Keep It Sacred: Keep It Private

Keep It Sacred: Keep It Private

Here’s the deal: when you post something that is full of your own conscious choices, hopes, desires and wishes, it becomes vulnerable to everyone else’s conscious and unconscious hopes, desires and judgments.

That means, if you’ve just put hours of effort and intention into something like a vision board or an altar, and then post it on social media for all 1,300 of your followers, known and unknown, to look at, your vision board or altar just got messed with.

Keep It Sacred: Keep It Private.

This also goes for sacred space you just set up for meditation or for client work. It goes for sacred tools you’ve created. It goes for any mundane object, say a job application, that you have a lot of energy and emotion behind.

And it also can apply to your body.

I’m all for the sentiment and sense of injustice behind the “Free The Nipple!” campaign, but you won’t catch me freeing mine. Not in public.

Breasts in particular are a very sensitive and very powerful part of a woman’s body. It’s an area of the body where we physically and energetically give and receive, not to mention it’s also our heart area. We often feel embarrassment at the thought of accidentally being caught naked or topless in front of someone, not because we’re afraid of our bodies being judged (though the patriarchy has made us believe that and has also shamed us for that fear) but because we innately are aware that our bodies really are our temples and our power, our juju, our feminine mojo is vulnerable to outside hopes, desires and judgments.

You’ll know your body energy has been compromised, whether you had an audience of one or took part in an impromptu skinny dipping sesh at a festival, if you find yourself suddenly and uncharacteristically concerned with what others are thinking and feeling about you. If you find yourself seeking outside validation or acceptance more than is healthy. If you feel inexplicably “addicted” to outside praise or just as inexplicably shy, anxious and obsessed about avoiding outside thoughts and opinions.

These symptoms of energetic compromise can occur anytime we’ve been vulnerable, not just naked.

What To Do If Sacred Space Is Compromised

You can smudge anything, including your body, with Palo Santo to clear away unwanted emotions and energies. Be careful about doing this to sacred objects if you don’t really need to– you could clear away some of the energy you’ve intentionally built over time. Being clear on how you want the Palo Santo to work is key: Clear away any emotions or energies that do not belong or do not serve the higher purpose of this object— is an example. I don’t recommend sage because it’s actually a consecrating herb, not a cleansing one. Palo Santo will cleanse and then you can come behind with some sage to consecrate if you’d like.

You can also take a shower and intend/pray that the water also washes away those thoughts, emotions and energies that are not yours or are no longer serving you.

If you enjoy being naked or otherwise vulnerable around folks, no worries. You’ve got a natural shield put up, the people you choose to be naked or vulnerable around are energetic rock stars, or you can take a cleansing and intentional shower afterwards to cover your bASSES. (I crack myself up).

In love and sacred darkness,

Darla

Symbolic Ancestors, Bobbing for Apples as Divination and other Autumnal Symbols of the Goddess

Symbolic Ancestors, Bobbing for Apples as Divination and other Autumnal Symbols of the Goddess

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT the Earth Goddess, you probably think of bunny rabbits, spring fever, green meadows and abundant fertility. While yes, Spring is lovely, feminine and indeed fertile time of the year, Autumn belongs just as much to the Earth Goddess and if you know where to look, you’ll see she’s been here all along.

One of the very best teachers I ever had was my second grade teacher, Mrs. Fletcher. We are still in touch today, nearly 30 years later, and when my first son was born she gave him his very first book. I love this woman. And now, when I look back at our year together when I was just 7-years old, I suspect she might be a little witchy. Which, of course, makes me love her even more.

Viola Swamp-- Just look at those leggings! Viola Swamp– Just look at those leggings!

Mrs. Fletcher taught us how to bake homemade bread. And while the bread was baking in the school’s kitchen, she taught us how to make homemade butter. And boy, did she know how to teach us how to celebrate the seasons. She wrote letters to each of us under the guise of elves who were looking for four-leafed clovers around the start of Spring. The elves were supposedly living in the ceiling above our classroom and each student had a different elf assigned to them as a pen pal for a week. We were encouraged to get outside and look for four leaf cloves to help the elves out. Just before Halloween she read Miss Nelson is Missing! And the next day came to school dressed as Ms. Viola Swamp and stayed in character the entire day! I’m seriously tearing up thinking about this woman and her magic as a teacher.

