.

Harvesting my own herbs – like this chickweed – for herbal tinctures and tonics has proven rewarding.

Last summer and fall, I concocted more than a dozen different tinctures and glycerites, a few of them even from carefully wildcrafted plant materials. There was lemon verbena and mint glycerites for upset tummies, Japanese knot weed tincture for Lyme’s disease prevention and treatment, horny goat weed tincture for those certain performance problems, and even mimosa tincture for dealing with mild depression. And as I started to share and trade these with friends, I found myself feeling more witchy than I ever had before. I felt a connection to those who came before me and used their knowledge – whether it was knowing the magic of herbal healing or using herbs magically (or other items and skills).

Looking back at this, I think it is similar to learning how to draw realistically before going into abstract art – learning to use herbs for physical health feels like a foundation for magical use of herbs, if that makes any sense at all.

Even months later, when I look into my magic cabinet where I now keep the herbal medicine along with my assortment of candles, crystals, and other items, I feel a creative spark and a power I’ve never known before. Of course, I’ve felt connected to the Irish fae/goddess Airmid for years, but now that connection is forged by action and not just an ideal. Now, reading the charm, “bone to bone, vein to vein, balm to balm” takes on yet another layer of meaning – the passing on of knowledge from one person to another. To heal using nature’s divine bounty, just like that dutiful goddess tried to even when her father’s ego got in the way.

Usually, I have a good idea of where a post is going when I start it. Not so with this one. Perhaps it’s to see if others out there have had their own evolution of witchy-ness. Maybe it’s just to give beginners an idea of why the elders sometimes look amused  – or just to remind the elders not to feel superior just because their beginning lessons were 20, 30, or more years ago. We all must break down and analyze our practices now and again, starting anew to some degree. Any well-lived life is an evolution of sorts, so why should a magical practice be any different when it affects our lives so much?

OK, enough rambling for the night – please post your own ideas about changes of magical practice if you wish.

Until next time, blessings to you all!

Thistle

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Brigid before me,

Brigid beside me,

Brigid behind me.

I am under the shielding

Of good Brigid

Each day and each night.

This is my nightly prayer – though often said in my mind rather than with my mouth – as well as my charm of protection whenever the need arises for one.

This came to me many years ago after first reading “The Descent of Brigid,” based on verses in the Carmina Gadelica, as well as several other protective charms to the Irish goddess and saint called Brigid, Brigit, Brig, or Bride, depending on your preference. If you are unfamiliar with this deity, this article on The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids is a good place to catch up.

Many people remember Brigid at her February festival of Imbolc, which many of us celebrated last week. We make a Brigid’s cross or bed, maybe eat some dairy-based dishes, sing one of her songs or another, and say a prayer to her. Then many seem to forget her with the coming of spring and festivities of Ostara and Beltaine. It seems that she was the goddess du jour when I was coming into Paganism in the late 90s. There does seem to be an inclination to be interested with the goddess of the moment, which blogger Daughter of Avalon discussed in her post “The Goddess Trend.” In it, she discusses how the changing world may be encouraging us to look at specific goddesses, rather than just following a trend.

Irish crosses

A Brigid’s cross of lavender stems and a Celtic cross both cross the threshold between Pagan and Christian.

Yes, Brigid has the advantage of being at the center of one of the four fire festivals, Imbolc, where people weave reeds or straw into her crosses or eat dairy foods to represent the return of the milk. But many people forget her after that. And many who once revered her have since left her for the goddess of the moment. It’s a bit sad to me that more people who start with Brigid (and so very many of us did) decide to forget or abandon her for a different goddess. As a multifaceted deity, she can fit into almost any societal mood.

She is the strength and fire to forge both swords and plows.

She is the healer of people, animals, and sovereignty – not to mention legendary midwife to Mary and Jesus (clearly an embellishment to her legend, but it could offer a clue to her earlier veneration).

She is the breath of inspiration to the poet and artist.

She is the protector who lost and frightened souls call upon for strength.

She is the goddess that stands on the threshold and holds hands with Pagans and Christians on either side. She – much like the Celtic cross in some myths – is a symbol of two cultures combining. Considering many of us live in places where we are a spiritual minority, she may remind us to respect those who walk a different path, especially if we expect the same courtesy.

