Great Work and Life Balance

Our journeys should be like wilderness paths where sometimes the walk is fairly easy and sometimes we are walking uphill, or through tough terrain, we must occasionally find ourselves at cross-roads and make a choice of which way to go, we sometimes must acknowledge that this was not the best path and soldier on and sometimes we must back-track and try again, otherwise we are simply standing still.

Hello Dear Friends and Pagani!

So, this last week my dear friend Fey has been writing in her blog and facebook about her recent wrestling matches with some of her own personal demons, those painful memories and terrible experiences that are a part of so many of our lives.  On her podcast SpiritsCast she even had a guest host discussing the issue of having personal demons and how one can deal with them.

I have been leaving comments on her blog and facebook sharing some of my own recently learned/encountered lessons about being compassionate with oneself in the spiritual journey and how it is perfectly natural for past issues to come lurking to the surface and that the important think is to keep moving forward on ones spiritual journey and with ones spiritual practice.  I applaud her courage in not only facing these painful parts of her past and being ready to acknowledge and wrestle with and accept them as parts of her self, she is truly on the journey towards what T. Thorn Coyle calls Self-Possession.  I also must applaud her willingness to be so open with this struggle, but it’s not that surprising given her nature as not only a spiritual practitioner but a teacher.

It is a strange dance we who are on a spiritual journey sometimes end up doing…

There is our work and career life, what we are doing to feed the body and keep it clothed and sheltered and such.

There is also the everyday life, household chores and fun things with friends and hobbies we engage in for fun and to feed our spirits a bit.

Then there is the Work, either  discussed as the Great Work of Magic, the journey towards Self-Possession, seeking conversation of ones Holy Guardian Angel, or as the Spiritual Practices and/or Religious Observances that lift and sustain us in our spiritual journey.

The Great Work of Magic (or Magick for those that prefer…) is about a LOT more than mere spells, or even about ritual or magic.  It is about work with and deep awareness and acceptance of every aspect of our selves and lives.  It is about ethics and attitude and outlook, it is about mind and body and soul, it is as much about our physical and mundane lives as it is the spiritual and magical.

Yet in engaging in the Work as we begin to progress and move forward we will find all of our old issues and all of our history coming back up for us to actually accept them and deal with them, rather than trying to sweep them aside or bury them or run away from them.  This is usually the point where we start finding excuses as to why we can’t possibly continue with this set of spiritual practices, we get uncomfortable with some of the emotions and ideas and realizations and memories that may arise.

In discussing meditation and spiritual practice and discomfort and learning, Pema Chodron a Buddhist Nun and Monastary Abbot and Teacher says…

“Generally Speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news.   But for practitioners or spiritual warriors — people who have a certain hunger to know what is true– feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back.  They teach us to perk up and lean in when we’d rather collapse and back away.  They’re like messages that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.  This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” – Pema Chodron in the essay This Very Moment is the Perfect Teacher from her book of essays When Things Fall Apart

I know in my own journey there has been a lot of running around playing shadow tag with my self and my past over the years.  Yet as I really begin to engage, once more, in my spiritual journey I also find myself finding a lot more of the me I used to be years ago.  Happiness and humor and courage and strength and some small measure of hard-won wisdom.  I had let a lot of these things lay dormant and dusty like a neglected altar in my soul.

Fey’s recent postings, and my own recent experiences and readings, have high-lighted something that I realize is extraordinarily important to remember, especially for us Contemporary Pagans.

The spiritual journey, and the experience of living our religions and paths, and our experience of spiritual and religious communities, should be many things; welcoming, safe, nurturing, enlivening and invigorating.  They should not always, or perhaps never, be entirely comfortable or easy!

Living ones faith or spirituality, truly trying to live up to your values and ideals and principles, really engaging in a committed and ongoing spirituality and spiritual practice should challenge us!

We should occasionally have to accept a wrestling match with our own personal demons.  Demons of our pasts, whether of terrible experiences from our pasts or of our own past failings and mistakes; they are there in each of our lives and we must be willing to actually look at and explore and deal with them.  There will be times where in living our goals and ideals and principles where we must wrestle with those times where our guiding values conflict with what is going on around us; sometimes the best and truest way of living our values is to do the more difficult thing.  Our journeys should be like wilderness paths where sometimes the walk is fairly easy and sometimes we are walking uphill, or through tough terrain, we must occasionally find ourselves at cross-roads and make a choice of which way to go, we sometimes must acknowledge that this was not the best path and soldier on and sometimes we must back-track and try again, otherwise we are simply standing still.

