Love Yourself

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, which can be a complex emotional event for some. While I have read cynics speak of Valentine’s Day as a holiday created by Hallmark to sell more cards, the truth is far more complex. I have never really looked into the history of Valentine’s Day until right now, and it seems that there are a few different stories. It might have started as the Roman festival Lupercalia. This fertility celebration was held around the same time as Valentine’s Day is now and has the obvious fertility connection, but there is no proof beyond that of the connection (as far as I can tell). Saint Valentine himself didn’t seem to have many connections to romance, but he did have connections to Spring. Perhaps this is what led to the connection to romance in the 15th century. A bunch of seemingly innocuous events and a few nudges from card makers later, here we are with the big celebration of romance that is modern day Valentine’s Day.

I’m not here to talk history, though. Instead, I’ve been thinking of how to turn this whole Valentine’s Day into something that everyone can dip into, whether single or not. There are so many different types of love. Romantic love. Familial love. Divine love. Today, I want to focus on a type of love that many of us struggle with: Self love.

I’m not talking about a narcissistic obsession with self, but instead loving and accepting yourself. Josh and I both like to compare it to the love of your child. If you are a parent, you love your child. You want them to grow into their power and become the amazing person that they are meant to be. That doesn’t mean accepting bad behavior, selfishness, and cruelty. You see their weaknesses and try to help them grow out of those weaknesses. You also see all the amazing things that your child brings to the world and you do your best to nurture those amazing things.

If you can do that for your child, why can’t you also do that for yourself?

There are a lot of excuses for why, of course. Cultural baggage. Childhood baggage. Personal baggage. I know that it can be difficult. Sometimes, we need a little help.

To find a little support in this process, I have a suggestion. Why not try a little bit of natural magic?

I’m going to be upfront about this. While I have tested out many different amulet recipes to a whole range of successes and failures (aka learning experiences), I have not tested out this one. So, if you are up to a little experimentation, try this out with me. I’m going to lay out a very basic recipe to try out. Take it and play with it a little. If you work in a magical tradition, work that into it. If you have personal amulet making techniques that you like, try it out.

The first step is to pick a Friday to make this amulet. When making amulets, I try to keep moon cycles and astrological influences in mind. While it won’t make or break an amulet, it can be helpful to ride helpful energetic tides.  You can even do it the day after Valentine’s Day, if that sounds like something you want to try. Astrologically, it’s not a bad time to try it out. The moon is on the way to full in Cancer. Venus is hanging out in Capricorn. The astrological currents shouldn’t mess with the work.

When you are ready to make the amulet, you’ll need a red circle of cloth about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Make sure it’s made of natural fiber, such as cotton, wool, or silk. I find that material from plants or animals hold energy far better than synthetics. Draw the rune Mannaz on the outside of the to-be amulet. This rune means “man,” but it is also used to mean “self.”

The next step is to get a stone. I suggest getting a piece of rose quartz. It’s a nice stone that has a history of being used in works of love and the heart. While there are other stones that related to the heart and love, but this is a good one for gentle self love. As you place it there, tell the stone why you’re putting it in there. Tell it you are putting it there to be the heart of this self love amulet.

Now, for the herbs. When making these amulets, I like to use three herbs together. The first herb will not surprise anyone who has done any work for me. It’s my favorite green ally, lemon balm. I often refer to this plant as the rose quartz of herbs. It’s calming and great for the heart. As you add this herb, talk to it. Let it know that you are adding it to support your heart in love.

Next herb is rose. Rose petals are beautiful, and they are flowers of Venus. They are classic for love magic and this is no exception. If you can get pink rose petals, even better. As you add the petals, tell them you are adding them to love yourself with strength and balance.

The final herb to add is St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort has a long history as a medicine and magical herb, so it will be perfect for your amulet. As you add this herb, tell it that you are adding it to banish the negativity in your heart.

If you are a Reiki practitioner, you can write the Reiki symbol and the emotional healing symbol on a small piece of paper to put in the mix as well. If you aren’t a Reiki practitioner, don’t worry about it.

Gather the ends up, making a little bundle. Take a green string (again, natural fibers) and tie the bag shut. If you have a way you’d like to bless it, try it out! Extra work is not mandatory, though. You can call it good once you tie it shut. Keep the new amulet on your person. When you need a little more self love, put it to your heart. Focus on the energies of the amulet working with the energies of your heart center.  See how that feels for you.

If you’re crafty, you can also make a more complex bag. You can try sewing something together using red (or pink) fabric and green thread. You can get creative with its appearance with beads and tassels. You can turn it into a necklace that hangs perfectly at your heart. That part is up to you, your ambition, and your creativity.

Let me know if you decide to make one. Send me photos of your creation. I love to hear people’s experience in the work.

With that, I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day. May you feel deeply loved.


Be well


  • The Green Mountain Mage

Attunements and Cycles

The practice of Reiki has been on my mind recently, as I just finished teaching a Reiki 1 Workshop. It was a great class. Perfectly small (I had only two students). I had a lot of room to explore both the practice and energetic anatomy with participants. We also had a volunteer who was up for letting the students practice their newly learned skill.

The true magic of the class was the Reiki attunement. The attunement process is the heart of Reiki. It is the act of passing the energetic filter of Reiki to a student. While anyone had access to universal energy, only someone with a Reiki attunement can access the particular “energetic flavor” of Reiki (unless, of course, they receive said attunement through an event of illumination… but that’s pretty rare). When one is trained to be a Reiki Master, that person is taught the process of attunement, as well as how to begin to teach others the art of Reiki.

This weekend was the first time that I had taught Reiki 1 on my own. I had completed the attunement for people before, but it had been years. My Reiki practice is wildly different than what I was doing when I first began my Master class. I was intrigued to see how it would play out, and the Universe did not disappoint.

The first student to get the attunement had been to me before as  a client. I remember the first time that I had her on my table. I had dug into the layers of her aura and found past life trauma that needed a little fixing on her neck, as well as a few other routine things. When we were done, she looked a little stoned which (to me) signifies a good session.

What she had not told me was that she didn’t have her sense of smell. At least, most of it. She could smell a little, as I understood, but it was muted at best. She had been living with it for a very long time, and didn’t think to mention it. After a good night of post Reiki session sleep (the perfect time to let all the energy settle in), she awoke and decided to head out to the garden to get a little work in. Suddenly, she noticed a strong scent. She wildly tried to find where it was coming from, until she realized… it was her. She had been using essential oils for a long time and, due to a lack of smell, she never noticed how strong it was. She rushed inside and began to notice all of the other smells in her house. She could smell again.

It’s amazing what Reiki can surprise you with. While it certainly can’t fix a broken bone, it can support the body in its healing process. It can also help with body problems that are emotional or energetic in nature. It’s also damn relaxing.

Back to this past weekend’s Reiki 1 class. As I had said, this student had received Reiki before, so her body was already familiar with the energy. As I attuned her with Reiki, Reiki symbols, and body posture, I could feel her central energy channel open up. We both started to fill up with Reiki and our respective body temps shot up. I’ve mentioned before in other blog entries how Reiki gets pretty warm, and the attunements are no exception.

While that was magical to feel that attunement, it was the second student’s attunement that really grabbed my attention. This woman had never experienced Reiki before. Her body had yet to meet this flavor of energy work. As I drew the attuning energy into her, it was amazing! I could feel it make way for the flow, transforming her.

