Automotive Misadventures, The Fabulous Jonathan, and Spiritual Practice, Oh My!

Dear Friends,

So as you may remember I have been working at building my array and regularity of Spiritual Practices in my Pagan journey for a while now…. Meditation, both silent and focused, and Conscious Breathing and Grounding and Centering and work with my Chakra’s and (for those of us on the New Aquarian Frontier who are of the Witchy persuasion) of course Magick…. and loging them all daily along with my daily diet and writing I’ve done that day and any Professional development and physical excercise…

And my practice has been growing and becoming a regular part of my life.  So of course as I grew it eventually became time for a test.

My old car, the Late Great Volvo, had already had 170,000 miles on it when I bought it used for $1,700 a few years ago.  I had already spent more on it in repairs than I bought it for, almost double.  I have been reading and researching replacement vehicles and pulling together money and otherwise talking about getting a newer car.  However my A.D.D. blessed brain kept getting distracted by more immediate things… duties and commitments and exhaustion from a wildly varying schedule and all sorts of other life stuff… or so I told myself.

So when I stopped at a fast food place for some breakfast this last Sunday, and the car didn’t want to start, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

Turn the key, nothing.  The lights came on but the engine did not turn over.   I figured it was the battery, and after some harsh lessons in the road readiness and charitable nature of many of my fellow human beings…. I called my boyfriend The Fabulous Jonathan.  He made the 45-minute to hour drive to where I was and we tried jumping the battery.  Repeatedly.   No go.   After a while the ugly truth dawned that it wasn’t the battery, it was the transmission.

For those who are even more automotive repair/maintenance challenged than myself (and I hope you live somewhere either blessed with fabulous public transit or which is very pedestrian friendly) that is both ridiculously expensive and the automotive kiss of death.

The Fabulous Jonathan set aside his own duties and chores for the Week-end and helped ferry me around town for a few days and look at cars and figure out how to invest my modest nest egg into a new vehicle.  I am now the proud debtor of a slightly used 2010 Kia Rio!!!

(brief pause whilst Pax does some calming breathing about his very first Car financing experience, which is really different from a Student Loan because you can’t really defer payments…. banks are a LOT less accomodating or flexible on Car Loans than Student Loans as I understand it)

So we exchanged Valentine cards on the 13th, and spent most of the next 3 days together.  He helped me get to work on Monday night, after I switched shifts around to have Tuesday off to go Car hunting.   We talked, a lot and laughed and shared stories from our pasts and he made a scary crazy making experience a lot less painful!  He is wonderful, and smart and cute and funny, although I am admittedly biased on the matter.  It was nice to know that we are capable of weathering storms together.

I am truly blessed to have found you Jonathan!

So sometime on day 2, even though I wasn’t doing my usual Journal / Log-booking of my practices, I noticed I was still breathing consciously, I was grounding and centering, and otherwise trying to engage the practices that help keep me on an even keel; even in the midst of maddening times.  That is why we do them, they help us to grow and be stronger and better people; being stronger and better people we are more aware and engaged in our lives and our relationships with ourselves, our friends and families, our Gods, and our Sweet Sacred Universe.

Jonathan was even patient with me as I got very snarly and with him at the Dealership as I sat with him waiting for some of the paperwork to go through as I wrestled with this tremendous wave of doubt and fear that washed over me.  He kept trying to reassure me and I kept getting mad at him… which I knew was bs and driven by the fearful and hateful parts of my self that have been hurt so often over the years – and sometimes allowed myself to be hurt rather than risk failing at not being a failure or a screw-up-… finally I just told him that this was my fear and I needed to face it.

Although I was more than a little bastardly about it, sorry my dear.

Sometimes you have to face your fears instead of running from them, which is of course one of the big reasons I had waited to buy the car or seriously scope out my financing options.   But I found a good finance rate and payments I can afford and even as I go scared further into the world or being a Real Adult ™, I am blessed by good friends and good fortune and the love of a wonderful guy!

I also find myself contemplating how small and limited I’ve let my life get in the last year or so as I faced the impending death of the Volvo and of how I avoided dealing with the situation.  I have many friends whom I could be sharing my journey with in a more personal face to face manner, and even with the hovering cloud of automotive doom I have been trying to do just that lately… spending time with Tracie the Red this last week-end…. and making it to various 1U events.

I have had a lot of “Once I have a newer car and a better job I can ______ and _____ and ____.”  Conversations/prayers/whatever’s with the Gods and the Universe in general lately….  Projects I could be involved in, events I could attend, activities I could take up…. not a new thing these conversations, but my sense of being actually able to tackle the various projects and promises is newer to me.   Its grown with my dive into Practice and Study in the last couple of years.

