Concocting- What to do when your sources disagree?

Meanwhile, over on Ravenson Reagents…

Ravenson Reagents

I’ve mentioned before that research is one of the most important parts of how I create an incense blend.  But to be honest, sometimes I get stuck.  Like, really stuck.

Let’s take myrrh for example.  I’ve always used it to represent the feminine principle, as opposed to the sharp masculinity of frankincense.  I wanted to use it as a base for my full moon incense for that reason, but I decided to go through some books and websites to see if I could confirm that that would be appropriate.

Handful o' myrrh Handful o’ myrrh

Basically, I opened a research wormhole for myself.  For example, in Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise (Llewellyn’s Practical Magick Series), Scott Cunningham attributes myrrh to the very male Sun energies, but also to (traditionally feminine) water.  In Wylundt’s Book of Incense by Steven Smith, it is attributed to Sun and fire, both male.  These…

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My patron deities- Yemaya (water)

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing about my patron deities.  I have a few, you see.  5 to be exact.  Actually, 6, but one is a special case, and I’ll talk about him last.  They’ve all revealed themselves to me at different times, and I intend to talk about them in that order.

My first spiritual experiences as a budding witch were by the ocean.  I have always felt deeply connected when at the beach, and that’s where I first practiced drawing circles in the sand in which to connect with deity, and also meditation.  I also learned to appreciate the gifts of nature picking up seashells, listening to the roar of the oceans as a soundtrack for my exploration, and feeling how the wind caked salt into my hair and onto my lips.

The ocean has always represented all the typical traits of water to me: emotion, ebb and flow, being pulled by tides and learning to surrender to deeper currents.  But I always felt like there was more to it than that.  There was the deep nurture/destroy dichotomy that reminded me so much of motherhood. Not the connected, personal experience of motherhood between one mother and child, but on a larger, global scale.  She truly is the mother of us all.  From the earliest beginnings of life, the ocean has birthed us, fed us, and her salty waters even flow through our veins in the form of blood.  She is also scary as fuck when she wants to be.

I felt this all one day as I was at the beach with a friend’s family.  We were there for 2 weeks, which was long enough for us to realize that we liked each other, but we didn’t have to spend 24/7 together either.  My friend and I had seen some enormous mantarays from the overlook in the backyard of the house we were renting, and we rushed to the beach to see if we could see them.  She soon got bored and went back to the house to watch TV.  (Who watches TV when by the ocean?  Such a waste.)

I spent time at the place where the water meets sand, watching the ocean, meditating.  (I had read books on meditation and hypnosis before I became interested in Paganism, and that was where I learned how easy it is to slip into alpha with the sound of ocean waves to ride along with.)  I was deep in trance, feeling the water as it washed over my legs, and I got the sense that there was some consciousness at work there.  It wasn’t just water anymore, it was a container for so many consciousnesses.  There were things out there that lived and died and they were held in her salty embrace, just as I was just then.  She was truly my mother then.

Back then, there was no Internet.  I’m very old, you see.  So I spent time when I got back home at the library, and researched as much as possible until I found Yemaya.

Virgin of Regla is the syncretic form of Yemaja

Virgin of Regla is the syncretic form of Yemaja (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It felt really right to me that she originated in Africa, where we did.  She is connected to the earliest primordial mother of the earliest people.  She is our source, and even the most landlocked of us sometimes still hear her siren’s call.

She is one of the Orishas (deities) in the Yoruban religion.  She has evolved into Yemaja, Yemanja, La Sirene, Watra Mama, and Diosa del Mar.  The Yoruban religion has spread and been incorporated all over the world, most specifically African, Caribbean, and Latin American areas, and the Orishas show up in altered forms in Vodun, HooDoo, and Santeria.

So I set out to make a playlist for Yemaya, and it wasn’t at all difficult.  I typed ‘Yemaya’ into the search function of Spotify, and was rewarded with HUNDREDS of songs.  I’m not kidding.  I gave up about half way through, but it just goes to show how she’s inspired so many.  The music is mostly Cuban, African, or a mixture thereof, (with some new age ocean sounds mixed in) and this is now easily one of my favorite playlists.  Enjoy it!