However popular she may or may not be, she is in my heart always. She was my first goddess. Not necessarily the first one I learned about after coming to the Pagan path in 1997, but the first one I felt called to. My only connection to community early on was a subscription to SageWoman magazine. The second issue I received was #40 Angels & Guardians, in which Diana Paxson’s long-running “One of Ten Thousand” column featured Brigid in her protector aspect. And just a year and a half later, Paxson’s column in Issue #46 again focused on Brigid but in her inspirational role. The Daughter of the Dagda had certainly caught my attention with her dualities of gentleness and burning flame, healing and forging. Not much later, I performed a self-dedication to Brigid.

Sagewoman articles – cat not included – were my introduction to this versatile goddess.

Sagewoman articles – cat not included – were my introduction to this versatile goddess.

Thinking back on it now, it seems she was especially attractive because she’s just as complex and multidimensional as all of us are (no matter how society may try to trim us with its cookie cutters). None of us are flat characters – some of us just appear that way because we’re afraid to show our real selves to the world.

Like many others who follow Pagan or goddess spirituality, I have no problem in honoring and working with multiple deities. And while Cernunnos, Abnova, the Morrigan, Lugh, the Green Man, and Airmid are all ones I feel connected to, Brigid remains the cornerstone of my spiritual foundation for the reasons above and many more.

So by all means, enjoy making a Brigid’s cross and eating custard on Imbolc, but please don’t forget about good Brigid the rest of the year. She is there for you no matter the season.

Until next time, bright blessings!

Thistle

 

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Every year in the days before Samhain, I either move or take down my everyday altar and put in its prominent place is the Ancestor Altar, which I call my Altar to the Beloved Dead. It is something I cherish doing and something that is adjusted every year and also reflects what is important to me. Every night for the week before Samhain and week or two after, I take a few minutes to light the candles and remember the Beloved Dead represented there.

2015 alt all Many of us do this and, frankly, ancestor altar building is covered in many places, so never felt the need to do it here.

But every year when either people see my Ancestor Altar in person or on a blog or Facebook photo, I inevitably get someone saying they just don’t know how to go about building their own. They don’t know enough about their family, or they had issues with their family. Or they don’t know where to start. I’ve been told many reasons. Considering how important and sacred this altar is to me, it makes me sad that there are people who want one but don’t feel comfortable building one.

So for those who need a little nudge, here’s a quick and dirty write up of my philosophy on building the ancestor altar.

I will say that I personally do more than ancestors of my blood. As discussed in this essay by Druid author Joanna Van Der Hoeven, I welcome ancestors of blood, of place, and of tradition. There is no way I could limit it to just relatives – there have been too many people that were important to my spiritual development to ignore them just because we do not share physical DNA. We share spiritual DNA, and that’s good enough for me and many other Pagans.

So, even if you don’t know your family, were adopted, or are estranged from family, you can still build this based on the people who have been important to you in one way or another. It could be a spiritual leader or counselor, a family friend, a coworker, or even a pet who has passed on. It could be someone you didn’t know but who inspired you. For example, the last couple years I included the late frame drummer Layne Redmond – her music and research was very inspiring and empowering for many of us women who took up the drum. And the drum has been a big part of my spiritual life.

I start, of course, with a table and tablecloth. This year, I added a box in back under the tablecloth to add more height and dimension the the arrangement. Do what will look good to you. I also have a lot of candles – but you could use some other type of lighting that you prefer.
Let’s take a look at a few of the elements I’ve included this year:

Ancestors of Blood

2015 altar ancestors

At the top, you see three photo frames with my great aunt and uncle, my Mom, and my grandmother when she was young. These are all from my mother’s family. I choose not to include anyone from my father’s family because they are negative, not well-known to me, or not yet deceased. My mother’s family has its flaws, but they weren’t intentionally hurtful and did the best they could.

I personally wouldn’t include anyone whose spirit might not be in your best interest because not only are you honoring ancestors with this altar but also inviting them in, whether you realize it or not.

Ancestors of Place

2015 altar crones

There have been many people in my life totally unrelated to me that have had a powerful impact on my life. Two examples are my first two Crones: Sandy and Bernice (I’ve written about Bernice before and recently reposted it). Bernice was my ex-husband’s great aunt but our friendship opened my eyes in so many ways. Sandy was one of the women who started the Daughters of the Sacred Grail, an Avalonian women’s group that really helped firm up my spiritual foundation.