I can also see, based on that not-quite crushing wave of fear and doubt at the Dealership, that I have more work and Practice to do…

Now it’s back to the daily routine of work at the motel, and on my writing, and on my Practices, and in another couple of days it will be time to Circle again.   Then there are events at Church to volunteer on…   Opportunities to spend times with Tracie the Red, and my gaming buddy and proto-Heathen friend Aarnvast, and others….  More work to do polishing the resume and getting my ducks in a row to try for promotions at work….  More work to do around the apartment getting things in order there…

The adventure continues…



“Where’s Wisdom in there?” / Notes on the Journey 12/08/10

Geoffrey Stewart practices Googlemancy: (Noun) A divination technique whereby one uses the critical reading skills, reasoning, reading comprehension, and creativity to find objects and information.

Dear Friends,

I had this as my FB Status recently, and I got a couple of positive responses from it.

I also practice Blog-o-mancy, which is somewhere between Bibliomancy and seeking a Cledon (and here).  Anyhow I ran into this wise post by my friend Jane, and then this at the dance of the elements.  This is not the first time I’ve run into this phenomena.  I have often found much needed bits of Wisdom this way, something that somehow articulates something in my own life or that stirs my soul in a much needed way…  it is indeed one of the reasons I have such a ridiculously long blog-roll here….

I have been running into this a little more often lately.  Coming across a needed sentence or phrase or idea or video.  I have also been feeling much more… myself.  Centered and creative and, even though the money is tight and the car is frightening to drive and I am in a barely above minimum wage job right now, I feel stable and strong and confident.   I have a game plan and am capable of following.   Words and ideas and creativity are flowing, I am settling into a regular and coherent Spiritual practice. ..

Getting Through

by Geoffrey Stewart

Inertia, fear, complaceny, powerlessness; The Wall has many names.

Spiritual Practice is sometime a spoon scratching off flakes,

Sometimes a chisel taking out chinks and chunks,

Or a sledgehammer pounding through,

Or dynamite, or a bulldozer

Sometimes a ladder or a hot-air ballon,

Sometimes Practice is the shovel that you use to dig under The Wall,

Finding its Foundations,

Tunneling under and moving on,

Or weakening it until it collapses.

What is your Wall and how will you get over, around, or through it?

Creativity and curiosity overflow.

In the last couple of days I have fallen into breathing a Centering breath when I wake up… the other night I did my variation of the Cleansing Life Force excercise…. will have to try this some more and see if this rhythm resonates with my ongoing life… after scratching and chipping at my Wall, I feel like I have created a couple of hand and foot holds and am now climbing up  up it or carving something rich and strange as bas-relief of pracitce?

So my friends, what is your experience with your many Spiritual Practices?

Peace, and curiosity,


PS- the quote in the title comes from a conversation I once had were I shared some of my thoughts on ethics and virtues and values in Witchcraft and was asked that question…

The Wisdom is what you learn on the Journey, and the reading and research and thought and effort and practice you put into your Witchcraft Spiritual Practice and Relgion and Life.  Right now I feel like school is back in session.

(updated 12.09.10)

On Breathing

Dear Friends,

So this is the first official entry on the blog with writings from my personal Grimoire, which I am working on.  It will probably be obvious to some that T. Thorn Coyle’s writings have had a strong influence on me in this section…

Inspire means both to breathe in and to fill with Spirit.  Air connects us with one another and with all of life around us, it fuels our bodies; awareness and control of breath can work wonders in ourselves and through us in the world around us.  Breathing in, taking in oxygen and life energy, air fuels our fire.  With breath we can raise power, call Spirit, connect with The Gods, and embrace the Numinous All That Is.  Our lives, our actions, all of our works of Spirit, all of our acts of Will, and all Magick begins with a breath.

In Through the Nose,

Out Through the Mouth,

Breathe Inspiration,

Let Go of your Doubt.

I prefer in through the nose and out through the mouth, but the key is a relaxed and even and steady and conscious rhythm.

On the inhale your throat should be relaxed and you should be as aware of the air flowing down your throat as you are of drinking down cold water.  The air is drawn down your throat and into the deepest part of your lungs, towards the pit of your stomach.  As you breathe in the air should first push out your belly, and then your rib cage and chest, raising your shoulders as your lungs fill to the brimming.

When you feel the breath pooling or tickling at the base of your throat, you can begin your exhale; breathing out slowly and steadily.  Breathing out through your mouth, your throat relaxed and the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth.  Letting your shoulders slowly drop, your chest and rib cage and belly relaxing and contracting in turn.

So from here I am going to discuss Centering and then Meditation…. and I am still playing with the orders of the other items on my list.

