Breathing Into Your Body

There’s a technique that I came across many years ago, called “Bone Breathing.” I believe that it’s originally a Qigong technique for breathing energy into your bone marrow and improving your health.  The method that I learned adapted the original technique to help focus energy into internal parts of your body.

I first started using the technique with my sinuses. By breathing into my sinus cavity and focusing the healing energies there, my body had an easier time loosening up the crud that was building up and relieved the pressure. Today I sit here coughing thanks to an illness, and the focused breathing helps to ease the cough a bit.

If you’re interested in trying it, here’s the technique.

  • Sit, or lay, comfortably with your body fully supported.
  • Take a deep breath in and feel your whole body – the inside bits and the outside bits.
  • Identify in your own body where the illness seems to be residing.  If it’s in multiple areas, pick one to start with.
  • Take a deep breath in and feel the warm, golden healing light entering in through your skin to that area of illness.
  • As you exhale, see the yuck flowing out of you, through your skin and dissipating into the earth.
  • Take another breath, and repeat the exercise at least 9 times.

If you’re not a visual person, you can use your other senses to direct the healing energy – it could be the feeling of a warm breeze, or a beautiful note, or whatever works for you that says “healing.”  It also doesn’t have to be gold. If another color or sensation works for you, use that.  Experiment, see what works.

 

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Working with Pop Culture Characters

Chakotay
Chakotay

Recently I wrote about how I work with the First Officer of Voyager, Chakotay.

Anyone can work with TV or movie characters to help them in magic and in internal work.

We can use promotional material from the studio that picture the character, or toys of the character, to connect to that particular character. In my case, I used a Voyager officer teddy bear as a physical connection to the character. For other characters, you may use props that were created for that character – such as a wand for a Harry Potter character.

Working with a character that is portrayed in a TV-Show or Movie can be tricky. The character is played by an actress or actor, and we need to be careful to work with the character, and not the person playing them.

Robert Beltran
Robert Beltran

In my work with Chakotay, I very explicitly am working with the character. The Actor who plays the character, Robert Beltran, is still around, and I don’t want to impact him directly. I don’t know what kind of person Beltran is, so I don’t know what kind of energy he would bring to a working. Also, and possibly more importantly, I don’t have any relationship with him, nor do I have any reason to think that it would be okay to work with his energy or life.

Whatever the system we use, it is upon us, the magic workers, to do our best to understand the impacts of our workings. If we are working with characters to help us in our workings, we need to be sure to work with the characters.

Actors are not their characters, and we have no reason to conflate the two in our workings.


Image of Chakotay is a promotional image from Voyager Season I. Image of Robert Beltran from Wikipedia.

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Pop Culture? Pop Magic? Where does it fit?

dresdenRecent years have seen a new crop of superhero movies – which include some Norse deities. There are books and TV shows about a private investigator Wizard named Harry Dresden. The magical world of Harry Potter has been a huge hit in books, movies and theme parks. In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the Pokemon Go craze hit the US. And we are getting updates about the casting for the movie version of Gaiman’s book “American Gods.” There is the never-ending stream of comics, games, tv-shows, books, movies, and toys that bring magical characters to popular consideration.

All of these bring magic and deity to mainstream pop culture, and a lot of focus, thought, and energy goes into the creation, representation, and study of the characters.

For those of us who are studying more traditional forms of magic and religion, where does this fit? For me, the answer is – wherever it makes sense.

Some people, myself included, will work with the different characters as thoughtforms. Others will work with the characters as if they were gods, or archetypes, or don’t work with pop culture characters at all. Some people define the magical systems from the comics, shows, books, movies, and games as functional magical systems that they work with – complete with deity, holidays and correspondences. There are a lot of different ways that individuals can work, or not work, with pop culture characters.

chakotayRecently, I’ve been having a challenging time being pulled in multiple directions by my personal and work choices. To help me understand my own feelings and ways to work with them, I did a pathworking to chat with the thoughtform of Chakotay, the First Officer on the Starship Voyager. In the show, the character of Chakotay deals with the balance of personal and work life, personal feelings and what is best for the group, and all while being someone who others look up to but who isn’t the person in charge. As a fan of the Star Trek series, and of Voyager specifically, working with that thoughtform makes sense for me.

