Shedding My Skin

Death from the Motherpeace Tarot

2018 is a Death card year for me.* The Death card from the Motherpeace Tarot is one of my favorites. It includes Birch trees, which in Celtic lore represent new beginnings and rebirth, but it also shows death. So many Death cards tend to skip straight to the rebirth part, ignoring that death has to happen first.

Death and transformation aren’t easy processes. You get reduced down to bare bones like the skeleton in this picture. In fact, my word of the year has ended up being “Bones,” meaning what is most foundational to me? What is most essential to me? What really matters? I’m working my way down to the bare bones of many things in my life.

I also love the image of the snake shedding its skin in this card. I have a friend who has a pet snake, and every time he molts he becomes lethargic, stops eating, and his eyes cloud over. Each time she worries that he isn’t going to make it through the molt. So far he’s made it through every time, emerging fresh and new. However, it obviously is not an easy or a comfortable process for him, and death and transformation aren’t easy or comfortable processes for us either.

I feel like I’m in the process of shedding my own skin. My skin feels itchy and uncomfortable. It feels like many things in my life don’t “fit” me any more. However, I don’t know what I’m moving towards, I don’t know what’s next. Like physical death, experiencing transformation in our lives is moving into the unknown. It’s a process, and it moves in its own time, and right now I just feel like all I can do is wait and see what happens next.

That’s why I haven’t been blogging as much—I don’t really have all that much to say. My life feels like it is in flux. I’m not quite sure who I am right now, or who I am becoming. It is both frightening and exciting. It is tempting to try and do something to speed up the process, but I’m realizing that isn’t possible. Like my friend’s snake, I have to just let myself go through it, and trust that I’ll emerge fresh and new on the other side.

I feel like I am questioning everything right now, getting down the bare bones of everything in my life. The constant questions I keep asking myself are things like, “Does xyz really matter to me?” “Do I really care about xyz, or am I doing it because I think I ‘should’?” “What do I really want? What matters to me?” It is liberating to ask these questions, but I don’t always have the answers. Sometimes I just have to live with the questions and trust that I’ll find my answers eventually.

And like the snake, I find myself retreating during this process, becoming lethargic and withdrawn. I go to work, I take walks, I go to bed early. I’ve also recently started working on old crewel kits from the ’70s that I find on eBay. They are almost like paint-by-numbers—no counting, no thinking, just lots of stitching, which I find soothing. There’s is also a sense of nostalgia, looking back to my childhood in the late ’70s/early ’80s that makes working on these kits a pleasure. Again, it feels like I’m getting down to just the bare bones of life. It’s simple. It feels right for me right now.

So I’ll most likely continue to be somewhat quiet as I make my way through this period of transformation in my life. It is feeling very good to just experience things without having to put them into words. I’m realizing that words aren’t always enough, and sometimes they even get in the way of truly experiencing our lives. I’m enjoying just being and feeling and not having to think and analyze it all.

Here’s to getting down to the bare bones and finding our true foundations!

*To determine your personal tarot year card, add 2018 + your birth month + your birth day. For example, if you were born on 2/15, you’d add 2018+2+15=2035. Then add those numbers together: 2+0+3+5=10. Your personal year card would be 10, The Wheel of Fortune. If the numbers add up to 22, your card is 0, The Fool. If they add up to 23 or more, reduce them again by adding the two digits together, for example if you have 29, 2+9=11, and your year card is 11, Justice. This system was devised my Mary K. Greer, and more information about tarot year cards can be found in her books Tarot for Yourself, and Who Are You in the Tarot? 

Visiting the Goddess Temple: A Goddess Rosary Meditation

A few months ago as I was praying with my Goddess rosary, I found myself visualizing the rosary beads as steps into and through a Goddess temple. Since then, this meditation has become a regular part of my work with my prayer beads, and I wanted to share it with you. As always, feel free to edit the meditation elements and the prayers to suit your own beliefs.

In this meditation, you will be visualizing yourself entering and moving through a Goddess temple of your own design. Allow yourself to build it in you mind’s eye, however you want it to look. What is it made out of? Stone? Wood? Marble? What is the shape of the temple? Round? Square? Or perhaps it is a grove of trees or a cave. As I walk you through the meditation below, adjust the imagery to fit your Goddess temple. For example in my meditation I picture myself going up steps, but maybe you are stepping down into a cave, or through a sacred arch into a grove of trees. Create the perfect temple for yourself and your Goddess!

