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Holidays

Secrets of Samhain and Shadow Work

This time of year, with Samhain, All Hallows Eve, and Dia de los Muertos, the veil between the worlds of the living and of the dead is at its thinnest. It’s a good time to release what is no longer serving us and protect the blessings that we want to hold onto. A simple protection spell is to write what you are grateful for on a piece of paper, place the paper in a jar and fill it with salt and herbs, like nettle for protection, and dill for a bit of good luck. You can seal the jar with black candle wax while whispering your intention into the smoke.

Samhain is the very end of the year in the Celtic Pagan tradition. It’s a time to reflect on how you have changed, to harvest and stow away for the future, and to release the old. Ancestors come to visit, and you can work on helping them heal from hardships they endured to move the family forward in this world. It is believed that the traumas of our anestors impact us today.

You can preserve your favorite summer treats and stock up your pantry. You can also have a releasing ceremony to release yourself from attachment to something that is no longer for you. You can clean and purify a space in your home that isn’t serving you. For a cleansing spell, boil herbs like clary sage, bay leaf, lemon balm and/or lavender. Let the water cool a bit, and then use it to mop your floors. Hum or sing a little chant while you do so!

Because Smahin is all about reflecting, moving forward and evolving, it is the ideal time of year to work with your shadow side. This is called shadow work, and it is about becoming well acquainted with your dark side. It’s about uncovering every part of you that has ever been silenced, shoved down, or rejected. It’s the parts of you that you sweep away to the corner of your mind, hoping they don’t turn back up again, at least not for awhile. It’s the you under the mask. It’s the expectations that you are obedient to. It might be hurt, scared, anxious or held hostage. Acknowledging the shadow self can be a rich source of emotion and self discovery, leading to deep healing. 

For me, this is an important time of year to soak up the sun and spend time in nature before the winter blues start to set in. I tend to get small bouts of seasonal depression when my world turns gray. It’s usually as Fall gives way to Winter and the clocks turn back. Then I adapt for a while and it creeps back in around March when I can’t bare the gray ground any longer. By getting to know the way my shadow side works, I’ve found ways to balance the blues. This is a very light-handed example. Shadow work is very personal and can run very deep.

This year, Samhain falls on a full blue moon, on a Saturday, the same day we turn the clocks back. Whether you have big plans or you’re staying in for the weekend, it’s going to be dense with energy, and emotions will be running high. It’s important to stay grounded and protect your energy. You can ground your energy by walking barefoot on the earth, mindfully sipping a hot beverage, or spending time in the sunshine. You can protect your energy by making sure you get enough sleep and water, meditating, taking a bubble bath (with some epsom salts), or getting a reiki treatment.

At dusk on November 1st, the veil will draw closed again. This is the precise moment when I am hosting an online Samhain ritual class, to help you ground and protect at the perfect time. We will send one last message across the veil before it closes, we will play a divination game using apples, and pull tarot cards for guidance. We will meditate and send reiki healing energy to the group. If you want to feel the magic of Samhain and learn some pretty cool stories, then join me! 

Astrology and Tarot, Holidays

How to celebrate Lammas and the Sturgeon Moon

The themes of the Sabbat and the full moon are really speaking to me this year. This weekend marks the beginning of the harvest season, and my garden is just about ready to burst forth with all sorts of veggies. I haven’t picked anything but herbs and lettuce yet, and now it’s time! My first tomato is turning red. My peppers re just big enough to pick. My turnips grew so fast, dewy purple bulbs are pushing up from the soil. The first green beans are as pretty plump. I’m planning a Sabbat dinner with some of these home grown goodies. For some top notch vegan recipes, sign up for the Arrow tarot newsletter here! I include seasonal recipes that I’m really digging.

Lammas and Lughnassadh Sabbat- August 1st

Lughnassadh is an ancient Gaelic festival to celebrate the beginning of harvest season. It falls on August 1st, and its a time to feast to break bread,and to grateful for the abundance of the earth. Some Pagan and Wiccan traditions celebrate Lammas, a very similar adaptation of the festival that falls on the same day. Sabbats fall at the half way point between solstices. It’s the height of summer, the heart of the season. celebrations honor the Son God, during his most sacred month. August is considered an auspicious month for handfasting and weddings.

