Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We're all in this Together

It’s been just about a month since the Florida Shooting. Students marched on the Florida House, asking them to ban assault weapons, and were met with refusal when not a single Republican voted to even consider banning assault rifles. 

Of course, all the Democrats voted to consider banning assault rifles. I only mention this comparison as an example of how divided along party lines we’ve become, and I can’t help but feel like I’m watching a three-legged race and the participants are fighting about which way to go.

Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our connection to each other and to the world. I know this is not really “news,” but we’ve lost so much of our ability to see the big picture that sometimes I think we don’t even realize that we should be connected anymore. We don’t know what it means to feel connected, and unless we fix this, we can’t help fix the rest of what needs fixing in the world.   

Guns and school shootings are, of course, major problems, but I’m not sure why everyone seems to see it as either a mental health issue, a parenting issue, or a gun issue. How simplistic can we get? 

Obviously, Guns ARE a problem when in the wrong hands, and obviously, mental health issues ARE a huge factor in these shootings, and obviously, whether or not children are taught to value life, IS a huge issue, but no one wants to work with anyone else to find solutions, to any of it.

The ray of hope in all of this is just beginning to make itself known. The generation about to be of age is tired of this shit. It’s been coming, but this seems to have been the final straw. These kids grew up with science and technology, and they know the tools available to them better than anyone over 35 ever will. They know the power of social media, and they know how to stand up for themselves.

The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others like them will be the ones to carry us into a more enlightened age. We started moving in this direction in the sixties, and these kids can carry what started then into the future. They know what needs to happen and are willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Zen Space: The Office: Bright and Fresh

Now that I’m done with the clean out, I’m ready for the setup. This requires planning as well. Like I say, my office space is set up in a  shape. Once this space is set up to my specifications, I can reach anything I need to work on quickly and easily. Your space will reflect your goals and your personality.

Part of setting up this space comes in the form of a vision board which I’ll talk about next time, but first, I get everything else cleaned and polished, so I can clear my head by clearing the space. That way I can focus on what I want to accomplish this year.
The first thing to do is to make sure all the old clutter is off the desk, and organize the jewelry table in a workable order, which I must confess is much easier said than done when dealing with that many small pieces, and when everything is off the desk, I clean and polish the tables. Then I can begin the new set up. This is the fun part.

Personally, I like to use a blend of Chakra balancing stones and Feng Shui principles to balance my space. You may find that other techniques work for you. The main thing to remember is that your space must reflect you since only then will it help you achieve your goals, but this works for me and will give you a place to start on your own Zen space.

My space is set up so the computer desk is in the command position of Feng Shui, in the space facing the door, so I can see opportunities that might appear, and I have a solid wall directly at my back when I’m at my computer, which to be fair, is where I spend most of my time. Then, a basic Bagua map will show what each area of your desk represents in Feng Shui. I use the map for the whole space, rather than just my desk, but your space will reflect how you interpret it, if you choose to use it. 

Power, Wealth, Abundance, Prosperity
Element: Wood
Colors: Purple, Green Gold
Number: 4
Fame, Future Reputation, Social Life
Element: Fire
Color: Red
Number: 9
Love, Marriage, Relationships
Element: Earth
Colors: Pink Skin Tones, Earth Tones
Number: 2
Family Health, Community
Element: Wood
Color: Purple, Green Gold
Number: 3
Good Fortune, Well Being, Balance
Element: Earth
Colors: Yellow, Earth Tones
Number: 6
Children, Creativity, Entertainment
Element: Metal
Colors: White, Bright & Pastel Tones
Number: 7
Knowledge, Wisdom, Harmony
Element: Earth
Color: Blue, Green
Number: 8
Career, Work, Life Mission
Element: Water
Color: Dark Blue, Black
Number 1
Compassion, Travel, Spiritual Life
Element: Metal
Color: Gray, Mauve
Number: 6

In my set up, I basically sit in the position of the Earth element and have it as the center of my horseshoe, and then on the back wall is where I put my vision board to remind me where I want to go.
The other thing I consider is my Chakras. I like to keep stones in areas that will help the prana/chi/kundalini to flow freely through the setting to help keep the space and my personal chakras in balance.

