Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hearth Priestessing

I was introduced to this term a bit ago by Molly from Brigid's Grove.  It was part of a discussion about being present, and how service to the family and home can be a part of one's spiritual path.  I really love the idea of Hearth Priestessing (and the term itself!)

I think that the word Priestess comes with a lot of connotations.  There is definitely a strong connection to spirituality and the divine.  But I think there is also a sense of service:  that the Priestess works not only for themselves, but to serve others (whether that service is to the Gods, Nature or the Community).

One of the things that first drew me into Paganism was the idea that every person could be their own Priest/ess.  While many groups do have leaders, each person is still often responsible for their own spiritual growth and work.  I love that I can build my own connections and walk my own path without needing someone else to show me what to do or work on my behalf.

There is a tendency to think in exclusive terms, when we talk of Priestessing.  I think that most people work spiritually within their own group.  And that is only natural!  I am more likely to take my spiritual concerns and questions to other Pagans than I am to consult a Priest or member of another faith.  But I think that some of the aspects of Priestessing definitely reach beyond our own circles and out into the greater world.

One of the things that many people do, and that I consider part of Priestessing, is that they present a picture of 'what Pagan's do' to the greater world.  In a way, we are sort of ambassadors of our faith.  So many people either don't know much about Paganism or they have wildly inaccurate perceptions, and the more we speak up about what actually goes on and what we believe on, the less I believe people will fear or mistreat us.

But I also think that words carry much less weight than actions.  While we need words, we also need examples of the work we do, within our own communities and without.  There are a lot of Pagans who are very active in a wide variety of public works, from activism to simply showing up and letting people see that we aren't so very different at all.

And while all of this is great and necessary, I think that many people overlook the home and family aspects of life (not only in terms of Paganism and spirituality, but also just in ordinary life as well).  I think that the perceptions of taking care of the home have changed dramatically over the years.  Society often downplays the role of the caretaker or makes out house-work to be some kind of horrible chore to be done as quickly and minimalistically as possible.  And a much greater emphasis is put on work outside the home, as if doing work within the home is somehow less.

And yet, I think that it is a really huge thing to do work within one's home.  You don't have to be a full time home-maker (I love that much more than house wife/husband), to practice Hearth Priesthood.  What makes the difference is your focus and attention.

There are a ton of things that make a house a home.  And there is a huge difference in the feel of a place that is a home versus a place that is 'just a house'.  They say home is where the heart is, and I definitely believe this to be true.  When you shine your love, even through everyday actions, you create energy that spreads out to everyone it touches.

Some things are pretty necessary for everyday life.  We must eat and we must sleep.  We will be healthier if our house is clean and in good repair.  Some things are necessary for emotional health:  we need to find times to relax and times to laugh.  These are the places where we can step into our Hearth Priesthood!

I love the term hearth too.  Though most modern homes don't have a traditional hearth, I think that hearth energy is definitely present in a home.  Hearth brings to mind comfort, safety, warmth and food.  In my mind, it has a very similar feel to the energy of home.

But I also think that Hearth Priestessing extends beyond the traditional concept of one's house.  When I think of Hearth Priestessing, the concept of being a good hostess comes in as well.  I was raised to treat people who came to my house as guests.  Whether they were a door-to-door salesperson, a worker providing a service or an actual guest.  My mother always asked people who came through our door if they wanted something to drink, and treated people as if they were welcome (even though we might not need a new vacuum!)

I think that the concept of hosting is something that is sort of lost in modern life.  Part of it is that I think we don't gather in homes as often as we used to.  Everyone is so busy, and there are plenty of places to go and meet.  Even traveling, many times it is easier to rent a room at a hotel than to find a friend or family member to stay with.

When people come into my house, I want them to feel at home.  My mind is definitely in hostess (or Priestess!) mode when I have guests over, whether I had planned on guests or not.  I want people in my home to feel comfortable, and I want to tend to their needs if I can.

For those that don't know, I'm a home-maker, and have been since my son was an infant (over a decade ago).  There was a book I read a long time ago, called Love Languages, which talked about the different ways in which we all receive and show our feelings of love.  My mother was definitely a service person, and I learned a lot of that from her.  In my mind, one of the most common ways I express my love for my family is by doing things that make their lives better or easier.