The harvest is depicted as the Grain Mother.Like the vegetables in the garden that are ripe with seeds and abundance, the fullness of the mother holds at her very heart, the seed of all future harvests. The mother is pregnant not only with her daughter within her, but also her daughter’s ovaries, which contain all of the seed for all future generations. As the harvest is gathered, there is food to keep the community alive through winter.

The Full Sturgeon Moon – August 3rd

The names of moons were created by different Native American tribes, and are deeply tied to nature and the cycles of the year. The full moon in August (this Monday, the 3rd) is called the Sturgeon Moon because it was the time of year that it was easiest to catch these big, fresh water dwelling fish. They were abundant, a key resource for survival in the summer. Now, Sturgeons are extremely rare to find due to over fishing and habitat pollution. Some tribes call the August moon the green corn moon, the fruit moon, or the barley moon.

Ways to Celebrate

This weekend and into Monday, you can celebrate the spirit of the season in many different ways. You can find or make yourself a corn dolly, or a grain mother doll. They are made out of stalks of wheat, oats, barley, corn husks, whatever is available. Here’s a video on how to mak corn dollies. The doll is usually kept until Imbolc festivities. Made during Lammas, the corn dolly are believed to hold the spirit of the corn, and were burned or buried at Imbolc, to symbolize the retern of the corn spirit to the earth, thus ensuring fertility for the year ahead.

You can decorate with colorful Indian corn, wheat, red and orange flowers, like sunflowers and marigolds. This is a good time to set protective spells around your home. Create and bury near the entry way to your home: a witch’s bottle full of broken, sharp, pointy things, and a bit of urine (I know crazy – but a powerful protection spell!).

Have yourself a nice dinner on the night of Lammas or the full moon. It is traditional to have cornbread and seasonal vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers. You can make a dessert out of blackberries which are growing ripe and wild this time of year. Or perhapes have some blackberry wine, mead or beer.

This is a traitionl song that would be chanted at Sabbat dinner:

The Earth Mother grants the grain;

The horned God goes to His domain.

By giving life into Her grain;

the God dies, then is born again.

For this month, I invite you to work with Red Jasper, which resonated with the root chakrah. Red Jasper has been used for protection for thousands of years. It is believed to create and help balance aggressive, dynamic energy. A good yoga pose to embody these elements of the season is warrior three (Virabhadrasana III). One leg is extended back, long while the other roots down straight in support. Here’s a video of how to strike this pose. It stretches, the chest, shoulder, neck, belly and groin, complementing your work with red jasper. It clears energy from the crown to the tail. While holding the pose, I invite you try on the affirmation, “My strength is my foundation; my mind is limitless.”

I hope that you are growing full with the season and enjoying the warmth and bounty of the year. I know it hasn’t been an easy one for many of us. If you want to explore your own abundance, and capture the power of your spiritual harvest, I am here to create space and provide insight with tarot and coaching.

Astrology and Tarot

Eight of Swords

Helplessness · Apathy · Inhibitions

In the Eight of Swords, a woman is tied up, blindfolded, and trapped in a prison of swords. She’s exposed the raw elements, and the comforts of home are far off in the distance. Water is puddling around her feet, representing the wallowing in her own emotions. The sky is cloudy and gray, like her present state of mind.

But if we take a closer look, it is clear that there is no sword behind her, and her ties are not bound tight. She could easily escape by changing her perspective and pulling the blindfold off of this gloomy situation.

This card represents self imposed boundaries that keep us down when we have the power to free ourselves all along. When this card comes up in a reading, the person is usually feeling like a victim, and often for very valid reasons. Bad things happen that are out of our control. It takes a deep emotional response, filled with nasty introspection and vulnerability, to pull yourself out of victim mentality and take back your power. But you can do it! You are selling yourself short.

You are able to create your own opportunities and attract good fortune with your energy. Don’t be like the Eight of Swords and trap yourself in with unhealthy boundaries and an unfailing sense of impostor syndrome. Tell that nagging voice inside your head, the one that tells you can’t do it, or you’re not good enough, or not smart enough – to shut the heck up! I find it helpful to name your inner shame voice and address it directly. I call mine Frannie because “f*** off Frannie rolls right off the tongue.

