15 Quiet Minutes: Tarot Prayers and Affirmations

The Halloween Tarot

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!

15 Quiet Minutes: Nature Journaling

This 15 Quiet Minutes practice is perfect to pair with other 15 Quiet Minutes practices such as Mindful Walking or Spending Time Outside. The purpose of nature journaling is to pay attention to what is happening in the world around you and to make note of it in some way.

The most basic form of nature journaling is simply to write down what you notice happening in the world around you. You could do this daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Write down the date, and make a note of the weather and/or the moon phase, if you’d like. Make a few notes about the birds you notice, which trees are beginning to leaf out in the spring, or to change colors in the fall, which flowers are blooming or are finished blooming.

An example of a simple written entry, which is the majority of what I do in my nature journal.

If you aren’t familiar with the trees, plants, or birds in your area, look for field guides specific to your state or region to help you identify what you see. Often state college extension services publish field guides, or you can find them in your local bookstore or library. The extension service might also offer classes on tree or bird identification. Other places to look for classes are your local Audubon Society chapter, community colleges, nature parks, or state, county, or city park services. I learned a lot of what I know about bird and tree identification from classes taken from the Portland Audubon Society.

If you enjoy taking pictures, you could print out your photos and use them in your journal. If you like to write poetry, you could write poems about what you see around you. Mary Oliver’s poetry is a great example of what beauty can come from observing the world around you and writing poetry about it.

Sketching and painting what you see is also a great way to learn more about what you are observing. To draw something, you have to really look at it. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist or like your finished product, sketching something will help you see it more clearly. You can color your sketches with watercolor (be sure to use a waterproof pen to sketch if you plan to use watercolor) or colored pencil, or leave them uncolored.

Here I did some very rough sketching, more to focus on the details of what I was looking at rather than to make an artistic drawing. I used watercolor pencils to color the drawings.

Sometimes if I’m feeling ambitious, I will do more sketching and painting in my journal. This was done in ink and watercolor.

You could also choose to focus on something specific in your nature journal, perhaps noting only the weather, the birds that come and go at your feeders, or the changes in the trees in your neighborhood. Or you might focus your journal on a specific location, like your backyard, or a local park that you visit regularly.

On this page I focused on the mountains that I could see from this location.

Taking a few minutes on a regular basis to make a note of what you see around you will help you begin to feel like a part of the land you live on. Before long, the trees, birds, plants, and animals that you observe will begin to feel like old friends. You’ll make note of when the trees leaf out in the spring, when they produce seeds, when the last leaf falls in autumn. You’ll know which birds are at your feeders at different times of year, and when you usually see them feeding their young in the spring or early summer. I have found nature journaling to be a significant part of feeling connected to the world around me.

Happy journaling!

Resources:

Journal: My favorite notebook for nature journaling is Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook in the 9×6 size, which gives me plenty of room to work, while still being portable. It handles watercolor well, but the paper is also smooth enough for writing comfortably. However, a plain old spiral notebook or composition book will work just as well if you don’t plan to use watercolor—don’t worry about finding the “perfect” notebook, just use what you have to get started.

Keeping a Nature Journal, by Clare Walker Leslie & Charles E. Roth – This was the first book I got about nature journaling, and it is still one of my favorites. It covers anything you might want to know about nature journaling, including some drawing exercises. She mostly works in ink or pencil with some colored pencil.

A Pacific Northwest Nature Sketchbook, by Jude Siegel – In spite of “Pacific Northwest” in the title, this book would be wonderful no matter where you live. It looks like it is out of print, but it is worth tracking down a copy. If you are interested in ink and watercolor nature journaling, this book covers almost everything you’ll need to know.

A Summer Update and Saying Goodbye to Posey

Wow, it has been quite a summer, both personally, and for the world at large.

In early July I somehow injured my knee and it still isn’t completely healed. I saw an osteopath recently and she thinks I might have a meniscal tear that could eventually require surgery. Yikes! That injury seemed to slow my momentum, both literally and figuratively. I feel like I’ve been living in suspended animation since then, unable to make any forward progress in any area of my life. It has also kept me from being able to walk much, hike, dance, or do yoga, which is definitely not great for my mental health!

My personal year card is 12 – The Hanged One, and I’m definitely feeling that energy.*** Like I’m stuck, hanging, and have few options except to just let go and surrender to whatever process is taking place right now. It isn’t exactly an unpleasant place to be, in a strange way it is kind of restful, but occasionally my brain kicks in with “You should be busy (fill in the blank with a million things)!” and I start to feel frustrated and overwhelmed with the inertia.