I am coming to realize how central and important breath is in the work of Magick and Spirit and of health.

Which is  why I am trying to mostly quit smoking.  “Mostly”, because I will allow myself the very occasional cigar, but I want to be the one in control… not the nicotine!   It is also “mostly” because in similar situations in the past if I have said to myself I am cutting back, it means that if I break down and have a smoke early in the quitting/cutting-way-the-heck-back process I won’t fall over myself with recrimination but will simply return to the abstaining.

I had already quit due to time and money issues once before, then the Break Up happened and I feel … no I dove off that Wagon in an emotional fee-fall.   Even though I was able to pull myself out of a tailspin by twisting and curving and aiming my dive into the waters of spirituality and Witchcraft and Faith, rather than those of sensuality and self-destruction, I have been smoking way too much.



Notes from the Journey: Daily Practices and forgiveness

Hello Dear Friends,

So the scent of Lavender incense wafts through the apartment as the Laundry machine rumbles and I sort some laundry into appropriate places and piles…  I sip my coffee and breathe into my Center and contemplate my journey and journal…

I have started listing a whole bunch of things in my, until recently, on-again off-again journal/diary; the categories are based on things I desire to do with my time and life…

I note when I wake up, what work hours if any I have, the date (or when I work the overnight the dates), and the moon phase.

Then it’s on to the categories of activity I am increasing my awareness of and working on including in my life..

Prayer: any and all formal prayers like my 8 virtues prayer and the ‘Who is this Flower above me’ prayer are listed, as well as some notation if I engaged in any other prayer that day…

Energy: any basic energy work or magickal exercises are listed here… splatter vision, dropped attention, grounding, basic centering, sheilding, …. sometimes Soul Alignment work although that usually flows into

Chakra & CLF: Any work with my Chakras and the Cleansing Life Force exercise variations that I practice, my variation on the CLF seems to also work to align my Soul… although I occasionally experiment…

Meditation: here I list the type and how long I meditated… if I did, still exploring why I have such trouble stilling myself… perhaps its the lack of,

Physical Excercise: At this stage anything beyond my all too sedentary routine counts… went shopping and walked through the grocery store?  Counts.  Walked around the block for a cup of coffee or whatever?  Counts…

Nutrition: Everything I eat or drink in a day… whatever it is… no judgements just recording…  food and beverages; I have also been studying up on proper nutrition and trying to change my diet, but even when I am off the wagon at least I am maintaining my awareness of what I am consuming so I can go back and go…”Wow, ok last week was a carb-a-palooza… why?!”

Writing: I have identified writing as an activity the nourishes and nurtures my spirit, so even if I just am able to shoot off an e-mail I include it here although I am trying to make space in my day where I sit and write… even if it’s just jotting down lines or ideas or making a list…

Professional Development: This is where discussions with my manager about training or the company, or work on my L:inkedIn profile or Resume or other professional life related work goes…

Journaling: Separate from writing because this is recording observations on any of the above that strikes my fancy or writing down ideas.


Now I rarely get everything done each day.  I am happy that, with the exception of one day I slacked after having a very busy 22 hour day, I have been journalling almost everything I’ve eaten in the last couple of weeks and that I have been writing keeping track of all of the above daily.

This is where the forgiveness comes in.  See in years past when I have tried to change or improve things I would tend to despair and give up at the first mis-step or the first few times I failed to follow through on my wishes for more exercise or healthier eating… or to establish regular spiritual practices.

One of the lessons I have learned is that it is not about succeeding in the 1st or 2nd or even the 32nd try… it is about returning, again and again, to those things that nurture and nourish us in body and soul and help us along the path to where we want (or need) to be.  Instead of despairing or giving up or telling myself that I am a fuck-up or a failure or that I can’t do it… instead of all that doom filled negative self-fulfilling prophesying; I write, I smile, I breath and I remind myself that the fear and the doubt are honest reactions but that they do not define me… I look at the entries and I ask myself the why’s and wherefore’s of my actions and reactions.

I see for example that I am rather good at finding ways to include energy work, prayers, and chakra work in my day; physical exercise is another matter.  This leads to questions and contemplation of my motivations, my living situation, and the many many influences affecting my life right now.

I feel like I have finally flipped the bird to the overculture and am begining to live in a way that will help lead me to a healthier and more authentic and prosperous future.

So that is what is working for me right now.

What in your life and practice and journey is working for you?



Do you believe in Magick?

Dear Friends,

So as I dive into my Solitary ‘bootstrap’ Witchcraft, guided by years of experience and practice and study and some direct teaching and a whole lot of indirect teaching…  I find myself thinking about Magick, trying to define it for myself and the whole how it works and what it really does.  I was thinking about this recently as I contemplated the idea of explaining Magick to other folks….. including the secular humanists and the atheists out there, like some of the fine folks at my U.U. Church…

“So you believe that if you rub this oil into this green candle somehow money is just going to come your way?!”

