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: Spending Time Outside

This 15 Quiet Minutes practice is a simple one, and one of my favorites: simply go outside.

If you live somewhere that you don’t have access to the outdoors, you might have to find a nearby park, cemetery, school yard or anywhere else you can find a bit of quiet and green space, but if possible, I recommend just spending time in your yard or on your balcony.

This is the perfect time of year for this practice, and I spend time on the porch pretty much every evening during the summer. Sometimes I read or journal, but quite often I just watch the birds at the feeders, or lay in my chaise lounge and watch the trees above me dance in the breeze.

The only parameters for the practice are taking fifteen minutes of quiet outdoors. Very simple! But if you want to add something to your practice, you could try the Elemental Centering Meditation. Or you could do a bit of nature journaling by writing down what you observe happening around you: the temperature, the weather, the birds you see, the flowers that are in bloom or how your garden vegetables are coming along (I will cover nature journaling in more detail for our next 15 Quiet Minutes practice).

But mostly, just take some time to be still and quiet outside. Listen to the birds calling and singing. Lay in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. Watch the ants scurrying across the sidewalk, the bees visiting the flowers, the fireflies flickering in the dusk (we don’t have fireflies in Oregon, so enjoy them for me if you have them!). Rest your feet in the grass and dig your toes into the warm soil. Notice what you smell and the feel of the air on your skin. Let your mind wander. Take a deep breath and relax. It’s summer, take a break and enjoy it!

Until next time, may you be blessed by the peace of long summer evenings!

A Summer Solstice Tarot Spread

Cards pictured are from Monstarot Tarot Deck, the Gaian Tarot, and Tarot of the Crone. Goddess figures from Brigid’s Grove, and the sun prayer beads are available in my Etsy shop.

Summer Solstice kind of sneaked up on me this year—I can hardly believe it is tomorrow! This year the Solstice falls on different dates, though, depending on your timezone, so for some of you it will be on the 21st.

It is definitely starting to feel like summer here. The high today is supposed to be near 100. At the Grower’s Market this weekend cherries and blueberries were available, as well as lots of lettuces and greens, and a few early cucumbers. My absolute favorite part of summer is enjoying the succession of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. The tomato plants I am growing  are full of flowers and green tomatoes. They’ll enjoy this heat we’re having, even if I don’t!

At this peak of the sun’s energy, we celebrate creativity and the fruit it bears. We celebrate the creative, fertile power of the earth that feeds us, and our own creative energy that brings joy to ourselves and others.

As the sun grows stronger, my thoughts have also been turning to questions about power—how we access it, how we use it, how we fail to claim it, or give it away to others. I am writing here of our own personal power, the power to direct and make choices in our own lives, not “power-over,” i.e. trying to control others, that is the more common association with power in our culture.

This spread for the Summer Solstice looks at these themes of creativity and power, helping us to call on the energy of the sun, even as it begins to wane again, to help us access our own inner power and to light our creative fires.

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel? (From Summer Solstice until Lammas)

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What will fuel my creative fire during this time?
  5. In what area of my life do I most need to claim my own power?
  6. What action(s) can I take to stand firm in my own power and live according to my own values?

I’d love to hear how your reading goes. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about the spread.

May you have a blessed Summer Solstice and a blessed summer season!

Going with the Flow

Flowing with the Rogue River. Goddess pendant from Brigid’s Grove.

I had big plans for the little staycation/personal retreat that I took in May. There was going to be lots of reading! Lots of journaling! Lots of meditation! I also planned to finish my spring cleaning, but other than that I intended to do lots of quiet inner work.

There was one problem with my grandiose plans—I didn’t take into account the energy of the season. If there is one month of the year that is absolutely buzzing with busy energy here in Oregon, it is May. Every week there is a dazzling new array of wildflowers decorating the hills and roadsides. Baby birds are arriving at the feeders noisily begging Mom and Dad for food. Everything is green, lush, vibrant and bursting with life.

With this riot of energy going on around me, I could not sit still. I easily got all my spring cleaning done and then some. But when it came time to read or journal, all I wanted was to get out! I wanted to be out doing things, not sitting around reading and thinking. I fought myself for a few days, feeling like I was wasting all this precious time and not accomplishing what I planned before it finally occurred to me—I was definitely not going with the flow of the seasonal energy.

It is certainly true that we can choose busyness over spiritual practice as a way of avoiding sitting still and facing ourselves, and I’m sure there was some of that going on with me. But I also believe that a big part of my struggle was related to trying to do quiet, introspective things when the whole tide of energy around me was filled with activity. It was also the most active, energetic time for me in my own monthly cycle. With all that energy buzzing around, no wonder I couldn’t sit still!

