A is for a new start

What a shambles last year was both for practice and for blogging. I’m not angry at myself in any way though. After all, most of my year was spent ill with depression and anxiety (I am doing much better now, I still have dark days but they aren’t half as common, and the physical symptoms manifest less) and/or buried in my work. I’ve come out of 2012 as a fully qualified biomedical scientist. I am fitter, healthier and (underneath the brain biochemistry malfunction going on right now) HAPPIER person than I was in 2011.

As I mentioned in my last post all the way back in October, my original goals for the year had to take a back seat, and as a result I have been working on building up a basic foundational practice again. Daily household practices and my monthly observances are back, and I actually set aside time to communicate with my gods again, which in turn leads me to feel more connected, and I notice their influence more throughout the day.

As usual, I will post my new years resolutions here. For the beginning of this year at least, I will not be focusing on growth, but simply on maintenance:

  • Maintain my religious practice and devotion no matter what: I say this all the time, and it seems I don’t always listen to my own damn advice. I never feel more connected and more grounded in my practice than when I do a little something every day. I love my religion and I adore my gods. Worshipping them and developing spiritually makes me happier than most things, and sometimes I need to remember that when my motivation is down. If I just sing a hymn and light incense in the morning, that is something.
  • Maintain the healthy lifestyle I started living last year: I look and feel good and it does wonders for my confidence and well being. I’m going to make this the year of the six pack (getting there) and achieving my ideal flexibility level!
  • Make headway with my epic reading list: I have an ever growing non-fiction book collection. This year I want to actually set aside time in the week to read my books! I am not starting a new one until I have finished the previous, as my pile of half finished books is quite hilarious. My boyfriend was super observant when we were in a bookstore, and for christmas he bought me ‘Triumph of the Moon’ and ‘The Book of English Magic’.
  •  Blog more: I created this blog to be useful to the community, and right now it isn’t. I see people on the internet, especially tumblr; in need of help and I know I have helpful information that I can offer! This is why I am starting up with the pagan blog project again. I really enjoyed doing it last year until work got the better of me. Even if I don’t complete it this year, it will at least ease me back into blogging.
  • Continue to learn and practice witchcraft: *mutters to self* stupid witchcraft  refusing to go away *mutters* taking me out of my re-con comfort zone *mutters*. I haven’t made as much progress this year as I would have liked (are we seeing a theme?), but this thing won’t die and I am working and learning all of the time.

So there we have it, this post marks a new year and a new start for me in many aspects of my spiritual life. The first few months will likely see me finding my feet again, and talking about what I have been doing to regain my foundation. Wish me luck, and happy reading!

This post has been for the pagan blog project 2013.

-Emma

P.s- My writing style should start to flow a little more once I get back into the habit of blogging. Sorry for the disjointed and rambling nature of this post!

Posted in Devotion, Life, Patch, Religious practice, Tending the Hearth | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hera has been on my mind all day

My desire to approach my shrines and sit with her grew throughout the day. I found myself giving up on work and heading upstairs to clear my room of Christmas debris. I put away some of my gifts, and so many of them are appropriate for use in ritual with her, or as offerings. As I put the apple shaped soap, the rock salt candle holder and the beautiful earrings aside; her presence and interest in the items was palpable.

I unpacked my altar things (I am back with the parents over the holidays) and offered her some lavender incense and the vanilla scented pillar candle I bought for her last week. I spoke my words of gratitude and thanks, and sat down for a while to just be in her presence while the incense burned. This was a small devotional with no bells and whistles, but her presence was so strong it sent shivers down my spine. Out of the blue I had the most ridiculously overwhelming urge to offer her obsidian. It was like a download into my brain and once the idea was in there, it wouldn’t go away. I’m still getting to know Hera, and it’s starting to become apparent to me that this is very much how she likes to communicate. I’m OK with that, because when a feeling like this arises so strongly and out of the blue; I can differentiate it very easily from something made up in my own head.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence at all that I just so happened to have one piece of obsidian in my tiny collection. I bought it about 5 years ago and haven’t really thought about or used it for anything since. I offered it to her and looked into it for a while. Things followed that I have to think about. I think I will sit with her again tomorrow.

Hera is an interesting goddess, and it has taken a long time to get to the point where I am ready to sit and learn. But sit and learn I shall!

Posted in Devotion, Hellenic polytheism, Ritual, The gods, UPG | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Illness (TW:Depression)

At the beginning of the year, I set myself goals. Realistic, attainable goals about where I would like to be by the end of the year in terms of my religious practice.

I have achieved precisely one of them. Nor am I anywhere near my starting point.

For some reason, depression has hit me particularly badly over the last 6 months, and as a result pretty much all of my religious practice has fallen by the wayside. I barely even water my plants. It’s hard to light incense and pour out a libation when you feel apathetic and lethargic to the point of being unable to muster the energy to move or speak. It’s hard to maintain connection and communication with your gods; when you can’t interact with the people or even the animals in your life properly.

