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Lessons From Ganesha

When packing up my desk on my last day before retirement, I scooped up a small statue of Ganesha. He had been placed there many years before, in such a way that he was continually in my line of sight.  I’ve always felt drawn to Ganesha, although I wasn’t sure why.  Maybe it was the elephant head, the cute rat at his feet or that he always looked so happy.  I knew a bit about his attributes so when I felt like obstacles were constantly being thrown in my path, professionally and personally, turning to Ganesha for some much needed help just felt right.

If you are not familiar with Ganesha, he is the Hindu God of success, wealth, the remover of obstacles, and on the flip side, can place obstacles in your path should you become vain and overly ambitious.  He is called upon when beginning any new venture, such as a new project or business.  Unbeknownst to me before I began writing this blog,  he is also seen as the patron of authors.  How cool is that?

Ganesha sat there on my desk, day after day, looking out over the chaos that was my work life.  I would silently talk to him, asking that he move the obstacles in my path so I could move ahead, get out of my current job, become the writer and witch I needed to be.  He would sit there, smiling, his eyes seeming to sparkle, but he never answered.  Or so I thought.

One particularly bad day I excused myself and went into the restroom.  Seeing that no one else was there, I entered a stall and promptly began to cry.  Not just a little, but big gut wrenching sobs. Ganesha, I thought, why did I feel blocked at every turn?  Why did I feel so bad, so stressed, so done? I wanted, no needed, to be out of that place but I kept hitting a proverbial brick wall.  Suddenly a picture of a caricature me flashed before my inner eye.  In the vision I stood, trowel and mortar board in hand, in front of a tall red brick wall. Slowly my cartoon self looked up just as the bricks began to break free from the highest point of the wall.  They fell, cartoon style, on my head as a dialog balloon popped up, filled with $%&* (cartoon cursing). My tears dried up and I began to laugh.  Loudly, nearly hysterically.

Drying my eyes and composing myself, I exited the stall, realizing that I’d just received a rather poignant, if not comical, message.  The world wasn’t giving me obstacles, I was building them myself.  Wow, talk about an “AHA” moment. I’d been looking at the big picture all wrong.  The obstacles weren’t something that the Universe had placed in front of me, they were of my own making.  I sent up a silent “thank you” to Ganesha and went back in to work.

Sitting down at my desk and smiling at the happy statue once again in front of me, I jotted down what had just happened. I did my best to identify those obstacles I’d built and then some ideas on how I would go about demolishing my obstacles.  Needless to say the list was quite lengthy.  Once finished, I felt an incredible weight lift off of my shoulders. I had a list and a plan. As any Virgo knows, those two things are what get us off our butts and moving forward. Every. Single. Day.

That evening, list and plan in hand, I began taking that edifice down brick by brick.  It took several weeks, a lot of research, number crunching and soul-searching, but cracks began to appear in the wall. When all was prepared I sat down for a long talk with the husband, four different spreadsheets in hand, each with a different scenario and budget carefully planned out.  I was going to retire – not quit – my current job, and write and teach full time. He looked them over, picked one, and my wall tumbled down.

Since I have retired Ganesha has received an honored place on my bedroom altar, the altar I look to every morning.  He reminds me to be careful of what I am building in my life.  Do my plans keep me happy, my options open and energy flowing? Or have I become the architect of a new wall, constructing another obstacle to once again trap myself in a situation or place I could have easily moved around? I am hoping I have learned my lesson and retired my trowel and mortar for good. If not, I know Ganesha is there, ready to teach me another lesson in obstacle demolition.

Blessed Be!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Resting Witch Face

Meditation.  You’d have to be living in a bubble somewhere not to have heard about the importance of meditation for your physical and mental well-being.  Seriously, you can’t swing a dead rutabaga without bashing into a book on meditation, seeing a YouTube how-to video or a hearing about it on your favorite talk show or radio program. Meditation this and meditation that.  So, why the constant media bombardment and why am I writing about it here? Because all of this hoopla is correct. Meditation is vastly important. Not only for your physical and mental health but for your magickal health as well.

Cultivating a meditation practice affects your magick in several ways. First, and foremost, it makes a healthier and happier witch.  Meditation relaxes you, allows the cares and worries of the day to be carried away on your focused breath.  Relaxation fights dis-ease, aids in the fight against depression and anxiety and brings you mental clarity.  Mental clarity is essential in defining your Will, that which allows you to manifest the changes you wish to make in your world.

Secondly, it teaches focus and discipline, two vitally important skills to have as a magickal practitioner.  Without proper focus your spells and workings can fall flat, lacking the steady influx of energy vital to take them to manifestation. A good meditation practice teaches you to quiet your mind and to focus singularly for long stretches at a time, a requirement for adept spell work.