The idea that we, as humans, can pass on a lineage of energetic work is mind blowing to me. I think of different apostolic successions in priesthoods scattered across the world. There are orders who claim that they are passing a priestly blessing that originated with one of the apostles or saints, and this has always fascinated me. It is a difficult task to suss out if there is truth to that history, or the beginnings of the blessing are less ancient. I imagine that, should the lineage of blessing be old enough, it may not matter. The interesting thing about Reiki is that, as it started in the early 1900’s, we can follow the line of succession back to the founder, Mikao Usui. That is, if your teacher has the lineage traced out. My first Reiki teacher did. My second one did not. That doesn’t mean that my second teacher doesn’t have a connection to Usui, it just means that I need to continue my research.

It makes me think of ancestor veneration. In a way, Dr. Usui is connected to me through this lineage. While he is not the source of Reiki, he is the person who taught people about it. That makes him a sort of gatekeeper to the energy. Not only does the idea of being a bearer of his lineage fascinate me, the idea that I’m passing his lineage on to others further intrigues me.

As the class continued, we began to go over auric layers and chakras. I had the students learn what these felt like on them. When one of my students reached for her heart chakra, her mouth gaped open. She could feel it. That moment made me a little teary eyed, as ridiculous as that sounds. It was like watching someone regain a sense that they lost. It was this magical moment of reconnection that I was so honored to witness.

I’m sure it helped that both ladies were naturals. They both took to the work like a fish in water. Their hands put out a lot of energy. The friend we pulled in for free Reiki could feel it pouring off them. They were open to the energy and it showed in the heat rolling off their palms. While I’d love to take credit for their skill, the credit definitely belonged to them. I was just the guidepost.

In the moments of watching them work, I felt as if I had completed a cycle. I remember when I was first unofficially attuned in 2005 by a couple of friends in a lean to out in the woods of Craftsbury, VT. It was nothing professional, and they wanted to try out their attunement practice. Two official teachers, lots of classes, and a lot of experience in other modalities later, here I was part of continuing a lineage started over a hundred years ago on Mt Kurama in Japan. It was humbling and beautiful.


Hope everyone is staying warm.


Until next time


  • The Green Mountain Mage

Facing Silence

It’s risen into the low thirties today in Northern Vermont and, as it’s been below zero for a bit, it’s a welcome reprieve. Welcome even if it ends in the snowstorm that’s raging outside my window right now. As I walked my dogs in the sudden glut of fat snowflakes, I relished the insulated, quiet nature of the snow that filled the air. There was a stillness that I could appreciate, a silence that comes with living deep in the woods in the midst of winter.

There’s a magic in that silence, one that I remember hating in my younger years. My strongest memories of my discomfort with silence was at dusk and dawn. This was a perplexing thing for me. All the books that I had read talked about the magic of the in-between times like dawn and dusk. These books spoke over and over again about how these were powerful times. I would sit, trying to listen to the magic. All I felt, though, was silence. And this silence unnerved me.

True silence would be too much like nothing for me. It made room for existential dread to creep in, because there was no distraction. There was just nothing, and that scared me. Little did I know that this silence I feared was a big step into being a person of power.

This fear of silence was something that I flirted with facing for years. It was a clawing thing at the back of my mind, something that was always waiting to come face to face with me. I would distract myself with whatever I could, but it was always there waiting for me. So, one day, I faced it.

I don’t mean to make it sound like a courageous thing. I’m not sure it was. It was more an insidious necessity. A gnawing need. There would always be an end to distraction, but this silence would always be patiently hiding in the shadows. It was when I stopped and forced myself to face it that things began to change.

First, it was difficult. There wasn’t anything to stop my brain to going to dark places. I began to question meaning in the world and in my life. It only went farther into morbidity, as I saw underneath all of this a fear of death and the unknown. I wanted to turn away. I wanted easy answers. There were none to be had. Just silence and me sitting with my fears.

I had always thought that it would be clear, definitive answers that would help me get rid of my fear of silence and nothingness. I was wrong. It was facing my fears and sitting with them that changed it all. It was letting that silence fill me and letting go that broke me and put me together again. In the midst of that silence, I realized something.

Silence is not an end. It is a beginning.

That is why dawn and dusk have power. They make the silence so you can create the sound. Their silence makes room for the song change from day to night, or night to day.

And we all create some sort of sound. We all carry a note, a song as our very molecules vibrate us into existence. Here we all are, each given this moment to weave our stories by merely being. In this silence, layers of illusion fall away and we can glimpse at the spark of life that we all carry. The spark of Divinity that connects us to something bigger than ourselves. In this silence, we are reminded to stand our ground and be present the best we can be. In this silence, we acknowledge the same light that we carry burns brightly in all other living things. They all carry their own song, too. Your very existence is weaving notes into the ecological orchestra playing around you, and that is magical.

Winter makes me think about this silence. Perhaps it’s the sleeping life around me. The notes of the forest are quieter. Maybe it’s the sound insulation of all the snow. Maybe it’s that want to bundle up and hibernate through winter. Maybe it’s all of this.

Doesn’t matter, I guess. I will take my time to embrace this seasonal silence. I encourage you to do the same.


Until next time


  • The Green Mountain Mage

Fighting Off Colds

It’s official. I’ve caught the head cold my husband had a few days ago. I had thought that I had dodged it, but no. To make matters worse, I could have been more proactive in preventing this. One of the worst parts of being an herbalist is knowing what plants I could have used to bolster my immune system effectively. There are dosages of tinctures and teas that I should have been downing the moment I knew that Josh my husband was sick.

So, instead, dear reader, learn from my mistakes. Colds are going around. Winter is a time for close quarters and the inevitable sharing of bugs the kids picked up from school. Make friends with a few immune boosting herbs at the first sign of a spreading cough. It could save a few sick days.

Reishi

Ganoderma lucidum (or tsugae)

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Reishi is a mushroom with a long history of medicinal use. Chinese medicine has used it for millenia. It boasts a long list of medicinal qualities such as helping with asthma, reducing stress, and improved cognitive function. The main ability that is specific to this blog entry is its immune boosting properties.

Around my parts, we have a relative of the Chinese Reishi. Its common name is rather plain: Hemlock Varnish Shelf Mushroom. Anyone who knows the scientific name (Ganoderma tsugae) would recognize that it shares the Ganoderma genus with Reishi. Once one sees it, the relation is undeniable. They are amazingly similar in their unique look. They are also used interchangeably medicinally.

I remember the excitement I had when I found my first Reishi. I was wandering around the property lines of the forest below my house. As I followed where the growing forest of my property met the clear cut forest of the neighboring property, I felt a pull to head a little farther into my woods. Soon, I came upon an old hemlock stump about five feet tall. There, red waxy shelf mushrooms caught my eye. The strange way that they grew out was unmistakable.

Reishi!

I was so excited. I took photos and shared with fellow herb nerds. I had found what has been called the “king of the mushrooms.” The mushrooms were passed, but I knew I had to mark this spot to revisit it later in the year to see if new ones grew. I did my best to mark my return path with fallen birch. Unfortunately, not well enough. I never found that stump again.

It would take me awhile to find a new Reishi patch, but this year was certainly my year. Not only was I pointed to a spot with heavy Reishi production 15 minutes away, I also found a spot a few hundred feet from my house.

The downside to Reishi? The taste! I would imagine this is what dusty feet would taste like (its smell is pretty similar). Once you get past the taste (and, in my experience, one usually does), it’s an amazing immune support herb.

