Before moving on any further, it’s important you learn the following spiritual practice, taught to be by who else, but my mentor Mary Shutan 🙂
Today you will learn the basics of the meditation and tomorrow you’ll learn how to apply it to talismans, amulets and sacred objects. So practice today so you’re ready for tomorrow!
This meditation is also really invaluable for those dark days that feel so heavy and unfair. When you’re in the thick of it with Divine Darkness and you aren’t sure you can take anymore, THIS is the method I want you to turn to. It will remind you of your power, make you feel better, and can even make things go more smoothly.
The Astral Light Method.
Okay, I’m going to try to not get *too* deep here, but, what is Astral Light?
My understanding is that Astral Light is the cosmic light Source that we are all created from. It’s the Light “at the end of the tunnel,” and it’s the veil that we can learn to see and sense beyond.
The Astral Light Method is a key thing to learn as it has so many applications. You can use the Astral Light method to awaken yourself further, cultivate your spiritual power and to empower objects. We’ll be using it to do the latter though the previous two uses will be side benefits to some degree. The more we recognize that we come from, and are, this Astral Light, the more we begin to shed what it not of the light (trauma, negative thoughts and behaviors, drama, etc.). So, here’s how you do it:
Step 1: First, acknowledge to yourself that you are constantly with Astral Light. It is a cosmic, divine energy that we are all made up of. Acknowledge it even if you can’t sense or quite believe it yet. If you’re having trouble with this, ask yourself “What would happen if I were made of Astral Light? What would it feel like?” Don’t get too hung up on this. Just try to acknowledge it and move on to step 2.
Step 2: Now focus on the energy moving up and down your spine and to your heart. Just sit with it. Focus on it. It should feel like a subtle stream of energy or water.
Step 3: From the front of your spine, imagine a door opening. This door is full of the divine energy and astral light. Imagine a column of this light streaming out of the door and from you. You can control how wide or how narrow you open this door.
Step 4: Let the light flow through you and into your energetic field/aura. This should surround you at least 6 inches from your body, all the way around.
Step 5: Ask the energy/light to heal and release anything that is not yours.
Step 6: Sit with the energy until you feel the door naturally closing or visualize yourself
gently closing the door when you are done.
If/when you make an effort to shield or protect yourself (in a large, overwhelming crowd, during a difficult argument, whenever you feel unsafe) try to do it through the astral light. Too many people mistakenly use their own energy to create a protective bubble around themselves, and this leads to fatigue and irritability. Anytime you want to invoke protection, do this exercise. Very quickly you will find that all you need to do is think about it and it will be done.
Other times to use the Astral Light method:
You can also use this method as part of your morning routine to get your day started off right, or as part of a healing practice, whether for yourself or on behalf of others. You can use it when you feel down or depressed, for protection, for clearing, to empower objects (more on this tomorrow), to pray over a spiritual bath or over food. Call on this method frequently to cultivate and radiate a strong sense of power and self which can help you magnify your work, your life and help you gain clarity on your life’s path.
But a few precautions: don’t do too much too soon. More is not better and faster is not stronger. Work with this visualization several times until it comes easily and naturally and you are sure that you aren’t using your own power (you’ll know if you’re using your own power because you’ll feel drained, tired, sluggish or be hit with “brain fog”). Finally, this is an exercise that will energize you, if done correctly, so don’t do it before bed!
In Love and Darkness,
image via YouTube
I am a jewelry hound. specifically, I love rings. And also long dangly earrings. And beautiful necklaces that accentuate my decolletage. But mostly rings.
I have a small (less than 10) but growing collection of antique and vintage rings that has become both a hobby and also a form of spiritual self-expression. Looking for and curating a collection of jewelry that honors the divine feminine has become my side hobby and I have learned a lot about buying jewelry as well as sacred adornment. I thought I’d share some of it with you.
