The Rowdy Goddess

An Ecstatic Vision of the Goddess, dancing in harmony with the Universe.

Archive for the category “spiritual practice”

Leave it for the Goblins

Goblins from Labyrinth movie

Goblins from Labyrinth movie

This is the season.  The season to be scary, the season to be spooky, the season to be silly and the season to be aware of the worlds of magic.  Today is Halloween and in the Pagan traditions, Samhain.  My tradition, RavenMyst, celebrates Samhain on the cross-quarter day — the exact middle day between the Fall Equinox and the WInter Solstice.  It is a time of divination, magic, and the Ancestors.  I’m going to save my reflections on those things for next week, though, as Christopher Penszak, Orion Foxwood, and others remind us, “Ancestors, not just for Samhain!”   Samhain is a wonderful holiday, one of my favorites; and it is both secular and spiritual.  It is the third of the harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year.  The first, Lammas on August 1st, celebrates the first fruits of the harvest and the abundance of grain and wine.  The second, Mabon, brings us to a time of thanks and gratitude for the gifts of nature and our hard work.  The third, Samhain, is the final harvest.  We have taken all that we can from our fields and lands.  The rest we leave to rot and mingle with the earth as fertilizer.  What is left, has no use and cannot serve us.  My High Priestess told me once that in some folk traditions, anything left in the fields on Halloween night are picked over by goblins.  After that, it’s bad luck to take, eat, or store anything handled by the goblins.  What is picked over by the goblins should stay with the goblins.  That story has given me a vivid image to carry forward in my meditations and magic.   Goblins figure wildly in our imaginations as horrible, ugly creatures that do nothing good and always have ill intentions towards humans and other beings of flesh and blood.  They figure in our nightmares, our lore, and our scary stories.  Much has been written about goblins  but no one has been able to reframe goblins into anything other than meanness, greed, stupidity, and anything else that we associate with ugliness and fear.   I have often said to myself and to others that there are certain lessons we seem not to learn.  The lessons present themselves over and over in different iterations, different permutations, and way but at the root it is the same problem.  These I call our “life lessons.”  It will be something we were put in this lifetime to learn about and we mark progress all the time but, perhaps, we never leave it behind.  It could be food, weight, money, anger, addiction, pain, sorrow, drama or any number of things.  Over time, you are different and you grow, but somehow this issue presents itself over and over.  “I thought I had dealt with my __________ ,” I have said and have heard others say.  Yes, you have and you’ve done well, but there is more to learn.  I do hate that but it is still true.   For the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my weight again and been discouraged because I’ve made such progress since last March.  But I’ve backslid and gained a few of the hard-won pounds I lost.  I seem not to be able to resist food especially sweets.  It occurred to me that I need to heal my relationship to food.  Too often I use it when I am worried, bored, angry with myself, or some other issue.  I’m not sure how to heal it but I’ve already started.  One of the healing witches in my coven keeps a candle burning for the coven members to use and I’ve been accessing that energy.  The other thing I’m going to do tonight is leave it for the goblins.

coffinBy coincidence [NOT], one of the many talented and creative members of my work staff gave me this paper coffin she made using her Cricut.  I am going to take that add some food (a sort of libation coffin) that represent those foods which do not serve me well including sugar, fat, and etc, and leave it outside for the goblins.  As I prepare it, I will say this little charm:

  • If the use mean, cruel, or rude,
  • Goblins take this bit of food.
  • If I eat to soothe my mood,
  • Goblins take this bit of food.
  • If this is a harmful brew,
  • Goblins take this bit of food.
  • Take it, take it, take it.

As Dorothy Morrison has said many times, the Gods like to be amused so little bits of poetry, and little charms will amuse them and move them to assist us in our magic.  It amuses me too.  She also says that when we do magic, we must also do the things that reinforce the charm.  So on I go to heal my relationship with food.

And finally on this wonderful Halloween Day, I want to leave you with a poem from my childhood.  We lived in Indianapolis, Indiana when I was a small child.  I spent my kindergarten days there and our teacher read a poem by James Whitcomb Riley, the poet laureate of Indiana.  My paternal grandfather was a Hoosier and was very excited about the things we learned about his home state.  This poem, Little Orphant Annie, has stuck with me these many years and I try to read it every Halloween.  So enjoy and may you avoid the goblins of your life!

Little Orphant Annie

by James Whitcomb Riley
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
             Ef you
                Don't
                   Watch
                      Out!

Onc't they was a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
So when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wasn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found was thist his pants an' roundabout--
An' the Gobble-uns'll git you
             Ef you
                Don't
                   Watch
                      Out!

