29 June 2011

Cleaning and Cleansing

Amphitrite. Picture from here.
It's funny how I've had all summer to do basically nothing, and yet I'm finding so much to do. Today I cleaned out my room, the one I lived in since we first moved to Virginia when I was a mere 18 months old. I tend to hoard (not in a gross, stacks-of-newspapers-and-dead-cats-with-pizza-boxes-and-flies-everywhere kinda way, but in a i-got-this-tshirt-from-track-at-states-in-2003-and-it-has-lots-of-sentimental-value-even-though-i-have-20-more-tshirts-from-track-just-like-it kinda way), so the process of going through my entire collection of clothes and shoes that I've accumulated over the past 22 years was a rather intimidating process. It's an activity I've managed to carefully avoid thus far all summer, but as we have a houseful of extended family coming to visit this weekend, so many people that I am being kicked out of my room, it was necessary for me to make my room *liveable* to those other than myself. I may be comfortable sleeping on a narrow corner of my bed since the rest of it is piled to the ceiling (well, almost) with clothes I can't fit in my drawers or closet, but my aunt and uncle will likely protest.

I've been joking that I'll just take some of my field gear and camp out in the woods in the backyard. What's funniest, to me anyway, is that I'm not joking at all. I'd rather sleep outside on a bed roll than cramped on a little chair in the family room (even the couches are all employed).

Here's to hoping the friendly neighborhood bears (we have about three; the largest is around 400 lbs and loves to frequent our deck and trashcan at night; even my 100+lb dog is intimidated) as well as the pack of coyotes decide to leave me alone.

Anyway, after combing through my room, I've filled two giant garbage-bags full of clothes to donate to Good Will, another bag full of purses and shoes, and then two bags full of clothes worthy only for the trash. There were a lot of whites that had turned yellow, jeans that had popped buttons, and old running shorts that had long since lost their elasticity. Why any of these items had not been pitched before, I will never know. This is what happens, apparently, when you don’t do laundry so much as buy new clothes. Well, to an extent. I'm not QUITE that bad.

As for the more spiritual side of cleaning, I've been an active little Pagan these past few weeks. I've been working with a friend, who isn't so much a Pagan as she is a mirror to my own past. Amphitrite, as she will be forever after known on my blog, is a childhood friend with whom I am still very close, and she also still considers herself a Christian. Nonetheless, she believes in Faeirie and mythology and destiny and divine energy or magic or ch'i or whatever you want to call it that makes stuff happen as firmly as I do. We consult the Tarot together, and while I believe that my gods and goddesses are speaking through the cards to tell me what I need to hear, she believes her God is speaking through the same cards to her. I dallied with that same sort of duality back when I was new to Paganism, still afraid of the concept of eternal damnation and thou-shalt-not-suffer-a-witch-to-live, and afraid above all of being hypocritical. I've long since come to terms with my personal issues with Christianity (cue: patriarchy, in all its evil glory) and publicly affirmed my Pagan beliefs on both my dog tags and my Facebook. Amphitrite is familiar with and accepting of my world-view, although it differs from her, and I think she may way day come around to a less Christian perspective. She just needs time to get over that deeply instilled Christian Guilt (she was raised Baptist).

In the meantime, we've done a few rituals together. It's a strange feeling for me to be working with someone else. I'm so used to being a solitary that sharing the aspects of the ritual feels uncomfortable, but I'm getting used to it. I'm still doing a lot on my own—meditations and trance work, mostly, to commune with a new totemic force that wandered into my life on the astral level—and so I still consider myself an Eclectic Solitary. The most recent thing we did was a cleansing/purification/bad-juju-banishment modeled after something I had done about a year ago. Breakups are never easy, and there's lots of negative emotions that taint even the most patient and lovely spirit (one which Amphitrite possesses). Amphitrite, recently the victim of a nasty breakup, wanted to purge some of that bad-juju. So here's what we did, adapted for a multi-purpose-use format. Enjoy!

  • Black candle (one is all you need, but more just makes it fun)
  • Incense (optional, but watching the smoke always makes me feel more witchy)
  • Good-feeling/happy herbs, dried works best (we used damiana)
  • Fire-proof bowl, mini-cauldron, etc (something you can burn stuff in; we used a large shell)
  • Salt water if you want to be pretty about it, or a nearby toilet if you have a sense of humor
  • Little pieces of paper, parchment, etc to write on, cut into roughly 1x1 inch squares.
  • Pen or pencil
  • Any other stuff you normally use for your own practice

