A Hello to the New Year

I don't really make resolutions around New Years. I like to set goals though, or set about to change something. I do a lot of resetting around the new moon, because that is the start of the lunar calendar. So, I suppose the New Year is a grand resetting of sorts. The ultimate fresh start. As an Aries, I do love a good new beginning... finishing something is where us Aries can fall short however!

I didn't meet a lot of my goals last year due to major life upheaval. This year though, I feel as though I am in the most perfect position to SLAY my goals and aspirations this year. And I will.

So, in no particular order...

1. Improve upon my already well established fitness.

You learn to accept ugly making faces when you lift.

About two years ago, I got a gym membership and discovered my love of iron. Maybe it's all that heady Mars ruled stuff going on in my natal chart, but I love it. I started eating better, lost fat, gained muscle and have never felt better about my body or my booty. I've gone on a few month long hiatuses and I am always brought back to lifting with a vengeance. (And this dear reader, is where you learn my dirty secret) Almost a year ago I... I say this in the faintest of whispers, gave Crossfit a try. You see, there's a Crossfit gym (note that I didn't say "box") just behind my work. I got to chatting with one of the coaches and liked that they had a bias towards strength and placed huge emphasis on form, which is very often lacking in many Crossfit places. What drew me, was Olympic lifting and the challenge of doing things that scared and intimidated me. I learned how to jump rope elegantly, how to jump onto something 20 inches high, how to move 70lbs on a barbell from the ground up to catch it in a squat over my head aka: the snatch. I digress.

Master double unders, 10 strict pushups, 1 strict pullup, 100lb snatch and improve the shit out of my clean form.

2. Do less and simplify.

I over extend myself very often. I want to do everything that catches my interest. I have, generally speaking, each digit in a pie and two irons in the fire for every digit and appendage on my body. Which, leaves me feeling spread thin and the inability to devote myself to a singular task very well. I'm stripping away a lot of things I'd like to do, but won't really serve me in the long run. Quality over quantity, honing my focus and less burn out.

3. Fully commit to my spiritual practice. No excuses.

Bone throwing on cards has been a very rewarding form of divination for me.

This has been a huge struggle for me.  I can't remember where I read this, but someone once summed up modern spiritual practice as this rare luxury we give ourselves. It shouldn't be that way. To be perfectly honest, I have placed regular practice at the bottom of my priority list. Partly out of fear, partly out of laziness. Deciding that sleeping in till 6am is better than getting up at 5am to meditate, pray and honor my spirits. It's called a practice for a reason. The fear? I fear results, I fear what I will meet and see when I go deeper. All the more reason to face it. They say you're not doing it right if you don't feel a twinge of fear crawling up your spine. That's witchcraft folks.

4. Paint and make more magic.

'nuff said. While my job does tend to nurture some creativity I lust after the days when I used to paint endlessly. When I was young it was abstract and chaotic, these days I just want to paint flowers and nature like an old lady. I have crows feet that need to be made into talismans, wild harvesting bags that need sewing, and all manner of roots, stones and bones that need to worked into something magic.

5. Herbalism School and wildcrafting.

Yes! In March I begin classes for a three year program at a local school for Traditional Western Herbalism. I've long had a fascination with plants and I have always sought to understand them both spiritually and medicinally. I live in a most fascinating and rich bioregion and the land here, well, it speaks and it is very much alive... and not even in the mundane sense. I'm really looking forward to entering a community of people who feel the same way and nerd out just as much as I do when we see something interesting growing out of a crack in the sidewalk.

So that's that. I've got my focus, my home base is secure and I am ready for battle.

May we all slay, achieve, grow and prosper in this glorious new year!

Fall Foraging & Hungry Kitchen Crow

After work one day, earlier in October, I meandered through a local trail to see what I could forage. It was a blustery day with off and on rain and intermittent clear skies. Whenever the seasons begin to make their shift, there's a sort of battle that goes on in the sky. It's an odd micro climate I live in. The temperature, wind and rain can vary quite dramatically from where I live to where my job is located, a mere 7 miles away. The buttes, small valleys, dense forest patches create pockets of strange isolated weather happenings. One of the many reasons I love it out here...

