When a Funk is not a funk

I have been lucky enough to know Hope and Glory for a long time now – I’m not going to say how many years, it’s not relevant. Our relationship has been lifetimes in the making. (Hope has no proof of reincarnation. She remains skeptical) When you have known someone for this long, you start to really understand them and their moods. Good moods, bad moods and even when they are in a down right funk. If you ask them they know my moods as well. It happens with friends. You don’t even have to be empathic to notice these things.   You just have to have your head out of your ass er… your heart open to see and feel the emotions of those around you. It’s not some trick.

So when Hope or Glory are in a funk I know, when they are truly excited and happy I know. When they feel trapped and are struggling I know and vice versa.  They are family and we know when someone is off. Most of the time this off-ness is normal. I understand that emotions like everything in life are on a continuum. We are not meant to be always happy or always sad but flow from one emotion to the next.  I teach and study yoga; this is one of the key parts of a healthy yoga practice, to know and to focus on the moment, to experience that emotion fully, and then move on to the next. We are always flowing and ever changing.

So when Hope, Glory, one of my Spawn or Coyvere gets stuck in an emotion, it’s a flag to me that something is up. Not always ‘oh, my stars and garters, it’s a magical attack!’, but something wrong – let’s dig into it and find out what’s up.

I have my check lists that I always run thought before jumping to a magical cause. Do I need to eat, do I need to drink something, am I in pain because I over did something, and lastly am I really just this pissy and moody because of hormones or is there something else going on?  Coyvere has blood sugar issues; he can get rather dark, broody and glum if he hasn’t eaten in a couple of hours. Both he and I were hard on our bodies in our youth so they ache at times. Being pre-menopause sucks. These are just realities of my being in a human body.

On the days, where I feed Coyvere and drink some water, we both go back to our normal and it’s all good. Maybe I’ll take a bath in some Epson salts to soak these poor muscles and joints; things relax, pain goes away, and to quote one of my favorite children’s books again “it’s all good”.  Hormone stuff – well, that’s just a ball of long tailed wet cats in a room full of rocking chairs – no real safe way to check that other than personal recognition. Once I’ve got though this check list and if any of these things help then I know the cause is physical or mental.

Days when I go through the check list and nothing helps, like chatting with Hope and getting a headache, and feeling just wave after emotional wave of panic coming off of her, then I can go huh… that’s not right. Maybe there is something else going on.

Recognize that your thoughts come and go; they are not inevitable, nor are they permanent. This is not saying you don’t have a right to be pissed off, or angry, or afraid of something or a situation. It does mean that if you can’t let go of that fear, pissed off or that anger maybe just maybe something is feeding that emotion.  When logic fails then it’s time to check for magical influence. Which (witch?) sounds strange given that magic has logic, but I digress.

Remember the post the three of us wrote a few months ago on cleaning and warding. That is always the first step in checking to see if something has a magical influence. Clean yourself off, dust those chakras, and polish up that aura. Redo your wards, reinforce your wards. Clean off other family members and the pets. Maybe even burn some incense.  Do what you need to do to get the icky out of your house and off you.

If this doesn’t help, call a friend. Friends have a wonderful way of helping you when you are down and with calling you out. We are not always meant to travel this journey alone learn and it is always okay to ask for help

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Curses foiled again

Over the past few months I’ve had this conversation with a very dear friend of mine, Marigold, as well as a couple of family members and acquaintances. So when Hope came to me with a problem about her sibling being cursed I was full of advice.

Nettle: “No… it’s not a constant sending of negative energy, that is the crazy part of someone “cursing you” or sending you negative juju – you have to believe it’s happening and then you feed that seed by believing it. It takes about a month to break out of that cycle.

Hope: “So it’s all in their heads? Really, Nettle!

Nettle: “Yes and no, it’s a neophyte negative fantasy – let me explain.”

Hope: (with great foreshadowing) “lol, I sense a post emerging!”

Nettle: (putting on my best professorial robes):

“To curse someone takes energy. It’s a big spell and one that most of us believe – someone is sitting in a dark room chanting to the gods of evil, making prayers and chanting thoughts, sending doom and despair in our direction. Sadly, there is a much more malevolent reality. Think for a moment- who has the time and energy to chant dark thoughts for or about someone all day long? Not me, for sure. Some days I contemplate but then mundane realities like dishes, laundry, having to pay the bills, feed the cats, feed the humans – these all interrupt and well, poof there goes all my thoughts of death, destruction, and world domination.