2015 altar pets
I also include in this group all the positive friends and mentors from life. Some for me include old friends but also includes pets from my life. As an introvert and animal person, my anim
al friends have often been a true source of love and support. I would never leave them off this altar, so I would suggest people not feel limited to just humans.

Ancestors of Tradition

This section is a little more flexible for me. In some sense, I also consider the late Crone Sandy an ancestor of tradition as well as of place. Yes, I knew her in this world, but she also helped lay the groundwork for my spiritual tradition. Some of what I do spiritually is because of her. It could be a leader like the Pope or Dalai Lama. Some may disagree with me, but it might also include something to represent a spirit guide or spirit animal.

After you have found a photo or something to represent anyone who fits these, simply put them together in a way that pleases you. You could add more common altar items that represent the four elements, deities, etc. You could put out little items you think the Beloved Dead would appreciate – I always put out a Snickers and change for my grandmother. You can incorporate other meaningful things to you such as things from nature (like the gourds and bittersweet you see on mine) or whatever inspires you.

And think it’s too late? You have tonight and tomorrow before the calendar Samhain on Nov. 1. And astrological Samhain isn’t until Nov. 8 this year. Plenty of time to remember those who have gone before in however big or small way that you wish.

Bright blessings and wishing you all an inspired and magical Samhain!

Thistle

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I’m not sure how the Celtic god Lugh had time for games at the first of August – I’m always a busy, busy bee this time of year. Of course, Lugh was holding the festival games in honor of his belated stepmother (learn a bit about this here), but I guess time can stand still for a deity unlike we mere mortals.

I’ve been chomping at the bit to finish up my Airmid cloak posts and to work on a story about spiritual beekeeping, but the hours of summer have been flying by with gardening, berry and grape picking (and the subsequent jelly and jam making) getting out in nature while the sun shines, and so forth. And I know I’ve touched on this in the past, but it seems to be true every summer.

Just last night was a beautiful evening to pick the grapes that are finally ripening.

Picking grapes for jelly

Picking grapes for jelly

 

And the sky as I picked from the vines was gorgeous!

And the sky as I picked from the vines was gorgeous!

Also, I’ve been hard at drying herbs and making tinctures and glycerites (herbal medicines for those unfamiliar with the terms) from both bought and wild-crafted herbs. The corner of my kitchen has been jam-packed with chocolate mint, yarrow leaves and blossoms, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and more!

Mint, yarrow leaves, lemon balm, and yarrow flowers all dry in the kitchen.

Mint, yarrow leaves, lemon balm, and yarrow flowers all dry in the kitchen.

What have all of you been up to the last month or so?

Whether you have been hard at it or just relaxing, have a blessed Lughnasadh (or Lammas, if you prefer)!

Bright blessings,

Thistle

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I don’t know about you all, but I have experienced my share of rituals. Some have been just for myself or a small group, others for large groups and gatherings. Some are private and some public. I’ve lead or co-lead some but just enjoyed being a participant in others. One thing I’ve found is that the more people can connect to the meaning of the ritual, the more rewarding the experience is.

And for me, that is what a ritual is – an experience that is aimed at spiritual growth and connection. I don’t care if you wear elaborate ritual garb or jeans, if there’s no connection and growth from the ritual, it didn’t do its job.

Back in 2010, I was fortunate to be able to attend Pagan Spirit Gathering in southern Missouri (it’s now held in Illinois). One of my favorites workshops was “Myth, Magic, and Ritual: Techniques for Leaders to Harness the Power of Myth,” lead by former Ozark Avalon teacher Cynthia Jones and author River Higginbotham. They started with the explanation of how Jones defines ritual: “A multi-sensoral prayer to break old patterns and to raise energy.”

Through this workshop, we discussed how adding myth – especially the dramatization of myth – can add more senses to the experience. In this way, we can easily add music, movement/dance, color and texture through costumes, etc. The more layers we can add to the ritual experience, the more likely there will be something there that individuals can connect with, since certain senses are stimulating for some people than others.

Even if you share mythology as a story within ritual instead of a dramatization, you are engaging participants in the timeless tradition of storytelling and reducing the formality of the ritual so the participants can relax and perhaps get something more out of it.

