Permaculture and Our Environment

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is a “Choose Your Adventure”, which means going back through the topics and picking one that you haven’t covered before.

My chosen topic for the week of 9/23 is a two part question that one of the substitute hosts also addressed this week and is about permaculture.

Note: This is a very long post, and done completely on my phone, so I’m sorry if it’s a little disjointed. I would normally write out something of this size from my computer instead, but as I’m out of town that’s not a possibility right now.

Part 1 : “Are you familiar with permaculture? Does it influence your beliefs?”

As someone that, at one time, was well into academic studies and a career path in botany and horticulture, I am very familiar with permaculture. In the present, in one of my part-time jobs, I work on a farm. At that job, I work with my boss on a regular basis to strategize towards a number of the goals and principles that are a part of permaculture. I will do some layman’s explanations here in my post to help foster understanding while answering.

Definition of Permaculture – “the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient”

There are twelve principles to permaculture, and I will list them below with a short explanation, as well as how each principle is applied to my life, spirituality, and practice.

Principle 1 – Observe and Interact

In permaculture this principle deals with observing the world around you, and responding to it in a way that aligns with your goals towards a more sustainable action plan. This also includes observing not just your environment, but others within your environment and how they interact with the world around them, as well as learning from them better methods to sustainably do the same.

In my life and spirituality, this principle is much the same in that I am looking for ways in which to sustainably incorporate my environment into my spirituality, both through observation of my environment as well as through the observation of others around me that have successfully managed this balance.

Principle 2 – Catch and Store Energy

In permaculture this can incorporate anything from solar power to hydropower and any other method in which you safely (safe for yourself and for the environment) generate power and store it for later use.

In my life and spirituality, this can be as simple as growing my own food, which harnesses is the power of the sun within the food to then be transferred to myself and others when that food is eaten. This is also seen in the charging of crystals in moonlight or sunlight, the drawing in of energy from the earth to expand outwards into spellcraft, etc.

Principle 3 – Obtain a Yield

In agriculture, this is about a physical yield of crops or other resources. If you follow steps one and two, then you will have a yield as a result.

In my life and spirituality, it works the same way. When charging crystals by moonlight or sunlight, there is then a yield of energy within the stones. If growing food there is then a yield of food to feed myself and others. If drawing energy from the earth for spell work, then there will be a yield of energy to then direct outward toward the intended goals.

It is important to note, I think, that sometimes a yield is not a tangible thing. When you plant flowers, your yield is not an edible or an energy… but is in the joy and enjoyment you find in the blooms.

Principle 4 – Self-Regulate / Accept Feedback

In agriculture, this principle is about evaluating how things have gone, and searching for answers to those things that did not work as expected.

In my life and spirituality, this is the principle that deals with finding more sustainable ways of using resources and reusing rather than wasting what I have.

In both cases this principle involves not just self-evaluation, but getting feedback from outside sources on what is working, what needs to be changed, and what can be done better.

Principle 5 – Value and Use Renewables

In permaculture this deals with not having to depend on finite sources of energy such as fossil feels, but instead using renewable resources and choosing greener energy sources and consumption methods.

In my life and spirituality, this principle is about finding those cleaner energy sources and consumption methods, as well as choosing to use renewable resources instead of going for single-use consumer products.

Principle 6 – Produce No Waste

Nature does this naturally. An example of this is the recycling of death and decay within the forest by animals and other creatures who then use that death and decay as home, and other plants who use it as fertilizer.

In an agricultural setting, this can include things such as using excess crops and waste from crops as fertilizer or fuel, agricultural farms having animals on the farm and using animal waste as fertilizer, collecting rainwater for irrigation or watering animals, etc. All waste goes towards another purpose, rather than being tossed out. Sometimes this can include negotiating trades, bartering, and/or bargaining with other local businesses or farms in order to fill the needs of both parties.

In my personal life and spirituality, I am a big advocate of the reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle method. I feel that it is important to be a conscientious consumer, buy wisely, and have a plan for things you buy that goes beyond their initial purpose. Can the packaging be repurposed? Do you dump perfectly good water or coffee dregs down the drain that could be used to water plants?

If I lived somewhere that composting was an option? I would do that as well. I often bring my compostable waste to the farm where I work, as most of it can be given to the pigs or other animals, and what can’t is usually ok to add to their compost. I choose products with minimal packaging. I use reusable shopping bags. These are just a few of the many ways I incorporate this principle into my life.

Principle 7 – Design from Pattern to Detail

There are a lot of small details that work together in permaculture. This principle deals with looking at the big picture, and make sure that everything is going to work together. By looking over the big picture and how all of the small details fit together, you can create a more cohesive plan.

