Turning the Tables

druidcraft_minor_swords_10Or at least, turning the cards.

One of the cornerstones of my spiritual practice is drawing a tarot card in the morning to help me focus for the day.  My views on tarot and divination are a bit muddled, perhaps because of my aforementioned paradigm shifting. I like to use the cards as a psychological tool, as a spiritual tool, and as a practical tool. They set the tone for my day and encourage mindfulness.

But, what to do if you choose a troublesome or challenging card? (I don’t like calling cards “bad” because there is usually way to much nuance for a card to be all good or all bad.) This is where magic can help. After I’ve thought about the implications of a card in whatever position I’ve drawn it (either upright or reversed), I flip it with a whammy-nudge of intent.

Case in point, three days ago I pulled the 10 of Swords. Definitely a difficult card: nadir, betrayal, overwhelm. The trick is finding that little sliver of light in the mire. As I turned the card upside-down, I kept my focus on finding that narrow way out of the despair and fear of current circumstances. Even though I ended up being blindsided by some family drama, it didn’t unbalance me nearly as much as it might have otherwise, and I was able to navigate through the unpleasantness by reaching out to my friends for help.

It all comes down to this: what good is being a seer if you can’t do anything to change what you’ve divined?

Experiments with the Sun Mirror

18208165226_463cd981d4_zWow, what a change I’ve noticed in my energy levels when I’ve been able to do even a few moments with my Sun Mirror in the morning.  The mirror work in and of itself was inspired by Levannah Morgan’s lecture on DruidCast episode 98, which is worth multiple listens if you’re interested in this kind of magical/energetic practice.

The first energy system I ever worked with was qigong’s Three Dantian, and that’s pretty much what I still stick with today (although Kristoffer Hughes has a fascinating Welsh energetic system which I’d eventually like to explore further).

I’ve been invoking Beli Mawr since we’re passed May Day. It’s likely that I will invoke Sunna in the winter months. I’ll likely do a formal dedication/consecration of the mirror as a working tool on Solstice, but even without the formalities, it’s been extremely effective for getting the nwyfre flowing in the mornings.

Stand or sit with the sun at your back. Use the mirror to focus a beam of light first on your Lower Dantian (roughly where the uterus is located), then on your Middle Dantian (heart), then on your Upper Dantian (third eye).*  At each cauldron, say:

Beli Mawr, ignite my passion.
Beli Mawr, inflame my heart.
Beli Mawr, illuminate my mind.

I haven’t really found a satisfactory way to perform this exercise when it’s overcast, unfortunately. However, it’s quickly becoming a foundational element of my practice, and I imagine it will prove invaluable when the winter doldrums strike in early March.

*PLEASE DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE REFLECTION OF THE SUN. THIS IS WHY PIRATES WEAR EYE-PATCHES.

Kitchen Witchery: Mirror, Mirror

I was fortunate enough to find this lovely old mirror in the thrift store for six dollars. I figured with a little bit of elbow grease and some homemade furniture polish it would brighten up in no time.


Apparently, homemade furniture polish is only slightly different from homemade salad dressing: vinegar, oil, and lemon juice. There are a number of different recipes with which the Google-Oracle can provide the curious kitchen witch.

First I treated the wood with the salad dressing/furniture polish mix, removing all the dust and grime–paper towels and an old t-shirt work quite well. Then it was just time to sit down and polish up the glass was some glass cleaner and paper towels.


I really do love old furniture. Imagining the history and stories behind each piece is so much more satisfying than buying another soulless sofa from Eddie’s Furniture Basement. It’s easier to see the spirit of an old piece. There can be a wonderful exchange in caring for a well-crafted-but-slightly-battered antique, filling in scratches, polishing and shining it.  You develop a responsibility and even kinship towards the object. It serves you well, and in return you see its own sacredness and keep it whole.

I’m looking forward to developing a relationship with this mirror.  There are a few scratches and the silvering is a touch cloudy, but he has so much personality shining through his finish.