“Well, no… and yes… and well, just how much time do you have right now cause it’s really kind of complicated?!”

~one of the many scenarios that plays out in my fertile imagination….

Before we get too deep here I should point out that this post has been languishing until I was re-reminded of the this clip from the movie Ink, posted by Sannion who was posting a brief post about Magic over at The House of Vines… but I prefer this version…

… for reasons that may become clear soon.

One of the things I am going to try and avoid is the whole science hasn’t figured everything out/trying to justify it discussion.  I think that aspect of trying to define it is in the end a side-track.

I am also, for this discussion, set aside the whole changes in consciousness, changing the universe around us according to our will, set of discussions… those of you who have looked into magick are familiar with them (or should be!) and for my purpose tonight (as I write this) it is another sidetrack.  I don’t merely believe in magick, I experience it and practice it.  The word practice is a key component in understanding what is going on with magick.

Magick is a Spiritual Practice, more ornate and complicated than either seated meditation or visualization/meditation upon the Chakra’s, perhaps, but not as shocking or superstitious as some like to paint it.  I would also at this juncture like to point out that there seem to me to be two ways of approaching this practice.

The Non-theistic or Atheistic approach, where in practicing magick you are accessing the hidden powers of the mind and dealing with powerful psychological archetypes underlying all of human understanding.

The Theistic approach, where you are accessing the hidden powers of the mind and soul to attune and communicate and work with the Holy Powers of Creation.

Both approaches work, and both are right.  (Of course I say that last as a wildly Theistic, heck I AM Polythesitic, Witch.)

Magick as a spiritual practice works on many levels and accomplishes many things.  To better explore this practice, I am going to divine it into 4 parts, based upon the 4 Powers of the Sphinx… also known as the Witches Pyramid… To Know, To Dare, To Will, and To Be Silent


First we start to learn and absorb the ideas and theories and philosophies of Magick.  Learning about the techniques of meditation and visualization and ritual and divination/discernment.  We learn about the symbols and their meanings and associations. Ideally we are learning or reexamining things like History and Psychology and Environmental Science and Literature and well all of learning.

We begin placing/associating everything in our lives with the structure and relationships provided by the particular cosmological filing cabinet of our particular magickal/religious framework.  We start a journey where we more deeply explore our inner world and its connection to the outer world.  Starhawk writes of the Acrostic Eye, the way of looking at the world through the lens of magickal practice and Witchcraft.  Seeing alternative and often hidden meanings and connections in the world around us.

This is where we begin to grow in our self knowledge as we begin to learn how we relate not only to these symbols but the the qualities and ideas and aspects of the world around us that relate to the particular symbols.


This is where we actually begin practicing.  We perform our rituals and engage in meditation and divination.  Some of us on the Neo-Aquarian frontier cast spells…  sometimes this is as far as folks get… this is a tricky and seductive stage in our development as magickal practioners.

If we are really paying attention to both our studies and the alternative ways of knowing and understanding the world that the Acrostic Eye can provide, we also dare to do something else.  We begin to act in accord with our spells.  If you are doing a spell for prosperity and money, then you act in accord by polishing up your resume and putting in extra hours at work and watching what your spending.  You dare to believe in magick and give it as many avenues in your life to work itself out as you can.

Like the old joke about how if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket?  It’s true whether you are talking about prayer or magick.

With the increased understanding of ourselves, our motivations, and desires, and strengths, and weaknesses, there also comes an increase in our personal effectiveness in getting what we want.  At the same time we are also getting better at understanding what we REALLY want versus what we think we’d like or what others have told us we want.  We become more centered and effective human beings.  Our personal will power grows as we decide what we really want and begin to work magickally and mundanely to accomplish this.

While we are doing this, we are also opening ourselves up to a deeper relationship with the world around us;  with other people and, for the wildly theistic amongst us, with all the Holy Powers of the world.   Alongside the increased and altered understandings of ourselves and the world around us, and the increase in personal effectiveness and the development of our personal will ~ if we are serious about our practice and diligent and maybe a little lucky~ we begin to perceive and align ourselves to our True Will.

Will, with a capital “W”, as being an ongoing effort to live from moment to moment a path of action in perfect harmony with Nature or the Universe; to seek ones ultimate Destiny.

~ As I’ve mentioned once before...


“You mustn’t speak of magick, for secrecy increases power!”

~usually said in that serious and breathless mock spiritual tone meant to imply that the speaker is just simply seething with occult power and has access to vast spiritual wisdom, and on very, very, very rare occasions they actually are and do.