Some myths to consider:

Cerredwen chasing Gwydion - an old illustration from The Mabinogi

Cerredwen chasing Gwydion – an old illustration from The Mabinogi

  • Cerridwen and Gwidion/Taliesen – incorporate this story of transformation anytime you are looking to help people rebirth themselves into something greaterm, especially when the realization that this is sometimes a painful process needs brought to light.
  • Bloudewedd – share this story of a manmade flower bride claiming her own sovereignty whenever you need to empower people to break the bonds that hold them from being their true selves. Of course, this story also emphasizes there are consequences for every action – including becoming yourself.
  • Demeter & Persephone – simultaneously covers a mother dealing with the loss/maturity of her daughter and the individual learning to balance duty and passion.

Go Beyond C&C (Celtic & Classical)

Statue of Ganesh(a), a popular Hindu god, photo courtesy of MorgueFile

Statue of Ganesh(a), a popular Hindu god, photo courtesy of MorgueFile

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of myths outside the realm of Classical and Celtic that could work. Don’t be afraid to explore outside of your comfort zones: Hindu, Native Indian, Northern European, African, South American, and many other cultures are full of stories and mythology to enrich your ritual experience. Many of these are rich and colorful and can make a big impact on a ritual – just make sure you truly understand the story and the deities/characters before you do this.

For that matter, you could even incorporate many of the more modern superhero stories – these are very much the new mythology of our culture and they are popular for a reason: they often focus on the same archetypes and metaphors of more traditional mythology.

Embrace Your Own Interpretation

Something interesting pointed out by Jones and Higginbotham is that there is no reason why we cannot update and reinterpret the myths. Showing new views of old stories – as seen in books like Mists of Avalon and Wicked – is a trend with a long tail.

In classical mythology, for example, consider the possibility that what the ancients refer to as an “abduction” of Persephon. It could have been Persephone going willingly (stealing away with the bad boy, if you will), and it was her mother’s view to call it an abduction. The lessons and connections from that view could be considerably different from the traditional understanding of the story.

For ritual purposes, it’s also helpful to remember that the “bad” character is necessary. Without them, the protagonist of the story would have nothing to overcome, no lesson to learn. Some even consider the antagonist to serve the role of initiator, as initiations often include some less than cuddly elements.

Hopefully, the suggestion to include some myth in ritual might help break any ritual monotony you, your family, or your group might be experiencing.

And now that we’ve broken the ice in regard to including myth in ritual, we’re prepped for a couple more posts about the Irish goddess Airmid and the Healing Cloak Ritual that she inspired.

Until then, bright blessings!

Thistle

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Just wanted to pop in and wish everyone a blessed and peaceful Imbolc.

Traditionally a time to recognize the lengthening days and that spring is just around the corner, I love this time of year for taking walks in the brisk air, perusing seed catalogs, and resting up before the business of spring.

This painting of the Goddess Brigid was the feature of the temple at the Gaia Goddess Gathering in 2013.

This painting of the Goddess Brigid was the feature of the temple at the Gaia Goddess Gathering in 2013.

Of course, the Goddess and Saint Brigid is often the focus of this seasonal celebration, and there are so many traditional customs associated with this time: Brigid’s mantle, Brigid’s cross, attending to the hearth, milk-based dishes, shepherd’s pie, and more!

Tomorrow, I’ll be gathering with my soul family to have tea, tasty treats, make Brigid’s crosses, and plan out some activities for the year. How will you be celebrating Imbolc?

Bright blessings,

Thistle

PS: I really am working on a whole slew of posts to revitalize this blog. Pinky swear!

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As I sat at home the first night of the new year, I enjoyed one of the last nights of my Yule tree. It’s a pretty little tree, and I enjoy all the different ornaments, as I’m not one for that uniform tree look. Soon, I’ll be packing away the ornaments and lights, cutting a piece of the stump to save for next year, and taking what remains to the back of the yard the birds to take shelter in.

The whole way through this process, I will be grateful for having had the tree, being able to afford it, and so on.

Gifts are received in gratitude.

Gifts are received in gratitude.