Chaga

Inonotus obliquus

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This mushroom is an easy one to identify. To start with, it doesn’t really look like a mushroom. When you come across this mushroom in the woods, it looks like a strange burnt growth off the side of a birch. Should you break into this blackened lump, the woody flesh will be surprisingly bright and golden.

This is another one with a litany of medicinal uses, amongst them being immune support. This parasitic fungi that prefers birches and the brutal cold is a slow grower found in northern places like Russia… and northern Vermont. I have a few spots that I am slowly harvesting from in my woods. The taste is far more pleasant than Reishi. We used to make a morning Chaga decoction. We would take smashed Chaga, put it in a saucepan full of water, and let it sit on the stove at a heat below a simmer. There would be steam and water evaporation, but no bubbling. After leaving that for a bit (a half an hour to an hour), we would strain some and drink. Its dark earthy flavor would be a great way to start the morning. With the busy months that we’ve had, though, we haven’t had the time to break up the most recent Chaga harvest for use.

Hence us getting sick.


Echinacea

Echinacea purpurea

You didn’t think that I would forget about Echinacea, did you?

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This North American native has been the darling of modern herbalists for a while. With research showing Echinacea root leading to an increase in white blood cell activity, it’s no wonder it’s often suggested as a way to prevent getting sick. Rosemary Gladstar has a fantastic recipe in her book “Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide” for a whole plant tincture of the plant that involves making different medicinal extracts from different parts of the plant at different parts of the year, and its formulation strikes me as magical as it is medicinal. It is an interesting process of really working with the cycle of the plant and it is on my list of projects for 2019. Due to the way that it boosts your immune system, it is suggested that this is not an herb to use daily extensively. Use it up to 8 weeks before giving it a break. Let your immune system stand on its own for a bit.



Another fantastic way to fight off the bugs going around is Fire Cider. You can read all about that in a past blog entry linked here.

And now it’s time for me to tango with one of the best remedies for colds: Sleep! I wish you a good night, and a fantastic New Year.



Until next time

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Sacred Songs

With Christmas just around the corner, everyone seems to be in the midst of the holiday spirit. Folks are finishing their present buying, finishing their decorations, and rocking out to Christmas tunes. As I was in the store getting distracted from unpacking a new rock shipment, I came upon this video in my Facebook feed.

For those readers who are hesitant to click links, it’s a video of a woman singing “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” in a beautiful church in Spain. The way her voice sounds in the church is amazing and, if you’re brain processes this video close to the same way mine did, hearing it will give you chills. There is a sacred feel in this song for me.

Why, though?

It’s not the lyrics (or just the lyrics). I can think of quite a few hymns that my parent’s church would sing that didn’t give me that feel of sacredness. They didn’t necessarily create that electric feel in the room, that stillness that I associate with the sacred.

“O Come Emmanuel” is actually an older song. The oldest version of the tune was found in old church manuscripts from the 15th Century, while the original Latin lyrics were found in manuscripts from the 12th century. As a singular choral piece, I find that the song has a certain magical quality that can be lost in our sing-songy version that carolling folk sing this time of year.

This brings me to something that I’ve been mentally toying with for a while. What makes a song sound sacred?

The song itself was made with the Divine in mind. It was crafted by the Catholic church for the clergy to connect the congregation to a feeling of the Divine. I think that when it’s sung in its original Ecclesiastical Latin it adds to the magic. Latin being the language of the Catholic Church for centuries gives it certain gravitas, a kind of astral groove. It has also seeped into our culture as something magical (any scary secret ritual in movies always seems to have a little Latin in it).

In the videos of both the woman in the Spanish church and the choral monks(?) in Switzerland, part of the sacred feel is certainly the space. Those old churches was built to carry voices, and that doesn’t even begin to touch on the sacred nature of a place of worship.

There is also the lyrics itself, which are certainly another piece to it. It calls out to the singer’s understanding of God and to hope in the context of Christianity. Even when it’s sang in Latin, though, I feel that sacred nature.

This leads me to believe that a strong part of the sacred nature is in the actual music composition. Perhaps there is a science behind this? Being only an amateur musician, I don’t have quite the understanding of the complexities of music to put my finger on the structural framework that lends a song sacred nature.

So, in the spirit of exploration, I want to share some sacred music with you. See what you think. I want to hear about how these songs not only made you feel, but how it made the room around you feel. A sacred song creates sacred space outside of your mental associations and memories attached to the music. If you listened to the past two songs with headphones, try them again on speakers. Only noticing how they make you feel keeps you in the frame of your memories and any associations your brain makes with the music. I want you to feel the energy in the room. Has it shifted? If it’s changed, how has it changed?

The next song I want to share is by Hildegard Von Bingham, a fascinating Christian mystic and herbalist from the early 1100’s. Though she had no formal musical training, she composed 69 liturgical songs. I often play her music as a way of calming and clearing our store before we open. While I think it’s beautiful, it might not make the best background music for the store.

Music and Visions by Hildegard Von Bingham

Christians are clearly not the only people to have figured out sacred music. Exploring the different flavors of sacred music and what it does the space it plays in is a fascinating hobby. This song is sung by Pomo Medicine Man Lorin Smith, a man I was lucky enough to have met at a weekend workshop years ago. At the workshop, he shared a power song. It would have fit well in this blog along with “Oh Come Emmanuel” as it was a song about calling for a healer to come. While I had found a recording of the song once on YouTube, I have yet to rediscover it. So, instead, I share a recording of another song of his. Please ignore the cheesy jaguar sound the creator of this video decided to throw in. Do you notice how the feeling of the space around you is similar, yet different than the other songs?

Medicine Song by Lorin Smith

I was introduced to this next song in a World Religion class in college. The teacher was a Gregorian Chant enthusiast who had just returned from living at a monastery, studying the music. He made a CD or two of sacred music for me to explore and this was one of the songs on that CD. You’ll notice that, while this song certainly is all about connecting to the sacred, it is entirely different than the church songs. This song uses a call back repetitive chant style that slowly builds as the song progresses. This is a song of ecstacy, one that is designed to reach Divinity through losing yourself in the building beat.

Om Namah Shivaya - By Krishna Das

As I try and explore what musically ties them together, there is one thing that pops out to me. They all have strong vocals. They are meant to be sung. Breath and voice are so important in old magical practices and culture, maybe that is part of it. Chi and prana, both words used to describe energy, are linguistically connected to breath and air. Even the Bible begins “In the beginning was the Word…” Is the power in the music or in the voice?

I guess it’s all something to think about. What do you think? Are there any songs that you use to help set sacred space? Are there Christmas songs that make you feel closer to the Divine?

Always exploring the magic and the connections

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Problematic Ghosts

The work that we do is personal and, sometimes, it can be difficult to know what to share. While the easier option is simply not to talk about it, there are times to be vulnerable and honest as well.

These thoughts are going through my head as I weigh how open I want to be when talking about how my trip to New Orleans reminded me of the importance of ancestor work.

If you hadn’t caught Josh’s blog entry on our trip, check it out here. It’s a good assessment of the vibe of New Orleans and why we enjoyed it so much. We didn’t start our trip there, though. First, we visited Josh’s cousin who lived 2 hours north of the city. While Josh and his cousin were off to pick up a rental car, I found myself with a little time to myself. I wandered around town, checking out the plants that I know as houseplants happily growing wild in front of abandoned buildings. I’m ecstatic as I identify orange trees and rosemary. There were plants there that wouldn’t survive the winter in my northern garden and my plant geekery was in full display.