I do most of the cooking, cleaning and maintenance of the home.  And while the primary goal of what I do is to keep things running smoothly, I definitely feel that I enhance what I do by adding to it energetically.  When I clean, I also cleanse, so that any stagnant energy is broken up and moved along.  When I cook, I bless my family's health.

Not only does this help the overall energy of our home, but I find it definitely helps turn those routine chores into something more.  I don't mind folding my husband's work clothes (even knowing he is likely to toss them in a corner until he needs them) because it is a little thing I can do to make his life better.  If my son has had a long weekend or lots of homework, I will do some of his household chores, even though he rarely notices.  It's not always about the recognition for me (although of course it is lovely when they appreciate what I do), but about being able to provide for them in my own way.

I may not do a lot of community Priestessing, but I definitely consider myself a Hearth Priestess!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mudras: Yoga in your hands (book review)

 by:  Gertrud Hirschi

I have been interested in mudras for many years. Meditation is a huge part of my path, and I love the idea of being able to add a hand position into my meditation practice to call forth specific energies. But I had never really done an in-depth study of them, only picked up a few of the more common ones here and there along the way.

This book was fascinating from start to finish and definitely not only gave me a great foundation for adding mudras into my practice, but also for further study into the topic as well as associated ideas presented in the book.

I really like that the book starts off with an explanation of mudras, a brief history and some general suggestions for how to use mudras. There is an emphasis, throughout the book, on approaching mudra work as an ongoing practice and not expecting instant results (although it definitely mentions that it is possible to have immediate effects). I think this is an important point, and am glad to see it presented here. Just like meditation, mudras can have both short term and long term effects, and I agree with the author that when practicing these things, patience and openness are great qualities to apply to your practice.

As mudras are but one system that works through the hands, the author also includes several other systems that revolve around the hands such as reflexology and palmistry. These examples are provided as a way to appreciate how complex our hands are, and how many different cultures and approaches have worked with the hands. Each system is given a very brief explanation to go along with a picture of the hands and how the system applies to them. I found this to be really interesting and definitely something that can lead to further research. But even with just the tiny amount of information in the book, I thought it was a great inclusion as it helped demonstrate how much connection could be found in our hands and gave many different examples of how we can use those correspondences towards different means.

I absolutely loved the included meditation exercises for each of the fingers. They are simple exercises, but offer up a great experience. Each finger is simply held, and a visualization is given to help open you up to the energy of that particular finger. I definitely feel that these exercises will give a lot of depth to any other mudras as well as being great exercises on their own.

The meat of the book is the 52 mudras presented in detail. Each mudra has a couple of pages which include a lovely hand drawn picture of the hands holding the mudra. The illustrations are quite good, and I only had trouble figuring out a couple of them based on the picture and accompanying text description. The text then talks about what the mudra is used for, often including additional information that can be used to better understand the mudra and it's effects. There is also a suggested herbal remedy to enhance the mudra. Finally, each mudra is accompanied by a visualization to be used while holding the mudra and an affirmation.

I adored the meditations. I thought they were a really great addition, and one of the things that I appreciated most in this book. I find that I always learn best when I have a bit of a story behind why things work, and I found that in these meditations as well as in the supporting text. Some of the visualizations are quite simple. You might be holding a color or a feeling in your mind. Others are more complex and guide you through several mental actions over several breaths. But I found all of them quite relatable to the mudra they accompanied. And I think that using the visualization and affirmation with each mudra will help me to remember individual mudras better.

The book wraps up with a short section on whole body exercises that are also known as mudras. These are illustrated and explained, and are also accompanied with an affirmation, though they are not given a visualization or herbal remedy.

Finally in the appendix, a few more associated topics are briefly discussed. Much like the earlier hand systems, these areas are not looked at in depth, but more included as an example of related ideas that the reader might find interesting.

The book also has a very nice index, which you can use to search for mudras by the areas they effect. So if you are experiencing sinus trouble, you can look up 'sinus' and easily find mudras that are appropriate. Which is really handy as many mudras cover multiple things.

I really enjoyed this book. The way it approached the topic of mudras, from many angles and with multiple examples and suggestions along the way gives me a lot of things to think about, which I love. I know I will be coming back to this book time and time again, to re-read sections and deepen my understanding of particular mudras. And that deeper understanding is something I have found lacking in other things I have read about mudras previously. While many sources will talk about how to do a mudra or what it might address, I haven't run across many that give you tools to understand the mudra beneath the surface.