In my life and spirituality, sometimes I forget about this step. I find that I often get lost in the little things, or stuck in a rut. By looking at the big picture, such as I am doing in this post, I realize just how much I actually do, as well as where I can improve.

Principle 8 – Integrate

In agriculture, some plants work very well together. This is why you sometimes see the cultivation of several different types of crops being grown on one farm (or in one field, for that matter). This type of farming (called polyculture) can often help control pests, weeds, and diseases without use of chemicals. It can also assist in keeping the land nutrient rich and fertile, improve soil’s water retention, and assist in preventing erosion.

In my life and spirituality this principle has to do with cooperating with those around me to do better. This includes activities such as educating my employer and other farmers in the area about beneficial changes they could (often easily) make to their methods and modalities. Education and cooperation with the other members of my condo building to do a better job with recycling for the building as a whole would also fall under this principle.

Principle 9 – Use Small Slow Solutions

Whether in agriculture, or within my life and spirituality, this principle has to do with taking things one step at a time.

As I mentioned before, there are many, many details that come along with structuring a farm (or life) around the principles of permaculture.

Taking on too much too soon can be overwhelming. It’s better to take things one step at a time, a little at a time, and get there eventually, rather than leaping in with both feet and giving up due to feeling overwhelmed. You’d be amazed how those tiny steps add up over time.

Principle 10 – Value and Use Diversity

Ecosystems thrive on biodiversity, and permaculture is about an agricultural ecosystem that is self-sustaining. If there is not enough diversity, then the ecosystem will not thrive. Like an engine has many diverse parts that all work together to make the motor run, and ecosystem needs biodiversity in order for it to function properly and survive.

In my personal life and spirituality, I think that diversity is an extremely important quality to encourage. It is only through the diversity of ideas and an open mind to learn new things that we can grow and become better. It is only through exposure to diversity in our lives and through the lives of others that our world view is able to be broadened and we learn new and better methods and ideas that enrich our lives.

Principle 11 – Use Edges and Value the Marginal

Along with thinking outside the box (which is always a good thing), in agriculture this can also include things such as using that extra strip of land along the side of a field to grow feed for the horses, or converting an unused stall in the barn into a tack room or office. It’s about finding that space that’s going to waste, and finding a use for it.

If you are cutting off the crust of your sandwich and throwing them in the trash, then you are wasting food (and not valuing the marginal). Use the edges… value the marginal. Just because that crust is something you don’t want to eat doesn’t mean it’s useless or doesn’t have value. Maybe someone else would like to eat it… Maybe you could dry it and use it as breadcrumbs in a casserole… Maybe you could compost them and they will become fertilizer. Could you be growing food or herbs or flowers on your balcony? Do you have an unused corner of your property where you could be composting?

Principle 12 – Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Change is an inevitable part of life. Finding ways to adapt is an important part of thriving in an ever changing world.

Both in agriculture, as well as in my life and spirituality, the changing of seasons is an example of this. Farmers adapt to each season, and plan ahead for the changes in the weather and their workload. I also plan ahead for the seasons and incorporate the change of the seasons into my spiritual practice.

Many changes can be stressful and overwhelming, but sometimes when you think outside the box you can find interesting uses for them, or creative ways of adapting to them. In my experience, when you dig in your heels too hard and refuse to adapt, life moves on without you or knocks you down and drags you through the mud.

All in all (LS:Sh)? Permaculture influences my beliefs and my life because I value the planet. My belief system is earth based, and it would be ridiculous to abuse that which I love and is the foundation of my spirituality.

Now, on to the second part of the question…

Part 2: “What ecosystems and climate do you live in? How does this influence your path? How might someone incorporate their local environment into their practice?”

I live in Seattle, in the middle of the city. We have four seasons. We also have a lot more green in the city than most places because we get a great deal of rain. This means that there is a lot of growth of not just plants but also moss, mold, mushrooms, lichens, etc.

That said, for my spiritual practice, I often like to go outside of the city and into the nearby rainforests. There is a lot of water here through the inlets, canals, and eddies of the peninsula, as well as through rivers streams, lakes, and ponds. There is a lot of green here. Evergreen trees, mosses, and ferns abound in the rainforests. The soil is moist and ridged with the knobby knees and long stretch of tree roots. Hard stone monolithic cliffs, wet and slick, dot the uneven landscape, hidden by dense foliage to the point you could walk right off one without realizing it until it’s too late.

I feel a deep connection to this environment and spend a lot of time there. I do ritual and spell work there, and often bring home bits of the rainforest that are environmentally safe to take (usually when foraging for spellcrafting supplies).