For several days after Yule and Christmas, the gifts I received from both my blood and soul family lie nestled under the tree. Though it may seem odd, I do this to take a few days to appreciate the thoughtfulness of family and friends. A few gifts couldn’t be there – there’s no way I’m putting the handmade rawhide rattle from a dear friend on the floor in a house with four dogs or the twisty cool scarf crocheted by a friend when my cat’s eyes gleam whenever she sees it – but just seeing most of these things and the loving intent behind them always makes my heart fill with gratitude.

This has been especially good for me to keep in mind this holiday season. Frankly, 2014 was heartbreaking year for me. What we first thought was my Mom suffering from dementia turned out to be an undiagnosed liver disease. She was gone about two months after we knew what we were dealing with, and life for my family is forever changed – including the holidays. It would be easy to be bitter about it, and I have had my moments. But aside from the fond memories of Mom and traditions that she instilled in me, I have found myself very grateful for the family and soul friends that helped me through this year.

I’ve also been focused on the idea of gratitude more recently due to working through Spirit Walking by Evelyn Rysdyk with a small study group. A book on shamanic practice, one of the first active things she has you do is a daily practice of gratitude, literally with a small offering of cornmeal, herbs, or something similar, along with a meditation. It’s a simple practice, but I’ve found it meaningful even though I’ve only done it for a few days. How often do we have days or even weeks go by without being thankful for what we have been given? And for those who like a hands-on element to their practice, this fits the bill better than just the words of a prayer.

A small daily offering or rose petals and lavender buds is my physical token of gratitude.

A small daily offering or rose petals and lavender buds is my physical token of gratitude.

Coming off the holidays, it’s easy to see how lack of gratitude seems to play a part in the stress and problems that people have with this time of year. Gifting has gotten out of hand for a lot of families, and there’s an idea that the holiday meal should be perfect and the decorations flawless. Along the way, the idea of enjoying time together and keeping small but meaningful traditions for the holidays has been largely lost. No wonder so many people are frustrated with it all.

With the start of a new year comes the obligatory list of things we intend to do (or not do) this. Lose weight, quit smoking, eat better, meditate more, spend more time with family, fix up your house, etc. – we all know the usual suspects.

We also know how often we all keep these resolutions. In early January, the gym parking lot will be packed. By the end of February, the traffic has lightened considerably.

Why does this happen? I’m sure there are many contributing factors, but I feel that a lack of gratitude certainly doesn’t help. Achieving a healthy lifestyle from a position of hating your body isn’t a great start. At some point, you’ll need to truly love yourself in order to see positive changes through to successful completion or into a habit. Seeing all the changes you want to make in your home without appreciating that it’s doing the basic job of sheltering and keeping you safe is losing sight of the purpose of a home. If you want to make home improvements, be grateful that you have a home to improve.

Not that there’s anything wrong with improvement, but don’t lose sight of what you already have. Plant your seeds for the future from the rich soil of gratitude; otherwise, you’re trying to grow a garden in the Wasteland.

Hope this post didn’t ramble too much – I have to admit a cold is making my head a little groggy.

Until next time, bright blessings!

Thistle

PS: You can check out Evelyn Rysdyk’s blog here.

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We are just a day away from the start my favorite holiday. I say “start” because for me, it’s not just one day for Halloween and Samhain – it’s many days (sometimes a few weeks) devoted to both the fun festivities and the serious introspection and respect that tumbles all together with Halloween, Samhain, All Saints and All Souls Days, and the Day of the Dead. Early this week, I completed the annual expansion of my small ancestor altar into a loaded table I call the Altar to the Beloved Dead.

halloween_oracleBut I got an earlier start thinking about the spirit of the season this year. In mid-September, I picked up Stacey Demarco’s brand new deck, The Halloween Oracle.

Before telling you my thoughts on the deck, let me admit that I’m not the most skilled of readers. I read oracles and Tarot for myself yet have never read for others, but this deck is making me reconsider that.

The cards are darkly beautiful and sophisticated in style, and they are printed on glossy sturdy paper that will hold up for years.  I find them to be an easy read – I can connect with the image, title, and theme of almost every card without feeling the need to reach for the book. Only a few gave me pause, notably the Zombie card that represents control. A young friend reminded me that Hollywood’s diseased and rabid zombies have altered our perception of these, and that the original zombie is indeed someone who’s life is under the control of another. Problem solved. Throughout the deck, Demarco continues to adhere to the traditional and folkloric aspects of Halloween and other related festivals, which makes it easy for those who have learned about this subject to read from this deck. From barmbrack and cauldrons to ancestors and the Underworld, this deck doesn’t miss much about this season.