This meditation specifically follows the layout of the rosaries that I make, and I’ve provided an anatomy of one of them below so you can follow along, but you could adapt this to suit any rosary or prayer beads that you use.

Anatomy of the rosary I use for this meditation

On the pendant, I speak a spontaneous prayer and generally set an intention for my prayer session. You could say something as simple as, “Goddess, I come into your presence and ask your blessing upon this time spent with you.”

On the first introductory bead, imagine that you are standing on the first step leading up to the temple door. It is the step dedicated to the Maiden Goddess. Say a prayer to the Maiden such as, “May my heart be open to your lightness, joy and inspiration.”

On the next introductory bead, you move onto the next temple step, dedicated to the Mother Goddess. Say a prayer such as, “May my heart be open in gratitude for your nourishment and care.”

On the last introductory bead, step up onto the third step, dedicated to the Crone Goddess. Say a prayer such as, “May my heart be open to your deep wisdom and the mysteries of the dark.”

On the center bead, imagine you are now standing in the open doorway of the temple and say the Great Goddess Prayer:

Honor be to the Great Goddess, to the Mystery, to the Oneness of All. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, love without end. So mote it be.

As you begin the first section of main beads, imagine that you are now standing in front of an altar dedicated to the Maiden. Picture what images and items decorate this altar. Say the following prayer, speaking one line per bead (or alternatively, you can say the prayer nine times, once on each bead):

Gracious Maiden,
I welcome your presence,
I open my heart to your love,
I am blessed by your grace,
As all of creation is blessed.
Maiden of Wonder, Bringer of Light,
May I walk with you,
Today and always.
Blessed be.

When you come to the transition beads, picture yourself turning to face the center of the temple, where there is a representation of the Great Goddess, the Goddess as One, Unity, or Mystery, however you want to visualize Her, and whatever symbol  you see representing Her. Repeat the Great Goddess Prayer:

Honor be to the Great Goddess, to the Mystery, to the Oneness of All. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, love without end. So mote it be.

As you move to the second set of main beads, you are now standing before the Mother altar. Picture what images and items decorate this altar. Say the following prayer, speaking one line per bead (or alternatively, you can say the prayer nine times, once on each bead):

Gracious Mother,
I welcome your presence,
I open my heart to your love,
I am blessed by your grace,
As all of creation is blessed.
Nourishing Mother, Giver of Life,
May I walk with you,
Today and always.
Blessed be.

On the transition bead, again turn to face the center of the temple and repeat the Great Goddess Prayer:

Honor be to the Great Goddess, to the Mystery, to the Oneness of All. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, love without end. So mote it be.

At the third set of main beads, you are standing before the Crone altar. Visualize what images and items decorate this altar. Say the following prayer, speaking one line per bead (or alternatively, you can say the prayer nine times, once on each bead):

Gracious Crone,
I welcome your presence,
I open my heart to your love,
I am blessed by your grace,
As all of creation is blessed.
Cauldron of Transformation, Dark Lady of Wisdom,
May I walk with you,
Today and always.
Blessed be.

On the center bead, face the center of the temple once more and say this prayer:

Our Lady, in whom we live, move, and have our being,
Blessed be your many names.
From you all things emerge, and unto you all things return.
Open our hearts, that we may be filled with compassion.
Guide us, that we may walk with wisdom.
Help us to know our connection to all things.
For you dwell among us, within us, around us,
And we are blessed by your grace, your power, and your love.
And so it is.

Move back down the introductory beads, and back down the steps of the temple, giving thanks to the Crone, the Mother, and the Maiden as you descend.

On the pendant, you can express your gratitude for this time of prayer and meditation.

I have found this combination of meditation and prayer to be very rich, and I hope you will find it a blessing as well.

Blessed be!

Easing Into 2018

I hope everyone is having a lovely winter holiday season!

This year, I have been taking the time between Winter Solstice and New Year’s Day as a “time out of time,” something I learned from Joanna Powell Colbert, who learned it from Waverly Fitzgerald. It is a time to rest, reflect on 2017, and begin dreaming for 2018.

Enjoying a nature walk at a local county park yesterday on a cool, gray day.

As much as possible I’ve been letting myself use this as a retreat time, and to take a break from work, chores, and any other things I feel like I “should” be doing. I’ve been taking rambling nature walks (I’d fallen out of the habit of this, and I’ve missed it!) and doing some nature journaling. I’ve been spending my evenings quietly reading, playing in my journal, writing, and reflecting. I’ve spent the past couple of days doing a review of 2017 using a method which I also learned from Joanna Powell Colbert many years ago, and the next few days will be about dreaming up my goals for 2018, making a few plans, and creating vision pages for my dreams and goals in my journal.

