Thursday, November 6, 2014

11/7/14—Clearing Energies

My smudging materials. There's a sage bundle at 12:00, a feather for
distributing the smoke, a sweetgrass braid and the bowls in the middle
are the incenses I prepared. To the left is the sage and palo santo. To the
right is sweetgrass and some other herbs. And the white at the bottom
is a charcoal tablet on top of salt. You sprinkle the incense on the
charcoal to burn it. You can just use the actual sage bundle and
not go through all this effort, but this is how I wanted it today. 
Today was a smudgy kind of day for me. If you don't know what smudging is, it's basically cleansing and purifying something with sacred smoke. I wrote a whole post about my process here. (I'll put a link in the comments for people reading on Facebook.)

I was waiting for the full moon at 5:22 to smudge. But seeing as how it was a rainy day here, I thought I'd save "the exact moment of moon fullness" to smudge the inside of my house and just pick any old dry time to smudge my property. All my efforts for a dry experience were thwarted though. 

First, though, I don't usually smudge my property. I usually just smudge inside the house. But for some reason, I kept feeling a need to do the entire property, including my cars, so I did it. The front yard went pretty well. But by the time I worked my around to the back yard, the rain had started. Then the sky opened up and dumped bucketsful of water on me. Which isn't good when you're trying to keep sage lit and burning.

I wasn't sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. The violence and suddenness with which the skies opened up made me feel as if something wanted me not to smudge the yard. Then again, I could think that the rain was helping to purify. Believing in signs and all sorts of mystical things can be confusing sometimes...haha. So I did go out and make another pass at the back yard when the rain stopped and that time the sun peeked out from behind a cloud, lighting up the reds and oranges of the neighborhood trees with godlike rays. That sign was not confusing at all. 

The break in the clouds that enabled me to smudge the back yard a second
time. It was really more dramatic than this, but I was smudging
and didn't take the pic until afterward.
But it got me thinking. It took the equivalent of two small sage bundles to smudge the back yard. Some energy out there was just eating it up. Sometimes you'll see the smoke do interesting drawn to a certain corner. Or, like when I smudged inside the house, it might get very smoky in areas where it's most needed. My back yard is what I consider to be my sacred space. I would have never suspected it of needing extra care, but it did. It devoured the second smudge bundle and there was just enough to cover the whole area. So I'm glad I decided to clear the property, too. 

If you said to me right now, "it's magical thinking to think a burning herb can clear negativity or bring positivity into your life," I wouldn't be able to disagree with you. There are many things I do and believe that I'm not 100% on and cannot explain. All I know is that they work. For me. Catholics use incense in ritual, Native Americans use it, Buddhists use it...they could probably all tell you what they feel the burning does. But you won't find proof of any of it. Yet. Right now, it's all just mysticism and belief...just like everything we believe without scientific proof. 

That said, the air is completely different inside my home now than it was this morning. And whether that's measurable or not doesn't matter. It's true for me. And because it's true for me, it actually HAS shifted the mood. And that's all that ritual is about...going through motions that make us feel more empowered, protected or whatever. You don't even need spirituality to have rituals. Your morning routine is a ritual. The nightly "checking of the door locks" is a ritual. They make us feel safe, grounded. And when they're done mindfully and with intent, they can have an even greater impact on our psyche. 

BTW, I didn't have to do this in conjunction with the moon, so if any of you are thinking you missed an opportunity, you didn't. Besides, the full moon energy, if you believe in such a thing, exists the day or two before and after the actual full moon. So you still have time. What are your spiritual rituals? When do you do them and why? And do you have any herbs that are sacred to your beliefs?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

11/3/14—Relanguaging Fears

I talk to myself. That probably doesn't surprise anyone who knows me. But I talk to myself the most when I'm having fears. 

Most of my fears are about fear of failure. Fear of screwing up really badly. Fears around money. Fears of the unknown. Fear of risk. Fear of illness. Even fear of success. None of these things are unusual. But I don't know how other people handle them. I only know what I do. 

I have created a practice around them. And that is that, when the fears come up, I have something prepared inside my head to make myself feel better and make the fears go away. I call it relanguaging, but it's really just talking myself out of the fear. 

The first part is the hardest, and that's becoming consciously aware that fear has taken hold and that your head is filling up with fearful thoughts. Sometimes people walk around filled with fear and they're not consciously aware. So the first step is to stop and recognize when you're feeling this fear. Then determine what you're afraid about. Then tell yourself one of your prepared things like a mantra until you replace the fear with confidence. 

So here are some of the things I might say to myself when I'm afraid:

--"The universe (or God) didn't lead you here to fail."
--"You've never come across anything in your life you couldn't handle, why would this be different?"
--"You've gained benefit from everything that's ever happened in your life. There's no reason why that shouldn't continue."
--"You are blessed and guided by love."
--"Everything is here to help you grow."
--"It's all good."

For difficult things, like fears of utter financial destruction, I have already worked out contingencies—Plan As, Plan Bs and other solutions. This calms the fears because the worst case scenarios are never as bad as I fear. 

Coming up with worst case scenarios is a valuable tool. I learned this back when I started freelancing. My worst case scenario then, for example, was "I get a job." Now, as horrific as that option might be, it is a reasonable worst-case scenario. The dramatic scenario would be "end up homeless and whoring my body for spare change." And if that's how you want to play it, I suppose you could. But for most of us, there are other more realistic options. Like getting another job, even if it doesn't pay as much. Or moving to a place where jobs are more plentiful. Or moving in with a relative. Or getting a roommate. Once you start considering all the options, you see how unlikely the fear of homeless whoring really is. 

You also see you have far more options than you think you have. When you don't think out all your options, then of course fear is going to have power over you. You haven't set up a defense against it. In my freelancing example, seeing as how I had just had a job, getting another wasn't as awful as it seemed. Which made me feel better. And which gave me my power and confidence back. The "big risk" of quitting my job (and I won't pretend it's not a big risk) shrunk in my imagination when I realized that failure would just land me right back where I started. Now, when you make the decision to go out on your own, that's a horrible outcome, but not insurmountable. 

Nothing that I can think that's worth having comes without a risk. And with risks, come fear. But you don't have to let that fear control you. Over the summer I did some thinking on some worst case scenarios with some fears I was facing and you know what I came up with? That my worst-case scenario was something that would force me to leave my safety zone and begin the part of my life I have been slowly moving toward for quite some time! I went from the internal fear of homeless whoring to the worst-case probability of living my dreams! All because I stopped to think of what would really happen. Sometimes our worst fears are just there to guide toward our dreams.