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I rounded a corner to come face to face with a cemetery. The cemeteries there are visually very different, with the groundwater being so close to the surface. Instead of simple gravestones, there were concrete caskets that rose from the graveyard ground like a strange miniature city of the dead. I approached the graveyard, following the twisted sidewalk across from a trailer park where a BBQ was in the works. Passing through the gates of the graveyard with the background sounds of community and zydeco music struck me as rather surreal.

Then, I was distracted by the ghosts.

I don’t have the skills of clear communication with the dead like Josh does, but I can still feel them. And they were there. And some of them were loud. I could feel my brain kind of switch into a light trance as I walked amongst the graves. The cemeteries up North don’t feel like this! Is it because the bodies are above ground and not allowed to rest and decompose in the ground, I thought? After a little wandering, I had to sit down. My head was swimming and I was feeling spirits tugging at me, but I wasn’t getting any clear information. Eventually I stumbled out and tried to walk off the energy high that I was riding.

Fast forward a few days. Josh and I are exploring Charity Hospital Cemetery. If you’ve read Josh’s blog entry, you already know the deal. As we wandered through the central part of the cemetery, the two parts of the cemeteries on the sides called me. I could feel the loud spirits there. This time I was prepared, though. I made offerings of tobacco to the spirits where it felt the most intense (though I later learned that the traditional offering to spirits down there was coins). Some were just loud. Some were in some sort of spiritual pain. Things were certainly more complex than what I was used to. I was also certain that this had connection to what some of the living folks in the area, and how they were interacting with these spirits.

Inspired to learn a little more about the magical traditions of the area, we found a little bit of literature on the subjects of Hoodoo, Conjure, and Voudoun. What I learned that the flavor of practice in New Orleans is certainly a mixed bag of old Haitian religion, folk magic, and Catholicism. Oh, and ancestor worship along with working magic in cemeteries. While there are plenty of folks out there practicing their tradition to heal and bring balance, it certainly isn’t everyone. That was part of what Josh and I were feeling. There are those that work with spirits, and there are those that take advantage of the dead in a predatory way. As Josh said as we left the cemetery “I love this city, but I wouldn’t want to be buried here.”

It was the thought of the power of the dead over our living world that played in my mind as we flew home. I poured through the books that we had purchased, thinking about both how the dead affected us, as well as our ancestors.

Ancestors play a large role in many spiritual traditions. As Josh likes to say, it took many loves to get us where we are. We are a mash up of genetics and the environment that our parents and extended family created for us to grow up in. So many cultures make room in their lives for their dead. The fact that we don’t as Americans correlates well with our issues with death and the dead. That’s a whole other blog entry, though.

As I read about yet another tradition that dealt with honoring ancestors, I wiggled in my seat in unease. For the longest time, I’ve been dodging that work, instead sticking to the living and spirits of nature. Something began to become clear in my head. Ancestor work needs to be part of my practice.

And I didn’t want to.

I tried to do a little work with my ancestors before. At first, I had a bunch of excuses to skip that work. But it boiled down to one excuse, and it was a good one.

I had a relative who had created a whole lot of trauma for a young me standing in the way.

I remember the day that he had died. That night was, interestingly enough, a lunar eclipse. I was at a friend’s house with a whole group of people when I found out, probably 19 or 20. When I hung up the phone, I processed the information. The man who had abused me in my preteen years sending me in a spiral of self destructive behavior throughout my teens had died. I wasn’t much of a ceremonialist at that time, but I do remember what eventually popped up in my mind.

“Well, fuck, I don’t want him haunting me.”

So, I knew I needed to do some sort of ceremony to release all of the trauma that I had been holding in. I don’t remember the details of the ceremony that night he died. I just remember lighting a candle, squatting in a driveway between a car and a wild garden as the moon slowly disappeared. I told him that I wanted him to move on, I would forgive best I could, and wanted healing for his spirit. While he had done terrible things to me, I recognized that he was a product of bad experience himself. He was passing trauma and grief onto me back then, but I was going to be the end of that cycle of pain.

It was a strong ceremony for me, but the healing of the wounds that he had created would still be part of my future shamanic work. It is something that is now a source of strength that I can draw on, no matter how messed up the situation was that brought the strength into the world. I would do work to continue healing, but I didn’t want to do ancestor work. He was there, and I’d rather not pull that energy into my life.

It was about a month before our New Orleans trip that I would be made aware that it wasn’t much of a choice. I have a friend who also does medium work. We decided to do a little work trade. She gets a little Reiki, I get a little reading. When she arrived at the studio, she was ready to go. She had a ghost who was ready to talk. As she described him, I’m sure my face turned a little pale. She was describing him. And he was there, feeling sorrow for what he had done. He was still there, looking for some sort of absolution.

He was still there on the plane as I looked at my ancestors in my mind. I could feel the nudge of my Guides as realization came upon me. Moving beyond the trauma of childhood abuse is one thing. I have more work as a shaman, though. I have to figure out how to heal the line of trauma. I have to do healing work for my abuser so I can properly connect to my ancestral line.

And, to be honest, that’s pretty shitty.

It’s at moments like this that I am reminded how full of shit the outlook of spiritual work being all love and light is. It can bring healing and balance, but to do that, there’s a lot of unpleasantness that you have to wade through. Sometimes, that might even mean taking on a deceased client who has done you wrong. It’s time to put this ghost to rest through ceremony and journeywork, so he can find healing and I can move past him to grow as a healer.

And these are my thoughts on ghosts that I have been tackling since New Orleans. I think that it’s good to share these struggles, as it shows a side to this work that you might not necessarily see. Thank you for taking this literary journey with me.




Be well

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Braids and Gratitude

As we get ready for Thanksgiving here in the states, I find this a great time to reflect on gratitude. I have a lot to be grateful for, and I try to express that the best I can to my loved ones and to the spirits that have my back in my practice and my day to day life. It’s good to take the time to step back and appreciate all that goes into us being here. Our food system keeps us fed. Our local water source keeps us hydrated. The land we live on supports us and gives us shelter. Our ancestors and their history of love and life led to us being here.

My teacher Adhi Two Owls was up here in the Northeast this past weekend, and she talked a bit about gratitude and offerings to spirit. She told me the story of when her teachers made her make braids for everyone she knew. This was to find the gratitude for what they had taught her, good and bad. She was to then give these prayer braids to them.

This simple act of cultivating gratitude while practicing both using repetitive motion to induce a different state of mind and moving energy into something you are creating is a practice that has intrigued me since Adhi first introduced me to it. It reminded me of the knot magic I had read about (a similar act of folk magic). As I played around with it, I could see the energy that I would weave into these braids. I made a few for those I knew, braiding in prayers and love into them so I could give my friends a simple, but loving gift.

That’s the easy part of the practice, though, isn’t it?

The practice is to give it to everyone you know, not just everyone you like. It can be difficult to honor the gifts that people you dislike have given you, the lessons that they have taught. That part I’m still working on. It’s easy to find gratitude for those you love. Less so when they are someone you don’t.