Mrs. Fletcher read the entire Little House on the Prairie books to us (that’s probably where the homemade bread and butter lesson came in) and then she took all 20+ of us to her house for an overnight field trip. We roasted marshmallows on the wood stove, we looked for fossils on her hillside and watched her husband milk the cows in the morning. Something each and every one of us remembers, it was even brought up at our 10-year high school reunion in 2010, is that that overnight slumber party was the first and only time we ever saw Mrs. Fletcher with her hair down. To this day, she still wears her hair in her signature bun, but on that night in 1987, her hair was down. It was impossibly long, past her waist, and she was wearing an old fashioned long white nightgown. She was beautiful. Magical. And although we knew we were completely loved by her (and we loved her in return), she was also still Mysterious. She was, and remains, my kind of woman.

I want you to understand that our ancestors are not just our blood. Our ancestors are people who were influential in our lives. Our ancestors are mentors and teachers we admire and emulate, even if we never met them in life or in person. Mrs. Fletcher is most definitely my ancestor and I am one lucky woman to be able to say so.

Pomona, Roman Goddess of orchards and one of many goddesses whom we can thank for the tradition of bobbing for apples Pomona, Roman Goddess of orchards and one of many goddesses whom we can thank for the tradition of bobbing for apples

Bobbing for Apples and the Goddess

I tell you all of this because I cannot think of Autumn without thinking of Mrs. Fletcher. Blame it on my impressionable age when she was my second grade teacher, or blame it on her extraordinary teaching methods. It’s probably a bit of both. Anyhow, that Autumn in 1989 she took us on a field trip to an apple orchard and later she cut an apple in half, around the middle, and showed us that when you cut an apple like that, it made a star. This blew my mind and only proved to me that she was magic.

Today, I invite you to cut an apple in half, around the middle, and see the pentacle for yourself. The pentacle is an ancient symbol of Earth, which is still represent in suit of pentacles in tarot, and is a powerful sign of protection. It is also the sacred symbol of the Celtic death goddess, Morgan, and many others, I’m sure. The apple is also a an ancient symbol of, and gift from, the Goddess. Cultures all over the world are ripe with stories about goddesses and apples. Apples of life, apples of death. Although the Bible only mentions that Eve gave Adam a “fruit” we all know it was an apple. Why? How do we know that?

Because this wisdom is in our bones.

The Thinning of the Veil and Divination

Because the veil between the worlds is thinner now, it is thought to be an ideal time to do divination. You are closer to your ancestors, and they to you, and so it’s thought that any divination you will do around this time of year will be more accurate.

All of the traditions we have discussed this week: Halloween, Day of the Dead, Samhain, All Soul’s Day, were/are a way to honor the season of death while hoping for (and asking for) a return of the season of life. Remember, it’s only in very recent human history that surviving the winter is all but guaranteed. Even in the time of our grandmothers, and certainly our great-grandmothers, winter was a time of uncertainty. The only certainty was that some of the people with whom you were feasting and celebrating the harvest, would be dead before spring. Including yourself. Illness. Cold. Starvation. Exposure. It was coming. So dance. Eat up. Honor your ancestors because you might be seeing them soon (among other reasons), revel and keep your eyes and spirits on the promises of Spring.

One of the best things to look forward to in spring, besides the return of warm weather and abundant food, was fertility. We as humans are obsessed with becoming ancestors, while we are conscious of it or not. So much of the divination that took place in Autumn centered around predicting marriages and other fertility-based endeavours for the Spring.

There is a tradition on Halloween to bob for apples. You fill a large bucket with water, fill it with apples (which bob, or float, on the water) and participants take turns trying to grab an apple with only their mouths– hands are tied behind their backs. It’s easier said than done. An alternative on this game involves hanging apples from various lengths of string and trying to bite into the swinging apple with your hands tied behind your back. Today, the first person to bite into an apple wins. However, historically, the apples would be discreetly marked by every unmarried and eligible young woman. Unmarried and eligible men would bob for the apples and the apple they picked foretold a possible marriage, to the girl who marked the apple, in the spring. Alternatively, young folk would bob an apple and then carefully peel it in one long strand and then throw the apple peel over their shoulders. The fallen apple peel would then be examined to see what letter or letters it was in the shape of and possible love matches would be narrowed down according to the first letter of their names and the letter(s) the apple peels were in the shape of. Girls would also cut an apple in half, to reveal the pentacle, and then sleep with it under their pillow and expect to dream about their future husband.