Plantain.

Rosehips.

Yarrow leaf.

I gathered up what I stumbled upon. Originally I was looking verbascum thapsus, mullein. I've always been oddly drawn to that plant and I was hoping to find some to begin forging a relationship with it. Mullein loves disturbed rocky soils and despite the fact that I was in prime mullein growing territory, I found none!  I did however find a surprising amount of young yarrow leaf shooting up and the always abundant plantain. Rosehips aplenty too.

I plan to make a healing salve with the plantain and yarrow, once dried.

Along this very same trail, I found a sun bleached crow skeleton. After months of seeing him just sit there, I finally took him home. His skull was perfectly intact as well as some wing bones. As an animist, I believe that his spirit still resides in his bones and over time, we have developed an interesting relationship. One day, I walked into the kitchen to find him exactly like this...

Maw! Maw! Feed me!

Maw! Maw! Feed me!

Silenced with chicken skin and fat. He's my kitchen table companion, often watching as I process herbs, pull cards and taking food scraps as offerings. He's always hungry and a little greedy. He is a surprisingly and both unsurprisingly communicative and active spirit to work with. One of his wing bones resides in my bone throwing set and he's always sure to make his opinions known.



Autumn Sunlight, Simple Pleasures & Brain Knots

I woke lazily and let myself sleep in today, something I do not frequently do. Usually I am up by 5:30, preparing myself for my day. When I get days off, sometimes I don't know what to do with myself. It's kind of a problem. I'm so used to running around, being busy, moving from one task to the next, that when I am faced with the luxury of free time I find my mind racing with possibility, yet physically frozen with what I should do first or what I should do at all. I want to do everything all at once and everything seems so important. So, I started with what I do every morning: coffee, cards, bones and writing.

Morning, slight frustration moving against a current, handle it gracefully. Afternoon, get outside, move and observe, connect with plants. Give something your total focus and study. Evening, tending to spiritual responsibilities. A rewarding burden!

Morning, slight frustration moving against a current, handle it gracefully. Afternoon, get outside, move and observe, connect with plants. Give something your total focus and study. Evening, tending to spiritual responsibilities. A rewarding burden!

After my reading I showered. Steam mingled with the scent of fresh outside air through my bath tub window, coconut, roses and frankincense from my body scrub. That smell, steamy shower and crisp fall air together are perfection. The sun in all its late morning glory busted through the clouds. Faded and golden, it hit me in the face. Bliss. Singular moments like that are magical and transporting. So I stood there for a while. Nothing is quite as trance inducing as seeing the sun shine through your eyelids. It's like a vision of an endless orange-red sea.

My plants and I rejoiced that the sun came out. Together we chased the sun beams through the house like cats do. At 3:30pm, the sun begins quickly fading and the gloaming returns.

I found myself struggling to be ok with not having much to do with my day. I had even planned this. I fantasied of how wonderful and relaxing time off would be, and when I receive it it's almost a shock to the system! It's weird, teaching yourself how to slow down. How to be ok with just sitting and chilling. One of my recently made goals was to give myself more time off from work. It takes space creation and battery recharging to coax out those creative juices and to get them flowing. I battle with the guilt of time off work and the stress it sometimes creates. Learning how to silence that voice always screaming the back of my mind, "you're falling behind! You're falling behind!" I know that I will eventually strike a balance. Meditation truly helps and I need to do more of it.

And that is what I will settle into this evening. Cooking food, books and steadily smoothing out those brain knots.

city sunsets.

city sunsets.

Arrival of Darkness & The Hibernating Bear

Oregon coast.

October started off ridiculously glorious, almost alarmingly glorious, here in my city. Bright warm days, golden sun, sun glasses, crop tops and shorts still an option. Warm weekends spent in debaucherous revelry were snatched away from me too quickly. But, all good and beautiful things do inevitably come to an end.

