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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in mindfulness

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Spiritual Scavenger

I’ve always wanted to be consistent. Walk one path with loyal dedication. But it was not to be.

Born with a perverse need to be both sceptical and spiritual, I have a checkered religious history. I’ve been a Jehovah Witness, Anglican altar girl, and agnostic (a few times). Twenty years ago though, I found Paganism. Instead of dogma and moralizing, it offered me a celebration of life and a treasure trove of symbols and traditions to explore.

In my darkest hours however, I was still plagued by a nostalgia for something I’d never really had. This was a deeper consolation of the kind promised by more mainstream faiths. I secretly longed to be saved, forgiven, healed, and taken care of completely. But I could never give in to “accepting a saviour”—even the soft-eyed Jesus I remembered from childhood—because that came at too high a price: obsession with sin and guilt, denial of the “the flesh”, and the requirement of literal belief.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • James  Tomlinson
    James Tomlinson says #
    Wonderfully and brilliantly shared. Thank you Archer.
  • Kari
    Kari says #
    Brilliant as always, Archer. I look forward to more of your musings...
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Archer, Thanks for sharing this! It gives me a better understanding of why so many Pagans have embraced Buddhist teachings and Yo

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Loblolly by the-specious@flickrI'm always reminding clients and students to use their totems, not just visit them in trance and arrange them just-so on altars. I don't know if it's a Western habit or a general human one, but it seems a constant reminder is needed that we have resources, we have help. Isn't that the crux of animism? We're not alone. We don't have to do everything alone.
 
One of the key components of shamanism that makes it viable is the engaging of totems in holding space, not just acknowledging them every now and then, but actually allowing them to help us create, hold, and be the space. Any time, any place.
 
Case in point: After a long hiatus from working out due to chronic health conditions, I've recently begun running again. It's been a long time since I've run, actually. Over the last two years I've done all sorts of other workouts sporadically, though managing acute asthma took a toll on sticking with consistent activity. In that timeframe my body has been telling me to run, and I've avoided doing so, partly out of sheer fatigue, but also out of fear, trepidation that I'd trigger the awful episodes I've worked so hard to control.
 
Last week I threw caution to the wind and decided it was time, not just to engage in duration exercise, but to do what my body has been telling me it wants to do: run. I've started with short duration and gone a little longer each day, climate-controlled, nice and tidy. The other day it was cool outside, so I ran outdoors. Once I got past the initial aches and moans of an asphalt half mile, I found my rhythm, then minor annoyances abated. However, other chatter began. My lungs began to burn and that familiar choking sensation crept through my airways, wrapped my throat, and I began coughing. I started stressing.
 
I slowed my pace but stayed moving, soothing the worried voice in my head. As I did, I noticed birds singing, a soft breeze blowing in the treetops, dogs barking, rasping cicada tymbals. I smelled pine, freshly mown grass.  Surrounded by Nature, I decided to take my own medicine. I realized my inherent soul connection to the elements around me, and thanked them for supporting me on my run. I invited them to tell me what they need from me, and was told to engage them again, and again. I really felt like I wasn't running through the elements, but with them, actively.
 
These weren't new spirit visitors or Nature friends. I've worked with many of them before in fleeting engagements. I honor them each time I create sacred space in my home because they are the Nature Spirits of my land, its Elders. However, bringing them into my daily routine was a vastly more validating experience, interactive not just in my senses, but my cells.
 
And yes, my breathing eased. I finished the run with no problem.
 
No, they weren't my personal totems. I don't have likenesses of loblollies or cicadas on my altar. The thing is, they don't have to be. Even in off-the-hook shamanist and totemist circles, there still pervades the idea that we're locked into certain totems, forever and always, that we can't just honor drive-by connections, or ones that suit specific circumstances. Such limitation is what inhibits deep animistic connections. It's just too easy to move through the space around us and not notice all the support that's there. Yet it's equally easy to pause for a second and consider the spiritual surroundings, the waiting support.
 