I want to take today to talk about where and how to find jewelry to use as talismans and amulets. Not only can this be fun, beautiful and serve a good purpose for yourself, but soon you’ll be scouting out pieces to gift and serve the special people in your life. I recently bought a special Victorian memorial ring for a friend who had a stillborn child. It felt sooo good to pass such a beautiful sentiment and memorial piece to her. . . and it cost me less than $150.
Price is beyond the point here, but when we think about buying jewelry for ourselves or others, we often put up barriers and blocks because we think it will be too expensive, too extravagant and just too much/more than we deserve.
That’s just not so.
When Andy and I got together and began to make a family, we decided against a wedding or a legal marriage, but we did decide to get each other commitment rings. I have always loved Art Deco era jewelry but I just assumed that you couldn’t get pieces like that anymore, and any that are still in circulation were way out of our price range. So we went with a jewelry designer who designed my ring in the spirit of Art Deco. It’s only *sort of* what I had in mind and it was twice the budget I had in mind. In the 5 years since, I’ve given myself an education in jewelry and I’ve come across some Art Deco and even Victoria-era jewelry that have blown my mind have often been even less than my original budget for my ring– I’m talking $2,000 or less. Sometimes less than $1,000. Although I do love my commitment ring and all that it stands for, I wish I had known how to shop for jewelry before we had gone that route. Since then, I’ve gotten quite a collection of rings (I love rings) and I’ve learned a lot about how to look for and buy real gemstones and how to add them to my spiritual practice.
Gemstones, as you probably know, each carry a vibration and are good for different ailments, energies and purposes. They are also a natural earth element (unless they are synthetic– which are great options for fashion jewelry but not so much when we’re talking about magical-purpose jewelry) and they are usually also set in a natural earth element: gold or silver, typically.
So. I am a big fan of finding antique or vintage jewelry. 1) it doesn’t contribute to any current mining practices– you’re recycling gemstones and gold that are already in circulation instead of helping to create a demand for more. 2) After a piece of jewelry has been sold the first time, much like a brand new car, it’s value drops drastically. You could walk into a jewelry store, buy a brand new diamond ring for $10,000, walk out, turn around and walk back in and try to resell it and you’d probably be hard-pressed to get $4,000 for it. Of course, there are instances where a piece of jewelry increases in value (usually if it is associated with a celebrity) but these are rare. When you buy antique or vintage jewelry, you are bypassing this cost inflation. 3) Owning antique and vintage is sort of romantic. Who owned the piece before you? How was it given to them? Who commissioned it? Who created it this lovely little piece of art?
On top of all that, aside from diamonds, rubies and emeralds, most gemstones are actually quite affordable. Diamonds are one of the most common gemstones but are overly-valued thanks to the jewelry/wedding industry. Rubies and Emeralds are truly precious and a bit rare.
Most antique and vintage jewelry will be set in yellow or rose gold. Here’s the thing about gold: it’s doesn’t really matter if it’s 10k, 14k, or 18k. 24k is pure gold and it’s beautiful but very soft. For this reason, gold is often mixed with other metals to strengthen it. 18k gold is 18k gold and 6k of another metal. 14k gold is 14k of gold and 10k of another metal.And so on. The lower the #k, the stronger the gold and the cheaper. And to the naked eye? While you can probably spot the difference between a 10k and 18k ring, it’s much more difficult to spot the difference between a 10k and a 14k or a 14k and an 18k. Most of my rings are 10k and cost less than $200. My oldest ring is a Victorian ring from about 1870. It’s so romantic 😉 and, again, cost about $200 (18k gold, turquoise and pearls). Having a jewelry collection, for fun, fashion or magic, doesn’t have to be expensive. I aim to collect one ring a year, because it is a collection for me, and you’d be surprised how quickly you can get a collection up and running with those parameters (1 a year, ~$200).
There’s also a lot of a amazing symbolism in antique jewelry, especially Victorian-era jewelry. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
In summary, you can find great vintage or antique pieces of jewelry that don’t cost a lot. You can then use this jewelry as your talisman or amulet. There is A LOT of power in buying yourself a piece of jewelry. A LOT of power in deciding you’re worth it and you deserve it and then you add even more power to it through charging it to be your talisman or amulet and then wearing it/using it. They are also great forms of personal and creative expression and this is not to be discounted.