Recently, I have been better. I dealt with the physical side of the illness first. Since July I have drastically changed my diet for the better, and I took up yoga. My persistent headaches stopped, I have more energy and I am pretty damn muscular for a woman of my stature (hello six pack!).

Everything else has been slower, but I’m getting there. On Thursday I met up with some female friends as we often do around the dark moon, to practice divination together and read for each other. I was worried I was going to be super out of touch, because I hadn’t done any divination for a good few months. I had people pouncing on me before the draw (we put names in a hat to determine who reads for who) asking for readings; particularly with my casting collection. I read for three people and got positive feedback with both tarot and my collection, and so I felt a lot better. It also really meant something to see that people obviously value my readings.

I myself received just one reading. My friend apologised that she did not know her oracle cards well, and read the meanings by rote from the book, but it was all spot on. The reading was so specific and relevant that I nearly cried.

The whole night left me feeling refreshed and happy, and I woke up the next morning feeling more myself than I had done in months. That night I took some time for myself, and honoured my gods for the first time in recent memory.

The next few weeks will see me return to establishing a foundation of practice. This thought makes me happy. 🙂

Today, I greet my gods and pick a tarot card before heading out for a jog and then later a walk in the park to see the rutting deer!

Posted in Devotion, divination, Life, Local community, Patch | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dammit Mom!

A common devotional thing that I do for Hermes is to offer him loose change. I just scoop up lots of coppers from my purse and put them in a handmade clay amphora I bought for him in Crete.

I have honoured Hermes for nearly 5 years now, and that change accumulates. I decant it into large bags and will eventually send it away to a good cause or something.

That change specifically accumulated to £53. How do I know this? My wonderfully well meaning mother has been cleaning my room back at the parental home, where the money was left. She thought she’d be super sweet and convert it into real foldin’ money.

Time to do an emergency consultation with Hermes about what he’d like to be done with his new money!

(£53 in 1p and 2p’s though…wow).

Posted in Devotion, Life, The gods | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

New books!

 

ImageI am crazy exited about these, and can’t wait to get my teeth into them! Both of them are absolutely huge, with really impressive reference lists that I want to read! I haven’t bought a decent (non-scientific at least) academic text in some time and I have missed them. If I had known just how huge they were going to be, I’d have got hardbacks.

I’m still unsure as to which book I should start on first. Luck’s book is older and is referenced often in Ogden’s, but Ogden’s is more up to date and provides a more critical examination of the literature (including the Arcana Mundi), it also looks easier to read. I’d like to go through in chronological order but realistically I can feel myself going to Ogden’s first!

 

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Calling and Choice: Creating Depth and Focus in a Practice

Over the next few months, my leisure time will be spent gathering information about folk magic and other practices. As I have mentioned before, I am taking the tentative steps towards a practice with a more magical bent. I have a wonderful list of books and academic journals that I can’t wait to curl up with and make some notes on. I am trying to be really on the ball about updating my ‘currently reading’ shelf on goodreads (it’s in my sidebar and has both my fiction and non-fiction reads in it) for my own reference, and in case anybody is interested.

I wish to draw my inspiration from, and work within a system based on English folk magic and ancient greek magical/mystical practices. I choose these places to draw from because they strike the deepest chord with me and are culturally relevant. English folk magic comes from the culture I participate in. I was born into it and so were my ancestors for as far back as I have ever researched. Ancient Greek magic comes from the culture of my religion, my gods, and a large portion of my worldview.

These are, as I said, my chosen starting places. The fact I was not asked to look into them by a god, spirit or human teacher made me mull over some ideas that prompted this post. There is a lot of talk within the wider pagan community about people answering a call to practice from some higher power. People that actively choose to embark on certain paths can sometimes be side-eyed, and that’s a real shame. I think this is why we see so many people asserting that they have been ‘claimed’ by certain gods or whatnot without any real understanding of what that entails, because they are afraid to admit that maybe they just came to paganism because it sounded right for them out of fear of being called a bandwagon jumper.

Granted, there are some things that I wouldn’t fucking do unless I was dragged kicking and screaming, like spiritwork for example. I have nothing but admiration for those that dedicate their lives to spirits, but I would not take up that mantle myself unless I was very strongly compelled by exterior forces that I could not stand up to. If other people are willing to take the shit that comes with certain paths and higher powers are receptive to their choice (if higher powers are involved at all), then what’s the problem?

I was called to take up a magical practice. I tried to ignore it for a very long time and found myself to be increasingly unhappy. When I had accepted the fact that I needed to do this, I received some instruction about areas I should focus on (one of which I totally do not feel ready for and it is slowing my progress somewhat), and that was it. Radio silence. The rest I have been left to work out on my own, and right now I am OK with that.

