Earth My Body

“Oh, it’s obviously broken,” I say as I look at the number that’s much too high. I step off the scale, let it clear, take off my shirt (because it must weigh 10 pounds, and step back on the scale. The same number taunts me from the digital screen. “Definitely broken,” I say to myself and shove another cookie in my mouth (probably).

I’ve made these excuses to myself for a while not. “Oh, these pants must have shrunk in the wash” or  “Or, I did have a big lunch, maybe I’m just a little bloated.” I’ve said to myself/ I’ve always been a “big guy.” It’s never really bothered me, though. I’ve always preferred art and literature more than sports and fitness.

Last year, I joined a curling club (the winter sport, not the weight lifting) and had a great time. However, I quickly noticed that I was the only one who would be out of breath and covered in sweat even though the room was freezing. The next day, it took everything in me to get out of bed because my legs burned from the exertion. After the season ended, I lost any desire to get into shape.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was meditating on the earth element. I focused on the strength of my body, but struggled. I held the thought that my body held the strength of the mountains, but it didn’t work. I didn’t feel the normal “click” that I always do. After some soul searching, I found that I didn’t connect with the strength concept of the earth element because I didn’t feel that way about my body.

Why should I care about being strong? That has nothing do with spirituality! I thought to myself. Again, all I needed was some soul searching to understand. My body is my ultimate connection to the world. By being mindful of what goes in my body and the level of activity that my body receives is in itself a practice of gratitude. By keeping my body strong, I’m also reaping the benefits that go with it. I’ll have more energy, a better ability to focus, and arguably, being better able to move energy.

With that being said, I joined a gym the next day. It’s been a little over a week, and I’ve been committed to working out every other day. To my surprise, I’ve found that my body is capable of more than I have ever given myself credit for. This morning, I did a few miles on the treadmill, did some strength training, and headed to the locker room. I glanced at the clock and saw that I still had 20 minutes before I had to shower and head to work. Rather than leave early, I decided to spend another 20 minutes on the treadmill. I feel that as my body gets stronger, so will my will.

Raising a green smoothie in the air, I drink to my continued journey.

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Memory Jar – 2017

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As soon as the clock hit 3:15pm, I decided it was close enough to 4pm for me to leave work for the day. I closed my laptop, locked my desk, and said a half-hearted goodbye as the door was closing behind me. I don’t think my feet even touched the ground until I was in the elevator.

Tomorrow is my 32nd birthday and that means a lot of things to me. First it means that tomorrow will be another short day at work and that I will have a cocktail in my hand by 5 o’clock. This weekend will be more of the same. Most importantly it means that it’s time to finally break out the memory jar and read through the adventures I experienced over the past year.

A few years ago, I saw a post on Facebook that a friend shared. The post was about the practice of writing down everything amazing that happens to you and putting it in the jar. Then, each year, you read through your memories to remind yourself how fortunate you are.

This has been the best part of my birthday since I’ve adopted the practice. Here are some highlights of my jar for the past year:

 

  • 8/16 – I had a huge fight with my friend, but he still showed up and celebrated my birthday and we decided just to let the fight go.
  • 8/16 – Put a terrible situation behind me and learned some responsibility.
  • 9/1 – I was offered and accepted my dream job. (I realize that I bitch about my job a lot. It’s nice to be reminded that I am incredibly blessed to have my job.)
  • 9/9 – Went to the World Cup of Hockey game and took part in a legitimate “USA” chant.
  • 9/20 – Began my Pagan study group
  • 10/3 – Went curling for the first time with my friends Garrett and Alex (The Olympic ice sport, not weight lifting).
  • 10/4 – Forgave, blessed, and released an old friendship that was no longer serving me. (A year ago, I would never have thought about ending a friendship, no matter how bad it was for me. It’s amazing to see that I have grown.)
  • 10/6 – Hired my first employee at my new job!
  • 10/14 – Developed my first training piece for my new job (the first time I felt like could actually perform well in my new role.)
  • 2/15 – Heard my mom brag to a friend about the Valentine’s Day dinner I made her.
  • 2/27 – I threw the best shot at our curling match and won the game for our team!
  • 3/10 – Received an unexpected and substantial bonus at work!
  • 4/1 – My best friend came back from her travels through Europe and Africa.
  • 6/16 – Graduated with my Masters!
  • 7/22 – Had a significant experience that let me know that I was on the right spiritual path.
  • 8/5 – Made friends with an enemy

Tonight, I will ritually give thanks for the gifts I received in the past year. After burning the memories, I will set intentions for the year to come. Here’s a (very) short list:

  • Continue to grow spiritually and professionally
  • Spend more time with my family
  • Travel to Africa to visit my friend who’s travelling abroad
  • Commit to Feri tradition training
  • Start my spiritually-based company

Here’s to another great year!