If you want to incorporate your environment into your practice it is important to become in touch with your environment and what your environment can sustainably offer. To do this requires spending time in that environment, and paying attention to your surroundings. Seek out and consciously notice nature. Even in the cities, there is nature, it’s just harder to find.

Take time just to familiarize yourself with the plants, the soil, the animals, the history, and the environment as a whole. Learn the symbolism and the uses for what the environment around you has to offer. Educate yourself.

With this education under your belt, it then becomes much easier to creatively find ways to incorporate bits of that environment into your practice.

Where My Perspectives Have Changed

So, last month on  YouTube, MIRTHandREVERENCE did a video answering a subscriber’s question about how her practices and perspectives have changed over the 40+ years she’s been on her path.    I really like this question, and decided I wanted to share my own experiences concerning the differences between how I was raised, and what I practice now.

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I think that the biggest difference is the use of deity.   In my parent’s home, we had the God and Goddess of the Pagan’s wheel of the year.  We also had Buddha, Sanshin, and Quan Yin.   My father had a shrine, my mother had an altar, and there were small statues set out in reverence to these deities throughout the house.

I never really felt comfortable worshiping deities, and once I had left my parents home soon after I turned sixteen, I stopped.  That isn’t to say that I stopped my faith, only that my faith changed.  I did not personify my faith, but rather reach beyond the faces and “deities” to the elements and the energy of creation, evolution, and balance itself.   This is where my focus lies in my devotionals, petitions, and invocations.

Along that same line is the difference in how much worship and prayer is involved as a whole.   I spend less time on my knees in front of a shrine or altar, and more time within nature, bonding and appreciating it all.  I also do a good deal of my worship standing or active within nature.

Group gatherings.  Meh.

Growing up, my parents attended many group gatherings with like-minded folks.  They had circles and they had munches.   They sought out a pagan parenting mentor (who you know as Z) to assist them in guiding my sister and I along a similar path.

Other than with my sister?  I don’t worship with others.  I have no interest in sitting in a coffee shop talking about deity and ritual.  I don’t need others energies and intentions and motivations screwing with my spellcraft.  Just… not for me, I guess.  I suppose you could say that I just don’t “play well with others” in that way.

There is much that has remained the same in the separation of those fifteen-ish years, but above are the most notable differences that have developed over time to transition my faith from that of my parents into something that works for me alone.

 

#GrumpyWitchTag (non) VR to Yarrowen and Heather Carter

I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a “grumpy witch”, but I think the questions are more about the things you either don’t like or don’t connect with, rather than really being grumpy. This tag first came to my attention in Heather Carter’s channel, and then I forgot about it a bit until the other day Yarrowen also did a response to it.

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So here’s the questions and my answers to them…

1. Do you have a least favorite time of the year magically?

The second half of Summer.  I’m just not a fan.  It’s all about the heat, the lack of rain, the HEAT…. and, well, everything drying out and becoming crunchy.

2. Is there an herb that you don’t like working with or never seems to work in your practice?

No, although there are herbs and other plants that I avoid working with due to allergy issues.   Some of these include, but are far from limited to, juniper, alder, tobacco, marigold, linden flower (and lemon tree in general), and hibiscus flowers.   IF I work with these, I have to be extremely careful not to allow them to touch my skin or get near my face.  A flu mask, long sleeves, and doubled up latex gloves are a must, and sometimes eye protection as well.

3. Is there a stone or crystal that you don’t like working with or never seems to add anything to your practice?

Ugh.  I can’t work with nuummite.  It’s energy is too “heavy” and just drags me down when I come in contact with it.   That said?  My sister uses nuummite as a paperweight (with intention spellcasting) on her stack of little paper thin girl pad things?  WTF are they called?  Liners?   She uses them with those and swears by it.

Aside from that, I’ve learned a few lessons about where not to use certain stones because they are not suited to it (or I am not suited to their influence in that way of using them), but I it isn’t that I don’t like to work with them or don’t find them useful in other ways.

4. Is there anything that “bothers” you about your deity or your practice?

Um… well, honestly?   The shit that bugs me is that I just don’t have enough time to commit to it as I’d like.   That really doesn’t have anything to do with my practice though, and more to do with just being busy and overworked. I don’t work with specific deity, tho.

5. What do you do when a spell doesn’t work?

Review, reflect, revise, and try again.  OR…. evaluate if it’s something I really want or need in the first place, as sometimes when shit doesn’t work, it’s telling you that whatever it is is just not meant to be.

6. Have you ever done a meditation or astral work that did nothing for you?

I don’t do astral work, but I do meditate regularly.  And yes.   There are times when I just cannot manage to settle and focus for my meditation.  I wouldn’t say it does nothing for me, just that it doesn’t have the amount of a desired effect as I’d like.