By disciplining yourself to maintain a meditation practice you will find that the discipline you need to move forward in your Craft becomes more effortless.  If you’ve already been maintaining a sitting practice of twenty minutes a day , adding 15 minutes or more of magickal activity – a must in my book for flexing your magickal muscles –  seems like child’s play.  Your newfound discipline can even be the catalyst you need to get off your now healthier butt and play in the moonlight more.

Last, but not lacking in importance, meditation allows a deeper connection with all that is, the Universe, your deities, your spirit guides, all of it. Quieting your mind gives those that wish to impart their wisdom, give you much needed answers, or just chat, a chance to get through. Meditation clears your mind of extraneous thoughts and quiets both your conscious and subconscious mind. This quiet cultivates the proper reception in our minds for communicating with those on much higher frequencies as well as allowing us to feel the more subtle astral vibrations associated with those on a different plane. Meditation opens us, clears us of ego, then offers up our quieted minds to bring us closer to our Gods, aid us in finding out more about ourselves spiritually and magically, and connects us with the vastness of the Universe. When we are connected, all things are possible. Imagine what that can do for your magick!

The next time the “M” word comes up and the verbal debate on just what it is and how to do it ensues, just smile and nod.  You now know how wonderful meditation is and the many benefits it can offer you.  So what are you waiting for? Take a seat, put on your resting witch face, and prove to yourself and the masses that meditation can make you the person, the magickal practitioner, the witch, you always knew you could be.

Namaste and Blessed Be!

 

 

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As Within, So Without

As a magickal practitioner I am very familiar with the axiom,  “As above, so below, as within, so without”. Attributed to Hermes Trimesgistus, the author of the Hermetic Principles, this saying could be considered one of the best known and one of the most studied principles in the magickal community.  I thought I had a great handle on its meaning until a few weeks ago.  It was then I fully realized what this principle truly meant in not only my magickal but my every day life.

About three weeks ago I began having stomach issues.  Sharp shooting pains, cramping, nausea, and several other issues I won’t discuss in this blog.  These were similar to the symptoms I had before my gallbladder was removed and which often occurred after the surgery. This time, however, the symptoms had magnified, increasing in duration and intensity.  Why was I still dealing with this?  Why was it suddenly worse? Being true to form I went on “high alert” and immediately decided to “fix” myself.  But where to start? My herbal books? Medical references? The internet? Then it came to me one night as I was tossing and turning in bed from the pain and subsequent worry.  “As within, so without.”  As if the phrase had become my new personal mantra, it kept repeating in my frantic brain.  But what did it mean?

The answer was truly simplistic.  I needed to take a hard look at what I was taking into my body and see how that what was reflecting on the outside. Whatever I eat or drink becomes a part of me. If I take in healthy, nutritious foods those nutrients contribute to a healthy body.  A healthy body makes me feel good, causing me to smile more, move more, and produce the glow of good health.  As within so without. Well, duh!

I began a quest to heal my insides. I cut all the things that seemed to be a major trigger. Gone was alcohol, any fried or fatty foods, and (gasp) chocolate.  My friends know I like nothing better than a glass or two of wine after a long day at work, so you understand how difficult this was. Next, I began working on cutting down on the caffeine and sugars.   Within days my stomach, my insides,  began to feel much better. But I was still having discomfort at strange times.  So I sat, made a mental list of what I had been eating at those times, then realized it wasn’t just food that was affecting me, it was my mood, environment, and attitude.

What we think, hear, see, feel, and experience becomes a part of us.   A bad day shows on our face. Mental stress can manifest as slumped shoulders, tight muscles, a clenched jaw.  A great day brings a spring to your step, a light heart, renewed energy and positive outlook . Constant emotional fatigue, worry and anxiety can cause physical malaise, often manifesting in a variety of symptoms, such as stomach pains, headaches, extreme fatigue, and muscular aches.  Continued joy, brought about by letting go of the stress, refusing to bow to pressure and emotional turmoil, reflects in our smile, and has the wonderful side effect of a relaxed mind and body. Again, as within, so without.

Once I’d identified what the hell was going on in this fluffy, out of shape, stressed out body, what was I going to do about it? Well, I was going to continue with my trend towards eating healthy and ramp it up a bit. My husband is on board with the changes so we shall be planning meals, shopping and preparing food together.  Not only will our meals be healthier , we get to spend more time together. A complete win/win.

The exercise may be a bit trickier.  As I am writing this I am babying a hyper extended knee which precludes me from several forms of exercise.  But it won’t be injured for long and a gentle walk can still be taken even with the injury.  Who knows, I may even use that gym membership I have (the only time I’ve been to that gym is when I signed up). Start slow then gain momentum.  It can happen!

The stress provides its own set of difficulties to overcome. My work environment is not the best for me and the job itself leaves me completely unfulfilled (but it pays extremely well and the benefits kick ass). I am trying to make the best of it, but it has been difficult.  What I can do is work on my attitude about the job and find ways to better deal with the constant stream of crap. Meditation, exercise (there’s that word again), singing at the top of my lungs to my favorite Stevie Nicks, anything to release the pressure valve.