The reality is that WE BELIEVE we are cursed, and once that seed is planted “all these bad things are happening to me, I must be (The) ‘Cursed”. We feed that seed. Everything bad then because power or food for ‘The Curse.’

‘The Curse’ is a small bit of energy sent as a suggestion that grows and grows by our fear and belief.

So, did someone send them negative thoughts? Yes.

Are they really powerful enough to make “The Curse” on them happen? I have my doubts. Most people do not have that level of power to always send energy to make the bad shit happen. Sure, they may believe they have the ear of the Furies, but it’s not likely.

But when we think/ feel/ believe everything bad that is happening to me right now is because John ‘Cursed’ me last week, we’ve fed ‘The Curse’ with our own power. We are feeding this illusion with our own power.

That is why they are so hard to break from, because we create and feed this illusion.

The reality is that sometimes things suck, sometimes bad things happen, there are random acts of chaos.

There is also nothing wrong with sending out a curse breaker, that will help us overcome the illusion. With most curses being illusion, and illusion being some of the hardest magic to work with or against, it does become a huge challenge to overcome. All tools are useful.

And there is your post my dear.”

(I, Nettle paused here for a sip of tea and to let my fingers rest and to adjust these fancy robes)

Hope: “It’s a nice little post!”

Nettle: “Thanks … does it make sense? This really got to me when I was going though chemo and dealing with cancer”

Hope: “It does make sense.”

Nettle: “It was hard to watch the number of people who thought, felt, and believed they were being punished by someone, and that something gave them cancer. These people walked around beaten, battered, and just soul sick.  I had to really work that my cancer was just some random, fucked up chaos of the universe, nothing personal. I’d done nothing to deserve it nor was it a punishment for something I’d done in a past life. It was a random act of chaos – I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That mindset got reinforced each week with your Reiki and I’m sure that is why 16 years later I’m still cancer free.”

Hope: “Yes, you really ought to transcribe this into a post for the blog. It is very powerful.”

(Then I, Nettle, preened like a happy cat)

Nettle: “It shall be done, Number One.”

Hope: “Make it so!”

And it was, and it was kind of good.

Who hasn’t asked or felt when things in our life suck ‘Is something or someone causing this to happen to me?’ Maybe you had a friend an acquaintance (seriously you can’t call someone a friend who calls the furies on you) who was angry or felt the need to teach you a lesson and thought they knew the best way to teach that lesson was to call a Fury or some other vengeful spirit. I am not going to deny the existence of these beings. The Furies exist, as do other vengeful spirits and guardians.  They have their purpose and reason for being, to bring balance to the universe.  Yet to summon the Furies because someone has pissed you off is like getting a nuke to rid your house of termites.

Life lessons happen; some may be planned, and some are random.

Curses are real, but they are also some of the best illusion magic out there; so what does one do when they think they are cursed?

Do a bit of cleaning (physical and spiritual) of your space, self, and home.  Burn some sage or other incenses.  I’m a fan of a good Mirror spell, using a mirror to bounce the energy back to the caster as well as help you to see the illusion of the spell itself. Rowan branches, iron nails, black lava stones or maybe a nice piece of Ruby in Zoisite to turn that negative energy into something positive.

Take a deep breath and think “What’s really going on here.”

What is Meditation?

Yesterday, while going about my day, I remembered a post from one of the Fitness Coaches I follow months back.  She asked about Meditation and a host of Christians jumped in poo-pooing meditation, saying it was evil.  Telling her instead to pray and read her Bible.  I got annoyed then but didn’t comment; instead I walked away.

Today my Mom started asking about grounding, centering, meditating and ritual.  It reminded me that there is much misconception to what exactly meditation is.  It isn’t always a Monk folded into lotus position with hands on his knees, fingers together and eyes closed in quiet contemplation.

Meditation is pure and simply living in the moment, being focused on a singular task, thought, or activity to the point of excluding distractions.  It can be totally engulfed in a song and letting it carry you away.  It can be focusing on washing each dish by hand and reveling in the feel of the water on your hand and that dish.  It can be sitting, eyes closed and envisioning a scene to help you relax and explore your inner landscape.  It can be drumming and following the rhythm to allow your body, mind and conscious to match the beat to relieve stress and just be.

There are a wealth of meditations out there to be read, followed, listened to, and tried at your leisure.  Meditation is there to help us relax, release stress, and find a bit of balance in our often too busy lives.  It is important for us all, no matter our religion.  So going back to my initial story, it really annoys me when someone equates meditation with evil.  It just isn’t.  It is a tool to help any and every one of us to slow down and enjoy our lives.