Be careful making big decisions if you draw the Eight of Swords. It can mean that your way of thinking is limited because there is a perspective that you have not yet uncovered.

The number eight is a powerful symbol of infinity. It’s related to the constant flow of energy and power. It’s shadow side is overindulging in vices. If you draw this card in reverse, give your self a drama queen check and also watch those bad habits. Are you being a little extra lately? You know your vices! Don’t let them get the best of you.

The Eight Fold Path

Eight is a significant number in the Buddhist religion. Devotees of Buddha follow him in his practice of the Eight Fold Path. These are the dimensions of life that Buddha mastered in order to reach enlightenment.

I associate all of the Eights in the tarot deck with these teachings. The best way to shake that victim hood mentality is to get right in your own inner self and find your flow.

Have you every felt like everything was just clicking right into place? Things were coming together in your life in ways that could not just be coincidence? That is because you were in a state of flow. There are all different ways to raise your vibration, improve your happiness and your energy. Buddha is the master and there is much to be learned from his teachings.

Guided Meditation

Use this ten minute guided meditation to journey into the scene of the Eight of Swords and untangle yourself from your own self limiting thoughts and patterns. Bring a blindfold with you for this practice!

Uncategorized

Celebrating Buddha’s teachings on Dharma Day

The full moon in July (Sunday, July 5th) is Dharma Day, one of Theravada Buddhism’s most important festivals because it marks Buddah’s first sermon, when he gave five of his closest followers the doctrine that had come to him following enlightenment. This sermon was known as, “setting into motion the wheel of dhamma,” and it encapsulated the four noble truths. You will often see Buddha pictured with deer while he gives his teachings, because this sermon took place in the Deer Park at Sarnath.

The Four Noble Truths

  1. There is suffering
  2. Suffering is caused by craving
  3. There is a state beyond suffering
  4. The way to nirvana is via the eightfold path

The eightfold path centers around the right way to practice moral conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom in order to reach the end of suffering and the state beyond it.

Today, Dharma day is seen as a chance to express gratitude that the Buddah and other enlightened teachers have shared their knowledge with others. You can celebrate by reading from the Buddhist scriptures and reflecting deeply on their content.

My trip to Ajanta Caves, UNECSO World Heritage Site

On my pilgrimage to India earlier this year, I had the privilege of visiting The Ellora Caves and the Ajanta caves. Both caves had breathtaking architecture dedicated to Buddah; the Ellora Caves had a particularly rich history of Hindu religion, whereas Ajanta was focused solely on Buddhism. So, I’m sharing the Ajanta Caves story in honor of my connection with Buddah.

When I booked this pilgrimage to India, I was traveling alone and, to save a little money, I was going to share a room with someone who would be assigned to me on arrival. Of course I was nervous about sharing a room with a stranger in a foreign country, but I consulted my tarot deck and the reading reassured me that I had nothing to worry about. The deck was right, as always, and I had the best room mate ever! She is a healer, an elder, and a strong amazing woman from Belgium. We got along very well. And, on this day in particular, we split off from the larger group, we hired a driver, and we went off to explore Ajanta Caves all by ourselves. I was not so familiar with it, but my roomie had this on her bucket list for quite some time, and her excitement was contagious.

Stops on the way

On the way to the caves, about a three hour drive on mostly dirt roads, our driver gave us a tour and pointed out different places of worship, different types of farms, and he stopped for chai and a bathroom break. While we sipped our chai, the restaurant owner gave us tips for the best ways to see all the caves had to offer.

Back on the road, we passed by a cotton manufacturing site, and we were able to pull over and explore the scene! Hills of cotton, piled ten feet over my head, dotted the warehouses as far as I could see. It was fluffy, just like a cotton ball that you have a home, but it was damp and dirty, fresh picked from the elements. The employees and their families were all working together, piling the cotton high in big baskets, and putting them on their heads. They were quite heavy! I was laughed off for trying to pick one up by myself. It took three people to lift a basket, and one man to carry it, balanced on his head. We also had good fun flopping down into the piles for a rest.