  1. This ritual is best performed at a new or waning moon, although it can be used whenever in a pinch. Since there is lots of burning and smoke involved, it is also best performed outside in an area where you're not going to cause a forest-fire. Use your common sense.
  2. Set up your altar facing South (Fire) since this ritual utilizes the transformation-through-destruction aspect of Fire. Have the pieces of paper, pen, black candle, happy herbs, and shell/cauldron/bowl ready for action within reaching distance.
  3. Call the quarters, set up your circle, etc, or however you normally prepare for a ritual. I like to face each direction, starting with North, and invoke the spirits of that direction/element (North = Earth, etc) and go clockwise around until I am facing North again, and then invoke Spirit. I invite each of the quarters to strengthen and protect my circle as I do my work, and offer some general flattery about what each corresponds to. However, whatever you normally do will work best for you.
  4. Light the incense now, if you're going to use it, and focus briefly on the smoke to cleanse and calm you. If there are any deities with whom you work closely or would like to invoke to aid you, this is also the time to do that. However, since this ritual is a personal cleansing, you'll be just fine doing it without the direct oversight of a patron god or goddess. It's up to you.
  5. Focus on the negative emotions—or bad-juju—that you want to purge from your psyche. When you have a list of what you want to purge in your mind, write each item individually on the pieces of paper. For example, if you've been feeling really angry lately and it's starting to interfere with your normally pleasant self, then you may decide to write "Anger." If you feel that you are holding a grudge against someone or something and you would like to let go, you may want to simply write "Holding Grudges."
  6. Once all the negative emotions are written down on the paper, preferably in a nice prime number like three, five, seven, or thirteen (nine is also good, however), light the black candle.
  7. Select the negative emotion one you wish to purge first. Hold the corresponding piece of paper up to the sky and read the word aloud, focusing on what it means to you and why you want to get rid of it. Then, light the piece of paper on fire using the flame from the black candle, careful not to burn yourself in the process.
  8. Once the piece of paper bearing your bad-juju on it is nice and burning, place it in the shell/cauldron/bowl and let it burn to ashes. Sprinkle some of your happy herbs in the flames to help neutralize the negativity of the bad-juju written on the paper.
  9. Repeat steps 7-8 as necessary for the remaining pieces of paper.
  10. When all of the bad-juju has been reduced to ashes, you can close your circle, etc. All that remains now is the disposal, which can take one of two forms.
    1. Option A (The Pretty one): Pour the salt water over the ashes, and then dump everything in the trash, down a drainage pipe, or buried somewhere for time and the elements to fully destroy. The bad-juju is all neutralized, so don't worry about accidental cursing a lake, stream, reservoir, or land. They're now just ashes. Amphitrite chose this method.
    2. Option B (The Funny One): Go to a toilet. Dump the ashes in the toilet bowl. Piss on the ashes. Flush. Done. This, incidentally, is the method I chose a year ago. I also might have flicked off the ashes before I pissed on them. What can I say…I have a crude sense of humor sometimes, and I really wanted to get rid of my bad-juju.
And then you're all set :) May this negative emotion cleansing work as well for you as it did for me, and as it seems to be working for Amphitrite. Blessed be.

21 June 2011

Happy Summer Solstice!

Lovely picture of summer faeries from here
First and foremost, I hope you all have enjoyed (and are still enjoying, as the case may be, depending on your time zone since I appear to have a very international readers) the longest day of the year! Aka the Summer Solstice. I prefer using that name, although I've heard of it often called Litha in some modern traditions. I've been known, now and then, to celebrate a holiday more traditionally associated with Wicca, but usually my big four are just the two solstices and the two equinoxes, and then I squeeze in the New and Full Moons as often as possible. Anywho, here's how I celebrated, and am still celebrating, my favorite turning of the wheel (well, until the next one comes along, that is):

I frolicked in the woods in the pouring rain :)

If you've been keeping up with some of my previous entries, running with abandon in the woods with minimal clothing has been a long pent-up desire of mine. Since about midwinter, actually. I've been harboring this desire for many reasons, chief among them because I have so few outlets in my life where I can do something absolutely ridiculous (dancing naked—or mostly naked, as I was in fact wearing a rainforest-print bikini—mid-afternoon during an epic thunderstorm just might fall into that category). Being an officer in the Army, and especially in the Military Police Corps, as well as being the oldest child in a family with two busy, working parents and one autistic, hormone-spiking fifteen-year-old boy does not exactly translate to having a lot of free time or little responsibility. Thus, sometimes all I want to do is scream into the void and not be heard, or do something inconsequential, just to see what it feels like.

However, as today was the Summer Solstice, my frolicking in the woods was not entirely without consequence, and was only semi-spontaneous.

I tend to not watch television very much, and while I track the current weather patterns, I don't always look at forecasts. At least, not when I'm on leave and I have nothing to plan for. Thus, I had no idea that we were going to have a thunderstorm to end all thunderstorms this afternoon until said storm was dropping quarter-sized hail and sheets of rain right on top of me. I was at the grocery store with Mama and Youngest Brother when the heavens opened. We were buying fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil for our light dinner of bruschetta, along with a fruity cabernet in honor of the holiday. I decided, as soon as I heard the torrential downpour, that if it was still raining when we got home, I would go outside and soak it all up as part of a fun, frolicking cleansing ritual.