Cowrie shell

Cowrie shell (Photo credit: Gerry & Bonni)

 

EDIT 2/25/2014: I forgot to mention my Yemaya Pinterest board, my Water Pinterest board, and that Yemaya’s feast days are February 2nd, December 8th, and New Year’s Eve.

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Energy Redirection

I’ve been going through a bit of a crisis lately.   The fibro has pretty much changed the way I look at everything.  It made me reexamine how I spend my energy, who I give it to, and what actually feeds me energy back.  I’ve spent the last 2 years getting more weak, feeling less ME.

From the embers of my old life...

From the embers of my old life…

THE LONG STORY

Part of this is due to my retail job.  Anyone who thinks that retail is a nice, easy job has never done it.  The energy output is boggling.  Even if I don’t step out from behind my counter once the entire shift, the running back and forth, twisting for cigarettes, bending over for dropped change, etc. makes the shift seem more like 8 hours of Jazzercize than 8 hours of honest work.  Add in people who can’t summon up even the most basic politeness, and my energy plummets.  When I have a true problem with a customer over some misunderstanding or miscommunication, it truly wrecks my day.  Those are the days that ensure I’ll be in pain for the rest of the night and part of the next day.

But I’ll get to that later.

I attempted to take a class for a work-at-home customer service job.  I’ve done it before, and while it is a bit more stressful taking call after call, it’s also less stressful in that I don’t have to constantly rearrange my sleep schedule based on what days I’m opening or closing, and I don’t have to try to arrange for a ride.  I also wouldn’t have to stand/Jazzercize for 8 hours at a time, and I was really looking forward to how that would help my body.  So I was taking classes from 9-1pm, then going to work 3-10.  This all sounds reasonable until you factor in the 2 hours of homework, and the fact that I didn’t get home/fed/tired until somewhere around 1am.  So I kept getting behind on homework, losing sleep, stressing over the class, and I realized that it just wasn’t going to work if I was still working my retail job at the same time.  Sadly, I can’t quit retail for a month of unpaid training for what could have been a temporary job, either.  So it was a no-go.

And suddenly, I was stuck in the same position.  All my hopes for getting out were dashed.  The problem is that I have a very limited time in retail before my body just crumbles.  I can feel it coming.  It’s getting worse and worse, and there’s going to come a time when I really CAN’T physically do it anymore.  Some people may have passed that threshold a while back, but unfortunately for me, I have a lot of experience with pain tolerance.  So I’ve been sticking with the situation that’s hurting me.

So this leaves me with some interesting questions.  First and foremost, what the fuck do I actually want to do?  I love writing, and would love to be a full-time author, but that’s the kind of thing that makes money in the long run.  I may look into freelance writing or editing, but those would just bring in a little money here or there.  You can’t really make a career out of those things.  I’m almost 40.  It’s time to think bigger.

Then I flashed back on a company idea that Bear and I were kicking around a year or so ago.  I made a huge batch of kyphi, intending to sell it on Etsy for basically enough money to buy more incense ingredients.  I had an aromatherapy company a long time ago, and I burnt myself out on it by working too many 16 hour days and eating/sleeping/breathing aromatherapy.  There came a point where I realized that I didn’t even enjoy it anymore.  I tend to be a bit Type A about these things.

This time, I’m going to take it easier.  I’m going to work on a few things at a time, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  One company that has really inspired me to try it this way is MoonaLisa, whom I’ve never managed to order from because her products are in such high demand and I miss the window to order.  If you look at her catalog, you’ll see that everything is sold out.  I love that.

THE SHORT STORY

So, we reopened the topic of Ravenson Reagents.  We’re going to sell on Etsy, maybe Ebay, and probably end up with a full shopping site at some point, but with a limited product range.  I’ll have some incenses that are available most of the time, but there will be special lines when I get inspired.  Right now, I’m working on one called ‘The Temple of Morpheus’, which will have incense, tea, bathsalts, and candles to assist with dreamwork.  I’m also going to list my first batch of kyphi, and I will continue to tweak my recipe and offer the results for sale.  (Hint: the next batch will have about half as much frankincense.  I love frankincense, don’t get me wrong, but I wished that some of the other ingredients could have shone through a little more.)

