Fresh Brew: Wake Up and Smell the Magic
An infusion of inspiration for your magical life.
Instead of harsh or self-punishing resolutions, why not just clear the way and create the space for the Divine to flow? This video offers inspiration and suggestions for how to do just that, and to make this your best and most magical year yet.
As some of you know, I grew up in a funeral chapel family. All throughout my childhood, my brother and I would tag along when our dad went to work, and we would run around the back of the chapel while he embalmed or made funeral arrangements. We had two phones at our house: our house phone, and the chapel phone, which could ring at any hour.
This proximity to the certainty of mortality came with so many blessings. One of my favorite is my ability to remember - in an instant! - how exceptionally lucky I am to spend even the tiniest of moments with a loved one. Another is my ability to bring myself back to an awareness of the unfathomable preciousness of every individual breath.
Still, it's easy to forget these things during the daily grind and the relentless hypnotism of our cultural messages. So, in the spirit of gratitude (and to warm us up for the upcoming holiday) I thought I'd share 8 of the countless things that make you the luckiest person ever.
2. Your relative degree of health and ability. Wherever you fall on the spectrum of health, you very likely have a number of wonderful abilities, including (but not limited to) any or all of the following: the ability to walk, run, dance, speak, hug, laugh, see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. You also very likely have many or all of your appendages. We don't think of these things much when we have them, but if one of them disappears, how much we miss it, and treasure the memory! But just by remembering this, we can treasure these things now....
Samhain naturally lends itself to magical workings related to healing, renewal, and release of old bonds. And, this Samhain is a Saturday when the moon is waning: two additional aspects that lend themselves to same. With this in mind, check out the five Samhain-attuned clearing and purification practices below.
1. Hecate Cauldron Purification Ritual
After casting a circle, and calling on Divine protection in a way that feels powerful for you, light a black candle to the goddess Hecate. In a notebook or journal, brainstorm all the qualities and conditions you'd like to purify and release from your life. This might include things like fears, unhealthy relationships, compulsive thought patterns, and addictions or unwanted habits. When this feels complete, tear out the pages, place them in a cauldron or pot, and safely use the candle to light them on fire. Thank Hecate. After opening the circle, throw the ashes in a moving body of water, or just flush them down the toilet. Let the candle continue to safely burn throughout the night, extinguishing before going to sleep or leaving the house. You can continue to burn the candle down at intervals until the next new moon.
2. Mugwort and Sweetgrass Smudge
In case you don't know, smudging is when you light a bundle of herbs so that it's smoking like incense, and then wafting the smoke around a room, area, or person in order to purify and fine tune energy. On Samhain, it's particularly appropriate to smudge with a mugwort bundle, as well as a sweet grass braid, or with both herbs bundled up together in one. The mugwort protects from negative spirits and energies while harmonizing the natural portal between the worlds that opens up most fully at Samhain. The sweet grass also harmonizes the portal of light, assuring that only the most positive and loving of spirits and energies are permitted to come through. This practice will also generally harmonize, purify, and fine tune the energy of your space.
3. Anise and Sea Salt Bath
In addition to being relaxing, a warm bath with a few drops of anise seed essential oil and a cup of sea salt is highly purifying to the energy field. Removing old patterns, stagnant energy, and repetitive thought forms, it also protects against negativity and unsavory spirits. Light enough candles to light the room pleasantly, then soak for at least 40 minutes. (Be sure to have plenty of drinking water on hand to replenish your fluids.)
4. Cord Cutting Ritual
Light a fire in your fire place or outdoor fire pit. Take a moment to assess all the things you'd like to cut the cords from in order to free up your vibrant, Goddess-given personal power. These might include old relationships, responsibilities, beliefs, or habits. For each one, tie a single piece of black embroidery thread around a red pillar candle with a knot. Then, with great certainty and focus, snip them all away with a sharp pair of scissors. Cast the old cords into the fire and watch them burn. Light the candle as a symbol and representation as your calm, vibrant, and unhampered personal power, and let it burn throughout the night. Extinguish before bed, and light again at intervals until the next full moon.
5. Road Opening Door Cleanse
Like the sunset is a threshold between day and night, Samhain is a time when the weather is rapidly shifting into the winter-like half of the year. It's also the end of an old harvest cycle and the beginning of a new one. This is what makes it a portal between the realms of seen and unseen, known and unknown. Draw upon this threshold energy by cleansing your physical door today as a symbol of clearing away anything that may be holding you back. Place a few drops of sage and rosemary essential oil in a bucket and fill it with warm water. Using a rag, wash your front door, first inside, and then out. As you do so, say or think, "I am clearing the way for my positivity to flow. I am making way for blessings of all varieties. I am reinforcing my boundary of light."
(And if you haven't already, check out this fun new Llewellyn book!)
If you've been studying magic for a while, you've probably heard it a million times. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, in October - and particularly on October 31st (or Samhain) - the veil between the worlds is thin.
But what exactly is this veil? And why does it thin? And why does it matter?
As you may know, the realm of magic is something we understand through symbol, emotion, and vibration...Although it's important to remember that we never quite understand it, at least in the most literal sense. The divine, magical realm is always mysterious. By its very definition, it resides just outside our everyday consciousness and linear, reasoning mind.
This doesn't mean that we can't have a familiar, working relationship with all that is magical and mysterious, or that we can't draw upon it to create positive change. We absolutely can, and it works fabulously well. It just means that we can never quite put our finger on what exactly it is and how it works.