I did my Lammas Tarot Reading on August 2, using the Tarot of the Crone, and my “Overall Theme” card was Shadow of Disks, a barren landscape of physical loss and/or illness. My “Challenge” card was Beast of Wands, which features a cat. My 17 year-old cat Posey was diagnosed with an abdominal tumor (possibly lymphoma) in the spring, and though I don’t normally read tarot in a predictive way, seeing those two cards next to each other I just knew that I would be losing her before Autumn Equinox. The very next day she started to take a turn for the worse.

We were able to get her stabilized and I was blessed with a little over two more weeks of her presence. The weekend before the solar eclipse she was doing quite well, and we had a wonderful couple of days of snuggling on the couch and hanging out in the yard together. Then on August 21st, after the eclipse, I noticed that her legs looked strange and she seemed distressed. I realized that she wasn’t able to move one of her back legs. It was time. We took her to the vet to be put to sleep, and her passing was peaceful, but it wasn’t easy to say goodbye to my wonderful girl. She was the sweetest, most gentle cat I have ever known.

My sweet Posey Rose

I’ve been in a bit of a daze since then, and the same day she died the smoke from the wildfires burning all around us here got really bad, and it hasn’t improved much since then. It hasn’t been possible to spend much time outdoors or to go to the river where I usually seek peace and solace.

To help with the grief, I created a memory journal for Posey, using writing prompts from the book When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering, and Healing by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D. I used this book and the journaling prompts when my other cat Priscilla died three years ago, and I highly recommend it if you are dealing with the loss of a pet.

I created a little memorial altar to her on the evening of her death with a pink candle carved with a heart and a rainbow, a few of her favorite toys, and her food and water dishes. I lit the candle each evening for the first three nights after she died and let it burn out on the third night to light her way on the next phase of her journey. I do believe that all souls move on after death in some capacity, and I hope that we’ll be reunited with those we’ve loved, though perhaps not in the forms we know them now.

So, it has not been an easy summer, or a particularly pleasant one, but somehow it all feels okay, like this is a necessary transition period that I need to make my way through.

And good things have happened, too! I took Lisa Sonora’s Creative + Practice course, and have fallen even more in love with creative journaling. Regular creative practice and journaling has been a big support for me through all of these challenges.

I adopted a kitty I named Winnie from our local shelter, because I just couldn’t stand having a completely quiet, empty house after Posey was gone. Winnie is about a year old and is playful, affectionate, and silly—she makes me laugh on a regular basis and has definitely helped with the grieving process. I like to think that welcoming her into the house and thereby freeing up room for another kitty to be saved at the shelter honors Posey’s life, since she was a stray, too.

Winnie

I’ve also started learning macrame (because I really need another hobby—ha!), and have been enjoying it. There is something very soothing about tying knots over and over again.

I am really looking forward to fall, and to the rains returning. We desperately need some rain to dampen down the fires, clear out the smoke, and give all the firefighters and those who are fearing for their homes and properties a break.

My heart has also been grieved by the events in Charlottesville, and the flooding in Texas and South Asia. I don’t even have words for all that has been happening in our country and across the world. It takes time for me to process these kind of things, and I’m still sitting with it all. It really has been quite a summer, hasn’t it?

I plan to get back to regular blogging now, and will have a new 15 Quiet Minutes post up for next week’s full moon. I also added a few new rosaries to my Etsy shop (update 6.30.18, my shop is now closed) yesterday. I’m especially smitten with this labradorite one, its energy is perfect for the transition into the dark part of the year.

I guess all we can do is hang in there. We’ll get through all of this, and hopefully we’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Blessings.

***To determine your personal tarot year card, add 2017+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?.

A Temporary Hiatus

Hello everyone! Normally I would be posting my next 15 Quiet Minutes post tomorrow for the Full Moon, but I’m going to be taking a bit of time off from the blog.

My 17 year-old cat has a large mass in her abdomen that was diagnosed in the spring. She has been doing very well on her medication, but she suddenly took a turn for the worse on Friday. She is stable now, but I don’t really know how much time she has left.

Spending time with her as well as experiencing the grief of knowing it will soon be time to make the choice to let her go is pretty much taking up all of my energy and bandwidth right now.

I will get back to blogging as soon as I am able. Hug your fur-babies tightly for me! It is such a blessing to share our lives with them, but saying goodbye is so painful.

Lammas Musings and Tarot Spread

It’s harvest time! Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will be celebrating Lammas, or Lughnasadh, on August 1 or 2, depending on your preference.