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever'one, an' all her blood an' kin;
An' onc't, when they was "company," an' ole folks was there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They was two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns'll git you
             Ef you
                Don't
                   Watch
                      Out!

An' little Orphant Annie says when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parents, an' yer teachers fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns'll git you
             Ef you
                Don't
                   Watch
                      Out!
 
 

Eat, Pray, Love, Rest, Thank, Receive: Some of the Keys to Successful Magic and Life

keysThe other day at work, I was listening to a webinair on workplace drama and how to turn around the situation.  The presenter made the point, one that I have heard over and over again for many things, that the only person you can really change is yourself.  In order to turn around drama, you have to change yourself and not be a part of the drama.  Curtains on your participation.

It’s true about drama, it’s true about spellwork, it’s true about relationships.  You really can’t change anyone but yourself.  Many years ago, I took a professional development course on how to deal with difficult people because I wanted to fix the problem at work and fix those other people!  The course was really good.  They presented people as “types” of dysfunction.  I could clearly see my co-workers in some of those types.  Unfortunately, I saw myself as well.  I can’t tell you how much I hated seeing that.  I realized that before I fixed other people, I would need to fix myself.  Using the strategies for dealing with that type of person, I changed my behavior, which, in turn, changed the way I related to circumstances and the people who created them.  By that time, I realized I would never be able to change my co-workers to be the change I wanted to see in the world.  I could only change myself.  I think that’s called maturity, by the way.

The presenter stated that in order to help change the workplace, you needed to exert mastery on your own energy and the way you related to the world.  She was quick to point out that this was not New Age babble but real neuroscience.  I just laughed to myself, because I could see that her points had applications to following a magical path.  She went on to state, tongue in cheek, that if you wanted live in drama and dysfunction, all you had to do was not do anything to master your energy:  never exercise; eat junk food; work incessantly; procrastinate; and never ask for help.

I began to think of how this applies to our spiritual lives.  I reframed as positive actions, and it’s very similar to much of what others write, and continues to make the point, that in order to live a life in harmony with the Universe, you must have practices in harmony with the Universe.  See, obvious and simple.  This is what I came up with:

  • Rest, eat well, and exercise your body and mind
  • Keep a balance between all the areas of your life including work, rest, and play
  • Ask for help and accept it
  • Be grateful for what you are and what you have
  • Give back to the Universe and the causes you care about
  • Be generous
  • Know yourself and set good boundaries
  • Be willing to receive
  • Express love, joy, Spirit, and gratitude in the ways that fulfill you

It sounds more than a little like Scott Cunningham’s 13 goals of a Witch, doesn’t it?  Each of us are guided by our internal moral compass which has grown from our ethical knowledges and practices.  There are many such lists about witchcraft and each of us will integrate it into our being in unique ways.  Having read students’ perceptions of the 13 goals for many years and having lived a few decades beyond Cunningham, I can say that years of teaching and living la Vida Wicca season my understanding of the goals.

Over and over again, we are told and we read that success in spellwork and ritual is based on our intention and focus.  Where does that intention and focus come from?  It comes from the heart of our energy.  If we are unable to master our energy of living well and living spiritually, then its is very likely that our intention and focus is diffused.  That’s it.  Simple.  Obvious.  And dammit, I have to work on myself some more.

May joy, peace, rest, and nourishment be a part of your day everyday.

Blessed Be My Plan B

Business plan - woman drawingPlanning is important and I’m a good planner.  I also like to be flexible so that if an opportunity presents itself, I can take advantage of that spontaneously.

A good example of that in ritual was a big deal ritual my coven did for our tradition-wide gathering.  At the time, we were a brand new coven and while I was not new to group gatherings and leadership, this was a venue where I wanted us to excel and shine.  We would be doing the ritual for the gathering of our entire tradition including our elders and founders.   It was daunting, but I knew we could do it and do it fabulously well.

So we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed.  Our group was still learning how to be a coven together and how to do ritual so a big one was intimidating.  As part of the learning and rehearsal, we also practiced how to work through mistakes — keep on going and act like it was meant to be that way.    We where rehearsing right up to the last minute.  It was a little tense and we were all a little bit nervous.  Or maybe a lot.

And the ritual went really, really well!  There were a couple of misspeaks and the priestess went through it like it was meant to be that way.  When we finished the spiral dance and raised a lot of energy, an inspiration came to me.  And I said (for the benefit of the well-rehearsed covener), “I’m going a little off script,” and launched into the unofficial chant of our tradition which raised some incredible magic and energy.  And that is an example of good planning and the ability to be open to spontaneous inspiritation.

