[NYNY] Wheel of Morality…

The completed Vanabag.

I’d like to begin this summation with my all-time favorite fortune cookie message:

Now is the time to make circles with mints, do not haste any longer.

Aside from the fact that something was clearly lost in translation, the message is strangely applicable to this whole grand experiment. Don’t rush, keep things cool, but still move forward.

I had two goals originally for this project. First, to develop a magical and energetic toolkit for mundane manifestations, and b) sell/rent the old house. The second clearly didn’t happen, but the first. Yeah, that one came through with flying colors.

Between my neighborhood working group (I am so damned blessed to be living in a place where I can even say that!), the Strategic Sorcery course, the Ovate work, and my guides’ sometimes circuitous teachings, this aspect of my practice is absolutely flying along. Proof of this is the completion of the Vanabag (aka Druid Bugout Bag), which my guides told me to make to hold the various gifts/tools I had received from the 19 Tribes last year as I journeyed through their lands. I had started it in June of 2011, but had gotten stuck when it came to quilting the fabric. Suddenly, as I started putting attention to getting my magical life back in order, the contacts and physical space I needed to complete the project became available: it turns out one of my neighbors is a quilter, and FlyLady helped me get the house organized enough to leave space for creative projects.

The bag has literally become the physical manifestation of my work to take back and consolidate my power. Even my husband has said on multiple occasions the past few weeks how awesome it is to finally see me getting my “grrrr” back in so many areas of my life at once: my work, the house, my spirituality. Even though I only sought to affect one part of my life, the ripples of those changes have undeniably changed other parts as well.

So, what else was accomplished? My daily practice is flourishing again. This in itself is such a relief and a joy, if I had gotten nothing else out of this experiment I would be satisfied with this as an outcome. I also learned that sometimes I just really need to let a project just sit for a while, until I can work out the answers—and that this is ok. But it’s also ok to jettison something that hasn’t been working for years, and that likewise, I don’t need to feel guilt that I failed the project for not having completed it (potential pitfall of being an animist, I guess).

As to where I’m headed, I have some very clear answers, and some not-so-much-so. Working both the Ovate and Strategic Sorcery courses continues to be important, and playing one off the other seems to help me continue to make progress in both. The house…that unfinished goal…well, spring is coming, and we’ll see what a fresh realtor, shiny sink and new trim will accomplish.

It all comes down to the three P’s that Sifu has written on the walls of the kung-fu school: patience, practice, perseverance. Get the proportions right for you, and just about anything can happen.

—A.V.

[NYNY] Asking for Help

Okinawa by slagheap

Oh, jeeze, this one was a doozy.

For a long time, asking for help was something I just didn’t do. I actually identified as someone who didn’t need help. With anything. Which is downright silly.

Thus, I made sure I ran the gamut from mundane to metaphysical on this one:

*Working group—great place for getting a variety of different thoughts on how to deal with metaphysical snags.
*Neighbors—really were wonderful taking time to help me brainstorm different job options.
*Family—wonderful source of support and experience, especially my in-laws, who totally rock.
*Guides—helped in places where I couldn’t see the problem/block clearly.
*House wights—first line of defense against depression. Keeping them happy by doing a few small tasks makes the whole home feel better.

The end result is that I’m finishing my Vanabag today, the house is clean, I have options for employment, and my energetic perception is better than it’s ever been. If all the shoulder-to-the-wheel effort has been the driving force of this experiment, outside help is the judicious application of WD-40 to the sticky spots.

Thank you to all who helped.

—A.V.

[NYNY] Should to the Mother-lovin’ Wheel

Quern by Tim Green

I’ve been pushin’ this bloody wheel so hard I have Sisyphus standing over in the corner saying, “Damn, girl, and I thought I had problems.”

Upshot: I’ve had three or four individuals come up to me and say, “Wow, you look great! How come you’re so calm and centered?”

Because when you’re in the center of a maelstrom, you a) don’t need a blowdryer to have great hair, and b) really don’t have any other choice.

The progress on the concrete manifestation of making the old house turn a profit has been nil. However, the work I’ve been doing on consolidating my magickal oopmh has been paying off in spades. The past couple of weeks I’ve been focusing on that, and been pleased with the progress:

*The community working group is up and running. We’ve had one meeting so far, and it was great to be able to stretch my energetic muscles in a beyond-101 setting. Even just that little bit of practice focusing on perceiving energy and tone have been immensely beneficial.

