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!

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!

Discovering the Benefits of Praying with Prayer Beads

One of my handmade rosaries (available in my Etsy shop).

I had an interesting experience last week. I haven’t been using my prayer beads as regularly as usual over the past few weeks, but I always have a rosary or two beside my bed. As I climbed into bed one night last week, I felt the urge to pick up my rosary and pray, even though I really wasn’t feeling very spiritual that evening. But as soon as I picked up my beads and started repeating the familiar prayers, I felt…calm. Centered. Connected to Goddess. It was like all of the prayers I had prayed with my beads were still contained within them, a sort of magic that transported me into a space of connection with and devotion to Goddess, just by picking up the beads and repeating the prayers I have prayed so many times before.

This wasn’t a flashing lights and trumpets kind of experience, it was a quiet and gentle, but it was still profound. First, it showed me the benefit of regular spiritual practice. Our spiritual practice isn’t going to be filled with sparkles and fairy dust every day, but some days it will. And when we are in a difficult or dark place, turning to those practices we have done so many times before can help us find our connection to the Divine again, can help us find the spark of light in the darkness. There is a kind of muscle memory in our practices that helps imprint the good experiences we have had while doing them in the past, and sometimes just by going through the motions, we can move ourselves back into the experience of those positive moments again.

I have had a similar experiences while knitting or cross stitching. It seems that when we are doing something repetitive and engaging our hands in the process, our minds retain information and experiences more easily. I actually had an organic chemistry professor in college who encouraged us to knit or crochet in class because he thought we retained the information better than when we were furiously trying to take notes. Often when I’m working on a needlework project, and pick it up again, I’ll have vivid memories of what I was watching or listening to the last time I worked on it.

In a bit of wonderful synchronicity, the radio show “To the Best of Our Knowledge” did a whole episode yesterday on handwork, and how doing things like knitting and drawing can help us become calm and better retain information. I also found this study showing the physical benefits of repetitive prayers and mantras.

I think the reason I love working with prayer beads so much is that it combines both repetitive prayer and the tactile sensation of moving beads through our hands—a two-for-one combo of practices that are known to help us move into a calm, centered, meditative state. It’s no wonder that using prayer beads is a popular practice in so many religions.

Some days praying with my beads is just routine. Some days my mind wanders and I have trouble focusing. But by repeating the practice, I realize now that I’m creating a bit of magic for myself that can help me through the difficult times in my life. I’m creating a connection to Goddess that is there for me when I most need it. Sometimes just picking up my beads and holding them makes me feel better.

What spiritual practices do you use, and how have they helped you through the challenges in your life? I’d love to know!

Goddess Rosaries & Prayer Beads Now For Sale in My Etsy Shop!

A selection of the Goddess rosaries & prayer beads that are currently available

My Etsy shop is now open! Yay!

Whew, it was a lot of work getting it set up, learning the best ways to take and edit photos,  and figuring out the Etsy site (which is actually pretty user-friendly). I am grateful for all of the wonderful people who have made Etsy-related YouTube videos and written tutorials.

However, now that it is all setup and ready to go, I can get back to making more rosaries and prayer beads! Yesterday I was determined to take the day off from obsessing about my shop, but I was itching to make some prayer beads for myself using some of the aqua beads pictured in the top right of the photo above.

My aqua pocket prayer beads.

I love them! I have been carrying them everywhere with me since I made them. So, I decided I need to make some more pocket-sized prayer beads to add to the shop. That’s my task for today, and hopefully they will be up in the shop tomorrow.

Please let me know if you have any questions about my shop or the products offered. I’d also love any feedback you might have like suggestions for colors or other items you’d like to see. Feel free to contact me here or convo me on Etsy.

Bright blessings to you all!

Catching Up

teteatetes

These tete-a-tetes were the first flowers to bloom in my yard. They are so cheerful!

I can hardly believe that it has been a couple of weeks since I last posted. I once had someone say to me, very matter-of-factly, “Well, you know, time is speeding up.” I’m starting to believe it!