I finished reading the book, excited to start working with mudras. Even while I was reading it, I was constantly trying out the mudras as I came to them. My biggest issue now will be deciding which mudra to work with first!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


I have been consciously working with the concept of self-care since the beginning of this year.  I definitely believe that devoting time, every day, solely towards doing things that speak to your soul is of great benefit.  I love the saying that you should give from your saucer not from your cup, indicating that you must fill yourself up to overflowing and give from the overflow.  I firmly feel this should be the way you approach life.  If you always give to others before yourself, you will end up too exhausted and drained to help anybody.

But I also find that I sort of balk at the term 'self-care'.  I know in my head that self-care includes more than just caring for one's least to me it does.  I included doing things that I enjoy or pampering myself for no special reason, just because I deserve good things!  I think we all deserve good things, and even though some days I do have a bit of a struggle in my head with doing things purely because I want to (even indulgent things like eating chocolate or lounging in my chair watching tv), those are the days where I think I need to pamper myself the most.  I am really trying to step into a place of honest self-worth, where I don't feel like I need to deny myself things that I desire because I don't feel like I should want them or am good enough to have them.

When I write the word 'self-care' in my calendar, sometimes it feels like a chore.  Something about the combination of the word and putting it on a schedule reminds me of taking vitamins.  It might be good for me, but they aren't something I enjoy the process of, so it becomes tedious.  And I don't feel like self-care should be tedious.  It should be something we do because we love and honor ourselves and we want to celebrate that fact!

I was thinking about this last night, as I am working through the moon phases, and this month is the sap moon...all about health.  For me, health is a very self-centered a good way!  Health includes body love and mind love and soul love.  When we are healthy, we are balanced, we feel good and we are the best us we can be!  Today is the full moon, which makes it a good time to celebrate and be immersed in the energy of this moon.  So it seemed fitting to delve into this concept of self-care.

And the more I thought about it, the more I felt that the word self-care just didn't speak to what I was wanting to celebrate at all.  Instead, the word self-joy popped into my head.  I also thought about self-love, but that has it's own set of associations.  I like the idea of self-joy:  not only of taking joy in one's self, but in bringing joy to one's self.  It kind of mirrors the idea that you can't love other people until you love yourself.  I am responsible for my own happiness.  Other people can and do bring joy into my life, but ultimately, I am the one who is in charge of ensuring that my everyday life is full of joy.

I think that making self-joy a focus in my life is a step towards leading a fulfilled life.  I also think that by putting the focus on joy instead of care, the assumption is that I will do things that I need to care for myself so that I can bring joy into my life.  If I am not getting enough sleep, it will be hard to be joyful in my day.  If I am stressed out and overwhelmed, I am not going to be joyful.  But I also feel that self-joy takes the idea of self-care to the next level.  Instead of just saying "I am going to do something to take care of myself today" you are saying "I am going to do something special for myself today!"

There are so many ways to bring joy into your life.  Every day brings a new opportunity to examine your life and to find a way to make it more joyful.  Some days, your self-joy action might be a self-care action...but by thinking of it as self-joy, you will be more likely to approach it from a place of indulgence.  Instead of just taking a few minutes to mediate and get yourself centered, you might give yourself a little meditation break, light a candle and really make it something special.

I think that in order to be truly happy, we need to be content in the three major spheres of our self:  body, mind and soul.  There are tons of self-joy actions you can take for each one.  Some actions might speak to multiple areas, while others might focus on just one.  Listen to yourself, tune in and see what type of joy action would best serve you today!

I started my self-care with body centered actions.  For me, when I think of caring for myself, the body is the first thing that comes to mind.  And I think it is the area I struggle most in.  I don't always love my body as unconditionally as I might like.  But I still have plenty of things I find enjoyable.  I love giving myself a foot massage, or taking the time to put lotion on before bed.  A hot soak in a tub is very relaxing for me, and I have several options for ways to make the bath more luxurious:  bubbles, scented salt, herbal mixes. 