Over the past few years, I have gotten good at knowing and working with my personal energetic cycles, but this reminded me of how important it is to honor the energetic cycles of nature as well. It isn’t often that I find myself feeling so lively—I would have been much better served by putting that energy to work for me rather than trying to fight it.

This experience has taught me to pay better attention, and to learn to go with the flow of the energy, not only of my personal cycles, but of the cycles of nature as well. If my plans haven’t taken into account the energy of the season, I may find myself swimming against the current, making whatever I am trying to do that much more difficult. It is one of those things I knew intellectually, but apparently needed to be reminded of in a more experiential way.

Do you consciously work with the energy of seasonal or lunar cycles? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

A Tarot Spread for Spring Equinox

Tomorrow, March 20th, the wheel turns again to spring. Some of you may be feeling the fullness of spring already, while I know others are still snowed in. Here we can’t seem to shake endless gray, rainy days, but the flowers are blooming, the bright green grass is springing up, and tree buds are beginning to open.

I have been dealing with lower back spasms for almost a week now, and today I also seem to be coming down with a cold. I don’t get sick or injured very often, so to be both at the same time is a bit mystifying, and also seriously annoying! I had one day this week where I felt better and was able to get out for a visit to the river and a brief walk, but apparently I overdid it, because my back has been painful again ever since. Not being able to get outside or to exercise is making me crazy!

I haven’t gotten to do any of the spring cleaning I had planned to do, or the spring life detox I had been planning. I wish I could say I’ve been using all this downtime wisely by reading great books and meditating a lot, but I’m afraid I’ve mostly been lying on the couch with a heating pad or an ice pack, watching Netflix, and feeling sorry for myself. In my defense, I have tried to read, but it is hard to focus when you are in pain. I have definitely gained greater empathy for those who suffer from chronic pain through this ordeal.

So, I don’t know how much celebrating I’m going to get to do for the Equinox tomorrow, but I will at least do a simple ritual and my tarot reading for the next turn of the wheel. Here is the spread that I will be using:

Question: What do I need to know during this next turn of the wheel?

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What is beginning to bloom in my life?
  5. How can I best support the growth of my projects/ideas/visions?
  6. How can I honor the Maiden within me? What does She most need from me?

If you did the Winter Solstice and Candlemas spreads, you might want to refer back to the cards you drew for the questions “What dream or vision am I nurturing in the dark?” and “What seed is beginning to send out roots within me?”. How do those cards relate to the cards you have drawn for questions 4 and 5 of this spread? Are you seeing the movement of a dream, project, or vision from the dreaming phase during the dark of deep winter, to the blooming phase now in spring? Also, in our culture it is easy to relate dreams and projects to work, or to the way we make a living. Remember that we have dreams and projects in all areas of our lives—relationships, health, spirituality, creativity, our homes, etc., so you don’t have to limit your interpretation only to work issues.

Well, that’s about all the sitting upright my back can handle for now. I think I’ll be doing some Reiki and crystal healing for my back and the impending cold today. Maybe I can head off the cold!

I hope you all have a wonderful Spring Equinox!

Candlemas Day and a Couple of Inspiring Videos

I hope everyone had a wonderful Candlemas/Imbolc! Candlemas Day was absolutely gorgeous here. We had sun and clouds with temperatures in the low 60s—our warmest day since autumn! I wandered around one of my favorite parks, exploring small pools full of shells left behind by the receding river, and feeling my heart leap with joy every time I looked up at the beautiful blue sky. After almost a week of fog, having sun on Candlemas was such a blessing!

candlemaswalk

Exploring pools down by the Applegate River. Sorry that this is so washed out! I was so blinded by the sun that I didn’t get a good picture.

In the evening I celebrated with a ritual and did my Candlemas tarot reading. I didn’t take a picture of my spread since it was too dark to get a decent shot, but it was a positive and encouraging reading. I did, however, get Death as my “overall theme” card for this turn of the wheel. Gulp! Looks like I may be experiencing some major transformation between now and Spring Equinox. Change isn’t easy, especially for this Taurus, but I also know that it really is time to let some things die so I can move forward in a new way.

The daffodil bulbs in my yard are growing by inches every week, and several of them already have buds. Yesterday, on my way to the river I saw a hazelnut tree with catkins unfurled and clouds of yellow pollen being blown away with the wind. At the river, I found that some willow flowers are opening, one of the my favorite signs of early spring (their flowers are those downy catkins often referred to as “pussy willows”).

willowflowers

Willow flowers beginning to open.

Nature has been putting on quite the inspiring show, but I also found inspiration of a more social and political kind from these two videos this past week:

Are you feeling you own energy awaken as the days lengthen and you start to see the very first signs of spring? I know I am, and it feels great!

Bright early spring blessings to you all!