If you want to try making prayer braids to honor those in your life, it’s pretty easy. Find something to braid that is made from natural fibers. Wool, cotton, silk, etc. Not only do these materials hold energy well, you are also working with the plant or animal that it comes from. It’s already imbued with their energy, so, if you have a choice, you can choose what kind of vibes you want to start with. Sometimes, though, what you have on hand is what you have. I have a big bag of embroidery thread. When I’m making a braid for someone, I sit with the colors and try to feel out the appropriate ones. I know, it seems like a lot of thought to put into a simple braid, but that’s part of the magic. Once you’re set with colors, braid. Think of the gratitude you feel towards the person you’re making the braid for. I like to imagine that I’m braiding in Reiki symbols or Runes that would help the person, making the braid a sort of amulet. Once you’re done, tie it off and give it away.

This seemingly simple thing has a few bigger applications. Those who have taken my amulet class know that I use these braids in my amulet making process. If you’ve ever seen my drum, you’ll see a whole bunch of different braids hanging from it. Each of those braids represent someone important to me. When I use my drum in healing work, I imagine that those who I have made a braid for receive some of that healing. It connects me to my family, and my ancestors. Sometimes, I braid in certain elements that I want to bring into my life. Bravery. Compassion. Things like that. Then, I wear the braid until it falls off.

The tactile beat of braiding might also become one of your favorite ways to find a light trance (getting those brain waves to Theta). I get lost in the movement. This is a moment where you can be open to receiving information, or to be a better conduit for healing energy. For someone who loves using his hands in his work, it’s a favorite of mine.

So, I challenge you this week to make a few braids for those who you are grateful for. If you’re into watching the big football game, it’s an easy thing to do with your hands. If you want to really make space and focus on what you’re doing, it’s a great way to find some down time while you digest your big Thanksgiving meal. Give someone a little love and gratitude, even if you can only tell them that you made a bracelet for them, or something like that.

I am grateful to you, reader. Thanks for taking a moment with me. May your Thanksgiving be filled with food and loved ones.

Until next time

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Adventures in Burning and Smelling

What’s the first thing that you think of when you hear the word “incense?” Do you think of the 90s? Do you think of hippies trying to cover up the smell of pot? Even when I was a kid, it’s always made me think of magic (and the other ones as well). There was something mystical in the way that the smoke rose from that burning incense stick and there were some base smells in most of the different incenses that really called to me.

It makes sense that incense would have a sense of magic in our collective consciousness. Using the smoke of fragrant plant matter in ceremony is an old practice. It even made its way into the early Old Testament (Exodus 30:1-10, 30:34-38), though the practice is older than that. It was used in acts of purification and offering. The Catholic Church still uses incense in its Mass. They use an older method of incense, one which I want to talk about today.

Incense in the form of sticks originated in India and China. Before that, folks had to throw their odorous plant matter on coals to release the pleasant smelling smoke. This practice carried over in magical and religious traditions outside of the far East. Even now, making your own incense blend to burn in a heat proof bowl with a glowing ember is an effective method to add to one’s magical and/or religious practice.

A photo of frankincense courtesy of a Google search

A photo of frankincense courtesy of a Google search

Let’s use the incense that the Catholic Church uses as an example. The recipe, as found in John Michael Greer’s book “The Encyclopedia of Natural Magic” is ten parts frankincense, four parts benzoin, and one part styrax. Frankincense is a solid priestly resin, used in blessing and purification for thousands of years (if you checked those Bible verses I mentioned earlier, you’ll see that they mention frankincense… seriously, this plant resin has history). Benzoin has a history of use in purification and protection. Styrax is both botanically and magically related the benzoin. All three have very solar energies, so they work together very well.

Knowing the energies of the plant material in the incense mix is the first step in its magic. While having a pleasant smell is rather nice, it’s more important that the herb’s energies work together well. Having conflicting energies in the plants would be counterproductive. Having their energies work well with whatever you’re trying to accomplish is also super important. While solar energy is generally useful in magical practices, I wouldn’t necessarily choose them for a water ceremony. Not that it would be seriously counterproductive. It would bless, purify, and protect. It just wouldn’t be helpful beyond those purposes.

To use these plant resins, one would take this mix and grind it in a mortar and pestle. Here is the second step in the magic. You could grind it up in a coffee grinder. That would certainly be easier. Doing it by hand gives you a chance to imbue it with intention. You could even take the next step and imbue it with prayer (super appropriate for this specific mix). You could sing into the mix. You could even use the pestle as a sort of wand and use it to direct your energy into the mix. There is a lot of room to imbue an incense with more power at this point, so that’s why I suggest waiting to powder your incense mix until right before you use it. If you’re extra ambitious, you can work with what’s happening astrologically that day for both the grinding of the incense and the ceremony work.

Charcoal discs, also from Google images

Charcoal discs, also from Google images

Now, for the moment you’ve been waiting for. The burning of the incense. At this point you have to acquire a self-starting charcoal. The easiest to find are the disks made for hookahs. They’re soaked in salt peter, and begin to hold an ember when you light it on fire. We carry some in our store, and a disk of the kind that we carry lasts for about an hour. There are bowls designed for the heat of a burning charcoal disk (which we also sell), but a bowl filled with sand or salt will do in a pinch. Once you light your charcoal disk and place it in its heat resistant spot, sprinkle away with your powder. In the situation of a ceremony, you’ll want a mound that it will slowly burn through. Once you have enough ash that there is a layer between the charcoal and the mix, you’ll have to clear a little away.

Some mixes are considered spells by themselves. Scott Cunningham mentions a mix he would burn around his house to deter break-ins. I don’t know how effective that was, or if there’s a way to even determine it, but it seems that it helped. Josh and I mixed up a blend to encourage the beloved dead to work with him in his medium work. We mixed Copal, Myrrh, Vervain, and Tansy. It had a good feel and Josh did great medium work. While it was mostly his talents as a medium, the blend acted as an invitation to the beloved dead that he was reaching out to as well as protection from any parasitic spirits.

There are a lot of great recipes out there. Scott Cunningham has a few books with quite the selection of recipes. Try some out (using herbs you know are SAFE to burn in your space). It’s a fun exercise in the correlations between smell and vibes.

Happy adventures in smelling and burning

Until next time

  • The Green Mountain Mage

A Story Of Invasive Spirits

I sat down on the couch in the living room, talking to a client that we’ve worked with for a while now. It was her house that we sat in talking as her son played on the computer close by. He doesn’t speak much in general, and today is no exception. As we talk, I point my senses in the direction of why I’m there.

Her son’s room.

She had been having a rough couple of months, so life was already in upheaval. So, when her son stopped sleeping in his room, it didn’t much help. She tried to let him sleep there as she moved to his bed to get a little sleep herself. That didn’t last long, though. She woke up in a cold sweat, disorientated and afraid. She tried to finish the night on the couch. This pattern continued for a month or so. Her son would take over her room, refusing to sleep in his room. As I said, he doesn’t talk too much, so he could only share so much about why. She would be forced to stick to the couch. She tried her son’s room a few times, but it always ended up the same.

She wasn’t sure what was happening, she just knew that something was wrong. She gave it a little time to see if it would fix itself, but it didn’t. With life stress and health issues happening in both the lives of her and her son, mixed up sleeping arrangements didn’t make it to the top of the list of important things. Eventually, though, enough was enough.

Being the strong, self sufficient woman that she is, it took her awhile to mention it to us. It took even longer for her to let me stop by and see if I could do something about it. There was a chance that I might not be able to do anything, or the problem might not be something related to spirit work. I was free and in the area that day, though, so there was no harm in me trying.