I also love chocolate, chips and other food, so a mindful snack can be great.  I definitely specify mindful, as food is also one of my weak points.  If I am not mindful, I tend to eat more than I should, or eat things that aren't actually appealing for me in the moment.  However if I am making a snack special, and really focusing on what and how I am eating, my body will tell me when it has had enough, and I can eat without feeling guilty for having that food that isn't necessarily on the 'health food' list!

Mentally, I have a pretty broad range of things that bring me joy.  I am an avid learner, so reading up on a new topic is very invigorating for me.  I like non-fiction, I like learning new things, and in fact I feel stagnant if I don't broaden my horizons regularly.  But I also love cheesy romance stories, supernatural action stories and fanfiction.  I find that a nice balance of things that make my brain work and things that I can easily enjoy is the most fulfilling.  TV falls into this category too, I like some shows (especially cooking shows) where I can learn something, but I also watch other shows just because they bring me joy.

I think that soul is the category that is easiest to forget about.  I also think that it is the hardest to notice when you are not fulfilled.  When I don't take care of my body, I get tired or fall sick.  When I don't take care of my mind, I will be overwhelmed with the need to either learn new things or let my mind relax into something easy.  But when I am not doing things that speak to my soul, it just makes me not want to do anything at all.  I'm not specifically tired, but I will be completely unmotivated.  And that lack of motivation will make it hard to move in any direction.

I personally find art to be very soul pampering.  And not just traditional art, any kind of intentional creativity.  For me this includes:  painting/drawing, making origami, singing, dancing, cooking, weaving, making jewelry, writing.  The list is really endless.  And I also find that it is absolutely not about the end product.  I have spent hours before, working on something that I didn't end up liking when it was done, and yet I still feel refreshed and more myself afterward.  I think that everyone has creativity in them, you just have to find the thing that works for you!

And that ultimately is what it comes down to...doing what makes YOU feel amazing.  Start small, especially if you are busy, and perhaps pick one day a week to take some time to do something just for you.  Don't think about what anyone else will think of it.  Don't let yourself feel shame for whatever you want.  Just open yourself up to what sounds fun or relaxing or exciting in that moment and run with it.  As you get used to carving a little time out for yourself, you can start adding more, until you find that you have made self-joy a priority in your life.  And when you are full of joy, you will have that much more to share with the people you love!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Overlapping systems

I'm currently reading a book on Mudra's, and there is a section where it goes over several different systems of correspondences for the hands.  In some, there are distinct overlaps, while in others there are basic elements that are quite different (the same element or Chakra might be associated with different fingers).  This is actually quite common the more systems you look into.

Which brings up the question:  what to do about this information?  I am not someone who believes in 'the one true way'.  I don't think any system is the ultimate Truth.  I definitely feel that some people work better with one way of viewing things and others with other ways.  Where I feel the question gets very tricky though is when the same person likes two different systems that don't always align.

I run into this quite a lot.  I love different ways of looking at things, and am endlessly fascinated by other points of view.  This often leads me to liking very different ways of doing the same thing.  Sometimes there is no conflict at all, for example I have many different ways that I ground.  On any given day, I will pick the one I feel like doing, and if the next time I feel like grounding a different way, that is what I do.

But sometimes it feels like there is the potential for a problem. Especially with things I am just learning, or am not very familiar with.  It is very easy to get muddled and mix up different perspectives.  The more familiar I am with a subject, the easier it is for me to keep different views distinct.  Bringing it back to the Mudra book, I have worked with elemental associations for the fingers before, but not a lot, so I don't have my own personal preference on which finger is associated with which element.  When I read different systems of elements (whether Western or Eastern elements), it can confusing with some of the correspondences (like fingers) that I don't use all the time.

I also think about this in regards to deities.  I consider myself a hard polytheist, in that I don't think that all harvest deities are the same deity.  I am also what I consider a Norse-centric fusion witch, meaning that I blend multiple systems together into my personal path, but I tend to lean heavily towards Norse concepts.  My primary deities are Norse, but I do not exclusively work with Norse deities.  When I have a need, and wish to work with a deity, I have some I have pretty solid ties to, but sometimes an odd situation will come up and I'll have to look outside my current toolkit.  This often leads me to entirely different pantheons (and there are several deities I consider myself drawn to that aren't Norse deities).  So, although Freyja is often associated with cats, when I think of work involving my cats, I turn to Bast.