The rains came alright though, they came just fine. When the rains don't come, or they're late it worries me. Mt. Hood sat all greyish for weeks... and then boom! The next day he was covered in a white blanket. It poured heavy those last few weeks of October and through this early November. A second spring as I like to call it. Everything becomes green again after the dryness of summer, moisture loving plants come back to life...

And then darkness descends. 4pm sunsets, living in a perpetual state of gloaming and artificial light when it's too dark too see in your home. I am exalted in the sun, it gives me a joy I can't describe. But, it's an odd comfort this season and despite my moaning and groaning, I take full advantage of what it has to offer: incubation, hibernation, introspection.

Wildwood and bone reading.

The Bear has been a figure in my dreams, in my divination, in the ashes of burned candles and wax. The mother with her offspring lurks in the forests of my dreamscapes... I stopped for a moment in a book store not too long ago, to take a peek into Ted Andrews book Animal Speak. He wrote of how the female bear goes to her den for the winter, the seed that she carries is nurtured in the darkness and in the spring, she emerges proudly with what she cultivated in incubation. This is what Bear is encouraging me to do, I believe. I listen.

My den is outfitted, my work has presented itself to me and I shall begin. Through dreams, through trance and speaking with spirit. The work never ends and it is always beginning.

A Bath for Sorrow and Loss.

I stood in my kitchen this morning before dawn, shivering, wet, cold and red eyed from tears.

I lost someone dear to me. I felt anger, sadness and betrayal, my mind was spinning. I spent the night unable to sleep and as 4:45am approached I decided to wash it away. Spiritual bathing is old and effective. I rose and made coffee and I put together a blend of lemongrass, rosemary and angelica. I said my prayers into the cup of my hands while holding each herb. I prayed that I may be relived from sorrow, from the anger, from the racing thoughts, the feeling of weakness. I prayed for strength. I hadn't really cried yet about it, but I did then. Like a dam breaking under the pressure.

  • Lemongrass removes old conditions and cleanses.
  • Rosemary to cleanse and bring power to me as a woman.
  • Angelica to heal and bring strength to me as a woman.

I could have added some some other things, but this blend called to me. It was simple and sounded right. Balm of Gilead, good for a wounded heart, would be a fine addition and I may add that in my next bath. I will continue this work over the course of several days.

I brewed all of this up in boiling water, making a strong infusion. I diluted it in a basin, set it in the tub and poured it over my body, from head to toe, allowing the water to collect in the tub. I called upon my ancestors and spirits to aid me, and prayed as I forcibly ran my hands down my body. Pushing it off, shaking it off, washing it off. And that's how I ended up standing in my kitchen dripping wet, cold but relieved. After I air dried, I put on clean clothes and walked to my nearest crossroads. As I approached the center of the crossroads, I tossed my used and collected bath water over my left shoulder towards the rising sun. I walked home and didn't look back.

Further reading: This is how we heal, by Miss Bri.

Nearing Summers End.

Last blooms from the althea.

It's morning and I'm sitting in my office. I can hear the Kingfisher singing his song as he patrols the pond near by territorially. My muscles are sore from a workout, my heart is twitching from too much coffee. Leaves are already changing their color. The air is touched with a slight coolness and you can smell distant woodsmoke. The seasons are beginning their shift.

I'm sort of reflecting on this summer and what it's brought. Massive transition, upheaval, stress and beauty. Finding beauty in suffering and turmoil has been a theme for me lately. It's what you do with what life throws at you that matters. Do you succumb to the poison or transmute it?

Last night I was the victorious rider in the 6 of Wands and then I played with an otter in my dreams. Good things are coming. And while it's been what feels like an unending phase of chaos and stress it's all going to calm down shortly. I move into my new home in just a few short days.

I've been dreaming of plants and mountains and birds. Bringing into my home what I wish I could live in. Making space to nurture and create. I'm excited to build my own home and nest. Every inch of it my own. Something I haven't had in a very long time.