Lammas is a holiday that tends to get overlooked a lot of the time, although it is one of my favorites. Like its sister holiday, Candlemas (or Imbolc), on the opposite side of the wheel, it is the beginning of a major seasonal transition. While August is often one of the hottest months here in Oregon (in fact, we are supposed to be over 100 all this week, possibly even up to 113, setting a record for the hottest temperature ever recorded here), the gradual shift to autumn is apparent in the shortening days and the autumnal slant of the light as we move toward September.

This is also a time of abundant harvest. In my area melons, peaches, blackberries, cucumbers, corn and tomatoes are ripening quickly, and I’m enjoying fresh local fruits and veggies with every meal. I am, however, a little worried about what this week’s excessive heat might do to the harvest, and will be keeping my little tomato plants well-watered this week. Thank Goddess that we had a wet winter with a lot of snow in the mountains, so we still have plenty of water available for irrigation for our farmers right now.

In our personal lives, this is a good time to take stock of our year so far and see where we are. What have we harvested so far this year? What can we be grateful for? And what might need to be sacrificed in order to keep ourselves on track towards our goals and dreams?

Sacrifice can be a scary word, and it can come with a lot of baggage in a culture that often tells women that they should sacrifice their own health, dreams, time, and comfort for the sake of others. But Lammas is the season of sacrifice, when plants are harvested and die to feed us and other animals, continuing the circle of life.

Sadly, it is true that we can’t have it all. To make positive changes in our lives, we will have to sacrifice something to make room for it, whether that is a limiting belief, a way of interacting with others, an attitude, an activity that we may enjoy, or perhaps one that we simply use to procrastinate. I’ve been learning this lesson lately as I work to limit the time I spend watching Netflix so that I have time to read, paint, journal, and do other activities that really fill me up instead of just zoning out in front of the TV (I still get to do that occasionally though—balance!). I can’t watch a lot of TV and read lots of books and create lots of art, there just isn’t enough time in the day. I had to decide which of these things I was willing to sacrifice. But giving up our habits is never easy or comfortable.

This Lammas tarot spread explores these themes of harvest and sacrifice as we move through this transitional season toward Autumn Equinox.

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

  1. Overall Theme
  2. Key Opportunity
  3. Key Challenge
  4. What is my most important harvest at this time?
  5. What might I need to sacrifice in order to ensure a full harvest?
  6. What action(s) can I take to share my abundance with others?

It has not been the easiest year, and I am feeling that, too. If you feel like you haven’t harvested anything, that none of your hopes and dreams for the year seem to be manifesting, try not to give in to a sense of despair. The cards you draw will show you that something is being harvested right now. It may not be something huge, it may be simply that you have made a small change, like drinking more water, that is benefiting your health. Or perhaps you’ve taken up journaling again, and as a result are starting to listen to your inner voice.

I feel like the Wheel of the Year often gets associated with working on big, lofty goals and dreams, and that is wonderful, but that isn’t appropriate for all of us at all times. Some of us may be making small, but important, changes to improve our lives. Celebrate those little harvests, too. I got just as excited about the first tiny tomato that ripened on my plants as I will about the large tomatoes that I will soon be harvesting. In fact, when they all start ripening at once it can actually get a little overwhelming as I try to figure out what to do with them all! So celebrate your small victories and your tiny tomato harvests, because they matter, too.

Also, if you are looking for something delicious to make to celebrate Lammas, I made this Cheese, Herb & Garlic Quick Bread last year, and it was so delicious. I highly recommend it!

Blessed Lammas to you all!

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!

15 Quiet Minutes: Intuitive Collage

So far for our 15 Quiet Minutes practice we’ve tried meditation and mindful walking. This time, we get to practice playfulness and creativity by making intuitive collages. This practice is simple, and requires NO artistic ability, so even if you feel artistically challenged, you can absolutely do this. In fact, this process may introduce you to creative abilities that you didn’t know you possessed!

Supplies:

  • A magazine or two that you can cut/tear up (some of my favorites include O Magazine, Live Happy, Yoga Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, and National Geographic, but if all you have is Popular Mechanics or Guns & Ammo you’ll find something there, too!)
  • Scissors (not necessary if you choose to tear your images instead of cutting them)
  • Glue stick (other glue will work in a pinch, but a glue stick helps keep your paper and images from rippling/warping too much)
  • Blank paper or your journal to glue the images & words onto
  • Any other art supplies you might want to use to decorate your pages (completely optional)

Intuitive collage is one of my favorite creative practices because it is fast, easy, and there is no pressure to make something “perfect”. As you can see from my collage examples in this post, I was definitely not going for perfection! I am sharing some of my collages to illustrate this post, but they are really just for me, not something I’d generally post on Instagram or share with other people. The purpose of creating intuitive collages is to have fun, listen to our inner wisdom, and allow our creativity to come to life on the page.