7. Is there an element that just doesn’t work for you?

I don’t connect as strongly to fire or air as I do to earth and water.  I don’t really consider any of them not working for me though.

8. How do you get out of a witchy rut?

Usually?  I take a break and wait it out.   If I’m not “feeling it” I don’t do it.  I figure that it’s the universe’s way of telling me I need to take some time to let up and just relax for a bit.

9. How do you deal with life getting in the way of your practice?

The best I can?   I mean everyone has responsibilities and obligations to deal with.  Everyone has people that need our time and things that require looking after that have nothing to do with your practice.  It’s a part of life.   Like other parts of my life, I strive for balance.  Sometimes I mange it… other times, not so much.

Some of the ways I strive for balance is by trying to carve out specific time for different things, setting up methods of accountability (like this blog for my daily draw and Saturday check ins), and pre-planning/pre-working some of the things needed to prep for upcoming busy times.

10. When you have all of these negative feelings about your practice, what do you do?

I think I pretty much answered this in the eighth question.  I take a break and wait it out, or I may reach out to others for a different perspective to help me find balance a little faster if I think it will help.

 

Traveling with Items of Faith

Okay, so I’ve mentioned before that I do not normally travel with items of my faith.  I leave my tarot cards at home, and instead take a deck of playing cards.  I leave my crystals and other items at home other than those set into the (very innocuous) jewelry that I wear.

Travel AltarThis is how I was taught, and it’s the practice I have followed throughout my entire life.  But, I’ve been feeling a need this time around to bring some things with me.  This is different, and unusual for me, and yet it’s a nagging niggle in the back of my mind that I’m having a hard time silencing.

So… I made myself a ‘kit’ of sorts.   A sort of ‘travel altar’ that I have packed to take with me on my trip.   I thought you’d like to see it and what’s in it.

Above, you can see how it looks all packed up and ready to go.  I’m using a book bandolier to hold it all together, and what you see there are two small hand-made notebooks for taking notes on any readings I do while I’m gone so that I can bring them back and transfer them into my journal when I get home.  I need to be able to hand-write my notes, as this connects to a different part of the brain than typing (no matter what device I’m typing on).   For example, all of my self-care spreads are hand written prior to being added to this blog, as are some of my other personal readings that I’ve shared.

Also included is my favorite type of pen for this type of writing (thank you Sharpie).  Then above that is my tin with all my supplies, and above that, the tin containing the deck I’ve decided to bring along with me on this trip.   I chose a tinned deck for protection of the cards, and that deck in particular because 1) it’s very easy to read and 2) it’s very inexpensive to replace if something happens to it.

Travel Altar

Okay, so in the picture above, you see everything taken out of their tins.  Starting with the deck of tarot cards on the left and working clockwise, we have….

  • The Morgan Greer Tarot deck (in a tin version)
  • A small spray bottle of homemade purification spray consisting of alcohol, distilled water, sweet grass, garden sage, lavender, clove, bergamot, rosehips, allspice, rosemary, and cedar shavings.  These ingredients are put in alcohol (this batch was made with vodka, although rubbing alcohol will also work) and set to age for several months before being strained and diluted with distilled water.
  • One tealight candle
  • An incense holder
  • A small sample of soil from the Olympic Rainforest, and beside it, a small sample of rain water from the Olympic Rainforest as well.
  • My black Sharpie 0.8 fine point pen
  • Two 18 page handmade notebooks (passport size) that came as a free gifts with past bandolier orders (made by CleverHands on Etsy)
  • A selenite thumb stone, and above it, a crystal quartz thumb stone
  • A flourite heart
  • Two small sticks (each) of Nag Champa and Frankincense
  • A small baggie of crystals and stones including labradorite, rose quartz, smoky quartz, amethyst, malachite, nuummite, tigers eye, apatite, citrine, moonstone, amazonite, green calcite, and a few others
  • A strand I made to signify the four elements.  It is created out of amazonite, citrine, carnelian agate, and amethyst, with crystal quartz positioned between each and on either end.
  • A mini Bic lighter

Travel AltarAs you can see in the picture on the left, it all fits nice and neat inside the little tin, and the tin closes tightly.  I will carry it on the plane, except for the lighter, which will have to go in my suitcase (because no way they’re going to let me take a lighter on the plane when they won’t even let me board with a pair of jeweler’s pliers).

So…. there you have it.   Something new I’ve never done before.  And yet…. maybe it’s time, yeah?

 

 

Resourcing Supplies

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is a three-in-one, all of which deal with how you resource the supplies you use in your faith and/or craft.