I’m a firm believer in easing into the New Year, though. January is still quiet and dark, and it isn’t easy to find the energy to suddenly jump into several new projects. We don’t need to force ourselves to move against the natural flow of energy this time of year. We can spend all of January resting, reflecting, and dreaming if we would like to, gradually working our way into our new plans and projects as the days lengthen and we feel our own energy returning.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite ideas and resources for reflecting on 2017, and planning for 2018, and I hope some of them will  be helpful if you find yourself wanting to take some time to retreat and reflect this time of year, too.

  • Reflect on 2017 following the suggestions in Reflecting on the Year Gone By, by Joanna Powell Colbert. This is the method I’ve been using for many years to review the past year.
  • Do a ritual to let go of your disappointments and challenges from 2017. Write them down and burn the paper, or put it through the shredder and toss it in the trash (outside the house would be best). Or write them on leaves with a soft pencil, and toss the leaves into a river or stream to be carried away (I think this is what I’ll be doing with my disappointments!).
  • Do a Tarot Spread for the New Year, by Joann Powell Colbert. I’ve been doing this spread every year for many years, and it is always full of wonderful insights. If you did a New Year tarot spread last year, review it and see how it related to the events of this year.
  • Ask yourself, “What is my heart longing for in 2018?” and use my Intuitive Collage technique to look for answers.
  • Reflect on your tarot year card, and how it related to the events of the past year. Look at your upcoming tarot year card and consider how it may influence the upcoming year.*
  • Start writing down some of your dreams and goals for 2018, and sketching out some rough plans and action steps to make them happen. Create a vision board of your goals (or several boards, one for each goal), or create vision collages in your journal with images and affirmations that inspire you. Try not to overwhelm yourself! Just choose two or three things to focus on for now, and give yourself permission to ease into them. You could use January as an information gathering time (for instance researching healthy eating, or finding reviews of yoga studios in your area if health and fitness is one of your dreams), rather than an action-taking time.
  • Most importantly, schedule as much down-time as you can into the next week or two. It’s hard to figure out what we really want if we don’t have the time and space to hear our own hearts whispering to us. Silence is important. Doing nothing is important. Give yourself an hour or two in the evening to sit  in silence with soft lighting and just daydream. Keep your journal handy to make notes of any ideas that come to you while you let your mind wander. You don’t have to make decisions now, just dream and make notes.

May 2018 be all that you want it to be!

*To determine your personal tarot year card, add 2017 (or 2018 for the  new year)+your birth month+your birth day. For example, if you were born on 2/15, you’d add 2017+2+15=2034. Then add those numbers together: 2+0+3+4=9. Your personal year card would be 9, The Hermit. If the numbers add up to 22, your card is 0, The Fool. If they add up to 23 or more, reduce them again by adding the two digits together, for example if you have 28, 2+8=10, and your year card is 10, The Wheel of Fortune. This system was devised my Mary K. Greer, and more information about tarot year cards can be found in her books Tarot for Yourself, and Who Are You in the Tarot? 

Gratitude Beads and The Spiral Path Book of Days Review

My month off from social media was wonderful! I’m still considering how much social media I want to go back to, and I may not be blogging quite as often through the late fall and winter as I continue to practice staying off of my phone and computer. However, I had a couple of things that I wanted to share.

I found that being off social media allowed me to be much more creative, and one of the things I came up with was a new item for my shop: gratitude beads. I created a strand for myself and I have been using them every night before I turn out the lights. They have nine beads, and I say one thing I am grateful for from that day on each bead. I can easily mix and match the charms on each end, so if you have a special request, please feel free to send me a message on Etsy. They would make great gifts for the upcoming holidays!

I also wanted to share the wonderful new daily journal that I will be using for late 2017 and 2018: The Spiral Path Book of Days. I have a regular journal where I do the bulk of my writing, but several years ago I got into the habit of doing quick daily entries in a dated book every day. I have tried a variety of journals and planners over the years, but hadn’t yet found the “perfect” one.

I wanted a daily journal with the months laid out according to the moon, plenty of room to write every day, the daily astrological signs for the moon, as well as space for monthly planning and divination. With The Spiral Path Book of Days I got all of that and more!