I’m also trying to visit here more often, and I’m sorry to say this, but I might start placing ads here.  It’s not something I wanted to do, but if it helps me through this transition, so be it.  Since nobody wants to place ads on a blog that doesn’t get many hits, there will be some more promotion work going on behind the scenes.  I’ve always had a linked Twitter and Facebook, I just haven’t used them much.  Now I will.  For other places to visit me, click here.

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I’m also noticing how certain people impact my energy level.  I’ve always been relatively empathic as far as sensing how people are feeling, despite what they say.  But more and more, I’m letting their energy impact my own.  It’s like I had stronger boundaries once, but they’ve weakened with the rest of my body.

I’ve always believed in the energy exchange of personal interaction, and I’ve always had a huge aversion to attention whores.  There’s a big difference between a happy extrovert and an energy-sucking vortex, and I’m really noticing that there are a lot more of the latter types than what I initially suspected.  Again, I think I had better boundaries and shields at one point.

So, that’s something that I’m needing to manage as well.  I need to make sure that I limit my time with people who exhaust me and make sure that I have some sort of shield up when I am around people I don’t know or who drain me.

It looks like some deeper energy work is in order.

I’ve been doing some meditating, which is a practice that I always seem to let go of after a while.  I’m trying to figure out a way to make a daily practice of it, something short and sweet.  We’ll see how that goes.

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While I was at the sauna, I did a reading with my new The Enchanted Map Oracle Cards.  These are supposed to be used as a companion to The Map: Finding the Magic and Meaning in the Story of Your Life, which I haven’t read yet, but it looks interesting.  At any rate, the art on these cards is gorgeous, and the meanings are relatively easy to glean.  So I bought them as an unbirthday present for myself.

I did the 6 card spread, and this is what I got.  (My descriptions are paraphrased loosely from the handy-dandy included booklet.)

The Enchanted Map Spread, sauna, 1/20

The Enchanted Map Spread, sauna, 1/20

Card 1: The Past Influence — 38. Heal the Ouch — Healing and soothing heart, body, mind, and soul.  This is a time of healing and spending time with the healing arts.  (I’m seeing this as me trying to heal myself of all the physical pain of fibro, as well as letting go all of the things that were holding me down.  I can also see this as representing Bear’s heart attack, and just all the chaos of our lives, and having to get through that to get to this point.)

Card 2: The Present Point of Vantage — 34. Spark — A spark of creativity, and moving on with optimism and hope.  Good time to give birth to an idea or begin a new endeavor.  (No-brainer.  I’ve been creative and manic, and the spark is CERTAINLY there.)

Card 3: What You Resist — 52. Magical Map Shifter — People who come into my life to affect personal growth.  “The Magical Map Shifter always initiates you into a better version of yourself.”  (This is true.  I resist this.  I tend to keep people at arm’s length, most especially when I’m in one of my tender creative periods.  I have NO desire to ask for, or even accept help, and this seems like a very foreign concept to me.  Also, I really don’t think this is Bear.  He’s absolutely my soul mate, and he’s willing to help me with this, but I know that this isn’t his dream, and may not be part of his life path.   So I’m cautious about asking for him to do too much for Ravenson Reagents if it’s going to keep him from pursuing his personal goals.)

Card 4: Unexpected Help — 2. Gentle Gardener — A reminder that my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs help create my reality.  Stay positive and expect a wondrous return.  (I love this card so much.  It’s very ‘Law of Attraction’, and that’s something I’m striving to work with right now.)