… a lot of times though they may as well have Makita stamped across their foreheads.

And, well, yes it sometimes can but it can also sometimes really complicate things… life is like that.

This is not only where I am going to possibly lose those atheists and secular humanists, but also where things get a little complicated and messy.  This is the point that a lot of definitions or explanations of magick get hung up on…up to this point everything has had some reasonable or rational or psychological or positive visualization or well an every day explanation.  Then something happens.

Some piece of magick you do, some momentary perception, something goes beyond your ability to cite coincidence, you can’t rationalize it and the whatever it is sinks deep into your psyche and self and world view and the universe cracks open a little, this is where magick really begins to work.

Something happens and you experience something that you can try to explain and struggle to find the words for but you can’t, because religious and spiritual mysteries have to be experienced they can’t be explained.  I know, I’ve tried, and failed.

That’s why the fourth power is To Be Silent, not because secrecy builds power (see above) but because there are things in life and in Spiritual Practices that you can only experience but never really explain.  The only ones who can really understand are those who’ve shared your experience or similar ones.

The other mystery here, other than the whatever it is that brings you to this point, is that both the theistic and the atheistic practitioner reaches this point… we just have very different lenses through which we view it.

Then the real Work begins…



Returning to and Reclaiming Myself

Hello friends,

Today was spent at home, cleaning my room as a part of my recent works with what T. Thorn Coyle calls the Planes of Stability, and which I am tending to think of as things of Earth.  Stability, strength, my body, my home, my income.  I have been renewing my commitment to healthy eating the last week by focusing my diet mostly on fruit and vegetables.  I have cleaned my room and contemplated the things I need to do to turn my rented room into more of a true home for my body and spirit.  I have been thinking about my income and my financial needs as well as some of my material ones; and how, ultimately, to balance them with my spiritual needs.

I had a great time watching T.V. and talking with The Fabulous Jonathan about us, and our future, and of various things between he and I.   There was also much kissing and hugging and laughter and more conversation.

I cleaned my altar.  I rededicated it, replaced the cloth and spreading grains of salt and dry barley and scented oil upon the altar cloth before placing my various tools and symbols and oh-so-sacred-tsotchke’s back on in in order from Air to Fire to Water to Earth to Center.   I contemplated again the things of Earth and how long it has been since I had a Pentacle upon my altar, and how I have never actually owned a proper Pentacle.  My necklaces have always managed to disappear and that flat round smooth rock with the star and circle drawn upon it that sat upon my altars for years is still in storage back in Ak with friends… although I now see it was never really a proper Pentacle but a workable substitute.  So among other things I invoked the powers of Earth and asked the Universe to send me either a proper Pentacle or the resources and materials to craft one.

I also thought today about how much of myself I let get battered and hammered down my disappointment and insecurity in the last couple of years.  The troubles with income, the gaining and almost immediate loss of my writing gig with the magazine, the difficulties I had finding a full-time job, the falling apart and eventual break up of my relationship with The Big Guy.  I let go of hopes and dreams and ideas and inspiration and I lost confidence and trust in my writing and my words somewhere.  I stopped writing here, and elsewhere of anything important to me because I had given up on me and on truly wanting to invest myself in things because there didn’t seem to be a point.

I am working on that.

Thorn’s books were a part of my recovery, as were my readings into Hellenic Polytheism, and my getting involved at 1st Unitarian Church Orlando.  Committing to myself to reach out to my local and far-flung friends and acquaintances.   I am still on my journey, it hasn’t ended and I needn’t give up in the face of disappointments or heartbreak.  Broken hearts do heal.

I clapped my hands three times, to get the attention of the Universe and of the part of me that is at once the same stuff as the stars and is the touch of the Divine.  I breathed into my Center and Grounded and once again showed up for some of my Work.  I breathed into each of my Chakras in turn.

  • Into my Base Chakra that swirling ball of red located roughly between the base of my spine and my taint and thought about those things within me needing strength and balance and stability and grounding.
  • Into my Sacral Chakra the wheel of yellow between my pubes and my navel and contemplated things within my life and soul that needed feeling and emotions and sensuality and sexuality.
  • Into my Third Chakra glowing orange in my Solar Plexus and contemplated what within me needed willpower and what needed aligning with my Will.
  • Into my Heart Chakra  as I thought about this spinning green globe of energy and everything about and within myself needing the caress of compassion.
  • Into my Throat Chakra and within that blue ball  I sought out what in me and my life needs creativity and expression.
  • Into my Brow Chakra and my third eye indigo and inscrutable I tried to scry what inside of me needs more perception and understanding.
  • Into my Crown Chakra, that thousand-fold lotus of purple I at once reached out to the Holy Powers and opened those parts of my soul needing Their touch as best I could.