Of course, drawing upon magic to create positive change becomes much, much easier when we take the time on a regular basis - through things like ritual, communing with nature, and meditation - to tap into the divine/magical realm. When we do this, we remember that while we appear separate, we are in fact one with each other and with All That Is. Knowing this, we are empowered to wield our power to do things like energetically protect ourselves and manifest the conditions we desire. Additionally, things that appear like "cold, hard reality" in everyday consciousness - such as the separation of life and death, seen and unseen, known and unknown, as well as the linear and finite nature of time - are, quite obviously, revealed to be illusions.
And now we've arrived at what the veil is. It's the ethereal curtain between the everyday illusion of separation and the divine truth of eternity and oneness with all that is. When we meditate or perform ritual, or when we have a mystical experience of any variety, this curtain parts and we are able to gaze into the place of power, the place between the worlds.
And in October - particularly as we approach the end of the month - the Wheel of the Year naturally thins the veil for us so that it is easier to tap in and see the truth of interconnection, empowerment, and eternity.
Why? Because the days are getting shorter and the natural world is preparing to temporarily withdraw from the realm of life and growth. In other words, the harvest cycle is waning, but it's not gone. It's a transition, a doorway between the season of life and the season of death. We are reminded that in this realm, everything is in a state of flux. This allows us to see that beneath this realm of constant change, there is a wide open space of eternity. A place of stillness in which the appearance of change arises. A serene openness to which we will always return, and with which we are one, even at this very moment.
And that's why we love fall!
Its also why we naturally feel drawn to certain themes at this time of year, all of which correspond to the parted veil. Let's briefly examine a few of them.
There's no denying that at this time of year, whether or not you're magically inclined, death is the primary cultural symbol. Scary movies, ghosts, graveyards, zombies, and skeletons abound. And it's worth noting that for a culture that normally does its best to brush the topic of death under the rug (or to pretend that it's a freak occurrence that only happens to other people), this is rather astonishing. Also astonishing is that this time of year (which falls in May in the Southern Hemisphere) is rather consistently associated with death, across cultures and continents.
For three generations, my dad's side of the family has been in the funeral business. And I love visiting the Spanish style funeral chapel in my rural California hometown because it's always like October there: the veil between the worlds is always thin. It's a place where the transition between this realm and the other realm has been honored over and over and over again for decades. There is something about the way the sunlight shines through the windows that brings you smack into the center of eternity.
If you're friends with a black cat, you likely know that that consciously connecting with one can be like gazing beyond the veil of time and separation, and looking straight into the heart of magic. Why? I couldn't say.
It's (quite fittingly) a mystery.
And why do stray black cats like to make their home base the garage of my hometown funeral chapel? Besides the fact that my dad feeds them and takes care of them, that's a mystery too.
Although I'm sure it all has something to do with the fact that cats - particularly black cats - have been traditionally considered "psychopomps," or beings that assist with the transition from this realm to the next by kindly ushering souls into the spiritual realm.
Magic and Witchcraft
Finally, for magical practitioners and non-magical practitioners alike, magic and witchcraft are a favorite theme of the season. Naturally! As we've discussed, the place of power is between the worlds. It's the place where we remember that we can draw upon the unseen world to affect the seen world and vice versa. It's the place where we bravely gaze into the realm of death and transcend our fear so that we can draw upon the infinite power that is our birthright. Here, everything is illuminated with that special light that reminds us that mundane is the illusion and only magic is real.
For those in the Northern Hemisphere, the Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon) is almost here! Technically, it takes place very early this Wednesday morning. (So early, in fact, that celebrating Tuesday - tomorrow - would make just as much sense. So take your pick!)
As you probably know, the Equinox is a time of balance. The days and nights are precisely equal. Furthermore, the autumn equinox is when the sun moves into Libra: the sign symbolized by the scales of balance, and ruled by Venus: the goddess of beauty and love.
As a time of balance, creating harmony in the home feels especially right. And, as the moment when the harvest goddess Demeter bids farewell to her daughter (the springtime goddess Persephone) as she slips into the underworld, letting go and paring down also feels right.
The equinox is traditionally a harvest festival, so it's also a time when it feels appropriate to assess and celebrate your accomplishments and blessings.
Acknowledging the holiday - even briefly - can provide an infusion of soul nourishment and a sense of satisfying connection to the bounty of the earth and the Wheel of the Year. In case you're looking for simple ways to work your equinox celebration into your everyday life, here are six.
1. Take store of your pantry, give away extras, and let go of what's no longer edible. Go through your cupboards and fridge, and remove everything, one shelf at a time. Dispose of expired food and give away food that's still good that you'll no longer eat (i.e. donate it to a food bank or give it to a friend). You might also create a feast out of forgotten food that's still good, such as pasta, rice, and frozen or canned vegetables. All of these activities can support you in creating harmony, reveling in abundance by sharing the wealth, and activating stuck energy...All of which will raise vibrations and bless the season ahead.
My new Magic of Flowers Oracle deck is here and it's AWESOME! I've had a number of questions about how to use it, and while I outline it in the companion book, I thought I'd do this 2-minute tutorial to get you started on doing readings for yourself and others. As you'll see, it's really easy.
Oh, and if you'd like to enter to win a deck, I'm giving away three! Check out the contest here....