My hopes were momentarily dashed when the rain subsided, but I decided to prepare by donning the rainforest-patterned bikini just in case and brewed some herbal tea, just in case. Before I could even take the first sip of my tea, it began to rain again. There was no hail this time (fortunately, although I can't guarantee that would have stopped me anyway), and so I ran outside immediately. The rain felt so delicious! It was cool on my skin, and my hair was immediately soaked. I had braided it earlier in the day, but unbraided it in the rain. I was also barefoot, and since I have not spent much time barefoot outside in recent years, the sharp rocks and sticks stung my toes. The pain was nothing unbearable, however. I just tried to walk on the moss and grass wherever possible. Nevertheless, my frolicking commenced.

Then, after the joy and freedom of running and dancing with abandon around my house in the rain, I walked a little deeper into the woods. I had been outside for maybe ten minutes by this point, and I could hear the thunder rumbling closer and closer. The rain was still pouring steadily down, so my hair was absolutely soaked as if I'd just finished swimming. I faced the deeper forest, listening to the rain and watching it drip down the green, and said a quick blessing to the spirits of the forest who watched me, and watched over me, as I grew up here in Virginia. I offered my thanks, and wished them well as the year began to turn back towards darkness.

By this point, the lightning was practically on top of me, so I decided I'd rather not tempt the Fates and dashed back inside. Then, struck with a fabulous idea, I ran up to my room and grabbed one of my glass containers and my scrying bowl to collect the remaining rainwater. Both are now full of fresh rain water for me to use in my rituals this summer! I am, as you can likely tell, ecstatic.

The bruschetta for dinner was quite delish, as was the wine we picked out. Rich and fruity, but not too sweet. Later this evening, once my parents are in bed and no one will think strange things about me prowling about the house with candles and incense and dried flower petals or leaving a bowl of milk with cinnamon and honey on the porch for the Fae, I'll finish celebrating my Summer Solstice.

May the rain wash away any staleness from your life, leaving you fresh and energized.

10 June 2011

Vacation In Aruba? Why Yes, Thank You

Where I'll be this time tomorrow (sorta). Pic from here.
Yeah, I know. I'm awful. I have literally nothing to do but work out, relax, and chill with the few friends I grew up with who still live around here, and I still don't find time to blog. Oh well…
I've been quite busy in the working out and chilling with friends department. I've been recently reconnecting with a very, very old friend, with whom I lost touch many years ago. Not even as in "we haven't spoken since high school" lost touch, but rather, we hadn't spoken since elementary school. To be more precise, I'm pretty sure we parted ways when I was in fourth grade and he, in fifth. Either way, our mutual love of music (and, likely, the fact that I'm kinda cute) inspired him to start talking to me out of nowhere. Not a romantic reconnecting by any stretch of the imagination, but just a nice, easy, reconnecting of friends. Very platonic.
Well, at least it seems that way, and that's how I've chosen to approach it. I would be lying if I said I knew what, precisely, he has in mind. It's not like I'm here in Virginia for very much longer, fabulous state though it is.

I've also been spending a lot—and I mean a LOT, as in almost every day—with my bestest friend in the whole world, whom I will likely blog about in the future, so she might as well get a name. We were BFFs in high school, and we always hung out at least once whenever I came home, although we spent less time together this past year on account of my almost never coming home and her having a boyfriend. Of course, both situations have since been rectified. In a supreme, heroic, and mostly successful attempt to keep her busy and her mind off her ex-beau, we've been watching movies, having sleepovers just like we're in middle school again, and pursuing various other activities. Flirting with beautiful strangers, naturally, factors into the list. I've also been campaigning that she should move to Texas with me, where we can be roommates, since there's nothing left here in Virginia to hold her back. She seems to be leaning towards the idea, and I really, really hope she agrees to pick up and move with me in February.
Not only will I enjoy her company, it'll save us both a buttload on rent payments.

And, unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot of time to blog about anything meaningful or Pagan, as I need to get back to packing. I took a break from sifting through piles of laundry and shoes and swimsuits to plug my iPod into the computer to charge, and I figured, what the hell. Haven't updated my blog in forever, because it's summer, I'm in one of my lazy streaks again, and I hardly ever get on the computer lately. I also won't be able to write anything else for about a week, since we're taking a family vacation to Aruba! I'm superexcited about that one. Younger Brother can't make it (he's learning how to jump out of planes right now), but Youngest Brother can, as well as both of our parents and one of my Aunts. It should be a blast, but I definitely won't be blogging while I'm laying out on the beach with a pina colada.
However, I promise, one of these days I'll get around to writing about both my awesome new tattoo and the warrior meditation I did at the last New Moon. Promise. For serious!

And, one final teensie tiny thing before I take a week-long break from all technology, I have a new email address just for the blog! So if you desire to contact me but don't want to leave a contact, you can by using this: anden.jade37@gmail.com

Blessed be.