Ø  Root chakra stones: Black Onyx, Black Tourmaline, Bloodstone, Fire Agate, Hematite, Red Garnet, Red Jasper, Smoky Quartz, Tiger’s Eye,
Ø  Sacral chakra stones: Citrine, Carnelian, Coral, Moonstone, Orange Calcite, Tiger’s Eye. Sunstone
Ø  Solar Plexus chakra stones: Calcite, Citrine, Malachite, Topaz, Citrine, Yellow Jasper, Rutilated Quartz, Pyrite.
Ø  Heart chakra stones: Aventurine, Chrysoprase, Green Calcite, Green Tourmaline, Jade, Rhodonite, Rose Quartz,
Ø  Throat chakra stones: Aquamarine, Angelite, Blue Apatite, Lapis Lazuli, Turquoise, Sodalite,
Ø  Third eye chakra stones: Amethyst, Angelite, Black Obsidian, Fluorite, Iolite
Ø  Crown chakra stones: Amethyst, Clear Quartz, Diamond, Moonstone, Selenite,

I choose one for each Chakra and place one or two on each table. This helps me feel more balanced when I’m in my space. I know people who use candles, pyramids, or statuettes to create that same sense of balance. You will create according to your own leanings and space, so I hope this helps you in creating your own space. I know I thoroughly enjoy mine.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Zen Space: The Office

Everyone needs a space they can go to meditate and perform other magical workings, but everyone also needs a harmonious space to work on day to day matters. Whether you work from home or have a job elsewhere, if you have a desk, you can make it more peaceful and productive. I redo mine once a year to start fresh. 

For me, this happens in December because one of the things I do is teach English online at a local Community College. The semester ends in December, so this is the perfect time to recreate my Zen space. This is when I do the fall cleaning and rededication of the office space to prepare for the coming of the spring as we begin the journey back to spring and growth.

My little u-shaped office area is my Zen space for work. The jewelry table sits next to the windows, on one side, with a table for paperwork or drawing on the other. Between the two tables at the end, sits the computer. Everything I need, to do almost anything I do, is in this space. I spend more time here than anywhere else in the house, so it's crucial to me that the space feel good and I feel good in it. 

What I don’t know, is how on earth the desks/tables get piled so high with “stuff.” I keep trying to move to a paperless office, but the mail seems determined to bury us all in papers, and somehow, all electronic devices, cords, plugs, chargers, etc. seem to land on my desk. To be fair, most of it is my "stuff," but it builds up to such a point that I feel like I’m drowning. At this point, usually about once a year, it's time for a fresh start.

Whether you have a home office, or an 'office' office or any other kind of space you can make your own, the more personalized and personally charged the space is for you, the more productive you will be in it. Plan your space as much as you can within your space. If possible, you might even want to sketch it out if that helps you visualize what you want.

For me, the hardest part of going through this process each year is sitting down and sorting the mail. However, other than having the space completely ready, it’s the one that makes me feel most accomplished. Next is finding a place for all those little bits and pieces, generally related to technology, that build up on the desk. Finally, decisions about exactly which books must remain on the desk and which can go to the shelf take place. This must happen in steps, or it doesn’t happen.

Once this all happens, I smudge the whole room, especially the desk area, and set up my stones. Part of what I include in my design for the space is the placement of specific stones and desk materials to enhance productivity and creativity. Since the jewelry table takes up one side, you might think I have plenty of stones around me, but jewelry stones, even though cleansed and charged, are not a part of the permanent energy of the space, so I use a few special stones that help energize me and boost creativity and productivity.

My first choice in stones usually includes Malachite, Citrine, and Tiger’s Eye for confidence and balancing the solar plexus chakra. The solar plexus chakra is the energy center of the body, so I want it strong and balanced. We get so caught up in our day to day lives sometimes we neglect ourselves and our need to balance our energy. These stones boost the energy in the area to make maintaining this balance easier.

Next time we’ll talk about the rest of the stones I use and how I finish out the space.  Maybe it will give you some ideas for your space. If you have ideas on Zen spaces you'd like to share, please leave us a comment, or send us a message.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Wheel Turns

The wheel of the year turns, and soon it will be Yule when the days begin to get longer, and the nights shorter. The sun is reborn and soon the earth will follow. We’re usually more than a little busy during the period between Thanksgiving and Yule.

Since people often celebrate both Christmas and Yule, or maybe Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, for any number of reasons, including personal preference, that’s at least double the work than if you only celebrate one. People also often have more than one Yule celebration and one or more Christmas celebration. The gifts and food alone involved in that can be stressful. We have two Yule celebrations and two Christmas, so we’ll be among those super busy this season. It's good to take a little time out when you can, however, to feel the rhythm of the earth as it turns toward the reawakening of life in the spring.

What I like best about this time of year is the sense of anticipation you can feel in the air. This is not just the anticipation of kids for Santa. It’s more than that. Personally, I feel more deeply in tune with the earth and the turning of the wheel. The final harvest is in, we’ve celebrated, and we’ve thanked the gods for the bounty of the year. This spirit of gratitude makes us want to share with others at this time of year more than at other times too, so we share food and give gifts.