It can be those quiet or spoken prayers a Christian says to God.  It is the prayer mat intonations a Muslim gives throughout the day when called to.  It is the lotus position om chanting practice of the Hindu and Buddhists.  Meditation is as varied as the individuals practicing it.  Each one a singular and different experience for the person practicing it.  Images change, messages may differ.  It is what it needs to be and is not defined or constrained by definitions or words we as a human experience give it.

Meditation is not evil or a gateway for evil.  It is a tool to help us find, achieve and maintain balance in our lives.  That is it.  Pure and simple.  Something often lacking in our lives.  A stolen, quiet moment to ourselves to solidify our goals, release our angst, and just be the perfect us we are meant to be.  So go say your devotionals, walk a moon lit path in your mental dreamscape, say the rosary, sit in lotus and chant “Om” or whatever calls to you.  But find the simple moments that call to you, and relax, de-stress, and just be.  Meditate for you.  For your health, your happiness and a bit of balance!

Samskara

A quick language lesson in Sanskrit to help put to words some of these ideas I’ll be delving into in my post.

  • Samskara: mental impression, emotional knots or subconscious imprints – the mistakes we make over and over again.
  • Sankalpa: a wish from the heart or mind, one pointed resolve to do or to focus on something to improve the self.
  • Atman: the higher or supreme self that resides with deity.
  • Purusha: The soul – sometimes referred to as male or masculine always eternal and indestructible reality of you.
  • Prakriti: divine feminine can also mean that found in nature in its unaltered form it can also mean “that which gives shape or form” nature or pure energy. Prakriti can also be our physical body and mind as well as earth, air, fire, and water. Always eternal and indestructible reality of you.

These days it seems to be all the rage among Pagan communities to find or deal with your dark/shadow side.  While I’m not dismissing this practices in the least I would like to point out that the idea is not something new. Shamans have been dealing with inner demons as part of their practices for centuries and yogis have samskara and sankalpa

In a very basic definition samskara is the scar tissue of your karma, the trigger that keeps you making the same mistake life time after life time.

Sankalpa is a wish your heart makes to help overcome your samskara.

Most of us, when we think of resolutions or ideas to make ourselves better, are trapped in the cultural mindset of how or where we were raised.  We tend to think of this as:

  • If I lose 10 pounds my life would be great…
  • If I quit smoking all my dreams would come true…
  • I’ll make a vow to go to the gym three times a week…
  • If I quit abusing drugs and or alcohol, sugar or caffeine etc…

While some of these are great resolutions that may help you to dig into your dark/shadow side, for the most part these are temporary fixes to a much larger issue. When we become suckered into thinking that some random physical changes to your body or even where you live or what you do to make a living will make your life suddenly easier, we become trapped in our samskara, we are in the Prakriti of life.

Sankalpa, as I said, is a wish your heart makes – a very tiny whisper that once spoken for most of us ego/mind takes over that idea and dismisses it. Sankalpa speaks to us as if we are already divine, it is the voice of our Atman and Purusha– the part of us that already or is always at one with the divine.  Sankalpa whispers things like:

  • You are loved and you can love
  • You are divine
  • Within you is the power to do anything

Enlightenment is not a constant state. We have moments of enlightenment – that instant in that space between the inhale and the exhale and then it’s gone. Our mind, our ego, and this physical body demand that we be present in this physical space –  it’s the price of being alive. Unlike the monks and sages of old, we do not have staff that sees to our physical needs, allowing us the luxury of working to exist in a state of constant enlightenment. We can only hope for these single flashing moments.

I do use yoga and meditation to find these moments as well as an active practice of mindfulness. Notice, please, I said practice, not perfect. It’s a meditation practice, a mindfulness practice.

So just what the heck is this mindfulness anyway?

I like to think of mindfulness is having all my senses aware of one thing at the same time.  I take a piece of chocolate smell it, feel it, look at, smell it, stick it on my tongue and let it melt slowly trying my best to wrap all my physical sense around the chocolate.  I don’t want to become one with the chocolate but I do want to experience the essence of the chocolate with all my physical abilities as well as mental and emotional.  So for a moment I have that, then it’s gone. But that’s okay; it means I get more chocolate, right? Well, maybe I have to watch and to check is that my samskara speaking or my ego saying I need deserve more.  Sometimes my body does really need chocolate.