Most common jewelry eras available:
Victorian Jewelry: 1839-1901
Edwardian Jewelry: 1901-1915
Art Deco: 1915-1940
Below are some of my favorite places to scout out jewelry. Tomorrow I’ll give you a great idea on symbolism to look for which can also turn into collections to create for yourself. None of these links are affiliated.
John Paul Rangel — Santa Fe-based Native artist/metal smith and a dear friend.
Vulpecula Jewelry –source for the rings pictured at the top of this email
Butterlane Antiques (love this ring!)
The One I Love NYC— a few years ago this site was a great place to find beautiful pieces at reasonable prices. The curator has quite the eye and the marketing strategy and now most of these pieces are very inflated price-wise, but she makes you WANT them. Beautiful to look at and a great study in the creation of desire and perceived value.
In Love and Darkness,
Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?
Okay, so I interrupt the previously scheduled programming to bring you 13 divine and fun facts about Friday the 13th! I was born on July 13th but sadly it was a Tuesday and not a Friday. . . sigh. Friday the 13th happens an average of 2 times a year. Sometimes it happens only once in a year and the following year it happens three times. This year it happens in January and in October, so file these fun facts away to impress and entertain your friends in 9 months 😛
Since at least the Middle Ages, Friday the 13th has been considered a day of bad luck. Black cats are bad luck. Walking under ladders are bad luck. The whole day is an exercise in avoiding bad luck.
But guess what? Just like our bleeding time, just like our pre-menstrual time, this day used to be a powerful and holy divine day dedicated to the feminine. Here are 13 dark, divine, feminine and fun facts about Friday the 13th:
1. “Friday” means Freya’s Day. Freya (or Frejya) is a Norse Dark Goddess. She rules over love, beauty, sex, fertility, war, and death. In other Germanic-based languages Friday is still named for Freya: Freitag (German) and Fredag (Danish & Norwegian), for example. In Latin-based languages, Friday is Viernes (Spanish), Venerdi (Italian), Vendredi (French). Viernes, Venerdi and Vendredi are all named for the Roman goddess Venus: Freya’s svelte Mediterranean counterpart.
Takeaway: In at least half of the world, Friday is named for a dark goddess.
2: At one time, Freya was the most popular name for girls in Scandinavian countries, only to eventually be surpassed by . . . Mary. The Christian Mother Goddess.
Takeaway: Once a dark goddess, always a dark goddess.
3. Freya is pulled in a chariot by two black cats and in some versions, she’s pulled by 13 black cats. Black cats have long been associated with witches as their familiars (someone attending to and obeying the witch, usually in animal form) and seeing a black cat, especially on Friday the 13th, has been considered bad luck and/or an omen of death.
Takeaway: If/when you see a black cat on Friday the 13th, what you’re really seeing is a powerful woman’s helpmate on a day dedicated to powerful women.
4. The number 13 is officially the number of women you need to form a coven. It’s the number of moon cycles in a year and it’s the average number of menstrual cycles a woman has in a year (re: the number of times she bleeds).
Takeaway: 13 is a very feminine and very powerful number.
5. Friday the 13th comes in 28-year cycles. From timeanddate.com:
There is a calendrical method to the madness of Friday the 13th. Whenever a common year begins on a Thursday, the months of February, March, and November will have a Friday the 13th. This will happen 11 times in the 21st century.
The February-March-November pattern repeats in a 28-year cycle. In the 21st century, the cycle began in 2009. In 2015, 6 years later, Friday the 13th occurred in February, March, and November. This won’t happen for 11 more years until 2026 and we’ll have to wait again for 11 years until 2037 to see the February, March, and November trilogy.
This pattern will repeat itself starting 2043, 6 years after 2037.
Takeaway: And 28 is the number of days in a moon cycle and the average number of days in a woman’s monthly cycle.