I created a video of my process of making an intuitive collage, to go along with the instructions below. This is my first video, so be gentle! I know I talk too fast, so sometimes it is hard to understand me—I will try to speak more slowly if I make another video. Unfortunately, I can’t do anything about the fact that I sound like a teenager—young-sounding voices run in my family! (I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse!) The password is: collagefun.

To get started, gather your art supplies and find a quiet place where you can work undisturbed. The entire process may take you more than fifteen minutes, so you might choose to tear out images and words during one session, and then glue them down another day. Of course, you can always spend more than fifteen minutes working on your collages if you have the time to do so.

You can light a candle or some incense if you’d like, and set an intention for your session. It could simply be, “To have fun and play with words and images,” or “To listen to my inner voice,” or you could even treat it like a divination and ask a question and see how the images and words you end up choosing relate to that question. I recommend creating your collage in silence, but if you really want to listen to music, try to choose instrumental music. You want to listen to your own voice and wisdom here, rather than another person’s words and feelings.

Now, just start paging through your magazine, and tear out any words or images that catch your attention. You don’t have to know what you are looking for, or why something is calling to you. If you like it, or your attention is drawn to it, just tear it out. You may end up with a large pile of words or images, or only one or two. Either way is good.

Once you have collected your words and images, take your piece of paper or your journal, and start pulling out the images and words that are calling to you most strongly from your piles. Again, you don’t have to analyze them or have a theme in mind, just listen to you heart and your intuition. You can start arranging them on the page in any way that pleases you. This isn’t about perfection or creating a beautiful composition or a piece of art, so let that go. Just put things where you want them. You can glue them down as you go, or lay them out and rearrange until you get them the way you like, and then glue them down.

You most likely won’t use all the words and images you’ve collected, or you might, either way is fine. Just go with what feels best to you as you lay out your collage. As you can see from my examples, sometimes you might use a lot of images and few words, or a lot of words and few images. Some collages will be simple, some will be really busy. Just allow yours to be what it wants to be without a lot of thought or anxiety.

Once you have everything glued down and it feels good to you, you are finished! If you have art supplies and would like to, you can add paint, stamps, stickers, doodles or any other decorations you’d like to your pages, but it isn’t necessary.

Now it is time to listen to your collage and see what it has to say to you. For instance, I created the “live happy” collage below on a gray winter day when I was feeling pretty down. I was surprised that it ended up being so cheerful! But it did make me feel more hopeful and positive, and reminded me to add some play and fun to my life, as well as reminded me that winter doesn’t last forever and sunshine and butterflies would come again.

What is your collage saying to you? If you posed a question for your collage, how does it answer that question? Does you collage speak to any issues or events that have been happening in your life recently? Does it give you any advice? Does it speak to you about something that maybe you have been avoiding and need to deal with? Or does it remind you of something that you are grateful for or some positive action you should take in your life? You may want to answer these questions in your journal.

A lot of times the message of your collage will be pretty obvious to you, but if you are feeling confused about the message, you may want to write a story about it in your journal. Pretend the images and words are from a book, what story do they tell? You could also meditate on some of the words and images and see what insights they reveal to you. The message of your collage may not be clear to you right now, and that’s okay, too. Be sure to always date your collages, because you may come back to them and find they make perfect sense once you’ve gotten some distance from them.

If you have left-over words and images that didn’t make it into your collage, you may want to collect them in a folder or envelope for future use. I occasionally go through my magazine collection and rip out images and words I like and store them in folders. Then when I want to make a collage, I go through my folders and choose the words and images that are speaking to me in that moment. This is how I chose the images and words I used in my demo video.

I hope you will give this process and try, and I’d love to hear how it works for you or to see your collages if you want to share. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, too.

Until next time, happy collage making!

Supply Notes:
In my video I am working it my current journal which is a Pentalic Hardbound Sketchbook, 8 x 5.5 inch. I love it! It lays flat and takes acrylic paint well.

Another journal that I have worked in and really liked is the Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbook, which has a heavier paper that works well with watercolor and other wet media. This is what I use for nature journaling and other journals where I know I’ll want to use watercolor. I also have used and liked the Canson XL Mix Media book, which also can handle watercolor pretty well.

The glue stick I use in the video is Pioneer Photo Square Glue Stick, but really any glue stick will work for this process.