Another tool yogi’s use is a guided meditation called Yoga Nidra. This is a guided meditative practice that allows for a very deep relaxed state but a still conscious mind. Some equate this to lucid dreaming state. It’s a fantastic experiment should you ever wish to give it a try some night – there are a number online free. Just google Yoga Nidra sometime and enjoy. I have a couple favorites that I listen to time and time again. Each time I hear something new and learn something new.

May you find a moment of enlightenment!

No words

How do you write
When there is no light
Fighting an endless Dark Night
With no end in sight

The Muse, she left
I’m feeling bereft
My words have no heft

But still I battle through
It’s all I can do

Seeking the Darkness’s end!

This is where I, Glory, have been lately.  A lack of words, but no lack of ideas.  Fighting a bit of depression, or a Dark Night.  Is it really depression when it is as much spiritual work causing you to dredge up the past and ugliness to work through it?  I am a part of an online school but also a couple of spiritual groups as well.  One has me doing work on me.  Something I desperately need but don’t always WANT to do.  The current work has caused me to be in a bit of a funk off and on for the better part of this year.

Of course, life has thrown curve balls as well, but curve balls + Shadow and deep spiritual work = a long, ugly, hard to escape Dark Night of the Soul.  I am lucky that I have many wonderful friends and an awesome family to keep me going and not end up in a truly ugly place, but it is still difficult some days to do just the day to day.

I’ve been asked before, what advice do you have for someone who is battling a Dark Night of the Soul – be they a Solitary Practitioner or Part of a Coven my answer is always the same.  Just tell them you are there for them, will listen and help as you can, but most importantly number 1, you are there for them and they are not alone.  It is work they need to do on their own because they are growing, you can’t do it for them, but you can be there to help pick them up when they stumble and to shine a light to help them find their way home.  Support is what they need, and it’s something I have.  I just have to stop to see it.

When I started this post I thought I had no words.  None beyond the tiny poem the Muse interrupted my day with to start everything here off.  Now, I have a few words.  Not many, but a few.  It’s a start.  Especially as I’ve had none for quite some time now.

Dark Nights of the Soul suck.  They are hard to navigate and suck much of the joy from me, but I’m determined to work through the Lessons thrown at me.  I’m determined to do the work and continue to grow.  I refuse to give in or give up.  So I may continue to be quiet.  But Nettle and Hope have words to share, and ideas to nudge you and I along, so I’m glad I’m not alone on this Path.  🙂

Words.  Though they fail or elude me, they are there or will be when they are meant to be.

Playing Kitchen Witch – Herbal Throat Lozenges

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Herbal throat lozenges

The seasons have started to change for us, slowly and as summer clings desperately to these last few weeks of the season’s allergies have hit our household hard. It is the week of sniffles, upset tummies and sore throats. When youngest spawn asked me to help her make some throat lozenges it was a great opportunity to put kitchen witch skills to the test. We made our first batch of herbal honey lemon throat lozenges and they are very tasty. If you have never given a try to such an experiment it’s well I was going to say “surprisingly easy and uncomplicated” but that would be a bag of bull shit. It’s a pain in the ass to make candy. It is one of those jobs made easier by experience and proper tools. As a kitchen witch, yeah I’ve got those. Someone not comfortable in the kitchen it will be a challenge. I suggest searching the web for recipes to get a better visual if that is your style of learning.

If you want to give it a try what we made gather your supplies:

Herbs: you can use hibiscus, anise, licorice root, marshmallow root, elecampane root, elderberries, chamomile, ginger, lemon, hyssop, sage, thyme, cinnamon, mullein, clove, slippery elm or echinacea just to name a few. Pick just three maybe four max. This is one of those times where less is more.

2 cups hot water
1 cup organic sugar
½ cup raw local honey

Heavy bottom pan
Candy thermometer

Powdered sugar
Cookie sheet or long thin baking sheet

First pick your herbs and make a tea we used:

Elecampane root: great herb for anything dealing with the lungs
Marshmallow Root: for sore throats and a dry cough
Chamomile: because we like the flavor
Ginger root: for its warming and aid in helping fight colds and sore throats
Lemon EO (essential oil): it’s rare for me to encourage ingestion of an EO, but if you can find a good quality food grade EO that is recommended for ingestion use it, if not then lots and lots of lemon peel

For the tea itself we used 1 TBS of the elecampane root, 1 TBS Marshmallow Root, 1 tsp of chamomile, a large slice of ginger root. If you are using lemon peel add at this time amount until you can taste the lemon. Let this sit for 20 minutes. This tea itself is very tasty with a drop of honey. I do recommend tasting your tea.