Turn Me On

I stir my cocktail with my straw to mix the vodka and Red Bull a bit more than the bartender did. “Well the Feri creation story says that the Goddess was alone, but complete within Herself. She was floating through space when she noticed her reflection in the curve of the Universe. She fell instantly in love with Herself, made love to Herself, and Her orgasm created everything in the Universe[1]I said before taking a sip of my drink. My friend blinked hard.

“Isn’t that a little, narcissistic? I mean, She was turned on by Her reflection” he asked. I paused and shook my head,

“No, not at all. It wasn’t just Her beauty that she fell in love with. It was Her power. Her potential” I explained. As soon as the words left my lips, something clicked inside my head. It was like a mystery being revealed to me.

“Did I lose you?” my friend asked? He stared at me and slowly sipped his beer.

“Dude, I think I made a breakthrough” I blurted out excitedly.

“The Star Goddess was able to create everything we know because She loved Herself, trusted in Her potential, and gave Herself the permission to create reality. That’s the recipe for real, transformation magick!”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” he asked, this time lighting a cigarette. I sighed, but decided to continue.

“My magick works, but it doesn’t always feel organic. I think this is what I am missing. Before I work magick, I must honor myself and honor the power of potential that lives within every choice that I make, magickally or mundanely. I literally need to look at my actions, work under the guidance of my own divine authority, and be turned on by my own capabilities. That’s the path of true magick”

“Did you want another drink?” he asks, still not following. He got up before I could say anything, but that was fine with me. I leaned back in my chair and enjoyed the afterglow of my spiritual insight.

 

 

[1] This creation story was taken from The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.

Honoring my Beloved Dead – Chante

I feel like I am writing one of these posts every other week. This one hits hard.

Chante and I worked together about 5 years ago. In fact, when I became a trainer, she took over my old position in Quality Assurance. We spent most of our work hours in the office together. Rather than focusing on work, we’d talk about anything and everything. This usually meant that on Friday, we’d have tons of work to complete before we could leave, so we’d “race” each other to see who could get their work done first. The winner would always stay to help the other.

I knew Chante and I would be friends when she came into work one morning and seemed a little down. I asked her what was wrong and she gave the candid response of “Have you ever had a bowel movement that just ruined your day?” I laughed. Hard. So did she.

Chante was the most genuinely sweet person in the world. Every morning began with the greeting “Happy (insert day of the week).” I don’t think she knew how much hearing “Happy Monday” at the beginning of another work week made the struggle less real for me. When I felt overwhelmed with work or was fighting the urge to leave early, she always reminded me to “be on my grind and make that money.”

Chante was everyone’s friend and she affectionately referred to everyone as “Boo.” This wasn’t because she didn’t know their names, she knew everyone’s name (and their kids, and their hobbies, their favorite food, their birthday…).

I used to tease her that she was only sweet because she ate too much sugar. She never argued. In fact, her go-to coffee order was an iced venti caramel macchiato with 8 pumps of vanilla syrup (they usually only have three). When we made coffee runs, I loved to see the barista’s face when she ordered.

Chante is leaving behind a very young daughter, but I know she is surrounded by love. That baby girl is definitely going to hear about her amazing mama.

Today, I honor Chante. Not at my altar, but at my desk at work while I’m on my grind. I am sipping on an over-sweetened coffee and greeting everyone with an enthusiastic “Happy Friday.”

Chante, I thank you for your smile, your laughter, and your sweetness.

The world is a little bit dimmer without your light, but you shine brightly on the other side of the veil.

Blessed may you be in this world and all others, Boo.  

Things to Expect When You Dedicate Yourself to Magickal Training

At its basic level, magick is based on the principle of cause and effect. Although most practitioners of magick understand this basic concept, some overlook the effect magickal training will have in other aspects of their lives. In my personal experience, there are several things you can expect when you begin to study magick.