*The sink magick is spreading. We been able to have guests over several times now, and there’s been no mad cleaning dash, and no embarrassment. Both hubby and spawn are getting into things, keeping the sink cleaned out and putting away toys (yes, both of them are doing both things!).

*The Strategic Sorcery course is awesome. There are so many inspiring ideas and exercises, I’m like a kid in a freakin’ candy store.

*Daily practice has become daily again! Meditation happens while making tea. Offerings to the house wights happen while cooking. Banishing and cleansing happens before I sit down to work in the mornings. Our hearth is blessed and so are our lives.

*Finally finishing up my Druid Bug-Out Bag (aka Vanabag). I’m on schedule to complete it this weekend. The bag is the physical manifestation of taking back my power: it will hold my tools and touchstones, both from this world and beyond the veil.

So, yes, lots of progress on the magickal/empowerment front. Unfortunately, the rest of my life has been sounding a bit like a bad country music song. But more on that in the upcoming “Asking for Help” post.

—A.V.

[NYNY] Glamour

potraitpetals by anitapatterson

I’m going to have a chance to do some map/territory work this weekend, so in the meantime, I thought I’d post a bit about glamour and how I’m finally learning to love it.

This prompt dovetails nicely with my current FlyLady training. One of the first habits to develop is to get dressed all the way to your shoes and take care with your hair/make-up. To this end:

*De-cluttered all old cosmetics, including Halloween/stage make-ups.

*Bought 4 new, high-quality ones for my everyday “look.”

*Did research on how to properly apply said cosmetics, which has left me feeling a whole lot more confident.

*Pampering by freshening-up mid-morning and afternoon, and by putting on some olfactory-indulgent lotion when I wash my hands—nice little boosts to my daily routines.

Having said and done these things, though, I’d still like to point folks to this rather clever little piece of satire for the latest in beauty products, Fotoshop by Adobé. It illustrates one of the dangers of glamour, I think, which is to become so absorbed by an image that one harms oneself mentally and physically, trying to attain an unrealistic expectation of beauty.

Now that I’ve gotten my obligatory raaarrrr-woman rant out of the way, I also have to admit that I’ve been held back by that same feminist propaganda, using it as an excuse to ignore certain tools, namely those of fashion and cosmetics, because “real women” don’t need to bother with such things. (My favorite was my well-meaning parents saying that it didn’t matter what I looked like, because whoever fell in love with me was going to do so for my mind, not my appearance—yeah, that one did a number on me for years.) What this view ignores is that a self-care regimen (which can include *gasp* make-up) is an important piece of building a healthy attitude towards physical health and appearance. So if you want to wear purple eyeshadow and FM-red lipstick, go for it—not to either spite the feminists or support the establishment, but because it makes you feel beautiful, graceful, sexy, and all those other wonderful things that being embodied encompasses.

Which brings me to another mini-rant: the “meat-suit.” Since renewing pride in myself and my physical form, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with the Zoroastrian dichotomy of matter versus spirit that seems to sneak into every discussion of magical work at some point. Here is where I find an Eastern perspective can be of use (see, I’m still a dirt syncretist!).

Often students in the West can’t wait to get to the spooky qi/energy work that accompanies many marital arts systems. “Why can’t I begin qigong? Why do I have to do all these push-ups?” It’s really pretty simple: the seemingly mystical “qi” needs to flow through a physical form, and that form shapes its nature. If the body is a garden, then the chi is the irrigation system. Qigong, then, is like turning up the water pressure, increasing the flow of energy. But if your garden is full of weeds, more water will only make the weeds grow higher—it’s not going to bring you an abundant harvest. Likewise if you are lazy and of poor character, an increase of qi is not going to fix this—if anything it will amplify these qualities. Physical conditioning and hard work (literally kung-fu) is what builds and maintains your body-garden, planting veggies and pulling the weeds so that when qi flows freely, it will nourish a healthy, whole person.

So yes, we’re more than what we see with our eyes or touch with our hands, but it is our bodies that make us who we are—we’re born into them and our experience here, with each other, with this world, ends when we leave. Being incarnate is something significant, not something to escape. I am of this world, and I love it. Without my experiences in this life, in this form, I would not be who I am when I choose to shed my meat-suit and travel beyond the horizon. My spirit is secured my body; ignoring one at the expense of the other is always to the detriment of both.