Thirty Caves of Wonder

Arriving at Ajanta, you have to walk from the parking lot through a tent market and up to a shuttle bus, which drives you to the caves. Our driver was very popular for bringing tourists like us to the site every day. His friends shuffled us to the shuttle stop, and one gave me a piece of quartz, in the hope that I would bring my business to his shop for a souvenir after I was done exploring.

The shuttle climbs up and up, and then you purchase your ticket, and you climb up some more stairs. But, when you get to the top – oh what a site to see! Hand carved, ancient caves are built into the mountain side. Excavated between the 2nd century BCE and 480 CE in Aurangabad, the caves were carved into monasteries, where monks worshiped, studied, lived and worked. We explored every cave, all thirty of them. some of them were closed for maintenance, but my roomie talked us in. The men who worked on the temples were so proud to show us the preservation efforts, and so humble about their sacred work.

There was an educational display showing how the caves were restored. At the end of the 7th century, Buddhism began to decline and many shires fell into desolation and were abandoned. In 1819, the Ajanta site was accidentally discovered by British Army Officers while hunting for a tiger in the valley of Ajanta, named after an ancient village that was nestled nearby. The name Ajanta is actually a mystery. Some think the name was unearthed from a piece of pottery in the village. Others believe that Ajanta ws named after Ajitha, which in Buddhist philosophy, is the name of the future Buddah.

The caves are numbered 1 through 30 from east to west. Thanks to the advice from our new friend, we explored them in backwards order, from west to east so that we avoided long lines. Many tour groups and field trips were there. The children were so curious about us, and asked us many questions about where we lived. Their teacher promised to find our home towns on a map when they got back to the classroom.

I got to lay down where a Buddhist monk would sleep. A small room carved into the rock, with two slabs carved out at about knee height was all that they slept on, two to a room. During the dry months, they would often sleep outside sometimes traveling, but during the monsoon the caves kept them dry.

The carvings and the paintings in these caves were so breathtaking. Photos are never going to do it justice. There were fully preserved motifs across the ceilings and murals on every wall. Gorgeous statues and temples carved into solid rock with the finest details you can imagine. I am not sure if I blinked more than twice the whole day, just trying to take it all in.

In this place I felt so connected to Buddah’s teachings and his spirit. I did pick up a sleeping buddah and some crystals in the market on our way out to remember it by. On the long ride home, we stopped for aloo ghobi, saag paneer, and more chai of course from our new friend. We were sure to thank him for his insight. We had a full day!

Now, back home, during a pandemic, witnessing awful things happening in my country, I’m so blessed to hold this experience in my heart. I will celebrate Dharma day by meditating today, and taking a restful restorative yoga class. I’m planning to visit a local Buddhist Temple for Sunday service.

Astrology and Tarot

Shine On, Summer Solstice

The word “solstice” is from the Latin word Sol for ‘Sun’ and Sistere ‘to stand still’. June 21st is not only a new moon (learn more about the Buck Moon), but it’s also the summer solstice, the mid point of the year. It’s the longest day of the year; the latest sunset before the days start getting shorter again.

For us in the Northern Hemisphere, our land is bathed in light and warmth. It’s a time of joy and celebration. Yet, within this climax of the season, there’s a whisper that the darkness will return once again. So live it up! Enjoy it now.

Litha

In neo-pagan related traditions, this day is called Litha. God, as the Oak King, is bathed in abundance, as he surrenders his reign to his twin brother, the Holly King. So, before we welcome the return to the dark time of the year, we celebrate. Traditionally, people stayed up all night on Midsummer’s Eve to hail the sunrise. Bonfires were light on hill tops and at sacred places to honor the fullness of the sun all night. Trees near wells and fountains, where people would gather, were decorated with colored cloth.

Herbs, flowers and honey are flowing in abundance during this time of year. Any sort of tonics, new recipes or natural remedies you want to make will be potent. Summer Solstice is a time to fully open your heart. Experiment with nature by gardening, cooking, exploring. You can make a dandelion flower crown (directions here on Pinterest). I just invested in a new mortar and pestle and I am excited to break it in!

Litha blessings to you and yours. May your heart shine as bright as the sun.