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From Jay Jackson:

I was wondering about the group’s different takes on using Items that are now mass-produced or that are not naturally occurring for use in their Craftwork or Rituals. For instance you can go down to one of the large camping stores and buy a cauldron or acquire one from one of the various “witchy” stores. Back in the day people usually repurposed a family heirlooms or acquired an old one from an antique store. Some Items that were made by hand are now available off the shelf.

I really don’t have an issue with this.  For some people, they are limited (sometimes severely so) in their ability to access natural resources, hand-me-down items, antiques and vintage pieces, and other such methods that were once common place.   Sometimes they are financially strapped and mass market is the only way to afford something they feel they want or need.

As long as all paths and venues are represented and none are causing the death of any of the others?  Then I say do what feels right for you.

In my own personal choices, I get a lot of what I need from my hikes in nature, as well as from second hand stores, yard sales, garage sales, etc…. and occasionally thrift stores and dollar stores.   There is also eBay and Etsy, although I usually avoid ordering spellcraft items online whenever possible (especially crystals), as I find I need to touch them in order to make sure the energies they emit are going to blend well with my own or my purpose.

Keep in mind when ordering online that if you are sensitive to energy emissions, you might not be happy with what you receive regardless of how many pictures you see of the item first.  Cleansing can only do so much.  Sometimes?  It’s just not enough.

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(Cont.) From Jay Jackson:

Also due to modern technology, Laboratory grown Crystals are available. Last year I saw a really beautiful Crystal that was Opalite, I really felt it was ‘calling’ to me, my hopes for the stone were dashed when someone pointed out Opalite is man-made in Labs. I recently acquired one anyway to use as a focal point for a similar item found in Druid Practice but it is unknown what its historic nature was. (A Serpents Egg or Dragon Egg)

I’m okay with using non-crystal “crystals” in magical practice.  If the item suits your needs and/or you feel it has the energy and qualities you’re looking for to enhance your practice or crafting?  Go for it.  Crystals aren’t the only things in the world that carry energy, so why not?

I do have a HUGE issue with misrepresentation on the side of crystal suppliers.  Whether this is because they don’t know any better, or because they are intentionally being deceptive?  Not okay.

First?  They should know their shit, and if they don’t they shouldn’t be selling crystals.  So that they don’t know what they’re actually selling is NOT an excuse.

Second? Whether it is “accepted in the industry” or not.  Whether it is something “everyone is doing” or not.  Whether it is legal or not.  I don’t give a fuck.  Deceptive practices are still deceptive practices, regardless of the reasons and/or excuses used to justify their use.   And…. IMO?  Not okay.   This includes baking amethyst to then ‘pass it off’ as citrine.  This includes claiming opalite is a stone (it’s glass).  This includes claiming dyed stones are naturally that color.  All of that is deceptive.  Commonly done, but deceptive.

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From Lea McAlister:

I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts might be in the Sephora Beginner Witch Kits that they [were going to] be selling. It seems like a pretty hot topic with divided opinions everywhere. I would love to know what everyone here thinks. :)”

Cultural Appropriation

noun
  1. the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society

I’m pretty sure that says it all where my opinion is concerned.

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From Shadow_sun:

Favorite budget ideas for spells such as supplies, herbs, or just in general.

I already mentioned a number of them above.  One of my favorite sources is when I go hiking in nature or take a trip to the beach.  You have to be careful that you are sourcing sustainably, though.  Don’t just take whatever you want, as much as you want, and think it’s okay because it’s “free”.  Be certain that you are not harming the environment or those that live within it by what you decide to take away with you.

Second hand stores, yard sales, garage sales, thrift stores, dollar stores, etc.  All of these are really good for things like supplies and in general.  Estate sales can also be a good place to look for things such as crystals and supplies at a steep discount, although that’s not always the case.

For herbs, my biggest suggestion is to learn how to grow what you need.  This is what I do for sage, lavender, rosemary, and a few other herbs.  I grow them, bundle them (when appropriate), and dry them myself (or freeze them if needed).  You’d be amazed at how much you can get out of a single plant.

Other venues for herbs would be the local grocery store, ethnic markets (ie: Chinatown), bulk food stores, etc.

Craft stores often also are a good place.  They will often have coupons online that you can use to get some pretty steep discounts (such as 20% off an entire order, or 40% off a single item, for example).

You’ll notice I don’t mention metaphysical shops.  This is because I’ve found unless they’re having a spectacular sale or liquidating to close down?  They don’t really have good deals for saving money.  Since this question is all about how to SAVE money, I did not include them.

Nor do I mention Amazon, eBay, or Etsy on this question.   I have found that although you can occasionally find some really good deals from online sites, the results of what you get when your order arrives is a “mixed bag” when it comes to getting what you -expect- to receive. For this reason, I prefer to shop for my spellcrafting supplies in person whenever possible.