In a heavy bottom pan take ½ cup of your herbal tea, ½ cup raw honey, 1 cup organic sugar and bring to a boil. The heavier the bottom of your pan the less chance you have to burn your sugar base. You will need to boil this mixture watching the pan closely for somewhere between 25 to 30 minutes. You can on occasion stir the pot or even swirl it around. Be aware this is a pot of hot boiling lava that can and will burn you given the chance.

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Bubbling hot cauldron of lava

Always watch because cooking times will vary and this can go from perfect golden brown to burn in the blink of an eye. You can use your candy thermometer – your goal is hard ball stage. If you don’t know what hard ball stage is, read a book on candy making – oh sorry that sounds far too pithy. Hard ball stage is when once the sugar has cooled it is hard like a lollipop. An older method is to fill a glass with ice water and as you get to that 20 to 25 minute mark drop a small drop of your lava into the ice water. Then picking up the bit you dropped in the ice water roll it around in your fingers to see if once fully cooled is it hard or soft. If it cools to a hard little ball then it’s at the proper stage.

Meanwhile have your assistant spread the powdered sugar in a nice thick layer across your baking pan and make small indentations into the powdered sugar with the rounded end of a wooden spoon.

Take your pan off the heat.

If using add your Lemon EO about 5 drops

Being very careful because remember it is bubbling lava at this point gently pour small amounts of the bubbling brew into the indentions in the powdered sugar. This is an even more tedious job than watching the sugar tea mixer bubble up to 300 deg Fahrenheit. Have I mentioned before that I have the patience of a gnat.

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First batch coated with some extra powdered sugar on top what a mess! Good thing we like messes when cooking

Let cool and give your pan a shake to loosen any of your throat lozenges that may have stuck to the bottom of your baking sheet.

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Shaking off the excess powdered sugar

 

You will want to shake off any excess powdered sugar. If you like and want them to be giftable you can cut tiny strips of wax paper and wrap each one up by hand.  I don’t know anyone who has time for that.

I store mine in a jar in the fridge. They tend to be slightly stickier than what you can buy in the store. The sticky might be lessened if one used cornstarch rather than powdered sugar

It’s all about the taste and these are downright tasty and the help with that scratchy sore throat. The most important part

Floaty Tentacled Things

This occurred a few weeks ago. Just getting around to posting it because, well, it’s a little interesting and I thought I’d throw it out there, for what it’s worth.

Coyvere, Nettle, and the Youngest Spawn had driven over for a visit on Saturday. During the week Nettle had been complaining that my energy was giving her headaches. It was coming through my texts, very strong, panicky, and not happy. I thought it was because we might have to move from the park we’re currently in – and like – to one that, although physically nice and 10 minutes closer to Nic’s work, had an owner with a creepy vibe. Nettle insisted that it was something outside of me, feeding off my unhappiness and panic, like a giant leech (yuck!)

I couldn’t feel a thing. Neither could Nic. But I went through the whole taking down of the wards, cleansing, and re-establishing the wards, just in case. So Nettle et al arrived, and Coyvere, who can not see (very active imagination) these things, said it was a mostly transparent floaty thing, like a Portuguese Man O War, with it’s tentacles hanging down. Evidently it homes in on strong emotion and taps into the person experiencing it, sucking up the emotion and injecting something to encourage the continuance of the emotion. He burned the tentacles off of us, but this didn’t completely discourage the entity because it returned to try again.

In the end he had to call on bigger guns to destroy it and clean the area of the things. I don’t ward the entire park, and now that I know something about these creatures I need to incorporate protections against them into the wards around our site. They lay eggs on their victims as well, but a salt shower will kill them. Eggs, seeds, whatever you want to call it. Sounds like ‘Alien’, doesn’t it?

Icky! Makes me shudder with disgust just thinking about them!

I wonder if they only feed on negative emotions. (Nettle here – as far as I know or I have experienced just negative emotions they are apathetic to human life and do not want to nurture as would something that fed off positive emotions) I wonder how they find their prey – can they home in on strong emotions or do they simply float around hoping to run across someone having a bad day? Are they intelligent or just opportunistic? If they’re intelligent, can one ally with them? What benefit would that have?  How can we train ourselves to ‘see’ them, notice their activities, recognize when we’re being fed from? Where did they come from? Are they indigenous? Are they one of the reasons so many of us are stuck in a morass of depression, hate, fear?  Are these creatures addressed in any pagan religion? As usual, Hope has questions. What she doesn’t have is answers!