This past weekend I attended a Women’s March “huddle” here in town. I was so excited that one was organized in my town, which tends to be pretty conservative. Over 50 people showed up, mostly women, but there were a few men, too. It was so nice to realize that there are other people in my community that care about the same issues I do! I’m strongly introverted, and tend not to be a “joiner,” preferring one-on-one interactions to groups, but I loved the energy of this meeting and am looking forward to seeing what comes next.

During the huddle, I also learned that there is a Red Tent group that meets here in town every month, and I plan to attend that next week. It isn’t easy to  move out of my comfort zone, but I really do enjoy meeting new people, and I have been wanting to find ways to connect with like-minded local women. There is hope for this introvert yet!

I have also been doing a lot of reading, focusing mainly on the women’s spirituality books I’ve been collecting lately. I especially enjoyed Barbara Ardinger’s A Woman’s Book of Rituals & Celebrations. I have a blog post or two coming soon that were inspired by ideas in this book.

The main thing that has been keeping me busy lately is creating Goddess rosaries and prayer beads to sell. My rosary posts are by far the most popular posts on my blog, and I absolutely love creating rosaries, so I decided to start selling them for people who want to work with prayer beads, but don’t want to create their own. I’ve been beading every day as well as trying to figure out the whole business side of things. This weekend I’ll be working on the art that will go in the pendants for each rosary. I plan to open my Etsy shop around the beginning of March, and I’m really excited. This is turning out to be a lot of fun!

You may also have noticed that the name of my blog has changed. I had chosen “The Verdant Way” several years ago, but was never completely happy with it. It isn’t the easiest name to say, and I get a lot of blank looks from people who aren’t sure what “verdant” means, since it isn’t in common usage these days. I spent a couple of weeks tossing around new names, and one night as I was drifting off to sleep “Earth Water Spirit” popped into my head. I got up and wrote it down and lived with it for a few days, growing to like it more and more. Amazingly, the domain name was available, and it just felt like it was meant to be!

So that’s what’s been going on in my life the past couple of weeks. I have a lot of ideas and projects taking root right now, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you as they begin to bloom (yep, I had to use a spring metaphor—’tis the season, right?). Are you feeling new ideas and projects stirring inside you as spring arrives, too?

Goddess Rosaries and Prayer Beads, Part 3: Prayers

(This is the third post of a three-part series. See Part 1 for information on rosary styles and Part 2 for rosary design ideas.)

Update 3/4/17: Please visit my shop on Etsy to see my selection of handmade Goddess rosaries and prayer beads! 

Once you have purchased or made a Goddess rosary, it is time to use it! But how? The true answer is—any way you want to, really! There is no one right way to use your prayer beads, so please use the information below as a starting point, but allow your own creativity and intuition to guide you to find the best way for you to work with your beads.

First, let’s look at the anatomy of a traditional-style rosary. I have made up some names for the sections of the rosary to make this explanation easier, but you can call them whatever you’d like.

rosaryhowto

Anatomy of a traditional-style rosary.

Starting on the pendant, you can say a prayer that you’ve created to begin your rosary prayers, or you could dedicate your prayer session to a particular goal or purpose, which is what I usually do. You might say, “I dedicate these prayers to creating peace and understanding between people in our country,” or “I dedicate these prayers to healing my anxiety.” Your purpose can be different each time. I usually choose something intuitively that seems most important to me at that moment.

On the introductory beads, you can pray the same prayer that you will use on the main beads, such as the “Gracious Goddess” prayer below. You could also invoke earth, sea and sky, or Maiden, Mother, and Crone. I like to use what I call “presence prayers” on these beads, which I first discovered on Lunaea Weatherstone’s website, and I believe were originally inspired by a prayer to Mary in the Carmina Gadelica. Basically, you say, “I come into your presence, thou…” and fill in the blank with whatever inspires you. For example you might use: Mistress of Magic, Foundation of All, Bright Lady, Goddess of Wisdom, She Who Binds Up Broken Hearts, etc. If “thou” doesn’t work for you, feel free to leave it out.