Card 5: The Next Right Action — 16. Rescue — Ask for help to expand your life.  “Ask and you will receive.”  Also, ask for divine assistance.  (I did ask Bear if he would help me with small things, but again, that just doesn’t feel like what we’re talking about here.  I don’t honestly know who else to ask.  But I’m going to keep an eye out, and spend time with my meditation to see if I can deepen my connection with Goddess.  Karmically speaking, I think I’m about due for some good things to come my way.  I don’t feel entitled to them necessarily, but I’d like to think that all the BS was building up to something beautiful.  :-))

Card 6: The Probable Future Destination — 28. Movement — “This is the time for positive momentum as you come out of a time of restriction.”  The fog lifts, I feel compelled to move forward, and I take the right actions to change my life.  (Ye Gods, I hope so.  This is a wonderful card, and the ‘period of restriction’ really spoke to me.  I’ve mentioned to Bear and J how much I’ve just felt ‘stuck’ lately.  I’ve been feeling like I’m out of options.  Maybe that’s not entirely true.  What a wonderful feeling that would be, to actually move forward with something and be successful.  :-))

So this was all a really positive reading.  I loved it, and I want to work with these cards A LOT.  Again, they’re beautiful, from the artwork to the gorgeous gold-leafing on the edges, and I love the archetypes and their influences.  It brings me back to the bosom of Jungian theory, and that’s always been something I’ve loved.

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This is the last of my obsessive self-analysis posts for a while.  I’m actually boring myself with all this processing here, but it IS that inner exploration time of the year, after all.  I promise to get back to something much more fun and upbeat next time.  Maybe I’ll post my recipe for Imbolc potato soup.  Actually, there’s not really a recipe, it’s just something I make up every year.  There’s always onions, potatoes, milk or a milk substitute, and lots of garlic and herbs.  Sometimes there’s also cheese.  🙂

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More bird omens and good coffee

This morning, when I was taking our roommate into work, I nearly ran into 4 huge crows in the middle of the road who were fighting over some poor dead critter.  I’ve always been a huge fan of the crow rhyme (have I listed it here?), and 4 is for birth.  So I’m wondering what new thing will be coming into our life right now.  Bear just had an interview that seemed to go really well, so hopefully that’s a sign of good things to come.  🙂

One is for Sorrow,
Two is for Mirth.
Three for a Wedding,
Four for a Birth.
Five is for Silver,
Six is for Gold,
Seven for a Secret Never to be Told.
Eight is for Heaven,
Nine is for Hell.
Ten is for the Devil’s Own Self.

Crow/Raven is also kind of a family totem, as it’s part of the name we adopted when we got married and in our various creative pursuits, so I pay special attention when it shows itself.

Later, as I was taking the dogs out, there was an enormous hawk sitting on the deck.  He flew away, and I marveled at how big he was.  His wingspan must have been 3 1/2 feet easily.

According to All Totems, hawk’s message is insight, adaptability, openness, visionary power and guardianship.  So there’s an opportunity out there for me that I need to pay attention to.  When Bear gets his job, I finally get to quit my job and start working from home again.  I get to leave behind the pain of my stressful retail job, and do better for myself.  I get to apply for insurance, regulate my sleep schedule, decide how much stress I’m willing to allow in my life, and act accordingly.  It will be great for my writing, great for my fibro, and I’ll be making more money to boot.  It will improve a lot of things for me.

Photograph of a Red-tailed Hawk en ( Buteo jam...

Photograph of a Red-tailed Hawk en ( Buteo jamaicensis en ). Photo taken at the Zoo America in Hershey, Pennsylvania where it was identified.

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Today I’m drinking a 1/2 blend of Starbucks Sumatra and Peet’s Major Dickason with white chocolate and macadamia creamer.  Holy shit.  I’m in love.  Who needs sex?
(Wait, scratch that….)

Glogg recipe

This is something I’ve made for years and years.  Be careful drinking it!  It will hit you like a sledgehammer.  A delicious, Swedish, Yuletide sledgehammer.

Glogg

Heat one bottle dry red wine with one sliced orange, 3/4 cups raisins, 1/2 cup blanched almonds, 6 cardamom pods, 5 cloves, and a cinnamon stick. (spices should be tied in cheesecloth to be removed before drinking)

In another saucepan, combine a bottle of brandy and a pound of sugar. Heat a little, then flame the brandy to melt the sugar. (This is where I invariably set something- a spoon, kitchen towel, the counter- on fire).

When the sugar has completely dissolved and the flame is extinguished, mix the mixture with the wine.

Spoon into mugs with an orange slice, a few raisins, and almonds in each glass.

Français : Verre de vin chaud

Français : Verre de vin chaud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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