The book is a great size, 9 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, which allows plenty of space for writing. There is a plethora of astrological information and a tarot layout to do for the whole year. Each month includes a moon wheel for the month, a four-element tarot layout, monthly planning pages, three blank pages to use as you would like, and a nice amount of space for each day to make your daily journal entry.

Each month starts at the new moon (the entire calendar starts with the upcoming New Moon in Scorpio on 11/18), and you are encouraged to do you monthly planning keeping in mind the astrological sign of the New Moon and how it relates to your natal chart.

The calendar includes pages of Amy Topham’s beautiful artwork, and the design and quality is wonderful. The pages turn easily on the spiral binding, and there pockets on both the front and back covers. The paper is a heavyweight, slightly coated paper, so not all writing utensils may work perfectly on it, but my favorite pens, Uniball Vision (not Vision Elites—they use a different ink!) work wonderfully on it. I’ve also found that LePen pens work great on coated paper, and they come in all sorts of wonderful colors and don’t get yellow ghosting around them over time like Sharpies can.

The calendar also includes all eight holidays/Sabbats and tarot spreads for the Equinoxes and Solstices (with wonderful artwork!). The dates of the holidays/Sabbats are marked on their actual astrological cross-quarter days, rather than the usual calendar dates.

I can’t wait to get started using my new daily journal!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween/Hallowmas/Samhain! I have decided to try celebrating on the actual astrological cross-quarter dates this year, so I will be celebrating on November 7th. It will be an interesting experiment!

May your descent into Winter be blessed!

It’s Introvert Season

October is such a beautiful month! We still have blue skies and some warm days, but there is a chill in the air, and rainy days are scattered among the sunny ones.

Autumn is also what I like to think of as “introvert season.” I find myself wanting to draw inside myself. I am drawn to read more, to journal more, and to engage with the outside world a little less.

To that end, I have decided to take October off from social media and from blogging.

A few days ago I deactivated my Facebook account (I almost never post there, but would check it several times a day), removed the Instagram app from my phone (although I may check in on my computer from time to time), and removed any other apps and links that had become time sucks for me.

I thought I’d miss those things, but honestly so far it has been liberating. Being online was beginning to feel like being constantly yelled at by thousands of people who were telling me what they think I should feel, think, do, or say. It was exhausting, and I was wasting so much time.

After only a few days of no social media, I find that I am able to focus better, I’m being more creative, I’m reading more, I’m journaling more, and I’m talking to real, live people (in small doses, of course)!

Part of the impetus for taking a month off was reading Brene Brown’s new book Braving the Wilderness. Her book made me think about true connection, and what role social media actually plays for me in truly connecting with other people. I highly recommend reading this book—it is relatively short, but it is packed with so much food for thought.

I will wait until November to do another 15 Quiet Minutes post, but in the meantime I highly recommend trying the last 15 Quiet Minutes practice, Tarot Prayers and Affirmations. I have been using this practice in the evenings and I am finding so much new depth in the tarot and in my prayer practice.

I have also recently posted some new rosaries to my Etsy shop to honor the Dark Goddess, whom many of us may find ourselves connecting with this time of year.

Lapis Lazuli & Owl Rosary

Black Obsidian and Labradorite Crescent Moon Rosary

Green Sheen Obsidian Pocket Prayer Beads (these have a beautiful green sheen in bright light)

I hope you have a wonderful October and a blessed Hallowmas/Samhain!

Celebrating Autumn Equinox: A Simple Ritual of Thanksgiving

My Autumn Equinox altar.

I feel like I could say that every holiday is my favorite one when it arrives, but this year I am especially excited about Autumn Equinox, which will be on Friday, September 22nd. It has been a long, hot, smokey summer, and the return of the autumn rains here in the northwest has me ready to cozy up on the couch with my knitting, my journal, and a good book to thoroughly enjoy the cool, showery weather. I’m already feeling the pull to turn inside myself as we enter this introspective season.

Autumn Equinox is also a time of giving thanks for what we have harvested in our lives so far this year, and I like to include a ritual of gratitude during my celebrations.

For this simple ritual, you’ll need a little bowl of some small item like dried beans, dried rose hips, rice, nuts, sunflower seeds, or a grain of some kind. You want whatever you use to be large enough to pick up piece by piece, so millet or quinoa might not be the best choice! You’ll also want a small jar or another bowl to transfer the items into.

You can do this as part of a larger ritual, or this can be your whole Autumn Equinox celebration.

Light a candle and cast a circle if you would like to. Or you could sit outside to do this ritual enjoying the sights and smells of autumn.