 

Sacred Spaces – A #whatsyourspace (non) VR to Intuition Tarot

Why I have sacred spaces is pretty easy to answer for me. My sacred spaces are places for spellcraft and worship that are spread throughout my home. This incorporates spirituality into my everyday life instead of “designating it to a corner”.  This is going to be a MASSIVE post with lots of text and lots of pictures, so fair warning… it’s probably going to take quite a while to get through. (And, as a side note… in this post, all of the pics will be clickable for larger images.)

That said, I thought you might like a tour of my sacred spaces. This post will be a sort of combination of a ‘what’s on my altar” tour, as well as a general tour of the sacred spaces in my home.  I’ve been planning this post for some time, but Becca over at Intuition Tarot recently did a video that inspired me to get my ass in gear and get it done.

We’ll start with my altar, which is set up in the bedroom.

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I want to say that the stuff on my altar are self explanatory, but they might not be, so I will go through them starting with the Gaia statue.   I do not worship the goddess Gaia, but I use this statue as a representation of the energies of creation, evolution, and balance.  Draped over her lap is a mala that has been placed there as an offering to those energies.

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Beneath her is the little altar table you gave me at one point, and beneath that is a small jade offering cup with a tree of life bracelet that you also gifted me at some point.  Just forward from there is my altar candle, with four spheres of elemental representations and clear quartz pieces in front of each one.

These spheres are amazonite for earth, citrine for air, banded carnelian agate for fire, and amethyst for water.   Clockwise from there, in the top right corner there is my suspended goblet filled with lots and lots of different (mostly tumbled) gemstones and gemstone chips.  Hanging off the arm of the goblet’s support is the very first pendulum that I’d ever owned, and beneath that at the base where the flower resides is a small dark green jade Buddha.

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Clockwise from there, in the bottom right corner is an intention box decorated in art nouveau style, which contains a mala made of kyanite and labradorite for connecting to emotion and calm combined, and a small trinket heart for gratitude.

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Continuing clockwise from there is my father’s Kila (here’s a link with info on this tool if you’re interested), which is a ceremonial tool that is usually used in Vajrayana Buddhism.  I’m not 100% sure if they use it in the traditional version of the path he was on, but HE used it, and I keep it on my altar as a representation of him and his spirit.  The mirror beside it is something that my mother has said belonged to our grandmother (Lins has the matching hairbrush somewhere). The hand mirror is a representation of my ancestors.  And, of course, the favorite thing on my altar?  My beautiful Lil’Phil plant that sits up in the left hand corner.

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On the wall above my alter is a framed picture of The Dash that I’ve shared before with you, and a small tree of life sun catcher in amethyst and peridot.  Above that to the left is a new addition.  That is my beautiful moth woman, which I was given recently by Z and matches the intention box on the altar.

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Then, on the shelf below the altar, you can find usually a collection of larger gemstones, my agate offering bowl, a painted rock with spiral design that I found in a post office parking lot, the tarot deck I’m using for my daily pulls, etc.  To the left of that on a plant stand is a planter filled with (currently very colorful) sand where my burning incense is safely used.

OK… so that is my main altar.  But, I also have a handful of other sacred spaces in my home.

014Beside my altar, I have a large mirror with a bauble trap set up there for mischief makers to busy themselves with (so that they aren’t playing with the stuff on my altar). I’ve added a picture, but I’ve found that I had a hell of a time figuring out how to get it to show the simmer on the baubles, so they look a little dark.  You can click the picture to get a better view though.

Also in this picture, you can see my new teardrop shaped salt lamp, which I purchased from a shop near Z’s that was going out of business. It’s located on the far side of the room and is hooked up to a timer that turns it on and off on a schedule, and also allows me to turn it on and off with my phone so that I have a little light in the room when I’m heading to bed (so I don’t trip over Miss Luna’s toys).  It’s such a deep pink that when it’s turned on at night it glows red.  It also sits in a small dish that you can’t quite see, because salt lamps always run the risk of drawing moisture and I don’t want to drown my Bose speaker sitting there or the books tucked in the book-stand beneath it.

013There is also my concrete Buddha (holding a piece of green calcite) on the other nightstand beside the bed, along with a moon box which holds a couple of malas in it, and a stack of a few decks I use monthly.

There are also the stones I use regularly in meditation, which includes a large piece of labradorite and smaller palm stones in amethyst and smoky quartz.  My pill box usually sits here as well, along with whatever book(s) I’m reading from just before bed at the time (which at the moment is “I See You, I Am You” by Casey Jo Loos).  At the time I took this picture, I was re-reading the Journey Into the Hidden Realm. (Sorry for all the dust in my pics btw.  The close ups really show it and I just didn’t feel like dusting before I took the photos.)