A lot of my own personal path is about doing what works, and what works for me can change (or I can find multiple things that work).  So I am all about having multiple methods of doing the same thing.  Sometimes it takes a bit of a mental flop to go from thinking about something in one light to thinking about it in another.  I like to think of it as mental referencing.  Think about color associations for a minute.  It is quite common to associate the color red with both (romantic) love and anger.  But it is the situation that helps shift what the color means to you.  If you see a card with a bright red heart on it, you will probably think of love, but if you see a cartoon of a person who's face is filled in with the same red, you might think anger.

So how do you figure out which system to use in a particular situation?  Sometimes, the situation will fit better with some systems.  I have a lot of different divination tools, and some are much more specific than others.  Some questions that I am seeking answers for really fit with some tools and don't fit with others.  Learning which to use is part intuition (which one feels right) and part experience (the more you use a tool, the more you will learn what it does well and what it doesn't do so well). 

Other times it is a matter of personal preference.  No one system is better suited for the situation, it is just a matter of which you feel like using that day.  I like to try out different systems for a while to really decide if I like them, and how they work best for me.  I tend to work with the system as it is presented to me (unless there is a reason I absolutely have to make a change from the start).  I feel this lets me see the system on it's own before I add my own personal taste into it.  Once I have worked with it a while, and really taken the time to appreciate it for what it is, then I may start to work with adjusting it so it fits me better.

Sometimes it also lets you work with things that you wouldn't normally put together.  When I first was started, I learned these basic elemental associations:  air/east/wand, fire/south/sword (or dagger), water/west/chalice and earth/north/pentacle.  Over the years I have encountered many systems that vary from this.  While my basic practice holds to the original associations I learned, I do find it interesting to work other systems sometimes.  I now have a rock I associate with fire and healing (learned from reading about Pow Wow).  I also have a fan that I use to represent air (instead of a wand).  

What I really find fascinating about examining multiple systems is that sometimes it builds connections between things that wouldn't ordinarily be connected.  I find this really interesting when looking at the Eastern and Western elements.  Although three of the elements bear the same name, they don't hold the same meaning.  Both earth and water are associated with the season of winter, which makes me think about how each of them would represent the winter, but also how I might use a combination of the two (in the form of ice or solid water) to work with wintry things.

At first, I typically find learning a new version of something confusing.  When it is all just words on paper, my brain wants to go back to what it is familiar with and to try to translate into a system it already knows.  But if I stick with it, and really strive to learn and then internalize the new system, I find it gives me a lot more flexibility, not only in my own path but in understanding and working with people who work very differently from me.  And this becomes a wonderful, looping the more I am able to understand someone's different ways, the more I can learn from them and the more that learning helps me understand more people!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sharing stories

I just started a neat little course offered by Brigid's Grove as part of their Creative Spirit Circle.  I found this site following a link on their gorgeous Goddess statues, and signed up for the newsletter and am starting to explore the courses they offer (for free!).  The mini-wisdom course offers an inspirational picture, quote and art prompt, and this was today's quote:

“When one woman puts her experiences into words, another woman who has kept silent, afraid of what others will think, can find validation. And when the second woman says aloud, ‘yes, that was my experience too,’ the first woman loses some of her fear.”
--Carol Christ

I think this is a really powerful idea, for all people, not just women.  I definitely find that I am more willing to share my own stories when I hear other people share theirs.  And this is one of the main reasons why I write this blog:  I feel like if my thoughts and experiences can help even one person in any way, then it is worth my time to write them.

But I also think that sharing stories goes much deeper than this.  Some of the deepest stories I have are felt and not easily put into words.  By working to use words to explain what I am going through, I am forced to really examine the things that are inside of me. 

This process of using words to describe things that are often so much more can take many different forms.

Sometimes, things are so intensely personal, that I feel naked sharing them with the world.  It is like I am taking an essential part of me and thrusting it out where it is vulnerable.  I fear that this part of me will be ridiculed or belittled, and it takes great bravery to show these hidden parts of my self.  But these are the parts that often hold the most loneliness.  They are the parts that crave acceptance and acknowledgement, that want to be told that they are wonderful and natural and that other people have them too.  And the only way I can find that connection is by sharing that story or finding someone else who is brave enough to share their story so that I can recognize the same piece inside of me.