I could be working with a shared thoughtform that has been created from all the combined attention that has been paid to the character, or framing my own emotions and thoughts in that form so that I can have a conversation with them. Overall, it doesn’t really matter.

Each person will use their choice of pop culture if they decide to, and it’s not up to us to decide for other people. It is, however, up to us to understand if using pop culture in our own spirituality and magic makes sense for ourselves.


Images are PR or promo images from the respective book or show.

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Counting up, or how I build habits

PianoI’ve been re-learning how to play the piano since November. I previously stopped playing when I was 12 or so, and it’s fascinating how much I remember. As part of learning a musical instrument, practice is involved.

For a few months, I would set a timer for a certain amount of time and try to practice that much. I found that I would begin to resent that timer and would avoid practice because I didn’t want to deal with the timer counting down. Recently, I started counting up. I started using a stopwatch app instead of the timer.

Now, instead of struggling to practice for enough time, I find that I’m happy to practice and see how much time it takes. Each individual practice isn’t as long, but I practice much more often, and I enjoy the practice more.

This made me think about how I build other habits. Maybe, if instead of going for devotional work 5 times a week, I see how many times I can do devotional work … don’t aim for a number, see how high the number can get. Maybe it’ll start a streak!

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A Week of Devotions

2016-01-05-08.26.25I find that I have very limited time in the mornings – it’s a balancing act of getting to work early enough, and making sure that I get enough sleep. Even with the limited time, it’s still important to me to have time for morning devotionals, but how do I honor all the beings I want to honor?

My solution was to honor different beings on different days.

I blend Welsh and Norse Hearth Cultures in my practice, so my daily practices reflect that. The challenge for me with doing Daily Practices has always been finding time to do the work.

Five days a week, my devotions are specific for one of the Kindreds or a specific Deity – a different Being or set of Beings every day. Saturday and Sunday are more flexible. Some weekends, I will do trance, or a full Core Order of Ritual rite.  This way I can fit my devotions into my busy life as well as have time for the work for my courses.

If you’re having a challenging time working with multiple Beings, maybe you can try divvying up the days.

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Mantras of devotion

 A Japa mala, or set of prayer beads, made from Tulasi wood.Recently Laine from The Lady’s Quill over on Patheos and the Facebook group Virtual Sessrumnir, challenged the devotees of Freya to create a short prayer that would be appropriate for repeated use like a mantra or with prayer beads.

I will often use the following phrase from Ian Corrigan as a mantra for getting myself into the right head space:

Fire, Well and Sacred Tree
Flame, and Flow, and Grow in me.

I supposed that could be considered an appropriately repeated prayer. I certainly use it as a mantra when I’m scattered or need help focusing.

For Freya, though, we need something a bit more specific.  I originally thought of creating something that reflected her many aspects, but there are a lot to include.  I ended up settling on an aspect that I don’t often work with – her warrior spirit.

Vanadis
Guide my sight
That I may fight this fight.

It seems to me lately that we may need help fighting for our rights and for equality, so this might help.


Image credit:
A Japa mala, or set of prayer beads, made from Tulasi wood by GourangaUK. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Japa_mala_(prayer_beads)_of_Tulasi_wood_with_108_beads_-_20040101-01.jpg#filelinks>

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Blessed Solstice to one and all!

SummerPoppy

Assuming that I got my timing right, this post should go out on the exact minute of the Summer Solstice!

This day, well not exactly on the calendar, but this High Day, marks the end of my 5th year in ADF. I have to say that it seems that I’ve found the right “place” for me at this time.  I haven’t been this engaged in another group for this long for a while.

At the Solstice, we experience extremes – either the shortest day or the longest day – depending on which solstice it is. This is a turning point. The Wheel turns and the light grows, or the light shrinks. Either way, the light is doing the opposite thing than it was doing just moments before. On the Solstices, we stand in that liminal space, between growth and contraction. This is the perfect spot for deciding where your next step will be.