Tomorrow, finally find out what’s up with black cats, witches and other symbols of the Dark Goddess.

Have fun storming the castle!

 

Your Guide To The Thinning Of The Veil: Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos (and how to celebrate it without being an asshole)

Your Guide To The Thinning Of The Veil: Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos (and how to celebrate it without being an asshole)

YESTERDAY WE TALKED ABOUT the Celtic pagan and Druidic origins of Halloween and the day before that I resurrected an old post on Dreaming with the Dead: Contacting Departed Loved Ones Through Dreams.

Today, I’d like to talk about Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. It is a Latin (Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy) holiday that has become very visible and popular with non-latinos over the last few years.

Day of the Dead is actually celebrated on November 2 and Day of the Little Angels (Dia de los Angelitos) is celebrated on November 1. It is believed that the gates of heaven open up at sunset on October 31 and all of the spirits of children who have died come back to be close to their family until sunset on November 1. At sunset on November 1, the children spirits go back to heaven and the adult spirits come to hang out until sunset on November 2. Yes, this time halfway between the vernal equinox and the winter solstice is believed to be a sacred time when death is so close to life to cultures all over the world. In the case of Latin America, however, ancient Aztecs and other pre-Columbian civilizations used to honor their dead for what today would be considered the entire month of August (obviously, the ancients of the Americas did not know what “August” was). The Spanish conquistadors came in and merged some of their own rituals for honoring the dead with the indigenous rituals of Latin America and put it all on the official Catholic holiday of All Saint’s Day. It was a sort of “All conquered nations will now move their ancestor worship to these two days so that we can monitor and control it . . . or else,” move.

 

Now, with Day of the Dead, instead of trying to trick or scare goblins, demons and ghosts away, participants instead spend many weeks building ofrendas, or altars with offerings, to their ancestors and departed loved ones. They also spent/spend a lot of time and money creating and curating sweet treats, sweet breads, sodas, water, alcohol and other favorites to put on the altars to offer their departed loved ones. All of this is done in bright colors and in good spirits because a celebration of death is also a celebration of life. All of the sweets and photos and bright colors on the ofrendas are meant to beckon ancestors/departed loved ones to return for a day. The food and beverages are needed by the spirits to give them the strength (and motivation) to travel and hang out for a bit– it’s not easy to be a spirit in a physical plane.  On November 2, families will often meet in cemeteries to have a picnic and clean or wash gravestones as well.

How to Celebrate Day of the Dead Without Being an Asshole

Yet it’s the bright, yet macabre, decor, the fun and the themed sweets that have caught the attention of the masses. In the last several years it has become popular to dress as a sugar skull or Catrina for Halloween. It’s become common to have Day of the Dead themed parties and decor. I’m not Latina but I will remind you that the Day of the Dead is sacred. While I don’t see anything wrong with thoughtfully and respectfully engaging in your own Day of the Dead-inspired rituals, I would caution you against dressing up as a sugar skull or a Catrina for Halloween and then getting shit faced. That’s not exactly respectful and I sure as hell don’t want to piss off any spirits . . . or living communities.

If you appreciate the aesthetic of Day of the Dead, then by all means, buy some paraphernalia and then take the time and effort to actually use it the way it is intended: create an altar with photos and memorabilia from your departed loved ones. Add sugar skulls, sweet bread, Catrina dolls and bright colors. Add candles and marigolds. Express gratitude, say prayers and invite your loved ones to return for a night. Go to the cemetery, alone or with as many family members as you can muster, and clean up the gravesites of your ancestors. Take a picnic and set aside the first serving of food for your ancestors. (DON’T eat the offered food later. When you are done, ask a tree for permission to leave the food at its base. If you feel the food is appropriate to leave as an offering to the little critters of the area, you could do that. Or throw it away. But don’t eat it. It’s energetically dead and kind of gross.)