Game plan in hand, sticky note stuck to my mirror and monitor and the Kybalion on my altar, I now move forward towards good health and joy. Sometimes the answers have always been with you.  You just have to open your eyes and reexamine what you thought you knew.

As within, so without.  May this seemingly simple phrase aid you in your own journey to health and happiness.

Blessed Be.

 

 

 

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Keeping the “I” in Witch

It’s Friday evening and you stumble home from another grueling work week. Your brain has assumed the consistency of tapioca pudding and the tightness in your neck and shoulders is showing no sign of letting up. Oh, no.  You suddenly recall that tonight is the full moon. Your magickal mind immediately turns towards ritual and communion,. Your body, however, is definitely unwilling,  What’s a witch to do?

We’ve all been there. Exhausted, stretched thin, there doesn’t seem to be enough time for witchcraft let alone taking care of yourself.  Yet we all know how important it is to take care of ourselves,  Our craft truly suffers when we are ill, run down, and energetically drained.  Still, we want, no need, to be there for our deities, our covens, and circles.  We are driven to practice, to connect with our magickal side. So how do we go about giving ourselves a well-needed rest, combined with a bit of pampering, and still practice our craft?  How do we keep the “I” in Witch?

In answer to that question I have listed below several ways you can give yourself the care and pampering your body and mind needs while still working on your craft.  Many of these require little to no special tools other than yourself and a few items you probably already have in your herbal cabinet or kitchen shelves.  Creating these items with intention and then allowing yourself to indulge in self-care will only strengthen you and your magick.

  • Give yourself an herbal bath:  Create a simple herbal bath with Epson salts and a few drops of your favorite essential oils such as lavender, rose, and sage.  As you add these into the water picture the ingredients taking away your cares and fatigue.  Relax in the warm waters and see the worries and stress sluicing off of your body and into the fragrant water. Arise from the bath feeling energized and refreshed and watch as the waters swirl down the drain taking with it your strife and lack of energy.
  • Meditate: Yes, meditation. It is one of the most beneficial and magickal ways we can pamper ourselves.  Even 10 to 15 minutes a day will make the world of difference in your mundane and magickal energy levels, not to mention the boost it gives to your general well-being.
  • Imbibe of the sacred chocolate: Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is a mood enhancer and anti-oxidant.  Magickal, and well, it’s chocolate.  Enough said.
  • Give your feet a good soak and scrub: If a full bath is not possible try a good foot soak and a sugar scrub. I always have a box of Epsom salts and “Mom’s” sugar jar that I have imbued with healing energies and stress relief.  On those stressful days I set the kettle on the stove to boil, set out the foot tub filled part way with cold water and add the salts.  When the hot water is ready I add it to my desired temperature. Then the bliss begins. Let your tootsies soak for a bit then grab a palm full of the sugar. Add a bit of the foot soak water to the sugar then start gently scrubbing your feet. Feel the stress slough off with each stroke, along with any rough spots and calluses. Rinse your feet when done, and as with the bath, watch the worry and stress flow down the drain as you pour out the water.  Ahh, the wonderful feeling of clean feet and no worries.
  • Listen to your favorite “Witchy” music: For me, nothing releases the stress, worries, and daily crap like listening to my favorite music, especially of the “witchy” kind.  My personal favorite, Stevie Nicks.  I turn it up load, sing, dance, and just revel in the beat and the sound.  Before you know it, stress be gone.
  • Indulge in a good cry: Yes, cry.  Talk your Deities.  Offer up your woes to their care. If you don’t work with the Gods then offer it to the Universe. Weep. Scream. Implore. Cry buckets. Get it all out. There is amazing therapeutic benefits loaded into a good cry.
  • Get a massage or Reiki treatment: Body and energy workers are some of the most magickal people I know, whether they realize it or not. They transform, transmute, move and manipulate the energies currently in our bodies,  changing them into something entirely different, something more beneficial.  A great massage therapist or Reiki practitioner will relieve you of your stress and replace that destructive energy with love and peace. If you haven’t had a treatment before I highly recommend one.  Don’t stop at just massage or Reiki.  There are many other healing modalities that are equally as beneficial. Explore and find one that works for you.
  • Soak in a hot tub in the light of the Moon:  If you are fortunate enough to own a hot tub or spa (alas, I am still saving up for this) a glorious soak under a full (or new, dark) moon is a fabulous way to relax and feel especially connected to the Elements and to your magick.  While the jets pulsate your tension away, the Moon will fill your essence with Its energies, renewing your body and spirit.

Life is full of stress, both in our mundane and magickal lives. Work, home, family, covens, kids, and responsibilities, all of these bring us both joy and stress.  How we handle that pressure can be magickal as well as practical. It is my wish that the few simple suggestions that I have made will aid you in placing that “I” back in witch. May your stress melt away and your magick forever thrive. Blessed Be!