Other times the story is about something that is a lesson I have learned.  I am pretty hard-headed, so often I have to repeat my mistakes several times in order to grow.  But sharing the story of my lessons helps reinforce the message within myself.  And reading about other people's stories that mirror my own builds that lesson as well.  I think that it is much easier to push our boundaries together, that we find strength in community and that the more we band together, the smoother our individual journeys are.

But one of the things I cherish most about sharing stories is when I find someone else telling a story that I would never have thought of.  Perhaps their life experience is so different from my own that I need their perspective to understand that aspect of the world.  Or perhaps their methods of navigating the world allow them to find trails that I can't even see.  All I know is that their stories allow me to experience things that I could not on my own.  I like the idea that perhaps my words will likewise touch someone who is very different from myself.

Ultimately, stories build community.  They are the way we form connections and come to touch each other in our hearts and souls.  When one person speaks up, their voice is echoed around the world with other voices, many of whom start with "I thought I was the only one..."  Stories shine a light into the darkness and give power to people who feel like they have none, because they find that they have others standing beside them, they just couldn't see them until they heard their voices.  When we speak together, nothing can keep us silent!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Pagan Portals - Sacred Sex and Magic (book review)

Pagan Portals – Sacred Sex and Magic
by Web PATH Center

This book was quite different than I thought it was going to be. I went into it expecting more of a focus on using sex as a part of one's magical practice. Instead I found the approach to be much broader, really delving into how I relate to my own sexuality and the ecstatic energy that dwells within me.

The book itself starts out with an introduction of the Web PATH Center, and the authors who collaborated on this book. The introduction section continues with a bit on why the book written and what their view on magic and sacred sex is. I think this gives a good context for the book and the perspective from which it was written.

One of the first things talked about might be new to a lot of people, and that is the idea of sacred sex in a visionary context. I really appreciate that this book talks about this, and that sex isn't limited to a procreative act between two bodies, but is really expanded to include many aspects of sexuality that are often overlooked. I think that there is still a bit of a stigma around visualized sex, especially when those visualizations lie outside our physical relationships. Whether we are engaging in sexual encounters with divine beings, with genders that are not our normal preference or even as ourselves but another gender, the authors encourage us to approach these experiences with an open mind instead of shame.

Another main focus of the book is on healing. Not only the use of sacred sex to raise energy which can then be used towards healing ourselves or others, but the use of sacred sex itself as a therapy to help heal our inner wounds and previous experiences. Our modern culture has so much sexual repression and abuse in it and very little true healing for people who need it. It was very refreshing to read a book that not only explains things you can do but really encourages you to work through any troubles you might be having in a slow and personal way. No two people have the same sexual history, and so no one therapy will work for all people. Learning to be brave, examine where you might be hurt and then focusing on bringing healing to that space is a tool that will benefit many people.

This book also approaches sex as a physical, emotional and spiritual thing. I really like this type of multifaceted outlook. I think the deepest healing and understanding comes when we look at ourselves as whole beings and not just as a body or a mind.

There are quite a lot of exercises scattered throughout the book. Many of them focus directly on self-inquiry and healing through sacred sex. But some also explore more traditional energy work and meditation techniques. I personally found some of the connections to be a bit stretched for me. My own experience with some of these energy techniques is powerful, but I wouldn't classify them as sexual. Especially things like grounding, which I have never found to be a sexual or orgasmic experience. While this outlook on these exercises might work wonderfully for some people, I found it hard to connect with them in this way.

I think that was the main thing I struggled with while reading this book. It relates almost every activity back to sex and sexual energy and pleasure. While I think many things can be connected, and it is definitely possible to call sexual energy into almost anything, I had a hard time with what I felt was an implication that all these things are sexual at their most base nature. I don't find the core of my magical practice rooted in sex, and so it was a hard concept for me to connect to.

All in all, I did really enjoy this book. There are quite a few exercises that I tagged to go back and work with. I think that it is a fascinating look at how sexuality can be expressed through a wide range of activities, and that it offers many tools for working through our own sexual identity. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in doing work on sacred sexuality or for anyone who is struggling with aspects of their sexuality and wanting to work through blocks they might have.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moon Phases: using the same pattern for different focus'

I have been paying particular attention to the moon for the past three moon cycles, and plan to continue throughout the coming year.  It is something that has been on my spiritual to-do list for a while, but I kept putting it off or thinking that I'd start 'next year' (so that I could follow the whole set of moons throughout a year).  This year I finally set it as my goal for the year, and I am really enjoying it so far.