Happy ancestors and family spirits are believed to bring good luck and blessings for the next year– and I believe it! No spirit is as interested in your well-being and quality of life as an ancestor spirit is. No spirit can help or protect you like an ancestor spirit. The least you can do is throw a party for them one night.  And if you have kids, get them to participate! I can only imagine what my life would be like, what my spiritual life would look like, if I had grown up in a culture where ghosts were welcomed and death was celebrated with all of the colors, indulgences and revelry of life.

Tomorrow we’ll take a closer look at some of the symbols and traditions of this time of year, you won’t want to miss it!

 

P.S. I’ve recently enjoyed resurrecting old newspaper articles I wrote when I was a young reporter in Iowa and Illinois (2005-2006). I guess I’ve always had a thing for ancestors and the dead.

About Day of the Dead:

Families Honor the Dead

Day of the Dead Keeps Memories Alive

Celebrating the Dead: [Museum] sets Altars on Display for Annual Day of the Dead Ceremony

Honoring the Present and Honoring the Dead:

How to Memorialize Your Pets (don’t forget to include them in your Day of the Dead celebrations!)

He Enjoys Spending a Day with His Son


 

Your Guide To The Thinning Of The Veil: Halloween, Samhain and All Saint’s Day

Your Guide To The Thinning Of The Veil: Halloween, Samhain and All Saint’s Day

It’s the last week of October, you know what that means: Happy Halloween!

I personally love uncovering the origins of everyday or commonplace rituals and traditions and Halloween is a particular favorite of mine because it also has its origins in honoring the dead and the ancestors, which (witch?), if you’ve looked around my website lately, is kind of my jam.

In the case of Halloween, we actually have to talk about the history of Samhain (Sow-en) and All Saint’s Day, which are both predecessors to Halloween as we know it today.

Samhain is an ancient Celtic/British/Druidic feast day that marked the turn of harvest and the day when summer met winter, or life met death. Taking place from sunset October 31 to sunset November 1, or there abouts, Samhain is almost exactly halfway between the vernal equinox and the winter solstice. As the life of summer gives over to the death of winter, it is believed that the veil between the worlds was/is thinner as well: just as the death of the land is near, the dead are near. This also makes it easier to communicate with the dead, with fairies and with other spirits at this time of year. As such, feasts were held in which departed loved ones were encouraged to attend (similar to Mexico’s Day of the Dead, which we will discuss later this week), rituals and divination for the new year ahead were also performed at this time– in fact, many scholars believe that Samhain may have actually been the ancient Celtic New Year.

Children would dress up as ghosts or as the dead and go door-to-door, reciting versus or poetry in exchange for food, wine and other supplies to get through the winter– this was called “guising,” does it sound familiar? The fun and merriment had many purposes: to drive away ghouls and other negative Nancy’s rising from the dead, to honor the dying Sun god, to laugh in the face of the approaching cold winter and it’s threat of scarcity (hence, giving treats away), and to likewise boost morale before the cold scarcity of winter hit (which also sounds like another Fall holiday: Thanksgiving.)

 

In the 8th century, Pope Gregory III tried to distract the pagan Celtics from their traditions by naming November 1 All Saints Day, or a day to celebrate, wait for it. . . all saints. Known and unknown. The new name was accepted but many of the traditional practices were kept up.

Fast forward another couple of centuries and we have the pilgrims, actually Puritans, trying to conquer The New World in the name of God and all of the debauchery and revelry of All Saint’s Day was forgotten in what is now The United States . . . but oh what a sweet comeback it made (see what I did there?).

Okay, so All Saint’s Day was actually originally called All Hallowed’s Day, which is medieval speak for “the day for all who are holy.” So if November 1 was All Hallowed’s Day, that made October 31 (and remember, Samhain spans from sunset to sunset October 31- November 1) . . . All Hallowed’s Eve. Which eventually was shortened to Halloween.

Today’s multi-billion dollar holiday actually owes it’s legacy to the Irish potato famine of the 1800’s. Thousands of Irish immigrants landed in the U.S. to escape the famine and they brought their traditions and folklore with them. (On that note, tell me you have read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods? Do it!.)