While the entire deck is intriguing, a few cards did sing to my soul. Seeing the Winter card and its focus on “the sacredness of pausing” makes me happy. As long-time readers might remember, I have long been someone who encourages folks to find time in the hubbub of the winter holidays for introspection and spiritual rest. And the starkly beautiful image really speaks to me.

HO Samples 2The Hearth and Ancestors cards, each very important thematically to me, are also fantastic expressions. The Hearth’s glowing fire wards off the surrounding darkness as the protective gargoyle looks over those who we imagine gathering round the fire – summing up the combined warmth and protectiveness many of us feel about our homes as well as the energy we put into home and family. Metaphors of family roots, family trees, and DNA are all woven into the Ancestors card that also suggests the action of spiraling upward, which many of us aim to do in our spiritual work.

HO samples 1

Lady de los Muertos proved a pleasant surprise when first thumbing through the deck. It’s nice to see another culture so clearly represented (the Mummy card with the Egyptian pyramids in the background also escapes the western European model). The Death card features the very same Death’s-head moth of Silence of the Lambs fame but finds a more helpful expression here as it faces the Moon, also a representative of an ongoing cycle and transition. The Skull of Flowers (one of four “Skull of” cards) is just beautiful and intrigues me every time I see it.

While some of the 36 cards shine a bit brighter than others, the only real complaint I have about the deck is the accompanying book. And it’s really not so much what she writes as the punctuation. The lack of the Oxford comma is annoying and, in a few cases, confusing. However, there’s a general misplacement of commas throughout the book. As I have been filling in on a daily oracle page with this deck and typing in the book’s entries, I have grumbled more than once while removing some commas and adding others where they are really needed.

And then there is the annoying use of the “whilst” instead of “while,” but that is more common in Britain – if my dictionary can be trusted – and that may also be true in Demarco’s home of Australia. Perhaps that’s just my American bias at work. The shortness of the entries does at times make too short of work of the related folklore and customs, but at least she focuses on these instead of relying on Hollywood’s version.

Fortunately, this deck is so gorgeous and intuitive that it’s likely that many readers will never feel the need to open the book. So if you’re looking to add to your divination collection with a seasonal deck that doesn’t treat Halloween and Samhain like a cartoon, this is an excellent choice. Frankly, I’ll be using it all winter.

Until next time, bright blessings!

Thistle

 

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Mistakes are a part of life, yet we can be really hard on ourselves when we make them. This subject has been on my mind a lot lately, and I know a lot of folks who berate themselves for past missteps. Many of these are people I care for quite a lot, and seeing them tear themselves apart over water that’s under the bridge is rather heartbreaking.

And let’s be clear – I’ve made plenty of my own missteps. With family, friends, significant others, job choices, and so on. But with a couple exceptions, I prefer not to look at my mistakes as setbacks. I view them a little differently. Below are five reasons why.

plot twist

 

5. Yes, you are spirit, but you are also human.

There’s a quote from Pierre Teilbard de Chardin that makes the rounds quite a bit: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” If you believe this line of thought, you should definitely cut yourself a break because, quite frankly, the human experience is messy.

The constant struggle balancing our physical needs and desires, our logical thinking and ego, and our spiritual center can be difficult. Most of us go through periods in our life when we are either angry, sad, confused, or one of the many other feelings that can cause us to less than ideal action or to just plain feel bad.

But whatever happens in our lives, we are just humans. Yes, we have amazing abilities, but we also have stunning flaws and desires. Not all of this is bad – it’s just part of the human experience. Sometimes physical or emotional pain is part of the human experience, especially if you subscribe to the idea of soul agreements. That leads us to No. 4:

 

4. It could be part of the plan. Yes, your plan.

“I planned to make mistakes and for crap to happen to me?” you ask dubiously.

Well, maybe. Some folks subscribe to the concept of soul agreements, or relationships and challenges that could be part of your spirit’s plan for this lifetime. Most agree that soul agreements are made between you and other spirits – prior to this human incarnation – to be part of the same family or to have some other relationship. Sometimes these agreements have a very positive spin (for example, soul mates or soul friends), but other times they are intended to give the soul something difficult to experience and overcome.