  1. Relationships may change or dissolve

The goal of any magickal tradition is to help the adherent discover their true will. The practice of magick will lead the practitioner to self-possession, the state of knowing and accepting exactly who you are with the strength to follow your true will. When this happens, the relationships you have with people whose intentions may be crossed with your own, will naturally change or fall away.

The same is true for toxic relationships. Once you begin to see that the relationship is holding you back from achieving your highest good, you will be more than happy to part ways with toxic people.

The reverse is also true. You will begin to notice traits in others that resonate with your most authentic self and these relationships will flourish.

 

  1. Your emotions might be all over the place

Magickal practice, spiritual development, and psychic expansion will open up your chakras and other energy centers in ways you may not have experienced before. This may result in some mood swings at first.

For example, one moment someone may disrespect you, and the fight or flight instinct of your root chakra coupled with the communication center in your throat may cause you to defend yourself vehemently. The next moment you may happen by the final moments of  Undercover Boss where the CEO of a company gives an employee a scholarship, and you’ll burst into tears. (Hypothetically of course – Okay, yeah this happened me).

To counteract this, try chakra balancing techniques and breathing through any knee-jerk emotional reactions.

  1. Your intuition will be on point 

The more you practice magick, the better your sense of intuition will become. That small voice inside your head gets a bit louder, and that gut feeling gets a bit stronger. There have been times since I’ve rededicated myself to spiritual practice that I’ve wanted to consult my Tarot cards or doing some scrying, but found that my inner voice would lead me down the right path.

This can be a double-edged sword though. For me, my intuition has become a precise bullshit detector. Any time someone lies to me or omits information, I get a little tap on my psychic shoulder. Sometimes it has led to me getting into an argument with a friend, but overall it has allowed me to open the door to and long overdue conversation with a loved one.

  1. Your magickal proficiency will increase

You know what they say, practice makes perfect. The same goes for magick. As cited by my few “No Frills-Magick” posts, I’ve lost the need to full blown magickal practice. In fact, I have found that when I step to my altar for ritual, I can ground and center, cast a circle, and align my energies with a few breaths, rather than with the intense visualization, words of power, or ritual actions.

You may experience times in which the very act of planning a magickal working will be enough to manifest your goal.

  1. You’ll experience a mind-body-spirit alignment

The more time you dedicate to spirituality, the lines between your different parts will blur. You’ll start to understand how your mind and body are as magickal as your spirit.

For me, this manifested in a few ways. First, I’ve become more regimented in taking care of my body. I’ve been better about eating clean food, spending more time being active, and have started the process to quit smoking. In regards to strengthening my mind, I’ve started spending more time painting and reading than I have in the past.

By honoring all parts of my being, I am becoming more connected with life as a whole.

  1. Those in need will seek you out

I believe that as you grow spiritually, you become a beacon. People will recognize your connectedness and come to you for help. These may be people you know or even complete strangers. They may need advice or simply need someone to listen. The important thing here is to listen to your intuition and allow yourself to be open to their needs.

  1. You’ll require more alone time

Until recently, I’ve needed to be surrounded by people constantly. There were times I would go out every night. Sometimes, I’d even invite friends out to the bar, but not really talk to them. I just needed someone there.

Alone time has become a huge priority for me. I attribute this to self-discovery that comes with magickal practice. The more time you spend growing spiritually, the more you understand yourself. This understanding ultimately leads to you enjoying your own company. This alone time lets you recharge and take care of yourself. It reminds me of an old Wiccan adage I read (I think in Marion Weinstein’s Earth Magick), “You cannot draw from an empty well.”

  1. Your priorities will change

 

This is related to #7. As you get closer to understanding your true will, you will start to prioritize things differently. You’ll begin to see what’s truly important and arrange your life around these things.

For me, this presented itself as a need to say no to things that I hated. It seems simple enough, but I felt that there were things that I had to do. By looking at what I really wanted from life, I could see that some of these things could be easily overlooked. For example, if a friend is having a party, I don’t feel obligated to go. If I’d rather stay home and veg out on the couch, I simply say no. No guilt. No regrets. Just focusing on what I need and want to do.

  1. You might experience a dark night of the soul

A great philosopher (okay, a video game Kingdom Hearts) once said: “the closer you get to the light, the bigger your shadow becomes.” This is totally true. When you look at your life through the lens of spiritual development, you shine the proverbial light on the things you usually hide from everyone (yourself included).