I say it over and over, but the hardest part of mindfulness and forging an authentic spiritual path is to remember to pause.  When we remember the pause, we recall to choose how we move forward.

SoulIntentArts.com

I haven't run outdoors since, but I will. I have, however, driven through my neighborhood every day, seeing it, hearing it, experiencing it with different appreciation, a fuller sense of being.
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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Phoenician Goddess c. 2500 BCEShe was standing in line at the deli counter when it happened. Out of nowhere, for no reason at all, she felt something take over her breathing.

Later, she might wonder whether she’d been looking at one too many Venus figurines for her online archeology course.

But now her mind, as it had for days, weeks, decades on end, was chattering non-stop, yammering thoughts (judgments, really) through circles within never-ending cycles of not-good-enough. Such had been her life, so-called, whatever you would call absenting yourself from actual contact with the world's flavors, textures, and other trinkets of sensation. Certainly her world — although some might call it sterile — was neat, tidy, clean.

She wasn't discontent with her circumstances. Any time she had peeked out of her circumscribed la-la-land, however arid — and, to her credit, she had attempted several sorties — she'd encountered bits of barbed wire in her milk, darts flying through the air, cutlery strewn across the sidewalk. In her, yes, limited experience, the world was not a friendly place. If her existence within her self-imposed isolation was a bit lonely, actually loveless, at least she was safe. Trips to the grocery store and library were adventures enough.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    Lovely, Lizann! Thanks for your response.
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely! Thank you for these holy words! From my "In Praise of Aging" series, my own belly reflection.... In Praise of Aging T
  • Lisa Sarasohn
    Lisa Sarasohn says #
    Synchronicity, such a pleasure, such a grace. The Divine's style of event planning? All of which is to say: Emily, thanks so muc

Greetings, gentle readers. July is known as a month for Loki, because in the dog days of summer, Lokabrenna (Loki's Torch) rises. For those of you unfamiliar, Lokabrenna is another name for Sirius. Himself is active this time of year, and many Lokeans honor Him this month by posting poems, recipes, or other devotional works. I'm starting my month with a recipe for Him - a meal of hearts.

Loki's lore includes the eating of hearts. Here in the modern US, we don't do a lot of cooking with organ meats, but for seidhr I experimented with cooking chicken hearts, because it was what I could get my hands on locally. I offered Loki some, and He was positively FERAL and overjoyed to get them, because it is such a rare treat. So I'm gonna encourage y'all to try offering Him hearts, and since people usually don't know how to cook organ meats (I had to play Hail Lady Google), I will offer my own experience. I started with this recipe, because it involved grilling the hearts, and if you're familiar with Gullveig in the sagas. you know that He found her heart smoldering in embers and ate it, and barbecue is the closest that I can offer to that experience right now. If I ever get my lungs to a state where I can go camping and not have to worry about campfire smoke messing with them, I'd like to attempt cooking a larger heart for Him the way you do a baked potato, cooked straight on the coals, rubbed with butter and herbs, wrapped in tinfoil. 

I did a very Florida marinate for the hearts, with white wine, fresh garlic, ginger, a little mojo, key lime juice, salt, and pepper. I let them soak overnight and then sauteed them for 5-7 min, just long enough to cook them a little and then put them on the grill. As the recipe notes, if you use wood skewers for this, soak them or they will burn while the hearts are cooking. If you don’t have access to a grill, you could cook them all the way through and then put them under the broiler to give them some char. I have a friend who suggests that you cut the tops of the hearts off, but it’s my experience with Himself that He loves the WHOLE THING. NOMNOMNOM. I gather the hearts are more tender if you cut off the top with the aorta and veins. I only ate one to share the experience with Him, because I’m not personally big into organ meats, but He LOVED it, and I think He appreciated the gesture of me trying something that He loves. I'm also a big believer in kitchen witching - the time, love, and intention that goes into preparing meals and offerings is valuable and magical, and can be used to weave intention through mindful work.

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