Spirit: Re-sprouting

Wow… It’s been over 6 years since I last posted here. Winter 2014 was just before I became a very busy community college student that put way~ too much on their plate. In 2015 I moved to Washington State and it was just this last December that I moved back to Maryland after finally finishing my Bachelor’s degree. During this time that I was living in Washington, my connection to my spirituality dwindled and then withered until eventually becoming dormant. I had a connection, a community, and a family with the circle I had joined here in Columbia, MD. Before I moved away, I was still practicing and deeply rooted to my spirituality, even though I wasn’t making time to post here, but… after I moved, I wasn’t practicing much anymore. It wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t active either.

Since last fall, little things keep popping up in my life that have that have left little seeds of spirit waking back up. First it was a book I came across in a store, then I moved back and my mom started suggesting we go back to the circle I used to go to, and then suddenly I started finding different instagram accounts with artists that created all manner of things witchy. The last couple years in Washington I was living in Seattle, so moving back to Columbia meant getting to see a lot more of the sky again and on a daily basis too. I don’t drive and so in Seattle I was often stuck to certain parts, usually my college campus. It’s a pretty campus, but I really forgot how much sky you can see all at once until I moved back; and how many trees you can see stretch into the distance. It’s strange how the mind’s imagination can get blocked by the concrete forests of cities as much as your actual eyes can.

Now, I’m back and I want so much to get in touch with everything again, to get in touch with my spirituality again. I’m hesitant though because I’ve learned a lot in the last 6 years. I see how much appropriation there is in neo-paganism, spiritual this or that, and while I can see the systems and history that brought many of us (particularly white pagans) to these practices and pieces that are not our own, I’ve been struggling to figure out what I will do instead.

Here is my answer so far: focus on my context.

What does that even mean?

Well, religions and mythologies and spiritual practices were created, given voice, re-interpreted, and set in certain times, places and communities. These people had certain values, lived in specific places with certain ecology, and they lived their lives in a particular way. I live in Maryland in the United States. I find that it’s important to respect the land I’m on and find a way to be connected to it. How can I do that if my spirituality revolves completely around Irish Celtic traditions that use native plants to Ireland? Land and location is just one part though, time is also important and can make for very big differences to be considered.

So what is my context?

Well… There is a lot to it. Let’s start with the basics: It’s the year 2020 and I live in a central part of Maryland in the United States. What else? A lot of my family’s ancestry comes from Western Europe, the easiest bit to retrace being the part that came from Ireland. I could easily pick up a book or two from my bookshelf and find all kinds of ancient Irish traditions (their accuracy a post for another time). However, those books cannot address the other parts of my context like where I currently live and could be difficult to relate to my life as it is in 2020 (versus how ancient people lived).

I live in a technology saturated world. It’s incredibly important to me because it’s the majority way that I consume music, stories (TV and movies), play games, as well as make and sustain connections with friends and family. I have friends all over the world, in fact most of my friends live nowhere near me. As a writer and artist, as a past and future student, technology is continually a part of my craftsmanship and my education as well. So, a spirituality and practice that doesn’t involve technology will leave out a huge part of my life.

My context is also about who I am. I’m a queer, non-binary man with a past and present that necessitate a spiritual connection that addresses this queerness. I can’t jump back into a telling of deities, spirits, guardians and certainly not a high power that is tied in a gender binary. There can’t just be gods and goddesses for me. I need something more than that.

Certainly, in a 2020 world living in the United States, I need a spirituality that addresses injustice and the importance of creating community in a world that makes it very difficult. It’s difficult, again, because of the time and because of who I am, a white person and a queer person, and it’s difficult because of this globalized world of quarantines, shifting politics, and most of all… technology. I’m usually so absorbed in all my activities online that I often forget that I have a community with those I live nearby because we are connected by land if nothing else and land is nothing inconsequential.

Now what?

My context is all over the place. It’s very difficult to reconcile the differences between them. How can I give space, give time, and do justice to one and still give that to another? These are things I have very little answers to yet. I think about it a lot. This is not something that can be easily answered but instead are like seeds of intention. These are things I value and areas I want to grow in. Growth doesn’t happen very fast. As I water these intentions with careful consideration, with conversations, exploration, and experimentation, I will share with you what I find.