“Holy Powers help me in my work”

Then I took all of those things withing me I had tried to touch or find and poured them into the blessed water within my Chalice (the magical tool not the U.U. one) and drank deep cleansing and renewing the my spiritual energies.

“Who is this flower above me?  What is the Work of This God?  I would know myself in all my parts.  Blessed Be and So Mote It Be.”

Then I wrote this, and now I shall sleep.


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!



The advice we give and the mirror of contemplation

So a friend recently sent me an e-mail detailing her wrestles with Depression and the hectic nature of her life recently… I responded thusly…

It sounds like you’ve been facing some cross-roads moments of your own this last year. I know that territory well myself, as you know I’ve had some this year myself. You mention meditation and exercise. I am diving into sitting practice myself and can recommend the book Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle. There are a lot of excercises and meditations and journaling type excercises related to integrating the many aspects of the self that I know I have found deeply valuable as I have begun to wrestle with my own difficult and turbulent emotions in the last few months.

A lot of wisdom in there, that and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron have both been helpful to me.

Embrace the stillness and silence to be found in mindfulness and meditation, I say this as one who is struggling to follow that exact advice, but NOW I know that the reason they are called spiritual practices is because we have to return to them again and again, open to ourselves and to the vagaries of daily life and sometimes we can settle into stillness and sometimes our hearts and minds are determined to flit around like hummingbirds. Yet return we must, lovingly to ourselves and to our practices, again and again.

Hold fast to your friends and family, I say this as someone who lost touch with a lot of his loved ones after the big move down; and who, for whatever reasons, has not always been as good at keeping in touch with our making new friends. You are a dear friend, and I will never forget your loving care in the aftermath of my break up with Gene. Or that green ink marker and the kindness you shared. Our friends and loved ones are the other mirrors of our contemplation in life, hold fast to them.

At the same time, I would say do not fear solitude; provided you have some clear boundaries between solitude and lonliness. Solitude can strengthen us but loneliness only leads to unclear thought and wrong action either towards ourselves or others.

Know that you are loved, and that there are many folks who are more than ready to share their friendship and loving kindness with you.

…I have often been, and tried to be, a good and compassionate and loving friend.  I would like to think there have been a number of times over the years where I have been able to be a good advisor and source of moral support and loving kindness.

“For Mine is the spirit of ecstasy,

and mine as well is joy on earth,

and love unto all beings is my law.”

How is it that it is only in the last few months that I have been able to turn that same Love, which I have so often been willing to shine onto others, inward?  Why did I hold back from approaching my own life, and work, and spiritual practice and Work, with that same compassion and love?  I mean the Holy Powers know I have talked a good game over the years, about self-esteem and spiritual self-love and such, but it feels as if only recently is it really sinking in.

Some of this comes, I think, from approaching my spiritual practice with discipline.  I have been writing and keeping a Practice Contract, as outlined in Thorn’s book, with myself.  (He dives to his paper journal)

Practice Contract 12-25-09 thru 01-25-10

I Geoffrey David Stewart, known as Pax, known as *****, hereby swear and affirm, by all I hold sacred and fine.

  • Each day upon awakening for the day I shall pray my daily prayer and Center and Ground.
  • Once each day I will breathe into each of my Chakras and perform the Cleansing Life Force exercise.
  • At least once each day I will spend some time in meditation.
  • Each day I will engage in some physical activity for exercise.

So mote it be, Blessed Be,

Geoffrey D. Stewart

Now I was a little ambitious and added 2 things, instead of just one, for this, my third practice contract in the three months or so that I have been trying to really actively engage my practice and growth and to do the Great Work.  I have been a little slack on the excercise portion of things, but then again it’s been an especially crazy time at work…

In the past I would have wallowed in a sense of defeat in not getting that excercise portion of things, I would have worried and criticized myself for not doing practice A at time B or for not doing such-and-such by the book or in the same exact way I had done it before.  I would have allowed myself to give up on the whole practice and wandered down the outmoded but deeply worn paths of my old selfs self-loathing and insecurity.  No more!!

Now, I simply sigh and smile and remind myself that I can return to my practice tomorrow, and if I do not get to everything today, that I can always start fresh again the next day.  As that great spiritual guru Scarlet O’hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

New Moon, Noumenia, and Me.

Dear Friends and Pagani,

A stick of incense burns upon my altar.  An offering unto the Theoi on the Noumenia.

In ancient times the Noumenia honored Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and The  Household Gods; including Hestia, Zeus, Hermes, Hecate, Appolon Ageieus, the familial Agathos Diamons, and ones honored Ancestors.   Many contemporary Hellenic Polytheists will take this time to honor and make offerings to all of the Theoi.