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Pagan Pride Nottingham

I arrived back from my holiday in Gran Canaria at 6am Sunday morning.  I had 4 hours sleep at my parents’ house and then drove up to my (new!) house in Nottingham, to attend this years pagan pride parade. I must mention pagan pride every other other or so, because it is such a central thing in our local community. Many people in the area work really hard throughout the year to run fundraisers to pay for this event!

This year, literally thousands of people attended which was wonderful. Because of my flight, I hadn’t volunteered to marshal at the event but when I arrived and spoke to my friends, I was quickly given a T-shirt and ID badge because some marshals had not arrived (my name for the day was ‘Ricky chuck’, shake his parents hands). I sold raffle tickets which was a nice job, because I got to speak to lots of people.

Here I am with a man who sells fish. Known locally as ‘Dave the fish man’. He gets everywhere!

There were bands playing throughout the day at the bandstand, along with dancers and lots of lovely stalls! I bought some stunning malachite earrings with a honey bee motif from  firechild designs and a beautiful hand made mug from the green man potter. I wasn’t intending to buy the mug at first, because I have far too many; but after talking with the vendor for a while it was clear that he took great pride in his work. They were beautiful and I wouldn’t get the opportunity to purchase one again, and so got a black one with a floral design.

I couldn’t attend the after party at a local pub because I was completely exhausted. I was also nauseous and headache-y (I’m being made to see a chiropractor) and so cut my celebration short and curled up at home with my boyfriend and tea.

Overall it was a wonderful day, and it shows what can be done within the pagan community when people are dedicated enough.

Posted in festival, Local community | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Pagan music III

Off to Gran Canaria tomorrow for a fortnight’s holiday in the sun! A welcome break from rainy Britain – the gods seem to have decided that we wont be getting a summer here!

As is tradition, I will leave you with some pretty music that I think will be of interest to pagans that I have been listening to in the last year.

Dead Can Dance – Crescent

Faun – Gaia

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The new (temporary) altar setup

I’m back with my parents until the lease on my new place is all sorted, and so my little altar has been set up under my bed again. You may recall me saying that a few months ago I downsized and rearranged my altar, and this is the finished result. It looks a little bare and is less photogenic (my altar was real pretty before), but I like the extra space to actually work. I cleared a lot of the clutter and only kept items on there that I use in worship to Athene, Hera, Aphrodite and Hermes, because they receive the main bulk of my worship these days.

This isn’t the best picture, but I was trying to show the whole shrine area. Up on the windowsill and desk are the two plants that I use as mini-shrines to Athene and Aphrodite.   The little black pot contains my amazing wax plant grown from a cutting of my Nan’s plant. It is getting really big now, but I’m hoping to hold off the re-potting for a few more months at least.

This little set up in the middle is for Hera. Thats the pretty bowl with a peacock on it that I bought last year, and the hanging candle holder was a gift. It contains a beeswax tea light that I had been saving for something a little more special than heating oil.

Posted in Altars, The gods | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thanks, Homes, Altars and Books!

I got the results back from my exams today, the ones I thought I’d definitely fail. Well, I actually passed the year with 70%, which is brilliant! My prayers to Athene and Hermes were answered, and so now I am going to find them both something nice to offer as a thank you. I’m not sure what to give them just yet.

In other news, I have totally moved out of my flat, ready to move into my shiny new house in a week or so. My living situation was just not appropriate (living with an ex) so I am moving in with two of my best friends, I can’t wait!

Moving always forces me to take note of all the clutter I have accumulated, and it allowed me to have a large throw-out. Lots of things are going to the charity shop, and after my holiday I will take even more. I just don’t feel happy in a cluttered space, and I especially struggle spiritually. Aesthetics really matter and I cannot get into a decent headspace when I am surrounded by cluttered shelves and bits of paper. Ideally in the future, I’d love to have a whole room (or at least an area separated by a curtain or something) for my altars and shrines.

Whilst in the moving process, I only bought a few of my sacred items to my parents home. I left the bulk of my altar things in my flat, but didn’t think I would miss them too much. I was wrong. I was hit with the unpleasant realisation that without all my ‘things’ (my offering bowl, the oil burner etc), I just didn’t know how to worship. Have I grown that rigid in my practice that I can’t spontaneously honour my gods? Some of them are around all the damn time, they don’t just exist on that altar space but I seem to have forgotten how to maintain connection. It’s something I really need to address in the future.

In other news, I visited my local pagan shop for the first time last month! It had the usual fare of crystals and faery statues at high prices, but the book selection was quite broad. I bought Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle. I have enjoyed her other work, so I thought i’d check it out. It can maybe help me with the some of the basic exercises I mentioned in my previous post!

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