But I can tell you of those seeds I mentioned at the beginning of this post, that have drawn me back in and made me aware of how much I want to be connected again:

The book:

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Becoming Dangerous: Witchy Femmes, Queer Conjurers, and Magical Rebels edited by Katie West and Jasmine Elliott (goodreads link)

The Instagram accounts:  there are a few shops on there that make very cool items many a witch would really love, but the main account that has really got me thinking about how technology can mix with older traditions is this account @brujaxtropical. Casting spells by sharing posts or commenting on them is just some of the major insights I’ve made through following this account (which is still fairly new actually). That account is certainly run by two geniuses.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post and I hope you got something out of it. Getting my thoughts out there and attempting to organize them was certainly helpful for me. Sending my love to all of y’all, love and many wishes for good health and good luck.

Blessed be ❤ ❤ ❤

Spirit: Using the Seasons and Moon Phases to Develop Eating an Exercise Plans

The following are great ideas for using natural cycles of the seasons and moon phases to help develop eating an exercise plans. It’s kind of like a pagan diet or a pagan health guide.

New Moon to Full Moon is Waxing

The moon is growing from 0 to 100. In this time period, you want to focus on growing things. This is very true of ritual magic, but should also be true in a dietary plan, so…

– Exercise wise, you want to focus on “upping” your cardio game and focusing a lot more on weight and strength training. You can push yourself on your cardio workouts, you can even add weights to your cardio workouts. What could be ideal for workouts these weeks if slowing down your cardio workouts by adding weights or turning that cardio machine time into endurance training where you slow down but go farther and maybe add on incline too.
– Food wise, you want to focus on being really strict about what you eat. Before, I would have said you would increase your protein load. You should be eating the regular amount of protein, but be really strict about everything you’re eating. You’re increasing or growing your nutrition.
– Spirit wise, you want to try and boost a lot of things but maybe focus on one thing per waxing period or per week. Maybe focus on gaining knowledge or awareness of something or something else of the same nature. Maybe you do a spell to gain fortune or peace.

Full Moon to New Moon is Waning

The moon is shrinking from 100 to 0. In this time period, you want to focus on loosing things.

– Exercise wise, you want to focus on “loosing” that fat. That means a lot of cardio. Turn up those weight training days by adding movement. During the Waxing period, you were slowing down those cardio days with weights. Now, you’re speeding up those weight days. You can even use some of the cardio suggestions for the waxing period as your weight training workouts during this waning period.
– Food wise, you want to focus on losing the protein. Protein is important, but there is protein in vegetables and fruits and it would be great to replace some of that pure protein with fruits and veggies. You can supplement some of that protein too with seeds and beans of course as you could anytime. Nuts too.
– Spirit wise, you want to think about losing things. Maybe you want to kick some bad habits, clear out the closet or room of clutter and junk, maybe you focus on just cleaning. Definitely you should think about losing stress. Well, not THINK about losing stress, but actually LOSING IT.

Times of the Year

Winter

– Winter is the time of cold and slow growing. Everything is in sleep mode and waking up. SO, this should be reflected in what you’re doing. Don’t push yourself too much in exercise, work, or anything else. When in comes to dieting, think about warm foods and cooked foods. It’s cold, so warm your body with food. It’s a traditional food practice in Eastern cultures.

Spring

– Spring is all about growing. This is where you really want to start or try new things or start improving things that are already happening. This is the time to start “upping” your game. Your diet should be starting to grow about now, incorporating fresher and more uncooked things like salads which are growing and harvesting now. Spring is also the time for GREEN. Get out and watch the world grow green, maybe (if its not too late) start growing some stuff in the garden. This could also mean doing more projects that make you money or saving up money to grow the green in your bank.

Summer

– Summer is about LIFE. The sun is king and the harvest is thriving. Experience it! Go to a pick your-own farm and PICK YOUR OWN. Taste that fresh from the farm food! Go out in nature, protected with that bug spray, and see nature thriving. See all the flowers and wildlife. Exercise wise, you should be outside doing stuff! Go to the pool! Go to the beach! Go hiking! Go run or walk around a lake! You should be doing so much outside that you will be getting most of your exercise out of the way! Save the indoor work for when it’s dead noon and for night time. Make sure to save some of those nights for dancing though. Food wise, there is so much fresh food that you should be eating mostly just that fresh food. Mix things up, experiment, and eat a lot less warm foods. Eat more cold foods. Opposite of the Winter stuff. It’s hot so cool the body with cool foods. Make cold smoothies and homemade fruit pops, eat raw foods too. If you cook stuff, slightly steam maybe. Maybe cook the food then refridgerate it like cold soups. Make filling salads.