Once these things come to light, you might experience some hardships. You may even feel disconnected from your deities. This is normal. Keep the faith and keep up with your daily practice. The purpose of spiritual practice is to become a more complete person, and these hardships are part of that process.

  1. You will understand that this is just the first step of your journey

Spiritual development and magickal practice are  lifelong commitments. When you begin your practice, you want to learn it all at once. You want to become Dumbledore, but that’s not how it works. You have to start slow and build upon your practice slowly. In fact, you might get far along your path, but realize that the path doesn’t suit you. Even if you start and restart several times throughout your life, you will get closer to your destination each time.

Remember, it’s okay to be Ron Weasley.

Honoring my Beloved Dead – Charles

Tomorrow marks 12 years since I arguably the worst news of my life. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was just after dark and I had just gotten back from having a few drinks with my friends to celebrate the 4th. I had only been home long enough to take a quick shower and relax on the couch. I heard someone pull into my driveway and I got up to answer the door. It was my Aunt Diane and my Uncle Carl. I’ve never been close to my mother’s side of the family, which made it super weird that they would show up unexpectedly.

I answered the door and they came inside without saying anything. We sat on the couch and they informed me that my older brother Charles had committed suicide. The world stopped. I understood what they had said, but it didn’t feel real. I reached for my phone to call my family, but my aunt told me that they already knew. Apparently, my parents sent them over to tell me since they didn’t want me to hear the news over the phone. I made the call anyway and my parents were too distraught to talk. I hung up and said goodbye to my aunt and uncle.

I walked out onto my back porch and lit up a cigarette. My mind raced with speculations about what happened. You see, my brother was a toxic person. He had been in and out of jail my entire life. He struggled with addiction, had severe mental health issues, and was barely able to hold on any semblance of structure or balance.

Towards the end of his life, my brother had made steps to better his life. He was attending college, had a steady job, and was about to propose to his girlfriend. When his girlfriend broke up with him, he lost his grip on his sanity.

I remember receiving a call about a month before his death from Charles. He didn’t have a particular reason for the call, he just wanted to catch up. I was 19 at the time, not that this matters, but I was extremely selfish during this period of my life. I didn’t have time to talk to him. I don’t remember what I was doing or where I was going, but to me, it was more important than talking to my brother. I promised that I would come visit him soon, but made my definite plans. I hung up and never talked to him again.

For several years, the 4th of July has always been a terrible day. I vacillated between staying home looking through pictures of my brother and mourning my loss or surrounding myself with friends and drinking myself numb. The sound of fireworks still ignite a level of anxiety matched by nothing. Over time, I’ve gotten better about this day. This time of year is still emotional and I sometimes snap at people around me, but I have a better outlook.

So today, I honor my brother Charles. On my altar, I place his picture, a fishing lure, and a can of Budweiser. I pray that he has finally found rest.

Charles, my brother. Thank you for your guidance, protection, and friendship.

Blessed may you be in this world and all others.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, every day. You can call them at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with someone online by going here.

17 Witchy Questions

A Youtuber named Raven Flower shared a #17WitchyQuestionsTag video. I like these types of thing because it gives me a focus for writing and because it becomes a community discussion. Several people have responded with YouTube videos and, although I plan to post videos at some points, I prefer the written word. So, below are my answers to the 17 Witchy Questions for 2017.

 