Technically I am three days late, as the first sliver of the waxing moon, which the ancients considered the New Moon and the start of the new month; however it was on a walk earlier this evening that I caught my first sight of the moon since the astrological New Moon.  It helps that I am being inspired by recent discussion of how to handle food offerings on the Neos Alexandria ~ discussion group on Yahoo.

The basic discussion was that once food has been offered to the Gods, it becomes blessed as They partake of its essence, and then the worshiper may eat the food offered to the Gods.   (the general feel, based on UPG and some historical sources, is that food offered to the Dead is better left out in the woods or perhaps burnt)  Because of my current financial status I have to rely on discussion groups and online sources of information about my worship of the Theoi.  Although admitedly almost 40 years of being a history geek have certainly helped to inform my online research… and I am finding a little money here and there to start buying books to increase my knowledge and understanding.

And still I practice.  I pray to Them, I make offerings of incense, and now apples, and water… maybe some juice or wine….  Practice, practice, practice… Pray, sit in meditation, breathe into my Center, going for walks, writing out my thoughts and feelings and doing my best to become the best me I can be; both for myself and for the Gods.

“Every day, in some small way, I reweave myself, I rebuild myself.”

I am not only dealing with the recent break-up of my increasingly mis-named Life Partnership with the Big Guy; I am dealing with all of the old patterns and hurts that I have acknowledged for years but never really wrestled with, everthing that came roiling to the surface after the break-up.

I am doing it though!  I am finding my way.   I am learning who I am and what is important to me.  I am building my spiritual and religious practices and figuring out how to work within and build upon my relationships with the Theoi, and with the Lady and Lord of the Witches, and the other Gods who I encounter and have encountered in my journey.

I am learning how to budget, and how to eat properly, and how to date and laugh and live and love; both again and for the first time.

For all of these blessings, and all of the blessings in my life, I thank the Gods.  I offer my words and sweet smelling incense unto Them.



“New Years Day”

How are you spending the day after Halloween/Samhain my dear Pagani?

Here’s some of how I spent mine…

I light the Ocean Breeze Spa Candle that sits on the bathroom counter. (Why yes, as a cavalier, why do you ask?!)

I light the candle, I turn out the lights and run as-hot-as-I-can-take-it water into the bathtub.  I position myself into the typical modern apartment  shoe-box of a bath tub as it fills.  I add some soap, and I do my best to soak.  The steam caresses my lungs with each breath as much as the heat relaxes my flesh.   I begin to really breath, deep conscious breaths.

In through the nose and out through the mouth.  In and out, deep conscious breaths trying to be as present in the moment and paying attention to the sound and sensations of this life drinking and energy raising breathing.  After a few moments I begin to breath the energy and air into my center, somewhere below my stomach and above my pelvis it sits, long neglected.  This new way of finding it combined with the deep breathing, long familiar to me for raising energy and getting in touch with my own energies, triggers an energetic sense memory…

After a while I find myself moving my breaths and energies destination to my Root Chakra.  Even though I have begun working with grounding exorcises and with my Chakra’s again, I am still very rusty.  I take a good long time breathing into my Root Chakra, resisting the temptation to move up through my chakra’s quickly… unlike so many times before I am not doing this as part of some other work, or for grounding centering and shielding… I am breathing life and energy and air into my Center and my energy centers to relax my spirit as I have relaxed my body.

In through the nose and out through the mouth, with great “Shhh-ing exhales” as I breath the energy into my Root Chakra, after a few moments I find myself not only drawing energy through my breath; but I find myself calling to the Earth energy and to the Creative Firey and Feri currents from the Earths Core, drawing them up into the red wheel/lotus at my perineum.    Slowly, I feel like I have properly opened and relaxed this Chakra and I move up to the Sacral Chakra… I find myself wondering about the relationship between the Center point and this Chakra, seeming from my own sensations and from what I have learned so far to be so close together.  Are they the same or simply very close?  Very close I think/feel.  I breathe, once more resisting the temptation to simply run up this string of Spinning Lights within me, I take my time.

I take my time with each of them.  I empty the tub and go to my computer to listen to the Samhain podcasts, read the posts, and to think about how it is that I find some pieces of my soul blossoming.  Samhain has, for me, always marked an inward turning time, coupled with the blossoming cooling to temperate temperatures of a Florida Autumn as we move toward the many fruit harvests of Winter here in the Sunshine State, I suppose it’s only natural that one who seeks to align with Natures rhythms would start to bloom once more this time of year.