Take a few deep breaths and center yourself. Now, pick up one bean (or whatever you are using) and say something that you are grateful for, and transfer it to the other bowl or jar. Keep going until all your items have been transferred from one bowl to the other. You may have to get creative as you go on, depending on how many items you started out with, but it will help you remember all the things you are grateful for, even things you may not think of very often like having clean water flowing from your faucets, or the fan that kept you cool through the summer heat.

I keep this “gratitude bowl” on my Autumn Equinox altar, to help remind me of all the blessings in my life, and of all that I have harvested this year, big and small.

This year, I will also be adding a small jar of rainwater to my altar in thanksgiving for the return of the rains that have helped dampen the fires that have been burning here in the west, and have cleared the air of smoke. Blessed be the rain! Blessed be fresh air!

If you’d like, you can also do the Autumn Equinox tarot spread that I shared last year.

What seasonal changes are you seeing where you live? How do you like to honor the change in seasons from summer to fall?

May you have a blessed Autumn Equinox and a blessed fall!

15 Quiet Minutes: Tarot Prayers and Affirmations

The Halloween Tarot and Agate Wolf Pocket Prayer Beads (available in my Etsy shop)

I’m very excited about this 15 Quiet Minutes practice because it combines two of my favorite things—tarot and prayer beads!

For this practice you will need a tarot or oracle deck, and a set of prayer beads if you have them, as well as some paper and a pen or pencil. However, you can still do the practice even if you don’t have a tarot or oracle deck or prayer beads. There are many great inexpensive tarot apps for your phone (I especially like those from The Fool’s Dog), and you can also find some free one-card tarot readings here

If you don’t have prayer beads, there are also other options. You could simply take a thick piece of string and tie knots in it. Try tying seven knots, or nine, whatever number speaks to you. Or you can fill a small bowl with stones, dried beans—anything, really, just be creative! As you say you prayer or affirmation you’ll remove one item from the bowl. Once the bowl is empty, you have completed your number of prayers or affirmations.

I personally like to do this practice with one of my pocket prayer beads that has 21 beads, but you can use any number of beads (or knots, stones, beans, etc.) that you like.

First, take a few deep breaths and quiet your mind while holding your tarot or oracle deck. Once you feel ready, ask what message you most need to hear at this time, and draw a card from your deck. If you already draw a tarot or oracle card every day, you could also use the card you’ve already drawn for the day. For this example I used The Halloween Tarot, because it feels like fall today, and I’m already looking forward to Halloween! I drew the Page of Bats (Swords).

The Page of Bats from The Halloween Tarot.

Now, write a quick prayer or affirmation based on the card you drew. Don’t stress over this part—it doesn’t have to be brilliant or perfect! You may immediately know what the card means for you right now, and be able to write an affirmation. Some books that come with tarot and oracle decks already include an affirmation for each card, and you can use that if it is speaks to you.

If you are having trouble creating a prayer or affirmation, pick out one image on the card that stands out to you. For example, on my card, my eye was drawn to the glasses she is holding and the binoculars tucked inside her bag. So I might write an affirmation such as: “I clearly see the truth in the situations that surround me.” She also looks to me like she is on an adventure, braving the darkness in search of her truth. So a prayer might be something like, “May I face the darkness bravely, may I find my own truth.”

What is the difference between a prayer and an affirmation? This is not a formal definition, but this is how I see it. Affirmations are positive statements, usually written as “I,” that affirm you already have the quality, item, etc. you wish to possess. “I communicate clearly and maintain my boundaries with those around me,” or “I do work that fulfills me and supports all my financial needs.” Those are examples of affirmations.

I think of prayers more as dialog with the Divine, so I write them differently. I might write the above statements as “May I communicate clearly and maintain boundaries with those around me,” or “May I find work that fulfills me and supports all my financial needs.” I see prayers as asking for assistance with creating these things in my life, and opening myself up to Divine inspiration and communication to help move me towards these goals.

Once you have written your affirmation or prayer, use your prayer beads to repeat it however many times you choose. If it really resonates with you, you might want to keep the card you drew on your altar and repeat the prayer or affirmation for several days. If you keep a tarot or oracle journal, you may want to make a note of your prayers or affirmations so you can refer back to them, or write them in the book that goes with your deck.

This is a great practice for getting to know your tarot or oracle deck better, as well as taking regular quiet time for prayer and affirmation in your day-to-day life.

Let me know if you have any questions and may you have a blessed Dark Moon tonight!