I did some preparation for this project, mainly by going over the moon phases and really buckling down on what it all meant.  Moon phases are something that have been a minor part of my practice pretty much since the beginning.  I definitely knew the basic ideas of what the phases meant, and I had written notes on the particular full moons throughout a year several times (from different perspectives).  But I had never really gone into a lot of depth with it.

Before the year started, around November of last year, I started reading what I had written down as well as a series of articles on the moon phases.  I was very interested not only in how these phases might effect me, but also how to harness this energy into my magical path.  I had this grand idea of working through each phases of each moon in a way that not only honored the energy of the phase, but also of that particular full moon too.

And then in December, I sort of gave it a trial run, and went through the moon phases in a general way, not focusing on what that full moon was, just on getting into the rhythm of tuning my work to the phases of the moon.

And I am really enjoying it.  One thing I am finding is that I am definitely seeing a difference in how the phase energy manifests differently depending on the overall focus of the moon.  For those of you that know me from WyldGarden you have probably seen my many posts so far this year on the phases.  I was sort of worried at first that I'd feel like I was just rehashing the same stuff, but (to me at least) it doesn't feel that way.  Each moon shines it's light into a different area of my life, and calls me to work with the energy in different ways.  I find that I am learning more about the phases as I work through them, because I am approaching them from a different angle.

I was also a little worried that the pace and schedule might wear me out.  Especially after January where I jumped head first in with a concentrated 28 days of magic.  That was eye opening in it's own way, and I'll probably write about that at a later date.  But I never want my path to feel like work.  I don't want to do things because I feel like I am required to.  My path is a joy to me and I want to do things because I need them in my life or because they make me happy.

Also in January, I joined a lovely moon group on Facebook, which has been really great to share experiences with other people throughout each moon cycle.  I find this kind of shared connection to be really powerful, and it definitely helps keep me thinking and on track.

And while thinking, journaling, working and writing about each moon phase means doing something every 3-5 days, it hasn't become tedious yet.  I think the main reason is because it reminds me of a spiral.  Every moon I am cycling through the same phases, but not in the same way.

Much like a cycle of learning, each time I come back to a phase, I have all my previous experience with me.  And I am looking forward to how the moons will address different areas of my life throughout the year.  I have already been a lot more thoughtful in my daily life, about the world outside my apartment.  One of the drawbacks I find to modern life, especially my life, where I stay at home most days, is that I often have a sort of disconnect with the world outside.

But looking to the moons has kept me more in tune, and got me more attentive to what is going on outside.  Thinking about the quite rapidly changing phases has created changes in my daily life that otherwise might sort of bleed together.  Working with the energy of each phase has me working through a complete process over a longer period.  Most of the time, I tend to get an idea and either work it through to the end quite quickly or work on it for a while and then set it aside for long periods of time.  I find the moon phases (and the calendars I am using to track my progress) help keep me on track.

I also find that having set time every moon for all the different aspects of the cycle encourages me to spend time on things that I don't normally focus on.  I tend to be pretty action oriented.  I do enjoy planing/visualization and some amount of reflection, but I definitely don't think I spend enough time celebrating my successes and really giving myself love and forgiveness when I stumble.  I also find that setting aside time to just sit with things, without any kind of action at all, is very profound, and not something that I always remember to do.  The moon phases help me to honor all stages of a working instead of forgetting the ones that are more subtle.

I know, that going forward throughout the rest of the year, that my moon practice will continue to change and grow.  Already, I have refined my understanding of some of the phases, and I expect that by the end of the year, the way I think about each phase will have transformed dramatically.  I also feel like I will be able to add to my moon practice a little bit each moon.  I know that I internalize things through practice, and that adding too much all at once can overwhelm me and make me turn away from things.  By holding onto the knowledge that I will be working the moons throughout the year, I don't have that same pressure to do it all right now.  I can add one thing here or there as I feel moved and have time to really absorb it and integrate it into the rest of my practice without undue stress.