Practicing Silence and Stillness

Dear Friends and Pagani,

So, in the midst of everything else lately, I finally made it to the Thursday Night Buddhist Meditation Group that meets at my local U.U….

Despite having written about meditation as a part of regular spiritual practice, and despite having regularly meditated in the past, and despite knowing the importance and benefits… I have a very noisy mind, and a great deal of trouble cultivating stillness within myself.  I theorized that it might help to jump-start my practice, and break my noisy mind and fidgeting flesh to the twin yokes of Stillness and Silence to meditate with others.

It is, as I mentioned, a Buddhist Meditation group and they practice Vipassana (Insight) meditation in the Theraveda Tradition.  Everyone sat in a circle of chairs in the Church library.   We went around the circle and each of us checked in for the week or introduced ourselves.  Then we meditated for 25 minutes.  Then there was a short reading on the topic of Non-Attachment to Ideas and Beliefs.  (here, and here, for more)

“Then we meditated for 25 minutes…”

Strange how simple it sounds…

You sit,still, silent.  You should avoid moving, except for a slight movement if you start to feel some pain in the body you may mindfully shift position to relieve the pain.  Your are silent, and focusing on your breathing, striving to keep it quiet. I settled into my oft turned too pattern of in-through-the-nose, and out-through-the-mouth.

Your mind may wander, and that is o.k., when it does so you are to let those thoughts go and return to your breathing, and the silence, and the stillness.

I thought I was relaxed.  The lights were turned down low and there was a tea-light candle lit to help even out the amount of light in the room.  I was seated with my arms at my sides and my, incredibly sore and work-tired-and-tense, feet up on a Zafu.  Then we started…

My throat was the first part of my body to seemingly rebel against  the program.  The muscles in it felt like they desperately wanted or needed movement and speech!  I swallowed a few times, trying to let this strange sensation just be and relax my throat and remember my breathing.  My mind, however, wandered into thoughts of how much I speak during the day… how often I fill silence with speech, even when alone, rather than just thinking… and it’s usually stuff that on some level is meant to distract me from feelings or thoughts I am uncomfortable with… I fill my days with so much noise…

Then I realized that those were thoughts and I returned to my breathing and stillness and silence.  In through the nose, and out through the mouth.  Focusing on my breath and letting the rhythm of send me back to stillness and silence… then I started… somewhere along the way I had almost lulled to sleep!

I carry tension with me so much of the time!  I am hardly ever really, really relaxed unless I am going to bed or asleep.  When did I stop relaxing… was it related to the deterioration of my recently ended relationship with The Big Guy?  What about….

Those are thoughts….

In through the nose, out through the mouth.  In, and, out.   Breath.  Stillness.  Silence.

My ears feel stuffed up, or, is that a ringing?  My life is so filled with noise, in the absence of it do I simply find ways to create it?  What is it that causes me to flee…. and I am thinking agian…

Nose.  Mouth.  Breath. ???

Stillness and silence and quiet and calm.

I didn’t sit in the hand of Goddess or anything, but I was able to reach a place of Deep Peace and calm, I still fidgeted a bit, but it was the mindful repositioning rather than thinking and reacting about it; and with mindfulness and attention, a sense of clarity and calm and quiet.

I did not fall into the Silence and Stillness so much as dive struggling into it, like trying to reach the bottom of a pool full of pudding, but I found some small measure of …calm.

After the after meditation discussion, I continued to have a feeling of deep peace and calm and joy.  I decided to drive home without turning on the car radio… I enjoyed a measure of silence…

I haven’t sat in full meditation in the last couple of days… but I have… reached into the memory and experience of it?  Focusing on my breath for a little while and trying to resettle to cloak of quiet and calm upon my shoulders once more.

I think that I shall sit tonight, at the close of the day… I wonder if my mistake before was to try and sit at the beginning of the day when my monkey mind is all unruly and…. those, are thoughts…



There’s a reason it’s called “Practice”

An not just because it helps us to perfect ourselves either, it’s because you have to keep doing it.  Whether it’s meditating in silence, or deep effective breathing, or going to the U.U. services, or Circling, or chanting, or praying… you’ve got to keep going at it and doing it… even on the days when you are tired or when time or money make it difficult…

Which is to say that this last Sunday I had to hammer down parts of myself and just GO to service.  I know I keep talking about it, but I think tomorrow is the day I stretch some of my spiritual muscles again.

The biggest hazard of the Solitary path is that the encouragement and example and inspiration of other grove members or coveners or church members is absent.  There’s this mix of eagerness to share and sense of responsibility with spiritual work in a group; it just makes it easier to get off one’s butt and DO!

At least it does for me, so expect more than a few posts of ramblings about my practice… in addition to my meditations on community, and some expansions into my other passions and interests….