That little pill bottle hiding in the back is Advil Nighttime, which I use now and then when I can’t sleep and don’t have to be up early.  The coasters on the left usually hold a water bottle that I keep filled in the bedroom.

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Then there is this little altar beside the bath tub in the bathroom.  I spend a good deal of time in my bathtub.  Ok, so not THAT much time, but at least an hour and a half each week at the minimum, not counting my daily showering.  It’s not just for soaking, but also for first aid (thank you Epson salts) and ritual bathing.

This little space contains a bin that holds two waterproof tarot decks and one waterproof lenormand deck.  There is also a large pillar candle (that made myself at Ms B’s house), a wheat-straw teddy bear mug holding a collection of essential oil bottles, and a few books for when I feel like doing a little reading while I marinate in the tub.

Because of allergies, I have to be extremely careful what I put in my baths.  For this reason, I don’t use herbals in my bath. What I use most often is a mix of Epson salts, apple cider vinegar (with the mother), and bentonite clay combined with a single drop of one of a few essential oils that I know for sure will not set off my allergies in some way.  These supplies are lined up along the wall beside the little stool I show in the pictures.

007In the living room, I then have a few spots as well.

Here is my shelf where I keep my pentacle tile and my mother’s bell. Lots of candles as well obviously, and you’ll see a handful of things that you have purchased for me over the years.

There is the mantle above my fireplace, where I also have a handful of the gifts you have given me over the years, as well as candles and crystals, a fairy door, and a parade of turtles that always remind me of you. There is also my goose, the newest gift you gave me of the holding hands, and a few other small items (including a blown glass turtle pendant that matches the one I sent you hanging from the vase on the left that is for some reason currently facing the wall).

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Also on the mantle is an heirloom piece (that you can see in the middle picture above on the left), which is the green Fenton glass owl candle holder that was my mother’s.  I’ve been enamored with this candle holder since I was a little kid, and I was seriously -choked- when my mother told me that I could take it home with me recently.  It is very cherished.

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Here you can see our bauble tree, gifted by you, which my sister and I also use to hang things upon (charms, notes on strings, etc) as a way of setting intentions prior to spellcrafting.  This tree works spectacularly as a bauble trap as the shell leaves really shimmer and reflect light beautifully, and the tree branch mirrors you gave me go really well as “expanding” the reach of the branches of the central tree in my opinion.

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Here is the entry to my home, or rather, what resides above the entry.  On the left, you have my sage and cedar poppet for protection and a besom pentagram, both of which came in last month’s Witches Box subscription.  The rest of the stuff up there has been there for years and includes broom (besom) that Z made for me when I moved into this space, and two plaques that my sister and I set with intentions each year.

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Here is the last of the bauble traps currently in my home, and I’ve mentioned this one on the blog in the past.  This is near the front door at the other end of the short entry hall. It is not visible from the front door, but catches light from windows across the room.  Like the one in the bedroom, I didn’t manage to get a really good shot of the items reflecting the light due to the time of day I took these photos.

Like the plaques above the front door, the sign above this mirror is imbibed with spellcrafting, which because I am using this as a bauble trap right next to the entrance to my home, I feel is extremely important as my belief is that mirrors can also be a sort of doorway.

012On the other side of the main living area near the sliding glass door, here is my Quan Yin statue.

Quan Yin (aka Guanyin) is the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion.  In my parents home growing up, we had a number of Quan Yin statues, which holds a certain amount of irony considering my father and his behavior throughout my childhood.  BUT, I love Quan Yin. I think she is beautiful.

I don’t worship her as a goddess, but I love everything she represents and everything she is about.  Like the Buddha, I bring her into my home not to worship, but because I feel it creates space for the energies that they represent.

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I can’t really say that I have sacred spaces set up in either my kitchen or the office, although I included a few items imbibed with intentions from my kitchen above, as well as a peek of some of my books on my kitchen bookshelf.

I consider the whole of my kitchen a sacred space, as this is where a lot of my spellcrafting takes place, and where much of my intention setting also is done concerning health matters and the like.

In the office I have a lot of greenery, but nothing that’s particularly sacred aside from the plants themselves.  I do have a few things hung on the wall near where I package orders to remind me of my center and assist in keeping me from sinking too deeply into that “work mindset” and losing track of everything else.