All of this is just a lead up to the big event though, solstice. At Yule, the cycle begins anew and the sun returns. One way to prepare for Yule is by doing a fall cleaning and clearing out the things you don’t need, things you don’t need to carry with you into the new dawn as the sun returns to the earth. 

That’s one of my projects for this year. I tend to collect “things,” so I have to go through periodically and clear it out. I recently started on the closest and gave away several bags of clothes. Do you have any of those, “Oh I might wear that again” clothes? I do, or I should say I did.

This type of cleaning out can help you let go of the things that hold you back. See if you can find those self-sabotaging voices, if you have them, and most of us do, and toss them out along with each thing you throw away. I try to do this once a year, and some years there’s less to throw out than others. The less physical clutter you have, the less spiritual clutter you will have.

Once I’ve gotten rid of everything, I feel like I’m making a new start on accomplishing what I want for the year. This is also one of those times when I open up the house, if I can, to bring in positive natural vibes. Trees surround my house, so on a nice winter day, I just let nature sweep the house. I know I’ve mentioned that before, but the days when that’s possible are too few.

How do you celebrate the solstice? Tell us by commenting on the blog, on Facebook, or through our contact page, and let us know what you’re doing for Yule, or Christmas, or Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you celebrate. We’d love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Reflection and Being Thankful

In the spirit of starting the Yule season off on the right foot, I like to reflect on the past year and the things I’m thankful for not only from this past year but also always. Personally, I am most thankful for my family and friends. I hope most people feel that way, but I know that is not always the case. Not everyone has family, or friends who are as close as family, but if you do, don't forget to show them how much you appreciate them. 

I confess that I’m as bad as everyone else, and sometimes it takes the reflection and meditation of the beginning of the year and leading to Yule, and of course, the traditional Thanksgiving holiday, to remind me how blessed I am. However, that’s one of the things that we should all think about more often, not just how thankful we are for our family and friends, although that is huge, but how thankful we are for all the wonderful things in our lives.
I have a wonderful family, and a great group of friends that have been my extended family for over 30 years, some for most of my life. I’m not sure you can really ‘be’ thankful enough for that, simply because, without it, I don’t know how we’d function. In the words of John Lennon, “I get by with a little help from my friends,” and I think that’s true of all of us.
Family is wonderful, sometimes, and having a good relationship with your family is something to always value, but not everyone has that luxury. There are many reasons that we may or may not be close to family, not all of them necessarily bad; they just are, and our relationship with family may change over the years. Personally, I am closer to my family now than I was for many years, and I love them dearly. However, during those years when I wasn’t as close to my family as I am now, I became part of an extended family that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I wouldn’t begin to know how to thank these people for what they have meant to me through the years, and I can’t imagine spending the past 30 years without them. We have partied together, cried together, been present for childbirth and graduations, anniversaries and holidays. We have bonded over parents who are aging and children who are growing up much too fast. Many of my friends are creative types, musicians, writers, artists, photographers, and chefs, and let me just say my college graduation parties were pretty epic, but that’s beside the point. What isn’t beside the point is that most of us have people like this in our lives, and we should find ways to let them know how much we appreciate them.
Most years I try to show my appreciation for my friends and family by having a Yule celebration dinner at my house each year. I fix dinner and share the feast with all those who have been there and been my family and extended family for all these years. This year, someone else is hosting, but seeing everyone all at one time is always a wonderful time. Other than the fact that we party considerably less now than we did then, nothing has changed.
This might not be possible for everyone, it wasn't for me this year, but I do want to advocate finding some way to say thanks to those who have kept you sane over the years, and we all know we have them. We also know we probably wouldn’t have made it this far without them, if for no other reason than that they’ve given us an outlet for those quirks that we couldn’t share with anyone else.
"A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself."
Jim Morrison
On another note, this time of year, I think it’s also important to make sure to give back to your community as well. It’s so easy to pick up a toy for a kid or a warm coat. Some groups have people who will come get them. We all have rough times and sometimes that one gift can make a huge difference for someone who is not as blessed. 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Celebrating Samhain

Samhain, finally!! I don’t know about you, but this is my favorite holiday. Day of the Dead Celebrations, Halloween costumes and parties, and the feel in the air make me happy. I have a sugar skull clock hanging on my wall. Ritual was last night, and we didn’t make it, but we’ll have a small celebration here to honor those who have passed and letting go of the past, so we can welcome the New Year.

Samhain, or summers end, originated with the ancient Celtic celebration of the end of the “light” part of the year represented by the harvest, and the beginning of the dark portion of the year as daylight hours become shorter and the weather grows colder. It’s one of only two times a year, people extinguished hearth fires and relit them the next day to celebrate the new beginning. This happens at Beltane and Samhain, and at no other time. Celebrations start at sundown on October 31 and continue through the day on November 1.