Having said that, I will also say that all of this courage and wrestling must also be balanced with humor and compassion for ourselves!  Courage in our spiritual journeys means also having the courage to say “Not Today…” or “I’m not ready yet…” or to ask ourselves “Why am I so NOT wanting to deal with ______ right now?!”.

Some days, despite our deep and purposeful commitment to healthy eating (for example) we want that dark chocolate and a glass of sweet dark red wine.  Some days we just do NOT want to go for our daily walk or to the gym.  Somedays we are just Not feeling as much like Ritual (or Circle, or Ritual, or Blot, or Church, or what-have-you) as we are in just having some me-time.  As long as we can look at these times and honestly say to ourselves that it is because in that exact moment that is what we need…. a little nurturing, a little comfort food, a little rest, or a little time for ourselves to just be, then that too is a very important part of our spiritual journeys!



Wow, funny what you find when your looking.

So I just finished an automatic-writing/ journaling exercise inspired by one of the exercises in Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle…(seriously, if you’re mystically inclined go out and buy it!)

I wrote about my relationship with money, my self-destructive patterns of behavior, family issues, how in the end I am the one responsible for my choices and actions so why did I keep (silently, to myself anyway) try to find excuses or some triggering past event; you know, the usual stuff that starts oozing and seeping out once you start squeezing your subconscious on a topic.  A couple of sentences that stood out in  particularly were…

I have this deeply seated feeling of not being worthy.  This sense of if I get crap I somehow deserve it.

Wow!  I am just SUCH a ray of Effin’ sunshine, aren’t I?!?  I can see the insanity of such an idea… I’m just not sure what to do with it.

I’ve been continuing with my prayers and trying to add meditation to my regular/daily list of spiritual practices; along with some other excercises from Thorn’s Book.  (and tweaking them to adjust for my own metaphisical and magical experiences and past)  Breathing in Life energy, placing it into a challice of water and drinking from it.  Deep breathing meditations and staring into a candle flame… breathing new life into my energy bodies and chakra’s.

As I write this I am finding other little bits of toxic thought and feeling flittering to the surface… pettyness, fear, hatefulness, selfishness, lazyness…

These qualities and the thoughts and feelings I personally associate with them are as much a part of me as the beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence that I as a Witch have tried to cultivate within myself.

I may not have the money for therapy (which I think most folks should try for at least a little while)… but I have tools and techniques and dear friends and the Gods… I think I am more than ready to start dealing with some of this stuff!

The rather encouraging thing is I think I’m at a point in my life where I am ready to actually remember those tools and allies!



Synchronicity, Breathing, and being Open

Dear friends, and fellow Pagans,

So the Big Guy has been sick in the Hospital for the last week, he’s home now, and well.  But I didn’t want to talk about it.  Not even to close and dear old friends, not even with the Gods….

…I didn’t pray, I was too afraid, to paralyzed by fear and a desperate sense or powerlessness, to surrender my fear over unto the Gods…

Well, I didn’t formally pray…

It was more of a constant draining worry and fear that I did my best to hold at bay by remembering to Breath in Life and to open myself to the Numinous.

Since I am now so aware of it being there I am slowly learning to keep myself open to it.  There are times when I am tired, often in pain, and working myself into a fine emotional mess and I will simply remember to take that breath, and to open heart and soul and mind to the Holiness of the All That Is.

I am still kicking myself for not praying, or lifting up a phone and calling folks, but with fear sometimes comes stupidity!  Or as a wise man once put it…

“Fear is the mind killer,

Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration

I will face my fear

I will permit it to pass over me and through me

And when it has gone past,

I will turn the Inner Eye to see its path

Where the fear has gone there will be nothing

Only I will remain.” ~(c) Frank Herbert

So, as I was trying to say before one of my frequent digressions…

Breathing and being open to the Numinous have become an unavoidable part of my journey these days.

I truly believe that if we open ourselves to it, to the Numinous, the Gods, and The All That Is, that the Holy ones still speak to us Pagani; just not always in the ways we are expecting Them to!