While this summer has brought to me some pain and suffering, it has brought me the greatest beauty, lessons learned and insights gained. Setting me on a truer path to my self. Things I have only ever dreamed of became a reality, in more ways than one.

September 23rd marks the fall equinox. A timely marker of the completions and ending of one phase moving into something new and liminal. I am ready.

Incoming.

Going It Alone: the Solitude of 8 of Cups.

I draw a card for myself every morning. Sometimes to help me better understand a dream, sometimes to guide me through the day... and sometimes they're just there. But sometimes, you see a card you haven't seen in a long time and it touches you. The 8 of Cups did that for me this morning.

Seeking solitude, going it alone. Those were the words that reverberated through my mind.

I think in this day of ever connectedness, smartphones, the internet, everything, true solitude is rare. Some of us seek it and some of us are totally bewildered by the idea. Solitude causes you to examine yourself. Looking within, good, bad, light, shadow is a scary thing. Something we all benefit from experiencing though.

As an introvert I gain much from solitude. It's there that my creativity grows and my batteries recharge. I get cranky if I overextend myself and I have found that, in not expressing my need for solitude misplaced resentment and anger towards those around me develops. It's a bad trait and I have to know when to give myself the time I need to regroup and collect myself. It's like loosing all my organized papers to the wind. It actually took me a long time to realize this. I'm learning how to balance this aspect of my life. This article, Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You perfectly explains why introverts need to get away. Even if the door is shut, we can still feel you in the other room!

You think that I am impoverishing myself withdrawing from men, but in my solitude I have woven for myself a silken web or chrysalis, and, nymph-like, shall ere long burst forth a more perfect creature, fitted for a higher society.
— Henry D. Thoreau

The other aspect of this card for me is walking your own path. The person in this card is embarking on a journey, a pilgrim, a seeker. They do it alone. Recently in my life, I have had to leave some things behind... a dead co-dependent relationship. One of the driving fears of leaving was whether or not I would be able to survive on my own. 7 years is a long time to develop bad habits and grow lazy in knowing how to take care of some aspects of your life. I knew the day that I decided to call it quits, it would open so many cans, so many worms. But in the end I am better for it and through the suffering and throwing myself into the chaos I would gain more than ever from the experience.

So here I am staff in hand, going it alone.

Knowing When to Pause.

The days have been filled with avoiding the heat. The earth here is parched and the grasses are dying. You can smell the deep tang of the invasive blackberries in the midday sun, mingling with the loam of the forest, heated pine resin and the sweetness of dried grasses. Briar path days are upon us. I've taken pity on my neighbors dehydrated rose bushes (they've moved out and are gone) and am currently watering them. The plants feel glad. I've noticed the black (Br'er) rabbit family and local hares only come out to graze at dawn and dusk, avoiding the heat. It almost feels as if my little area is holding it's breath for a bout of rain, I think it really is.

There's an odd feeling of burn out I've been dealing with. I don't know if it's burn out, per-say. But I feel like disappearing somewhere for a little while, disconnecting from the internet and stopping the flow of communications. That need to isolate yourself and recharge so you can reconnect. It's hard when you have a lot of real life obligations, when you simply can't turn off the internet and you feel that never ending nagging persistence to be super productive, to get shit done and be awesome consistently, nonstop. Realizing when to pause can be difficult. Knowing when you're just not going to be productive anymore can be hard to recognize sometimes.

I feel like the land, dehydrated and longing for a good nourishing rain. The rains will come inevitably, right now it's a matter of digging deep with these roots to tap into the moist soil far below me.

I pulled the Page of Cups this morning. She's descended to the bottom of the ocean, alone. She uses her intuition to guide herself and she finds answers in the scrying bowl. My need for the element of water is apparent in this card. I think a good spiritual bath is in order, a bath at dusk to remove and a bath as the sun rises to bring in that which I desire.