At Samhain, the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest, and departed spirits can return to mingle with the living. Samhain celebrations take many forms. People often clean house to clear the way for the coming year. It is also a time for reflection on the past year and on goals for the future. Samhain is one of the best times of the year for divination and looking to the future.

Just as the ancients inventoried their stock and the last of the harvest, it is time for us to take stock of our accomplishments and goals, our beliefs and rituals. What is working for you? What is not working for you? What changes can you make, and keep, that will make your beliefs, rituals, and life work better for you?

I’m not talking about making “New Year’s” type resolutions. We all know how well those usually work.  What I’m talking about is more subtle.  Review your grimoire or book of shadows, or start a new one.  Revisit the teachings you have been living by, and look at new teachings and ideas. Expand your outlook.  Are there other ideas that would fit with your belief system? If your focus has been on stones, read about herbs.  If you’ve been studying the tarot, learn something about runes.
Every skill and idea we add to our knowledge becomes a part of our philosophy. This gives us a much larger spiritual harvest to carry us through the winter months. Just as the ancients harvested crops and herds to feed themselves through the winter months, so can we seek a spiritual harvest of knowledge to feed our souls. We can approach this from many directions; personally, I prefer to spend time in study, meditation, and ritual, and truthfully, I make the decision based on how my heart leads me at the time.
Sometimes, I will spend an entire evening reading and explore new ideas to find out what I want to study over the winter. I think this year, I'm going to read Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft by Christopher Penczack, Celtic Mythology by Ward Rutherford, and Handfasting & Wedding Rituals by Kaldera/ SchwartzsteinIt doesn’t really matter what path or paths you explore, as long as you expand your knowledge and look for something new to learn.

Other times, I will conduct a divination ritual or, depending on the position of the moon, a moon ritual outdoors. For divination, I know I’ve mentioned that I use the Motherpeace Tarot deck because I like the more feminine and peaceful images, but whether you use a tarot deck, angel cards, spell cards, or runes, any divination ritual will let you look within yourself. Then you can reassess what has passed, what is to come, and how you can manifest in your life the things you want and need. Only then can you start to create what you want for the future.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Sometimes when I sit down to write a blog, I get Aeslin to draw a card to give me inspiration. She uses the Magickal Spell Cards by Lucy Cavendish, so that gives me something extra to draw on.  I use the Motherpeace deck personally, so sometimes it's nice to get a little extra perspective on a concept. This week the card is Strength.

The Strength card represents strength, determination, power, and a higher level of consciousness. This card also represents responsibility and compassion. Just as the woman in the picture on the card offers patience and compassion to the lion in order to tame him, we offer patience and compassion to others to develop our energies around this card.

If you're like me, that's easier said than done. Sometimes I find it more difficult than at others to exercise that patience and compassion toward other people. This usually happens to me when I forget to take into consideration that the other person almost certainly doesn’t think the same way I do. Nor do they have the same values. I am constantly amazed at the varied approaches people take to situations, and to life in general. One of the hardest things in the world to do is to watch someone make a mistake, especially someone you care about.

Part of having patience and compassion is having the ability to let others have their own space, strengths, and weaknesses, and to realize that you can’t impose your expectations on other people. If you don’t base those expectations on what the person is capable of doing, you’re sure to be disappointed. Part of gaining the Strength of the Tarot is acceptance of people as they are. With this acceptance, you can gently influence others rather than criticizing them.

As an example, I tend to work a lot, simply because I love what I do. I love writing and research and working on the store. I love finding new merchandise and information that we can share with you, so that’s what I’m doing most of the time. However, sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay that not everyone is that focused on something. Actually, it’s most definitely a good thing. Most of us have this tendency, so that's an area where our control of our reactions and our treatment of others comes into play. 

The lion in the picture, on most decks, represents the animalistic nature that we must overcome at times. We all have baggage, and at times, all the stuff, we have sublimated, comes out. Anyone who tells you different is lying. Many times the way this comes out is simply in intolerance and impatience. We base our reactions to what happens to us on experiences we’ve had in the past, and the strength of the tarot is the strength that allows us to overcome our baggage, and allow others their own path, even if you’re convinced you know better. I usually am, but you can only master your own feelings and actions. Knowing and allowing that is part of the strength seen in the card.   

Strength also relates to responsibility for yourself and your world. Learning to work properly with that passionate, instinctual core inside all of us, gives us the strength to create our world as we wish. We all put on masks at some point, maybe when we go to work, or when we’re with certain people, we feel the need to hide our true selves. When we can appropriately control and work with both sides of our nature, we gain the ability to create our world as we wish while being truly ourselves. This is truly a gift.