For example…

I have found many blog entries, and rediscovered some writers, lately, that speak to me of being open to Spirit or to the Numinous… (here, here, here and here for instance)

There have also  been some synchronous moments where I choose to believe the Divines decided to give me a little nudging advice… like when I first became aware of the Numinous and the first song I heard on the radio was Miley Cyrus’ The Climb, and recently before facing a particularly BS filled day at one of the part time jobs… Lady Gaga’s Pokerface popped up twice on two very different stations on my morning commute, so I smiled, struggled to remember to breathe, played it cool, and resisted the urge to slap the baditude out of a number of folks.

I had the chance to use a Birthday Gift Certificate recently and purchased Kissing The Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle.  This is an excellent book and it has helped me find, and rediscover, some of the practices that nourish my soul.  Like remembering to breath…

“Air is the conduit for life and all connection.  We breathe together, conspiring.  We breath with the Gods, inspired.  We create, we rest, we play, and we work, all on the rhythm of our breath.  Each time we inhale, we breathe in life.  Each time we exhale, we breathe out connection.  All living things share in the power of air.

We are trained out of proper breathing by tension, fear, and disconnection from our physical bodies.  To breathe properly, we must get in touch with our bodies.  Whether you are an intellectual, an athlete,  a homebody, or an avid outdoors lover, awareness of the physical is paramount to living fully.  To be in touch with Nature, we can begin by looking at our physical selves.” ~ T. Thorn Coyle, Kissing the Limitless (c) 2009

Actually even though I am still in the midst of reading it I took the liberty of adding it to my recommended reading list.  In this book She presents a number of practices and exercises that people of any spiritual or magickal tradition could take up in their individual quests.  I cannot reccomend this book enough!

In addition to proper breathing, and openness, I have been inspired by this book to begin expanding my Daily and Regular Practices…

I have been starting small, getting up a little early and trying to just sit in silence for a while… not really meditating… just sort of being still and quite and just being… but not worrying if my mind wander… as is it’s wont!

I have prepped a candle holder and candle and will begin, once more, to meditate on the candle flame.  In addition to opening my awareness to more things, I must work on my focus in both spiritual and mundane matters.

Including why it is that I have been so afraid, in the face of the Big Guys illness, to reach out to my friends or to the Deities.  Although even as I write these words I know that it was centered in a feeling of helplessness, and hopelessness, and fear of the Worst Possible Outcomes… some of which is ingrained in me from being raised by two children of The Great Depression, one of whom probably suffered from Clinical Depression….

Yet, even knowing the background of it, my fear… I must also strive to learn from it and learn how to face it, how to handle it more sanely, in the future.  I need to keep at my spiritual journey.

I need to Breath, and to remain Open, I need to keep listening to the many different ways the All That Is speaks to me each day.



The 7 Habits and the Witch

So, I got that planner/personal organizer I mentioned in my previous post.  I chose a FranklinCovey introductory planner, with a small notepad and a wirebound blank weekly/monthly planner.  I’ve been carrying it with me as much as I could, thats one of the things organization experts suggest you do with your new planner.  It’s been a lot of fun actually, filling out the months and days and putting in notes from my home-made calendar on different events and observances I want to honor.


In filling out my organizer, especially when I put in a Full or New Moon, or when I note U.S. Flag Day or an upcomming open circle, there is a sense of reconnecting or recommiting to things that matter to me.  Not just getting organized but of becoming more centered. 


 I also recently picked up a copy of 7 Habits for Highly Effective People.  Strangely enough there is a lot in this book that I had already had some realizations or thoughts about, largely as a result of my pursuit of the Witches path.  I especially like where Dr. Covey talks about how we choose how we react to the things that happen to and around us.  This was one of those realizations I had years ago when contemplating the intersection of “An ye harm none” and the idea of Threefold Return.



The 7 Habits

… and a link on each…

1. Be Proactive

2. Begin with the End in Mind

3. Put First Things First

4. Think Win/Win

5. Seek first to understand, Then to be Understood

6. Synergize

7. Sharpen the Saw.


If you don’t feel like wading through all those articles, you can read a short article about them here


It’s a good book and has been added to the “Books!” page here.  I really think that the ideas in it are fundemental to becoming a whole and effective person.  In each chapter, detailing one of the Habits and how to cultivate it, Covey discusses numerous ideas and techniques that I think would fit well into the mental altar-cabinet of any Witch or Pagan.  In some ways it seems to me Covey has provided a framework for Acting in Accord with the spiritual framework of Pagan Spirituality.  A philosophy, and attitude, that is accessible to a modern mind and also widely available.