I get the hesitation. She mentioned a few times “You probably think I’m crazy.” When entering a clearing situation, it is true that I have to be aware that sometimes it isn’t the space at all. Sometimes, it’s the people. Sometimes, it’s a personal issue, or a chemical imbalance in the brain. In this case, though, I wasn’t too worried. As I said, we had worked with this woman before. She certainly has a healthy skepticism and a no bullshit attitude that I really appreciate. Going into this situation, I was pretty sure that whatever the problem was, it wasn’t in her head.

As I sat there on the couch talking to her, I could feel the energy of the room. Something was definitely off. I wasn’t getting much more of an impression. Maybe there was something conscious there? Or perhaps it was just psychic gunk that had accumulated there. It didn’t much matter from that point. This was something in the realm that I work in and there was a possibility that I could help.

I broke out a candle and my smudge stick. I made a joke about how the neighbors would smell the herb blend and think that she was smoking pot as I gathered a bowl of water and salt. When I started to mutter over the salt and water while drawing signs in the air, she gave me a little bit of an odd look, but she let me do my thing. I appreciated that. It was the first time that I had done an energetic room cleaning in front of someone who wasn’t Josh. The flame of the candle was a little extra energy as I blessed, mixed, and consecrated the salt and water. Starting in her bedroom, I began to sprinkle the mixture in the six directions as I prayed a clearing prayer.

I use this often in our studio space and it works pretty well there. This was also the first time I had used this in a space that wasn’t mine. I could feel the minor psychic dirt release and dissipate as I went from room to room. The last room was her son’s.

I could feel the energy change as I entered the room. Whatever was there seemed to be comfortable there. My best guess is that it was a parasitic energy feeding on the health issues or the energy that arose from the rough hand they had been dealt as a family recently. Whether is was a person at one time or not, I don’t know. Whatever it was, it was something outside of them. It was not something that was in the heads of the son and mother. It was separate from them.

I continued my water sprinkling. I actually went through the room and the adjoining bathroom twice. The water starts clearing right away, but it takes a bit for it to fully do what it does. That always makes me a little jumpy. I then walked back to the kitchen where the candle and smudge stick waited for me. It was one of my homemade smudges, using Sweetfern, Cedar, and Mugwort harvested from the surrounding area. I use it in my work all the time. I took the candle with me as I circled around the inside of each room and then offered smoke East, South, West, North, Above, and Below. Once I had reached the son’s room, I could feel the water was doing its job. The smudge helps it and sort of seals it. I like how they work together.

Doing this sort of work can be difficult. I have to rely on my energetic senses and trust my intuition, Spirits, and my tools. As I left the house, I had a list of backup plans I could try if there was still an issue, as well as other folks that I could contact if it ended up being something that I couldn’t handle. My inner skeptic is always ready, it seems, to jump on the self doubt bandwagon. I also didn’t want to let this single mother down. I find that people get impatient quickly when you don’t have immediate answers.

The next morning, though, I got the text I was looking for.

Her son had spent the night in his room.

And, so far, he has been easily sleeping there for the past month.


I want to remind everyone that our Open House for our new space is this Saturday. Josh will be offering 20 minute readings. I’ll be handling the trick or treaters that will be about town for the Gathering of the Jack O’Lanterns event (there’s jack o’lanterns on the rocks in the river, a zombie walk, and a lot of community activities). I will also be manning our new metaphysical apothecary and store. There is an herb selection, stones and crystals, incense charcoal, pendulums, beeswax candles, Josh’s concrete creations, and more! If you can’t make it to our Open House, I will be holding store hours every Friday from 10 am to 5 pm.

Another exciting thing happening is my teacher Adhi Two Owls will be in the area in mid-November. She will be offering a workshop in connecting via shamanic work, as well as a presentation on what a shaman does. We are looking forward to hosting these events, and we will be sharing more information on Facebook as plans are solidified.


I hope October is treating you well, and you are looking forward to Halloween. I know I am.


Until next time


-The Green Mountain Mage


Herbs and Salves

One of the reasons I love working with herbs is their accessibility. Yes, I can make an herbal product for you, but with the right know-how, you can also make the same product. When you grow or harvest that herb yourself, that makes that self care product your own. You begin to step into the role of your own healer.

That’s why I enjoy teaching herbal workshops. I feel like I’m empowering folk in both self care and connection to the plants growing around them. I have a workshop on salve making coming up and I wanted to share a little information about some of the herbs that I will be using in that workshop. These three herbs are easily grown up here in northern Vermont and more than likely can be grown or wildharvested where you live.



Calendula

Calendula officinalis

This photo is from Fedco seeds. This is their Resina Calendula, a great medicinal variety

This photo is from Fedco seeds. This is their Resina Calendula, a great medicinal variety

This lovely yellow-orange flower is an attractive annual that is pretty easy to grow. It’s even been known to reseed itself in my garden to unexpectedly surprise me the next spring. Happy to live in a flower bed looking for a touch of gold, this beauty is also well known for its medicinal qualities. One of the first things that you will notice after harvesting a few of these flowers is the sticky resin. That’s the medicinal magic of this herb.

This herb is known for its skin healing properties, as well for its antifungal and anti-inflammatory abilities. It is gentle enough for the skin of a baby, but the first herb that comes to my mind in speeding the healing process for bruises. It’s also used internally for complaints like diarrhea and lymph issues (as well as a lovely edible garnish for salads), but for today I want to focus on how it’s one of my go to herbs for salves. There are a lot of beautiful varieties of calendula out there, but for the purpose of medicine the most resinous tend to be the yellow-orange varieties. Usually the seed catalogue that I order them from mentions the most resinous (and therefore the most medicinal) variety out of all that they offer to make it easy. If you are just buying the flowers harvested and dried, then I’m sure the variety that the company is offering for medicinal use is appropriate.



Comfrey

Symphytum officinale

Comfrey

When I acquired my first comfrey plant over a decade ago, I was sure that I had found the perfect spot for this vigorous perennial. I distinctly remember my friend Annie dubiously watching me with the plant, warning me that I should choose the spot carefully. Once it was in there, I wasn’t getting it out. I don’t think I properly believed her warning. Now, years later, my planned comfrey patches are nowhere near that original plot, as that spot is part of my larger garden. The comfrey doesn’t care. I weed it intensively every year. Every year, it returns.

Comfrey is an amazing herb. It also seems to be borderline invasive if you don’t give it a spot with clear borders (like a mown lawn). It has a long history of medicinal use that is revealed through its older common names like knitbone and boneset. The plant contains high levels of allantoin, a constituent that promotes cell growth. This is why it’s amazing in salves. It can speed the healing process of cuts and wounds.

While the debate about certain constituents known to be harmful to the liver in high amounts that comfrey contains still continues, it is generally considered safe for topical use. The research often cited involves incredibly high levels of said constituents (specifically pyrrolizidine alkaloids, if you’re feeling sciency) tested on rats. While I don’t know of any examples involving people taking normal dosage, it is still usually skipped in medicines that are taken internally. When it comes to using comfrey in salve, I believe we do far worse things to our livers on a day to day basis than apply comfrey salve to a wound.