On the center bead, you can use the same prayer you will use on the transition beads, such as the “Our Mother” or the “Glory Be” prayers below. I usually use the “Glory Be” prayer on this bead.

On the main beads you have two options. Traditionally you would repeat the same prayer, such as the “Gracious Goddess” prayer below, on each bead. I find this works best for creating a meditative, trance-like state. However, if I really want to focus on the words of the prayer, I will say one line of the prayer slowly on each bead. You’ll notice that the “Gracious Goddess” prayer has nine lines and my rosary has nine main beads in each section, so I say one line on each bead. My Sophia rosary has seven main beads in each section, and my “Sophia Prayer” has seven lines.

sophia

Sophia rosary.

On the transition beads, you can use a prayer like “Our Mother” or “Glory Be” or you can do another presence prayer, which is what I have been doing most often lately.

You continue in this pattern until you reach the center bead again. This is usually when I say the “Our Mother” prayer, and then I honor the Maiden, Mother, and Crone on the introductory beads, give thanks to Goddess on the pendant and then I’m finished.

If you are just starting out and this all seems confusing, you might want to sketch your rosary and indicate which prayers you want to pray on each bead.

If I am using a more simple rosary that does not have transition beads, etc., I usually just pray the same prayer on each bead all the way around. So on my Brigid rosary I would choose a Brigid prayer below and repeat it on each bead. On my amethyst rosary I often say the “Evening Prayer” on each bead.

Below are some of the prayers I use most often, but I can’t encourage you enough to write your own prayers, because then you will be praying what is in your heart. Your prayers don’t have to be poetic masterpieces. My “Evening Prayer” was written spontaneously one evening and isn’t particularly beautiful or grammatical, but it works for me because it came from my heart.

If you do use prayers that other people have written, feel free to edit and change them as much as you need to for them to feel right for you. If you feel silly saying a certain phrase, or a part of the prayer doesn’t ring true for you, change it! There are very few prayers that I use just as they were written, I almost always end up editing a line or two to make them work for me.


Prayers

Gracious Goddess
Gracious Goddess,
Your presence blesses us,
Your love surrounds us,
Your power sustains us,
All of creation sings your praises.
Holy Mother, Creator of All,
Thank you for walking with us,
Today and always.
Blessed be.

Glory Be
Glory be to the Great Mother, to the Mystery, to the Oneness of All,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
Love without end.
And so it is.
(This was inspired by the Christian Doxology prayer, which I always loved the rhythm of.)

Our Mother
Our Mother, 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.
(The first and third lines of this prayer come from a traditional Feri prayer, but the third line is also part of the Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente, and I also discovered that both these lines are found in the Bible, too—well, except for the “Mother” part!)

Evening Prayer
Mother, please hold me, soothe me, calm me,
For in you I find my center, and in you I find peace.
May all who suffer find solace in you this night.
Blessed be.

Sophia Prayer
Hail Sophia, Lady of Wisdom,
Blessed are you and all your works.
Illuminate our minds with your wisdom,
Kindle our hearts with your love,
Help us to walk in peace and unity
With you, with each other, and with all of creation.
Blessed be.

Brigid Prayer One
Brigid,
Excellent, exalted One,
Bright, golden, quickening flame
Shine your blessing upon us
From your eternal lands,
You, radiant fire of the sun,
You, healing waters of the well.
(By Erin Johnson, from Brigit: Sun of Womanhood, edited by Patricia Monaghan. I added the last line.)

Brigid Prayer Two
The mantle of Brigid about me,
The memory of Brigid within me,
The protection of Brigid keeping me
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness,
This day and always.
Blessed be.
(By Caitlin Matthews, adapted from her poem “Blessing for Hearth-Keepers”)


May your prayers always be heard, and may the presence of the Divine dwell with you always. Blessed be!