Often limited in resources in their new adopted land, or wary of causing a scene, or living in crowded city conditions, the Irish immigrants whittled down their traditional Samhain bonfires and instead put candles in carved pumpkins and other vegetables. The jack o’lantern was born. Its purpose? To sit on your doorstep and scare away any evil spirits that are roaming on All Hallow’s Eve– or the night of Samhain. The glow of the orange pumpkin in the dark of night is also, quite obviously, how Halloween got her signature orange and black colors.

Instead of the whole community dressing up as demons and ghosts and the dead, it became a primary activity for children, who instead of going door-to-door “guising” for food, wine and even coins in exchange for a song, a poem or a lyric, now go door-to-door singing one song: “trick-or-treat!”

So. That’s how Halloween got it’s start. Don’t forget to take a moment next Monday, to honor the time when life meets death and summer meets winter. Eat a little something extra indulgent to laugh in the face of winter. Later this week we will also be talking about ways to honor your ancestors and/or to work with the thinning of the veil at this time of year. Stay tuned!

Trick or Treat!

 

Cledonomancy: The Art and Practice of Divination Via Overheard Conversation

Cledonomancy: The Art and Practice of Divination Via Overheard Conversation

His sandals made a soft clipping sound as he rushed into the shrine, pushing past the gawkers and the gossips. Dust clung to the sweat on his face and his odor clung to his tunic; he’d risen with the sun and already walked half the day just to whisper into the god’s ear.

He stopped only to make a quick offering of fresh lavender and rosemary, herbs from his sister’s garden. He paused, took a few deep breaths to collect himself, and removed the pungent grasses from his satchel, murmuring a quick but sincere prayer before gently offering the herbs to the fire.

Please hear me. Please answer.

Cupping the fragrant smoke and washing it over his head in purification, he already felt more at ease although he’d never had more urgency than he had today.

He approached the statue of Hermes, messenger of the gods, and waited for his turn before standing on tiptoe to reach the god’s ear. When he was done whispering his secret worry he swiftly covered both ears with his hands and ran back into the bright sunlight. He glanced around at the gawkers and gossips he had so crudely pushed aside a few moments before. He wondered from which tourist or which gossiper his deliverance would come. He unplugged his ears and listened– waiting for the first snatch of conversation, and the answer to his prayer, to come to his ears.

Cledonomancy

Cledonomancy is the practice of divination through bits of overheard conversation. Many of us have had moment of cledonomancy– you know when you’re lost in deep thought about something and suddenly your attention is brought back to the present moment just in time to hear someone nearby say something that feels like it was said just for you in just this moment? Or when you turn on the car and the line of the song on the radio at that moment is just perfect? That’s cledonomancy.

You don’t need to visit the shrine of Hermes in ancient Greece to play along (although the shrine still exists to this day). The next time you’re in need of a message from the gods, find a quiet spot in a crowded place and say your prayer. You could be in the restroom of a restaurant or shopping mall, in a church or even in your car, about to turn on the oracle of radio. Say your prayer and walk back out into the crowds or turn on your car– plugging your ears is optional and dependent on your willingness to attract attention. What is the first clear snippet of conversation you hear? What is the song playing on the radio?

I’d love to hear about it!

 


Hey everyone! My first intuitive mentor, Anna Sayce, has interviewed me on her blog. In the interview we talk about how I developed my intuition and some of my more extraordinary dream experiences– experiences I haven’t shared anywhere else!

Head on over here to read the interview and to check out Anna’s incredible work.


image of Hermes by Anonymous

image of Anna Sayce and Darla Antoine created by Anna

Meditation For Those (Like Me) Who Hate Meditation

Meditation For Those (Like Me) Who Hate Meditation

FOR YEARS, TEACHERS, FRIENDS and social media have been telling me to meditate. And for years I have been resisting. I just didn’t get it. Heck, my mother-in-law was kicked out of a nunnery in her early 20s because she didn’t get it. Sure, I’d try. I’d set a timer, or push play on a recording. I’d watch my thoughts float on by as I tried not to attach my mind to them.
And I never felt what everyone told me I was supposed to feel.

Light. Deep. Expansive. Peace. Bliss.