Now all I need to do is find a dresser!

Magic in the Mundane

15519344247_f2f1652951_zAfter yesterday’s post about repairing hoses, it occurred to me that much of my spiritual/magical practice is based upon finding the sacred in the mundane, in giving that little extra magical push so that the simplest tasks carry renewed meaning.

John Michael Greer has a wonderful description of re-enchantment, where is the act of literally singing the sacredness back into the world. There is something so simple and so beautiful about this approach. Though Greer is not necessarily talking about actual songs or singing, that’s the direction I’d like to explore today.

For hundreds of years songs have accompanied daily chores, from the butter churn chant to the rhythmic stroking of orders across the ocean surface. Songs not only serves to pass the time and to speed the work, but also allow a deep connection with the act that we simply do not have in our ages of ergonomic office chairs and glowing screens. The music comes from the individual, we breathe out sound into the world and breathe back in the gifts of our land and community. That connection of breath, of spirit is what can re-enchant the world.

Housework is one of the easiest places to start singing sacredness back into your home and land. I would venture to say that most housework falls under either the category of cleansing/purification magic (sweeping, washing dishes, brushing your hair) or prosperity magic (cooking, gardening, paying bills). If you make home remedies of any sort, that can also be considered healing magic. And of course there are also various sorts of protection/warding rituals for the home and its inhabitants (lullabies being one of my favorites). Finding songs or chants for each task can not only be a way for the work to pass more quickly, but it also allows you to really sink into the rhythm of the chore and in many instances to achieve  a light trance state.

To be clear I’m not necessarily talking about the stereotypical Neopagan dirge here. Use whatever gets you singing, whatever gets your Nwyfre flowing, whether it be Dvorák or Beyoncé. If it feels right, for more physical activities like sweeping or washing the windows, let your whole body move with your song. Push that broom with your whole being, not just your arms and hands. Push it with your core, push it with your heart. The important thing is that it is YOU singing, YOU engaging with the task at hand.

Remembering the layers of meaning behind a chore makes an act sacred instead of superstitious. Songs keep our focus on otherwise mind-numbing activities, and allow us to glean benefits that have largely been forgotten. One of the things I love best about being a Druid is being given the chance, every day, to fall in love with the whole world. Every little piece of it, no matter now mundane. How wonderful is that?

Process

16043315844_201ba67481_nIt’s always something of a question as to whether to let someone look behind the curtain at your creative process.  It’s messy back there–blobs of ink, half-formed words, trailing threads, and heavens forfend those dangling participles.  Words themselves have been slippery fishes of late, and I find myself turning to solid crafts that satisfy my hands, like knitting, drawing, and beading.

Still, take for example the sigil crafted for Crow this month.  You can get a pretty good idea of it from the picture at the head of this post.  Yes, it’s still rough, but it’s showable, particularly for an article dealing with artistic process.  Sigil work, at least as I see it, isn’t just the tracing of lines over a witch’s wheel.  Sure, you can start there, but if there is to be any spark, any soul in the magical anchor, there has to be more than that.

To paraphrase Jason Miller, the most powerful sigils are the ones wrested directly from that Beyond space and brought into being on this plane.  That jujitsu match is ugly. There are many false starts, no little dismay, and often a feeling that this sigil is always going to look like crap and there’s nothing you can do to tell it otherwise.

This is where a child comes in handy. Inner, outer, literal or metaphorical–let the kiddies out to romp.

Stop wrangling and start playing.  Tussle, cross things out, let colors cohabit that would make Andy Warhol wince. Sigil crafting is a protean art.  Hold onto it too tightly and Awen slows to a trickle, left with nothing more than a madwoman’s scrawl across a restaurant napkin. Let go and see the lines swell with color and form, twisting around your mind until you know there is no other way for them to be.

It sure as hell ain’t pretty, but it’s process.

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