6. But what people want you to believe about Friday the 13th is that it is unlucky because Jesus was crucified on a Friday (Good Friday) and there were 13 people at the Last Supper.
Takeaway: Patriarchy *eye roll*
7. “Paraskavedekatriaphobia” is an officially recognized disease that means “fear of Friday the 13th.” “Paraskevi” is Friday in Greek, “Dekatreis” is Thirteen and you should be familiar with the word “phobia” 🙂
Takeaway: The fear is real.
8. It’s true: many high-rise buildings are missing floor 13. The elevator goes from 12 to 14. Same goes for house numbers. A house that should be numbered “13” is often numbered “14” instead. In China, they have the same superstition and accommodations for the number 4. Buildings are “missing” a fourth floor and house numbers skip right to the number five. . Going back to our discussion on numerology, 1+3= 4. Four is also a sacred number in many cultures because it represents the four directions, the four elements and the Holy Family: Holy Father, Holy Mother, Holy Son and Holy Daughter.
Takeaway: 13 and 4 are living that thug life all over da world.
9. Speaking of the Holy Family . . . an open ladder creates a triangle, which if you consider the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost or of Maiden, Mother, Crone– and all of the other sacred symbolism we’ve discussed about the triangle, walking through the triangle is considered bad luck because you are breaking the trinity.
Takeaway: Don’t get in the middle of family drama
10. The 13th day of each month is also associated with Marian apparitions or messages from the Divine Mother. Examples of such appearances are Our Lady of Fatima on starting on May 13, 1917; and the Virgin Mary on October 13, 1990 through October 13, 1998 – monthly on the 13th until 1994, then annually on October 13 until 1998 in Conyers, GA when they ceased. (from OmTimes.com)
Takeaway: Mother Mary loves herself some 13 juju
11. A widely-circulated news report is going around today about Flight 666 which flew straight to HEL on Friday the 13th (Today) and landed safely (no really).
Takeaway: I guess the highway was closed.
12. 666 is considered an evil number when in fact it is quite exalted. 3 is the first perfect number and it is the number of the trinity. 6 is the power of 3 doubled. 666 is the power of 3 doubled and then repeated 3 times. It’s the number of power, creation and ritual. See more here. Where as 6+6 is 12 and 12 is an all-male power number. There are 12 months of the year, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 hours of the clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus, 12 Descendants of Muhammad Imams, and then a woman walks in and ruins it all.
Takeaway: Seriously, nothing is what it seems.
13. The 13th card in tarot is the death card. But we also know that death can mean nurturance. rebirth. rejuvenation. Transformation.
Takeaway: 13 is the dark goddess/divine darkness number.
In Love and Darkness,
Holy M*ther is a new column that explores both the profanities and the holiness of motherhood in our modern society. Topics will range from outright rants about the difficulties of motherhood to practical tips and suggestions about how to balance mothering with self-care and spirituality. I hope you enjoy!
EVERY PARENT KNOWS THAT a little time to ourselves to think, sit, or even read a book or watch a movie, uninterrupted, makes us better parents. We’re also painfully aware that our habits and actions are setting the default examples for the habits and actions of our children. Which is why I’ve taken the task of creating a do-able spiritual practice so seriously. I want my boys to make the time and space for their own spiritual practices as they grow up. I want them to be able to tap into the grounded centeredness and to never lose their sense of magic or their sense of who they are in this world. That’s what spiritual practice does for me at any rate.
I’ll be the first to admit that my spiritual practice went right out the window when my son was born. Well, it was more that parenting became my spiritual practice, at least that’s what I tell myself, which is all well and good but at some point we as parents need to reclaim some of our own space and time. Just when my son and I were sleeping through the night again, his little brother was born. After four years of struggling to find a balance between nourishing my children and nourishing my soul, I’ve finally found a spiritual practice that let’s me do both. And the best part? This practice can take as little as five minutes or can expand to fill an unexpected and delicious afternoon to myself.