I just felt like I was sitting there watching my thoughts go by. Or I’d wake up 20 minutes later to discover I had been sleeping.

And then. AND THEN. Some amazing synchronicity happened in 2015. I can’t even tell you who it was because that’s how mundane it was — I don’t remember. Within days of one another, not one, but TWO people taught me how to flip the script on meditation. And it hit me like a ton of aha-moment bricks. This is my take away and my new approach to meditating:

The more you meditate, the more thoughts you exorcise. The more thoughts you exorcise, the deeper you meditate. So when I’m sitting there trying so hard and waving goodbye to a bunch of monkey-brain thoughts, I AM MEDITATING! And if I sit down and do it again tomorrow, I will probably have slightly less thoughts. And if I keep at it for a while, my emotional, physical and psychic body will have the opportunity to release all of the pointless and harmful thoughts and emotions that it has been squirreling away for MY ENTIRE LIFE. So meditating is a lot like clearing your chakras. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if clearing my chakras is helping reduce my meditation karmic debt load. I might get to that deep place of bliss faster if I’m doing both practices regularly.

Is this a revolutionary way of thinking about meditating to anyone else but me? Or am I late to the party?

And if you fall asleep while meditating? That’s still meditating! Actually, I now view falling asleep while meditating as a really good thing. To me it means that my emotional, spiritual and physical bodies had a lot to let go of and it was better to knock me out for the process so that my monkey mind couldn’t interfere. Kind of like how there are some surgeries you can do with local anesthetic and others that need you to be knocked out cold.

How do I meditate? I’m a fan of keeping it simple. I walk out into the forest, sit on a fallen tree, close my eyes and focus on the third eye area of my forehead. And I sit. And I breathe normally. I wave goodbye to thoughts and I strive for a quiet stillness. I peek at my iPhone every once in awhile to see how much time has gone by. (usually a lot more than I would have guessed! It goes quickly.) When I’m ready, I take a few moments for gratitude, put my hands and feet on the Earth and ground myself.

Then I record my impressions and experiences in my DIVINA journal.

The end.

You may not have the luxury of an entire forested mountain as your backyard (but don’t feel bad, I miss the luxuries of the city daily — coffee houses, window shopping, bookstores). You can still incorporate a simple meditation practice into your daily or weekly routine. Instead of walking out into the forest you can walk into a bathroom stall at work. Or the broom closet (ha!). If you have small children, you may want to hide in the shower, pull the curtain closed and meditate until they find you (I have done this — ain’t no shame). Or go to a nail salon, pull your sunglasses over your eyes, and get to meditating while you get your toes painted.

There are also dozens and dozens of ways to meditate for reaching your guides, angels and higher self. I encourage you to try out many different forms. YouTube is a good place for guided meditations (meditations you can close your eyes and do as someone’s voice leads you through it) and even using your own form if a different way of meditating comes to you and resonates.

Meditation Is For Mars, Twerking Is For Venus

AS MUCH AS I appreciate and apply my new-found perspective on traditional meditation, I think it is also very important to remind you that this form of meditation was developed over many centuries, through many cultures, for a man’s body and a man’s spiritual advancement.

Which, I have discovered, is another reason for my deep aversion to all things “sit still and make funny finger symbols while chanting.” For me, it doesn’t always cut the cake. Blame it on my Aries moon. There is a time and a place for traditional meditation and I do it when I feel the need. But the other 90 percent of the time? I prefer to do something a bit more feminine: dancing, walking in the forest, closing my eyes and leaning back against a tree trunk while the sun washes my face, or deeply kissing my husband.

Those are valid forms of mediation, too. More importantly, they are forms of mediation that bring out and strengthen the feminine aspect of my spirituality. And though I don’t literally twerk, sensual movement is my favorite form of meditation.

Qoya is an excellent way to shimmy into the world of ecstatic, sensual movement — sensual movement that is intended to awaken the divine feminine energy within you and for you. Not for the viewing pleasure and approval of an audience. I can’t recommend a Qoya class, retreat or 20-minute follow-along video enough. Visit www.loveqoya.com


An excerpt from ORACLE: Divination for Magical Babes, available in digital and print formats. Learn more.

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