  1. When times get tough, do you fight? Or take flight?
    1. I typically take flight. I, admittedly, am a very sensitive person, which makes me prone to being hurt or offended more times that I’d like to admit. In the past, I’ve reacted to these issues by fighting. Not necessarily the physical kind, but I’ve had my fair share of verbal altercations. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more aware of my own reactions, so I try to remove myself from negative situations and think through solutions before I act. If fighting is the best option, watch out! I’m going to come through with guns blazing. Usually though, removing yourself from toxic places is often the best solution.
  1. Is there a certain color you connect with?
    1. When I became serious about my practice, I noticed that the color blue began showing up in strange ways. When I visualize my personal energy, it’s blue. When I visualize my astral body, it’s covered in blue armor. When I astral project or do journey work, the world has a blue tint to it.
  2. What is your Sun, Moon, Rising sign?
    1. I was originally told that I was triple fire (Leo, Aries, Sagittarius, respectively) by an astrologer, but I decided to do my own research. I’m a Leo sun (typical Leo, honestly), Virgo moon, and Scorpio rising. I’m not sure what this means, but it just means I have something else to research!
  3. Something you would change if you could.
    1. My brother killed himself several years back. At the time, he and I were estranged due to some bad decisions that he made. I felt that it was in my best interest to put some distance between us. About a month before he passed, he tried to call me. I sent the call to voicemail and never returned the call. If I could change anything, I would go back and answer the call.
  4. Are you passing down your knowledge to the next generation? If so, in what way?
    1. Sort of. I’m currently running a pagan study group and several of the members have children. So, in a way, I’m helping parents to form a religion background that they may pass on to their children. This blog is another way I’m passing on my traditions to the next generation. I also plan to hold workshops at local pagan shops geared specifically to LGBT youth.
  1. Ancestor connections? Who’s coming through?
    1. Tons! Along with the other four traditional elements, I add light, blood, and shadow. Blood represents my connection to those who come before me. So, ancestors play a huge role in my practice and get evoked before any other practice. The ancestor that comes through the most is my grandpa Joe. He has a very calming and protective effect on me.
  1. Do you prefer to do magick with others or by yourself?
    1. By myself. I tend to practice “on-the-fly” or instant magick. Basically, I have a need, I throw together some magick based on what I have on hand and where I am led. This approach doesn’t typically work with a group. With that being said, I would like to begin practicing magick and ritual with my study group.
  2. Do you feel there is only one type of meditation?
    1. Not at all. I’m not one for the silent type of meditation where you sit and count your breaths. I’m too restless for that. Instead, I prefer guided meditations or journey work. I also have experienced the same benefits of meditation while painting and dancing. I’ve even experience a light meditation when editing documents at work or playing board games with friends. My biggest tip for those new to meditation is to do what works for you.
  3. What is your favorite flower? Why?
    1. Lavender flowers – I love the way they smell and I use a lot of lavender in my ritual work. It’s just always been a staple in my home and my garden. I plant it next to the doors to attract love and to offer protection.
  4. Have you tried a new form of divination this year?
    1. Actually, yes. I have a few entries posted in the past few weeks about my new shiny crystal ball. There will also be more to come, as I have been working with her a lot. I’ve also spent a little bit of time with tea leaf readings. Maybe I’ll post a little on that too.
  5. What is your favorite what to connect to the elements?
    1. Ritually, I like to focus on the parts of the elements that are parts of myself. My breath in air, my bones are earth, my body heat is fire, and my blood is water. Mundanely, I like to connect to the elements by being out in nature, particularly in my garden. I also like to find new ways to view the elements. For example, the internet is an amazing symbol of the communicative powers of air. Electricity is pretty much the same as fire. The paint I use in art is both water and earth. Pretty much everything we do can have elemental associations if you look close enough.
  1. Tea or coffee?
    1. Seriously though, I love coffee. Specifically, iced coffee with a little coconut milk.
  2. Do you come a witchy family? Do you feel that bloodline is important or does it matter?
    1. I would say that I come from a magickal family. I don’t feel that blood is important though. Family is much more than that to me. I feel like once you find your tribe, any magickal associations or gifts that might be passed down genetically can be passed own energetically as well. Simply put, witches are made, not born.
  3. List 3 of your favorite YouTube channels.
    1. Joanna DeVoe, Kelly-Ann Maddox, and Molly Roberts. You can find links to their channels in the Resources section in the sidebar.
  4. What is your favorite witchy book?
    1. Fiction would be The Mayfair Witches series by Anne Rice. I love this book series and even made it a point to visit the house it was based around during my trip to New Orleans. Nonfiction would have to be the Temple of Witchcraft series by Christopher Penczak. It’s a great self-study course in the art and science of Witchcraft.
  1. An herb you haven’t worked with yet.
    1. It’s poisonous, but in small doses, it can help one to astral project. You can buy products with a smidge of belladonna in them, I’m just a big wuss.
  2. What are your goals for the next year?
    1. To find out what I want to be when I grow up. I just finished my MBA and have a decent job, but, like a spoiled kid, I. Want. More. I’d like to work in a field where I get to help people. I’d like to travel the world again, as well. I’d also like to see my study group grow. I want to bring in more people including newbies and advanced practitioners. I’d like to offer virtual and onsite classes and workshops, create YouTube videos, and grow my Tarot client base. I’d like Caffeine-Fueled Magick to be more than a blog, I want it to become a full offering of magickal education and self-development support.