Please take care of your gorgeous, amazing meat-suit. It’s still made of star-dust after all.

 

[NYNY] Everyday Magick

The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) by Hubblesite.org

Well, the manifestations have been flying thick and furious, although not always in the ways I expect. That seems to be about par for the course, however, and riding the currents of change is proving both frightening and exhilarating.

More than ever I’m finding it necessary to keep up my little enchantments and small rituals. They give me a base from which to engage my work, and provide a calm center as other events swirl around me. I honestly haven’t quite moved beyond these yet, as I feel like I’m still building focus and clarity of purpose around the enchantments I’ve been planning for the old house. I don’t think I’ve gotten tangled up in analysis-paralysis, but I do want to maximize the efficacy of the work by getting most of my ducks in a row first.

But setting a good base is important, I think. Making sure my home is clean and well-warded, keepings my wights well-fed and happy, and continuing to engage my peers as well as my guides will provide a solid foundation from which to extend outwards.

Among the synchronicities of which I’m taking advantage:

1) The Strategic Sorcery course. This is already bolstering the places where I was lacking confidence in the Ovate work. With any luck, another couple of weeks will give me enough oomph (technical term) to start tackling the larger pieces of magick that I want to work.

2) A home-grown working group which met for the first time this past week. It is designed to be a place to discuss various aspects of magick and energy work, and to provide support to its members during their explorations. I did quite a bit of group work in college, but really haven’t touched it since then. I’m also looking forward to having a safe place to bounce ideas off of other—in person and with a cup of tea!

3) The possibility of being laid-off in a few months. While this shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering the nature of my job, it’s still kinda scary to be seeing that road rise up before me. However, it will finally afford me the opportunity to concentrate my attention here in my new home, rather than having it split between MA and CT. And, I have plenty of warning. Time to get shoaling and polish up those resumés!

4) Keeping the house wights fat and happy has led both my husband and son to begin participating in the home upkeep. In fact, when my husband walked in the front door the other day, he commented that he really felt like he was home, wrapped up in the comfort of the space. And when I was too sick last week to keep my dish and trash systems going, he stepped in and took care of it. Voluntarily. Without prompting. (Woah.)

So far, rather than the Year of the Hustle, I’ve been experiencing the Year of the Bustle (and no, my fine posterior does not in fact require one of these, you Victorian pervs!)—getting motivated and excited, ready to dip into the heady waters of a swirling galaxy of possibilities. And from there, the fruits of one of the greatest hustles of all time will be ripe and within reach.

—A.V.

[NYNY] Mindful Indulgence

Tea by Lekyu

This week’s task: do something nice for yourself.

After a bit of thought, I realized that I was having the same problem as R.O., namely that I already do nice things for myself. However, what I don’t always do it realize how nice they are—because I do them without thinking.

So, I’ve been taking a little extra time to bask in the pleasure of my indulgences, instead of just mindlessly consuming them.

*Making a full pot of green tea, and focusing on nothing else for the 10 minutes is takes to cool the water and steep the leaves.

*Savoring every bite of the dairy-free, eco-noo-nah, salt-and-pepper chocolate that I got in Portugal last week. It’s amazing how when you eat this way, a single piece will satisfy you.

*Taking a full bath and paying attention to the scents of the shampoo and soap, how they mingle with each other in addition to how they smell in the bottle.

*Doing my book and action-figure order a little early this month. I realize the half my pleasure in getting packages is anticipation—so I’ve started letting them sit on the counter for a week before opening them. (Ok, I realize this is a weird one, but just go with it.)

*Signing up for a free World of Warcraft account. I was a pretty crazy WarCracker back when I was pregnant, but cancelled my account since it was a complete and total time-sink. But I occasionally still get the urge to go whack some murlocs, and this lets me do it guilt-free.

And now, I think I’ll have some more tea.

—A.V.

[NYNY] Who Me? Procrastinate?

Overcoming Writer's Block by photosteve101

Things I’ve Been Putting Off:

Writing my tutor.

Cleaning off the kitchen islands (yes, this is actually relevant since it’s my primary working space).

Getting self over to old house and 1) cleaning, 2) banishing, and 3) winterizing so that we’re not very sad in a couple of weeks.

I have the day off. Maybe this is a sign. (The fact that the moon phase is now inconvenient is only me trying to weasel out of Getting Shit Done.)

—A.V.