Honestly, I once had a huge problem with this concept. Who would choose a debilitating disease? Who would want a life of poverty? Who would opt for an abusive parent or spouse? The idea that I would choose a miserable father, a miscarriage, and a failed marriage as things to deal with in life infuriated me. As time passed, however, I began to see how these different people and events lead me to other things that I needed to learn or just needed in my life.

How we deal with challenges – whether we continue to respond like impudent children and with anger instead of with understanding and compassion (yes, compassion for ourselves) – may be part of the bigger picture for your soul. Life lessons aren’t always obvious when they are happening. So if you screw up and have to deal with the fallout, deal with it and move on – your ability to do so may well be the goal of the lesson plan that you yourself wrote.

worst pasts

 

3. Every mistake can be a learning experience – if you let it.

Who learns anything by always being perfect? If we never fail, we don’t learn perseverance. If we never tempt an exploration, it’s difficult to make a discovery.

Sometimes, all we really need to learn is to relax and see our mistake from a different perspective. Richard James, the developer of the Slinky toy, was a mechanical engineering trying to develop a specialized spring for ships. His mistake for ships turned out to be a huge success in the toy market – but only because he could see the potential in his booboo.

In other cases, our mistakes and the resulting pain is a cue to slow down and look at what we’re doing and adjust our path. If you keep falling for the wrong kind of person in relationships, maybe you need to examine what it is about that type of person that draws you even though you should know it won’t work. If people take advantage of you, perhaps it’s time to balance your kindness and generosity with the strength to stand up for yourself when needed.

No mistake need be a waste of time – there is something to learn from them all if we look close enough.

 

2. It develops character.

No, seriously! Anyone who’s delved into creative writing can tell you that if nothing bad ever happens to a main character, there’s no story. Well, the same is pretty much true of real people. Those who come through many mistakes and struggles are often those with great insights and the ability to help others see that they can overcome their own mistakes.

Besides, when all is said and done and folks are gathered at our funerals, do we want them to just say, “Oh, she was so nice”? Or do we want there to be some stories they can share and laugh and commiserate over? A life of good stories is not a wasted life.

fit in meme

 

And because I’m an eternal smarty pants, the number one reason NOT to beat yourself up over mistakes is:

 

1. Mistakes in your past give you double the memes to share on Facebook!

This one should be self-explanatory to anyone with a Facebook account!

Until next time, bright blessings.

Thistle

 

Note: To the best of my knowledge, the memes in this post are free to use.

© 2014 PJ Graham

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It feels like it’s been forever since I last posted – and it has been quite a while. The last six months have been packed with change and new experiences for me, and I’ve just been taking the time to digest it all.

Personally, a few things have dominated my mind and heart. My mother – and I am quite the mama’s girl – was diagnosed with dementia and that has brought with it a whole slew of experiences my family would rather have avoided. A romantic relationship both started and just turned to friendship during this time well. These are a bit painful right now, but I know I’ll grow and more forward from here.

Spiritually, I’ve returned to a mostly solitary practice, which is a major shift after 8-1/2 years of working within a group. Groups can be amazing and helpful, but sometimes you have to step out on your own. I’ve also been blessed with amazing discussions and done more varied reading that has stimulated a lot of ideas while also tearing down limiting beliefs I once held. And after more than 20 years of avoiding organized spirituality, I started attending the local Unity Church in February and have been pleasantly surprised with that experience so far.

A few things always remain constant: love of gardening (dirt therapy), good food, dogs, and amazing people in my life.

But with all that has changed for me comes a desire to change things up a bit here. To begin with, as my focus will no longer be just Avalonian, I’ve adjusted the blog subtitle from “Finding Avalon in the Modern World” to “Finding Spirit in the Modern World.” This just seems fitting with all things running through my mind lately. I’ve also upgraded from the free WordPress site so this blog has its own domain name: partingthemists.com.

Of course, I’ve already warned readers that the content would have more diversity, and I plan to start that next week with a post titled “5 Reasons Not to Beat Yourself Up over Past Mistakes,” a topic that has really been on my mind a lot lately. And after that I will post about the Airmid’s Cloak Healing Ritual, something I’ve done a couple times and really love. So stay tuned for those!

Until next time, bright blessings!

Thistle

© 2014 PJ Graham

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