Here are my tips for creating a nourishing and practical spiritual practice as parents and how to include your children:
1.) Work with your dreams. You’re already sleeping and you’re already dreaming, now all you have to do is take a couple of moments in the morning to write down your dreams. Our subconscious and the Divine communicate through dreams and the more effort you put into remembering and working with your dreams, the more guidance you’ll receive from your dreams. If you have trouble remembering your dreams, write down “Tonight I will remember my dreams” on a notepad next to your bed. In the morning, write down anything you can remember, no matter how small. If you remember nothing write “No dream recall.” The act of writing about your dreams before and after sleep will signal to your brain that this dreaming thing is important and should be remembered. It will also transfer your dreams from the short-term memory bank to the long-term memory bank, helping you to remember more dreams with more details, for a longer period of time.
With the kids: Kids start remembering their dreams around 3 or 4 years old. Make a morning ritual of asking your children about their dreams in the morning. Help them take it to the next level by journaling the dreams for them or helping them create a piece of art or a skit based on the dream.
2.) Touch nature. As soon as you can in the mornings, experience nature. Whether you keep a beautiful house plant in your bedroom, you walk outside to place your hand on a tree or you have the privilege of walking barefoot across an expansive lawn. Do something every day to ground yourself in nature. This can involve a grounding exercise or can be as simple as placing your hand on a tree or plant and taking a couple of deep breaths. Do this regularly and you’ll find it makes you more calm and present— two very important gifts you can give yourself and your children.
With the kids: Encourage young ones to touch nature every day as well. Whether they join you or you encourage them in their own practice, instilling an appreciation and love for nature at a young age will help insure that your children will be good stewards of the earth. Bonus: it will also help them be more calm and present throughout the day!
3.) Honor your ancestors. In today’s world of virtual realities just a fingertip away, it’s more important than ever to know who you are and where you come from. This has been the biggest game changer for my spiritual practice. I work at my ancestral altar daily [inyourbones.coach/freecourse] to express gratitude for those who came before me and to ask for guidance. You could also create a small ancestral altar but even doing a little genealogical investigating can bring a deeper sense of belonging and of knowing your place in this world. You can interview older members of your family to find out when and from where your ancestors immigrated or do an online genealogical search. I also recommend looking and asking if there are any old superstitions or family lore you should know about. Often, superstition and lore are really cultural and spiritual beliefs and truths in disguise. Unraveling these mysteries is not only culturally gratifying but satisfying to your own spiritual lineage.
With the kids: Invite them to place an object on your altar or to create an altar of their own. If an altar isn’t your style, find some old photographs and sit down with your kids and tell them the story of who they are within the context of who came before them.
4.) Celebrate synchronicities. If you’ve been working with your dreams, grounding yourself in nature every day and expressing gratitude/asking for guidance from those who came before you, you will start to notice a flurry of synchronicities surrounding you. This is magic. It will happen even if you only do one of the aforementioned steps. Guidance comes in dreams and that same guidance is trying to get your attention during the day via synchronicities. Look for overlap between what you dream, what you’ve asked for guidance on and for what comes across your path during the day. I highly recommend keeping a small notebook in your purse or pocket to write down synchronistic events as they happen— they are slippery memories just like dreams! Keep an eye and ear out for snippets of conversation that sound like they are a message just for you. Synchronicities also like to come through random songs on the radio, license plate quips, book recommendations, headlines, etc. Start acting on/following synchronicities and they will increase!
With the kids: As I have already mentioned: synchronicities are magic. Kids love magic and encouraging their belief in magic will only serve to encourage their trust in their own intuition. Teach your kids about synchronicities, point them out and celebrate the magic that comes across your path. Again, you’re already going about your day; noticing, recording and acting on the synchronicities that are already trying to get your attention will add immense value and magic to your spiritual practice while only taking a few extra moments a day.