It was upon a Summer Solstice when I went to my first Druidic ritual, and when I started identifying myself as a member of ADF. It was at that ritual – one that I drove two hours to a strange city and strange group to participate in a ritual of a strange tradition. It was a very liminal time for me – and I haven’t regretted that step at all. If you’re considering doing something different

Once again, as happens twice a year, we stand in that space again. Where will you take your next step?

Addendum:

For folks who might be interested in Druidry,  ADF, or Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, Inc., is one of a number of different Druidic organizations that are currently active internationally.  The are other organizations that I’m most familiar with are the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and  the Anglesey Druid Order. There are a lot of other druid groups – Wikipedia talks about a lot more of them than I’ve listed here.

 

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Hail to the Golden Lady

Freya Shrine with Runes Hail to the Golden Lady,
Who cries golden tears.
Brísingamen’s Bearer,
Falcon Cloak Wearer,
Chooser of the Slain,
Hildisvíni’s rider,
Cat Herder, Vanadis.

Lady of passion and strength
who brought Seith to the Aesir,
who supports me through my days,
and blesses me through my nights.

Beautiful Vanadis,
Accept our honor and passion.
Lady Freya,
We honor you.

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When your mind won’t engage

Creating a Book of Shadows

Some days, try as you might, your might just won’t engage with whatever it is that you think it should be doing. Or maybe it’s something that you want to do, or feel that you need to do, but … those brain cells just aren’t firing.

Depending on what’s going on with you – inside and outside – there can be a lot of different reasons for this lack of engagement. The only way to find out what it is, is to ask yourself. Is it something that you actually want to be doing? Is there something else that you’d prefer to be doing? Are you sick or exhausted? Are there things that you’re allowing to distract you? Did you spend 30 minutes cruising Facebook instead of writing a blog post? I hope that you see where I’m going here.

If you can figure out why your brain won’t engage in a particular task, you can try to re-engage. Often, though, I can’t understand why I’m distracted. In those cases, I’ll often try to distract my brain with something entirely different. For example, if I’m trying to write a blog post that just isn’t happening, I might go and play the piano, or cook dinner, or spin some yarn – something that takes a very different type of focus. If the thing I’m trying to do is writing – blogs or coursework – I will sometimes sit down at the computer and start a train of thought document … words that I think go right onto the screen. Sometimes this helps, but at other times, I end up working out something that’s been bothering me.

And there are times when you just accept that there’s something going on and that you’re not going to get it done. Whatever “it” is – it’s not going to happen now. Maybe later. For these times, I keep a to-do list. It’ll go down on the list to be addressed later. And if it never gets addressed, maybe it wasn’t that important after all.

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Words from the Hávamál

As I spend time researching ancient myths and stories, I am often reminded that we need to interpret the stories with consideration for the culture in which the myths were recorded.

Title page of a manuscript of the Prose Edda, showing Odin, Heimdallr, Sleipnir and other figures from Norse mythology
Title page of a manuscript of the Prose Edda, showing Odin, Heimdallr, Sleipnir and other figures from Norse mythology

For the last few months, I have subscribed to  Huginn’s Heathen Hof‘s “Daily Hávamál” email. In this mailing, we get a verse of the Hávamál in both the original language, Old Norse, and in modern English.  Each verse is also interpreted with respect to today’s Western world.

In many cases, the Hávamál provides wisdom that is easily translated to today. For example, stanza 118 warns the reader about the danger of “malicious words,” while other stanzas talk about not speaking with idiots (don’t feed the trolls!). Yet, there are other verses that seem to indicate that all women are evil, or otherwise malicious.

How do we interpret these verses then? We have to look at the culture in which they were written down.  The source of the Hávamál – The Eddas – were written down by a Christian man.  While Snorri seemed interested in preserving the myths of Iceland, it would have been incredibly difficult for him to remove all of the Christian influences for the late 12th and early 13th centuries when he lived.

We also do not know for certain how women and other groups were treated in the culture in which the stories are set. We can make the best interpretations of the information that we have, but we’re just making interpretations.  Primary sources that are objective are nearly impossible to find.

So, how do we work with texts such as the Hávamál? We do as they do over at Huginn’s Heathen Hof – we re-interpret.  We try to understand what the underlying story or lesson is behind the words and see how that applies to our modern life.

How do you interpret the ancient stories and myths?

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