Autumn

– Autumn is like Spring, except the exact opposite. In Spring, you were growing and now you are slowing down. You want to be out in nature like you were in the Spring, but now you are there to watch the fall colors bloom. In Autumn, you want to calm down that Summer hoopla. Everything is active and energy and AWAWAWAWWWAWWWWW, but now it’s time to calm down. Exercise wise, you definitely want to get some outdoor workout, especially in those nicer weather times of the Autumn. Don’t go as crazy as you did in the Summer though. Food wise, there are lots of Autumn vegetables and fruits, so make use of them. You can start adding back some warmer foods too.

Spirit: The Humpback Whale in the Forest

Early December 2013, I was writing a ritual. In this ritual, I wanted to write in a Journey. I knew what the goal would be. I wanted people to journey and find what they should be focusing on RIGHT NOW, what their priority or goal should be. I wanted them to then find out two things: what they had to stop/leave behind and what they actually need to do/obtain. At the end I would have them put on this animal like winter hat one by one and write down the answers to those final two things. We would then burn it, releasing though things to be manifested or banished. The animal hat was to get that animal single-mindedness so no other thoughts invaded the intention. The wearing of animal skins, though the hat was completely fake everything, is what hunters used to do before they went on the hunt. I always have a hunter/warrior theme in my rituals. As part of the hunter theme, I wanted the journey to be like everyone was going to hike through the woods and find their answers that way.

I also had planned a big purification, one that I asked some friends to help me out with. They also wanted to know about the rest of the ritual as well and they loved the idea of the Journey. I hadn’t written any of the guided part of the Journey, that’s pretty much what I thought I would have to do to take a room full of people on a Journey. I knew something about that concept felt wrong though. I was very stuck. I had chosen a hike, like I said at the end of the previous paragraph; because that’s one of the ways I would find answers in the otherworld. As I started to talk to my friends about this, one said that instead of doing a lot of guiding, why not just tell them to travel to their safe place in nature and let them find their helping spirit there, be it an animal spirit or otherwise. When she said “their safe place in nature” she added “be it the ocean, or…” she listed a few other spots but when she said “ocean” my mind flew wide open.

The OCEAN. Imagine if you’re safe space in nature were the ocean. Maybe you’re animal spirit is humpback whale. This is what I imagined. I then saw how silly it would be to send a group of people into a guided mediation, Journeying through the mountains, and low and behold, the person whose animal spirit is a humpback whale is stuck in the woods where her humpback whale break a few trees and gets stuck between two giant old trees. I nearly busted out laughing when I pictured this, but it awakened me to a real conundrum.

You’re going to perform a Journey to a room full of people, and in this room there are people who find power, safety, and their animal spirit in all kinds of places. Imagine trying to fit their tundra, ocean, tropical rainforest, and desert animals in your lushly forested mountains. What do you do?

Well, my friends figured it out quickly enough while wondering about what music to play instead of talking.

Why not just tell everyone that they are going to travel to their safe space in nature and there they will seek out their spirit and find out what you want them to find out? You tell them this and then put on music specifically for Journey and trance work. The music eases you into the required state of mind, keeps you there, and then brings you out with a certain beat. Of course, let them know the length of the song and that the music will bring them out. It’s maybe best if you tell them specifically what the song will do to bring you out too. But, that’s it. You tell them where they will be going, something that they can specify to their own ways and tell them what they are looking for. We made up specific questions and key words that we repeated three times so that they wouldn’t forget them once they were in the trance.

From feedback, it worked perfectly, though the rattles in the song made a shy and harmless little snake appear randomly in several people’s visions. For me, it highlighted a contrast in my otherworld sanctuaries. My place of power is a desert scene where my safe place in nature or Journeying space is a mixture of mountainous landscapes. So, in the first part of my Journey, whenever the rattle would sound in the song flashes of a desert landscape would invade. It did not take away from my Journey just as the little shy snake did not take away from the several people who saw it slither across their Journey.