St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum

St Johns Wort

This plant can be found in fields and roadsides across Vermont. The Latin name perforatum comes from the fact that when one holds a leaf of St John’s Wort up to the light, little pin pricks can be seen. These holes are actually oil glands. This plant is another one with a long history in both medicine and magic. I happen to use it for both. Focusing on the medicinal side of this amazing plant, it is the flower and the flower bud that is used for salve. You know the flowers are ready when you squeeze a flower bud and it “bleeds” a dark purple sap. When extracting the flowers into an oil for use in a salve, the finished oil takes on a rich red color.

This herb has been used topically as an antiseptic and a ally for nerve healing for centuries. I recall a story (though I can’t remember where I read this) a story of soldiers on the way to one of the Crusades packing a sack of oil with these flowers before they left. The sun would beat down on the oil sacks and extract the properties of the flowers as they traveled. By the time they reached Jerusalem, the now red oil was ready to help heal any wounds that would be inflicted on the soldiers. This herb actually has a lot of interesting Christian lore attached to it (which is unsurprising considering its name and solar energy). If you’re interested in reading one a story that connects it to Jesus and Mary Magdalene, click here.



To use these herbs in a salve, you have to infuse them into an oil. To learn that art and how to turn those oils into salves, there are a lot of places to find information and recipes to try out. Or, you could sign up for my workshop on the 18th at 6pm by emailing me at greenmountainmaeg@gmail.com . If you live close by, I’d love to have you at the workshop.



The Bridge Between Heaven and Earth

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I’m taking a moment to breathe after a full day. Wednesdays start earlier than normal for me. They’re the day I get up to bring a local weekly newspaper to stores in NH and VT. It’s a fantastic side job, where I get to listen to my music as I cruise around the scenic beauty that I live in. It’s a bit of a long day, though. Today that job was followed up with a house clearing and various errands. Now, here I am at home, taking a moment to listen. The wind builds around us, threatening a storm later tonight. The sound of the wind in the trees remind me of the ocean lapping the shore. The air is warm and heavy with the oncoming storm. I love it.

As I stare out at the swaying trees, it reminds me of a younger me walking through those woods. I was almost an adult, and I was listening to the wind in the trees that day as well. I was trying to find common ground between the energies that I felt. I remember recognizing the presence of the Divine in the way that I experienced in church. I could also feel the wild power of the forest around me. At that point, they seemed so dissimilar. I felt that I had to choose between one or the other and I hated it.

I think that I struggled with that for a while as I tried to find my path. I tried to walk both worlds, or tried to find common ground. It took me a bit to realize that the common ground was within my reach the entire time… The common ground was me.

Not just me, of course. All of us. Each of us has the ability to be the alchemical vessel where the Earth meets the Heavens to create something entirely new. Our bodies and our minds are in between spots. They are where spirit meets matter, the point where consciousnesses can interact.

Earlier this week, I met with a client and tried to do some work where he connected to above and below. I had him lean against a tree to find the energetic pattern. This is something that you, too, can do. I’ve seen different versions of this exercise, one being from the Druid Revival tradition that I was practicing. It goes something like this.

If you’re looking for a little help in this practice, find an older tree that you like. Check with it and see how it feels to you. If it feels good and friendly, put your back to the tree trunk. If there isn’t a tree handy, no problem. The tree is just a suggestion that could act as an energetic map. Do a standing meditation for a few minutes, taking deep, long breaths with pauses in between. Once you are feeling calm, clear, and centered, visualize a light at your center. Breathe into that light. Be present with it. When you are ready, imagine it unfurling like a seed. A shoot of light goes up your center as a root of light goes down. With each breath, let this inner light tree grow. Take the time you need. As the tree grows, it’s branches leaf out and extend above you. The roots spread out from your feet, reaching deep into the earth. Feel (or imagine) nature about you. Feel the sunlight and wind in your branches. Feel the soil beneath you. Feel the heartbeat of the planet.

As you breathe in, imagine the golden sunlight trickling down your leaves all through you to your roots. As you breathe out, imagine the soil and nutrients coming up from the Earth in the form of a silvery light. At each pause, see the lights mingling inside of you, mixing together to strengthen that white light at your center. Feel yourself as a bridge between Heaven and Earth, surrounded by the elements of nature. Once you feel that the exercise has been enough, release the image and bring your awareness back the beautiful world around you.

Play around with this exercise. If you try it, let me know how it went for you.

On a side note, I hope that you all had a beautiful Autumnal Equinox. Mine was celebrated with a small group at my friend Maya’s stone circle. We sat about a fire as we held a small ceremony about release and balance. We also ate some delicious food. Maybe a simple way to celebrate, but it was perfect. I look forward to continuing the work of creating tradition to accompany the wheel of the year.


Wishing you all a happy Fall


  • The Green Mountain Mage

Stillness and Connection

I have a confession to make. I have not been taking the proper time to connect to the land this summer. I can use the busy nature of being a co-owner of two businesses as an excuse, but it’s not a really good one. It’s not that I have dropped my practice. I meditate every day, and I try to get in rattling everyday. I greet the morning with prayer and gratitude. I do my best to cultivate awareness about what is happening inside of me as well as outside. I just haven’t made proper time to listen to the conversation that’s happening outside between the land and the living things every day… and that is one of my jobs as a budding shaman.

I can try and use the death of my burden tree as another excuse. My burden tree was an old maple that was around 150 to 200 years old. She has been missing half her trunk for my entire life. She was my point of contact with nature, as well as a way to find balance. I would go out and hang out with her as often as I could. I even made a rattle that I often use from a branch that she had lost. It was about a year ago that I noticed that she would put out a stressed vibe before a good wind storm blew over our hill. She even had some weird, apocalyptic messages about having only so much time that she would give me.

So, when my husband called me as I enjoyed a hike with some college friends to tell me that a wind storm had come through and toppled my tree, I wasn’t surprised. I remember the weird emptiness of the spot where she once stood as I first returned home. It was as if the landscape was somehow a little… less. That was my last major hike of the season, and, without my burden tree to get me outside to check in on everything, my practice slipped.

In the end, though, my excuses fall apart. The responsibility falls square on my shoulders. That’s one of those interesting side effects of magical work. You lose some room to complain about what’s happening to you. It begins to present you with the work to change your life. It becomes your choice to use those tools or not.

These are the thoughts that swirled around in my head this morning as I was stranded in the Walmart parking lot. For those of you who don’t know, I work for a local newspaper once a week. Every Wednesday, I deliver stacks of papers to stores. Walmart is one of those stores. As I returned to my car, filling in the numbers of papers left over from the week before, I noticed something wrong. Specifically, my car didn’t start. The vehicle no longer recognized the signal that my key makes. As Josh was in the middle of a project, he wouldn’t be able to get me for a little while.

There I was, sitting in the parking lot, wondering what I should do with my newfound time. My phone’s battery was running low, so I couldn’t do any computer work. Any of the other stores I had to deliver to were certainly not within walking distance. There was just me, Walmart, and it’s vast sea of vehicles.

That wasn’t entirely true, though. To my left was a wetland. To my right was a river hiding behind a strip of trees. I walked up to the wetlands, and breathed in. I don’t know what it is about certain wetlands, but some have this intoxicating smell that I can’t put a finger on. Cattails, perhaps? For all I know, I could be in love with the smell of a certain swamp slime, but there is a smell that I wish I could replicate with an oil mix.