Another aspect of planning is being able to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.  “I always have a Plan B” is a Gailism.  It’s part of my professional training, a side effect of working with technology.  What if you plan a ritual and a key person doesn’t show up?  Plan B.  What if you forget to put water in the chalice:  Plan B is to pretend it’s there.  What if you knock over the chalice full of water?  What if you forget which vial contains water, which contains wine, and which contains oil?  Smell it or pretend [Plan B].  What if it rains on your outdoor ritual.  Plan B.

Sometimes you need a Plan C, D, or E.  Just being willing to be aware that things may change is an important part of planning.  It might not be necessary to have a full alternate plan, but rather to have the ability to draw on the well of experience, creativity, and spontaneous growth.  The new inspiriation is always there.  One time I went to a ritual and the priestess didn’t show up.  It turned out she was ill and unable to get out of bed.  So a group of us, some of whom had driven two or more hours, were ready to go about our business.  Wait!  I had a key to the building, so we decided to do the ritual.

We all went to our cars and pulled out blankets and pieces of this and that and pulled together an altar.  I had a Tarot deck and a traveling altar.  One woman had some pretty nifty Pagan stuff in her trunk.  We put together a really good ritual and the performance by a group of people who didn’t know each other was a very enriching experience.

So be ready with Plan A, B, C, and more.  All we need to do is learn our ABCs and draw on our creative power and good intentful heart.  Blessed Be the Plan B!

Getting to Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is the pinnacle venue for a performing artists:  to play at Carnegie Hall is to know that you have “arrived.”   The first time I heard that joke was probably from my father who said it in Brooklyn accents, a man asks a taxi driver how to get to carnegie hallCarnegie Hall?  And the taxi driver said, “Practice, practice, practice.”  My father liked to exaggerate when he told a joke, he was a good storyteller and joker.

How many of us took an instrument or learned a skill and found out that to get really good at it, you had to do it over and over again.  Practice.  It could be piano, drawing, violin, or even mowing the lawn.  To get it right and to get so whatever it is expresses what you want, you have to practice the basics again and again.  To reach the pinnacle of achievement (to arrive, so to speak), you have many hours, months, and years of practice and learning.

A few years ago at work, a group of us met with some architects to discuss building design.  Each group of architects talked about their practice of architecture and what it meant for their business and their creativity.  And that is the other part of practice, it’s the underpinning of your creative expression; this expression of who you are.  I can talk to you about the practice of my profession, librarianship, in lofty terms, and how it fulfills the ideals of a democratic society and how it is about getting to the heart of a question.  It is a practice.

That practice is a myriad of skills, basic and advanced, along with knowledge that spans both breadth and depth.  How I got here was to practice those skills and apply that knowledge every minute of each day I was working.  And a lot of time outside of my job too.  I am a librarian in my heart as well as something I do to earn my paycheck.

It is also true of spiritual practices, the real point of this post.  The only difference is, I think that the pinnacle (“to arrive) is not the point.  It’s all about the practice.  It is in the practice that we find our inner wisdom and our gnosis, our knowing.   At a recent work retreat, we had a philosophy professor come and talk to us about stress and stress reduction.  He explained to us that philosophy asks the questions:  How shall we live?  Why is there something and not nothing?  Why is there beauty?  And philosophy asks ethical questions as well:  How shall we live?  How do we make meaning?  what is a good life?

He spoke of well-being not in terms of health but in the tersm so fthe Greek idea of a balanced life.  To be well in our Be-ing.  To seek the middle way.  It sounds a lot like a Pagan spirituality, doesn’t it.  I suspect that underneath the layers of misunderstanding, most religions seek that kind of balance as well.

He went on to speak of practice; that by following a daily practice every day you find that well being.  He defined the daily practice as a set of mundane habits that you follow every day.  He spoke of conscious belly breathing and Qi Gong as the way to follow a practice.  I would add mindfulness to the daily habits.  For instance, each morning as I go about my morning wake up and shower, I stand before my altar located outside the bathroom and say a short devotion.  And then I take my vitamins.  The vitamins are part of the devotion and are in a basket on my altar which is devoted to self-care and well Be-ing.  Short, simple, and incorporated, mindfully, into my routine habits.

On my needlework blog I talked today about Tom Cowan’s statement in his book, Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life, that a daily spiritual practice of shamanism gives rise to an art practice.  I think mindful practice births other practices, allowing us to expresss ourselves and our wisdom in myriad ways.  I have a professional practice, a spiritual practice, and a creative one (or two, or more).  What is creative to me might be drudgery to you, and the reverse will be true as well.  So together, our practices create diversity and shows us the infinite ways the Universe expresses life, beauty, and wisdom.

May you find the heart of your daily practice and the well BE-ing of your soul.

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