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As a side note about the kitchen… In many traditions there is a superstition that tools used in worship and spellcraft can never again return to being used for mundane tasks. I personally do not subscribe to this belief. My home is a sacred space, my life aligns with my faith in not just that I do in a daily devotional or occasional rituals, but is sprinkled throughout my life (and home) in all sorts of small ways. It is not something put in a box only to be pulled out for certain things or occasions, but instead is a part of everyday life, and integrated into every nook and cranny.

Because of this integration, though, I’m sure I’ve missed a few of the smaller spots and things that make up the smaller sacred spots.  When something is so integrated into your life, sometimes it just becomes so everyday that you no longer manage to pick it out.  So I think that’s it!

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A bonus picture of my balcony because it is where I go to center when I’m upset, or just to feel a little more connected to the earth when I can’t get out to go hiking. Out here is also where I sit to smudge new decks when they come into my collection.  I didn’t include a picture of that process, though, cuz I’ve already made a post about it.

The Witch’s Familiar

This week’s question from the Pagan Perspective YouTube channel is a “Choose Your Adventure” practice, which means going back through the topics and picking one that you haven’t covered before.  As I’m new to this channel (and responding to it) this was very easy for me as there were many, many topics to choose from.

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My Chosen Topic for the Week of 8/12: Do you have a familiar? What does that mean? How do you know if an animal companion is a familiar or is familiar material?” including “The roll of pets, if any, in your practice?

The definition of a familiar is when a spirit possesses or takes the form of an animal in order to provide spiritual/magickal assistance and guidance. To me, I feel that the primary role of a familiar is to be a guide within the liminal space, astral plane, and spirit world.

Because I feel this way about the role of a familiar, I do not believe that a living being is suited for this task, and so I do not view pets as familiars. They are companions and a deep bond can be created between a person and their pet that transcends the “keeper/pet” dynamic. Pets can even be a part of one’s practice. But, I do not think that the primary role of what a familiar is can be filled by a living animal 99.9% of the time.

That said, I do think that spirits and energy can possess or embody a physical form. So, I suppose it could be possible.  I also, though, think it is extremely rare and that most who call their pets “familiars” are misusing the term.

I do have a cat.

Miss Luna has no interest in my spellcrafting, nor in the tarot. She also has no interest in my altar or hanging out in (or on) any of my sacred spaces. In fact, she is very careful to give me space and observe from a distance during any tarot time, spellcraft time, and ritual time I have.   She often sits right in front of the entrance to the room I am in during these times, and from there she will watch everything very closely.   Then, when I am done, she will return to be closer to me and following me around (which is her usual modus operandi).

Meanie, my previous cat, was much the same in this behavior.

 

 

#SmallMagicks #MySpiritualToolkit a (non) VR to Yarrowen

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Another YouTube hashtag response.  This one is from Yarrowen’s channel on YouTube, and addresses not specifically about tarot, but about little magicks and spiritual practices.   Not the big things you do daily or weekly or monthly, but the little everyday things that incorporate magick into your daily life.

So here is a small, non-comprehensive list of the little magicks that I incorporate into my life on the day to day.

  • Forest bathing (in the forest and out of it) is my number one magic in day to day life. Being in touch with my senses and the whisper of nature even in the city is very much a part of my every day.
  • Also, as she called it, the “micro mini meditation” of a breath, a check in with myself, and moment of gratitude.
  • Meditative shuffling.  Sometimes when I just need to feel a little soothing comfort, I’ll pull out a deck of cards (tarot, lenormand, or playing cards) and sit with them and shuffle for a bit.
  • I wear a small bead charms of labradorite and citrine attached to my medical bracelet.
  • The morning daily draw that I do, while seeking a positive message to carry with me through the day and foster a bit of perspective.
  • I match the mug I use with my morning tea to the mood of my day or the intention of the mood I wish to set for my day.
  • My daily devotional in the morning, which reminds me to stay grateful each day.
  • The jewelry that I wear, which is always a reminder of you.
  • Mudras during my meditation.  This is a new practice, but I have found one or two that really seems to enhance my meditation practice.
  • I create the jewelry and other items that I make in a mindful manner, with the conscious intention of it bringing something positive into the life of the person that each piece ends up with.
  • Speaking to my plants and the animals in my life.
  • Labradorite on the solar plexus and smoky quartz on the third eye during my meditation.  Also just a small thing that enhances my meditation practice and assists me in “tuning myself in” to where I want to be.

Yarrowen speaks of one little thing a day, but the truth is that I do most of these nearly every day.  But, just as I scatter sacred items and sacred spaces throughout my home, I scatter little bits of magick and spirituality throughout my life.

This is far from a complete list, because so many of the things I do are just a natural part of my day and I don’t even recognize them as spiritual or magickal until it is pointed out to me.

Thank you for the terrific hashtag Yarrowen.