So, this could be a valuable take away for anyone who wants to include Journey’s or trance work in their rituals. I am from a Celtic background though I practice aspects of other traditions as well. There is a lot of beautiful poetry in meditations from the Celtic path, but sometimes when you start to delve into the guided meditations and Journey’s where they send you somewhere to find answers, you reach an area that can be uncomfortable.

Journeying is a time to go to the otherworld, somewhere you feel safe, someplace your own, and discover. Someone dictating every part of this Journey goes against the basic concept in a real way. Think about what it would mean in the everyday world for you to go on a journey. Does this include someone other than yourself creating an itinerary scheduling out every moment of what you’re going to do and how you will spend your time?

Something to think about. Perhaps, when writing your next ritual.

Spirit: December 13th, 2013 Ritual

The following ritual was performed on the 13th of last December. It went spectacularly well. I recommend this to anyone who finds it interesting. I hope you enjoy it as much as I, and the Circle that I performed it for, did.

Pre-ritual:

– prepare the room with dragon’s blood incense
– set the bowls of water with pine leaves
– set the altar
– prepare the rosemary water

Ritual:

First- talk about the ritual. What you’re going to do different, why, and just give a summary of what you’re going to do in general

Second- Take a platter and go around the room, stopping at each quarter to lay out symbols for each element. Ring the bells on the dance stick or the bell as you walk from one quarter to the next.

Third- Have people separate into three groups and wait by the outskirts while the room is being prepared (making space for dancing around the groups)

Fourth- Purification

Remind people of the way the purification will go. Two rotations by the people purifying with the group facing outward, then two rotations with the group facing inward. Then the purificants dip their hands in the rosemary water.

One group at a time goes into the purification space (on the deep purple sheet). (Person 1), (Person 2), and I go around the group twice when they face outward, then twice as they face inward, then I ring a bell to signify when they dip their hands in the water.

Fifth- Journey

We set the area back up for journeying, i.e. the normal circle of chairs.
We give everyone a moment to relax and settle.

I explain to them about what we will be doing: We are going on a journey. This journey is to our safe space in nature. The beat of drums will take us on our journey where we will seek and meet our animal spirit. When you meet your animal spirit ask it three questions: What should be my primary focus or priority RIGHT NOW? What do I need to GET RID OF, LEAVE BEHIND , or STOP RIGHT NOW for this focus/priority? What do I NEED TO DO RIGHT NOW for this focus/priority? When you get you answers, remember them. We will be writing them down afterwards and burning them.

Have them repeat the three questions three times: What should be my priority RIGHT NOW? X 3, What do I need to stop or get rid of RIGHT NOW? X 3, What do I need to do RIGHT NOW? X 3

Tell them that the song will change at the end and bring you out just like the soothing beat will bring you in.

Start the song; tell them to relax and to breathe deeply.

Sixth- The Hat

The song has ended and the journey is over.

Remind them now that we will be passing around the hat, one by one, and when you have the hat, you go up to the alter. You go first to the right side where you write on a slip of paper what you found that you should leave behind, get rid of, or stop doing. You take the paper and burn it in the bowl. Then you move to the left and write that which you found that you should be doing to further your priority. You then take the paper and burn it in the bowl.

As the first song (Misty Mountains) starts, I hand over the hat to the first person.

As Misty Mountains goes off, other music is turned on.

Seventh – (Person 2) leads a grounding song and dance once everyone has burned their paper.

Eighth- I go around the circle counterclockwise, picking up the elemental symbols, silently thanking the elements. As I go around, I ring a bell.

Ninth- We gather around, hands held, and say “The Circle is open, but unbroken. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! Hazzah!

FIN

Roses and Red Foxes: Wildlife in Howard County

Wildlife spottings all around Howard County:

Hawk, heron, groundhog, and rabbit spottings are in abundance now. Deer and chipmunk spottings are increasing.

Dayton, MD:

I saw a red fox at my grandpa’s house.

Centennial Lake:

Lots of rabbits, a deer, a groundhog, a great blue heron, and a chipmunk were spotted on Monday the 10th. I also saw a baby turtle but it swam into a murky spot before I could get a picture.

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WILD FLOWER SPOTTINGS:

Centennial Lake
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