5.) Gratitude. No spiritual practice would be complete without gratitude. I personally like to make a list of five things I am grateful for in the mornings at the same time as I am writing down my dreams. However, evenings are also a great time to pause and reflect on the day and expressing gratitude for blessings of the day. It’s true that what we put our attention on grows, so it only makes sense to put a little extra focus on the good things in our life.
With the kids: Help your kids make a gratitude journal or keep a gratitude jar on the kitchen counter. Everyday encourage them to write down something they are grateful for in their journals or on a slip of paper to place in the jar. In a modern culture where instant gratification rules, teaching our children to slow down and appreciate what is already here is a priceless skill.
How do you balance motherhood and self-care/spirituality? How do you involve your kids? Tell us in the comments!
image: Holy Mother by Vanessa Michel
If you’re a strong dreamer you probably took one look at the 10 little lines reserved for dreams in DIVINA and thought “Oh hell no!” If you aren’t a strong dreamer, well, our aim is to make you one.
But here’s the thing: DIVINA isn’t just a dream journal. If it were then it would just be pages and pages of blank lines and I’m pretty sure that’s already been done. DIVINA is compendium— atool for recording, compiling and reflecting on your daily life. In addition to dreams you will be tracking your intuition, your intentions, your divination practice and more. For this reason, I suggest that you have an additional notebook on hand for recording your dreams (and get one of these pens with the fancy little light so you can record in the middle of the night! #poetanddon’tknowit). I use a red moleskin (and yes, that is a Jungian reference), though any notepad or notebook will do.
In the following steps, I will walk you through incorporating a DIVINA journal into your dream journal practice and highlight its advantages.
Step 1: Draft your dreams in your notebook
Keep it by your bedside and write your first draft of dreams in this book. Scribble them out first thing in the morning, make a bullet list to come back to, run and grab it when a dream slams back into your consciousness while you’re making avocado toast. Trust me, this happens.
Step 2: Use DIVINA as an index of dreams
Take a moment to transfer the strongest dream, or the dream(s) that you feel needs to be worked with, into your DIVINA journal. There are a few ways to do this:
- Give the dream(s) a title and a brief synopsis
- Make a simple bullet list of the main ideas or themes from the dream
- Give the dream a title and a quick note on how you felt when you woke up
- Transcribe the dream word-for-word and write down your initial interpretation.
It’s all up to you. Overtime you will find the flow that works best for you and your style, but this next part is key:
At the end of your DIVINA entry for the dream, cross reference to the notebook so that Future You can find the original and/or the other dreams from that night/time period, for context.
For example, on the outside of my red moleskin I wrote “Dreams Vol. 1” — if I had a dream that took four pages in my red moleskin, I would go to DIVINA and write the title, a few key points and perhaps a knee-jerk interpretation. Then I would write “ref: Dreams Vol. 1” at the end of my DIVINA entry. Someday when Future Me flips through DIVINA, I’ll have a much easier time navigating back to the original dream journal entry.
And yes, my next red moleskin will be titled “Dreams Vol. 2.”
Step 3: Use divination to work with your dream
Keep the dreams you chose to write in DIVINA in the back of your mind throughout the day or the next several days. See how they might be playing out in your waking life and be sure to track all of this in DIVINA along with the dream– write it under Magic That Happened Today, Divinations, or Other. Here are a few ways to use divination to work with your dream:
Cledonomancy– Divination through chance meetings or remarks
Did you overhear someone say an exact phrase you heard in your dream? Did you run into someone who was in your dream? What was the context of the meeting or overheard remark? What were you thinking about or feeling at that moment?
Kairomancy– Divination through synchronicty
Did your dream literally come true? Was the subject of your dream brought up by a friend? Did you break open a fortune cookie only to have the message be spot on about your dream?
Cartomancy– Divination through cards
Did you do a tarot reading that reflected the theme of the dream or gave more insight to the dream? Did you find a lone playing card on the sidewalk? Look up it’s traditional divination meaning. Did you find or receive a business card from someone who may apply to the dream?
As always, you can learn more about DIVINA, or buy your own copy, here.
image source: http://kameolynn.deviantart.com/