As happy as the smell made me, it still was an untraversable wetland. So, all I had left was the river. I found a hint of a trail through the weeds and trees that eventually led to the winding river that flows next to the Walmart. I sat down, and began my meditation practice to slow my brain down. As I felt my brain reach that sweet spot where everything slows down, I opened my eyes. I could feel the way that the river carried its energy with it. A kingfisher flew over me as he landed behind a rock on the island across from me. The sounds of the parking lot behind me began to fade as I listened and watched the interactions of the plants, the water, and the birds. I looked to the riverbank and saw wild mint growing at my feet. As I saw the tell-tale square stems reach out from their sprawling root system, they brought my thoughts back to what brought me to the river… connection.

Sometimes, it takes a car malfunction to sit us down and pay attention to the world around us. Sometimes, it takes a little disturbance in our life to make us listen to the conversation happening around us. Sometimes, we get caught up in our own world and forget to connect the rest of the world. Sometimes, I need the universe to sit me down and tell me to be silent. Sometimes, I need that reminder to shut up and listen.

I invite you to take some time and connect with the natural world. It’s amazing what a little quiet time and connection to the larger living world around us can do for you.

Talking about listening, if you want to listen to my friend Kassie interview me on what I do, look up The Bitter And Sweet Podcast on Google Play, iTunes, or whatever other way you get your podcasts. We had a fun conversation and I look forward to doing it again sometime in the future. Her website is https://www.bitterandsweetpod.com/ , but it doesn’t look like she’s uploaded the podcast there yet. I look forward to seeing where her podcast goes from here.

Until next time

-The Green Mountain Mage


Creating Space To Do The Work

It’s been crunch week. Working at the local fair for a week leading into the last week to move into our new studio space has been quite the rush. There has been a lot to do with not a lot of time to do it. It can be so easy to let one’s spiritual practice slip in times like these. Once one’s schedule is off, meditation can be an easy thing to sacrifice.

It is in these times, though, when we are reminded the importance of our practice. It is in chaotic times when we need the calm that can be found in practice. Quiet focus and connection can be the saving grace that we need to get through the day, even when it seems like extra work that you don’t necessarily need. I know this is true for me, especially in the role I’ve taken on as a reiki practitioner and shamanic worker. When I have a client, that person needs me to have done the work beforehand. I have to be able to leave my shit behind so I can be fully present with what my client is dealing with.

There’s a sort of dissociation with my outside world that seems to happen when I work with someone. It’s like I need to disconnect from anything that would get in the way of the work and that includes my own bundle of trauma, grief, or general discontent. I have to make room for where my client is at, where we’re working to get them, and a connection to helping spirits and Spirit. For the session, it’s not about me. That’s why I need to make space at other times for it to be about me. If I don’t deal with my own problems, they get more insistent that they get some attention. They will get in the way of healing work.

I’ve had clients come in, expecting to find immediate healing in a session or two. They expect the work to be done within the confines of the session and to leave feeling like they are on the path to living a “true spiritual life.” They leave dissatisfied. Besides missing the truth that a spiritual life is often found in the mundane, they miss one of the biggest, annoying truths in this path.

We call it the work because it’s work.

Remember when I tried defining magic early on in this blog? I wanted to separate the reader’s idea of magic from the magic portrayed in movies. Magic isn’t something created with the wave of a wand or the right words (though that can be part of it, if that’s what you’re into). It’s the result of work. It’s the result of practice. Without those elements, you won’t find solid results.

I think that’s why a lot of the New Age movement seems to fall on its face. There’s a lot of wishful thinking and half truths that pervade that movement, fueled by the wish for something for nothing. They often fall under the wisdom that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Real magic and deep healing requires work and sacrifice.

While there is work, it’s often not more than we can handle. The simple act of creating space to have your own meditation practice can be amazingly useful in our work of connection to something bigger than us. Meditation isn’t just sitting cross legged, trying not to think. There are so many different practices out there, there’s something that will work with you and your beliefs. As long as there is focus in the practice, there is growth to be found.

If you’re a Christian, you can take time to focus on a Bible verse. Read it over a few times. Try to understand the meaning. Be open to Divine nudging. Try to explore its deeper truths. You can apply that practice to other sacred texts as well, depending on how you roll. It doesn’t even have to be sacred! It just needs to be meaningful. Exploring themes like this using a sort of internal monologue is called discursive meditation.

You can also use sound. I would call using my rattle or drum as a sonic driver to dreamtime a sort of meditation. Perhaps you just want to focus on the feeling of a place sacred to you, such as a church, or a forest. The main thing to find is finding focus and internal silence. Make room for root issues inside yourself to arise. That kind of goes back to what I was talking about when problems interrupt to get attention. If you give them space to speak they don’t have to yell.

That’s when those internal issues become problematic, isn't it? When they “yell”. It’s like we’re all on the path to some purpose, but sometimes we become sidelined because of an unhealthy coping mechanism or some sort of pain. Sometimes, we can ignore these problems, but they don’t like to be ignored. They just get louder. So, we try to work around them or drown them out with something external. It’s all bandaids, though. They eventually find a way to get beyond our attempts to silence them and demand to be faced.

I’m certainly not perfect (and I won’t be). I stumble in my practice like anyone else. I have my own shit. I make bad decisions in how I react to the world about me. I don’t always deal with my pain and grief in a healthy way. I’m actively working on it,  though, and I will be for the rest of my life. It doesn’t always bear the expected fruit, but it always produces something useful and amazing.

I invite you to explore the work of healing and connection, however you see that path. Do the work. It will be worth it.

 

On a side note, we will be fully in our new space and ready for our By Donation Reiki Clinic on September 1st. We will be located under POP-M Cafe at 97 Main Street in Littleton, NH. Stop by and check it out sometime. It’s looking pretty cool.

 

Be well. Do good work.

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Salt and Blessings

We returned yesterday from a long weekend of camping at Acadia Park in Maine. Josh did a lot of Rune magic throughout the island (you’ll be able to hear that story when he publishes his blog next week) and we both enjoyed connecting to both the spirits of the island and the ocean.

I was, of course, ecstatic to be by the sea. I submerged myself in those cold northern Atlantic waters as much as I could, connecting to the ocean’s primal power and cleansing myself of any psychic muck I may have picked up. As we drove home, I was deep in thought about the cleansing power of ocean water and methods of energetic cleansing that I use at home. It comes down to something that most every house has, something that we use every day.

Salt.

Salt has a lot of interesting history in many different cultures. Salt has been used by humanity as far back as 6050 BC in trade, food, preservation, and religion. Imagine eating your food without a little bit of salt. There aren’t many out there that enjoy bland food. So, this ocean derived commodity was a big deal (and an important source of dietary minerals).

As I mentioned, people had also noticed applications in spiritual practices. Even the ancient Egyptians used it in their spiritual practices, including mummification. They were far from the last culture to use it in spiritual practice, though. The first modern example that comes to mind is the Catholic Church. Salt is mixed in their holy water, after both the water and salt are blessed. It is then used in baptism and blessing. While the blessing is an important aspect in the usefulness of the holy water, it is the mix of the water and salt that hold the first step towards its power.

I’m sure you’ve heard of fairy tales, myths, or TV shows that involve the magic of salt. Many times it shows up in a protective circle of salt around a magician or a horror movie protagonist. That myth comes from actual use in folk magic as well as Catholicism. It even continues in modern day “tradition” in the practice of tossing salt over your shoulder when you spill salt.

According to John Michael Greer’s “Encyclopedia of Natural Magic” salt’s astrological correspondences are Saturn in Aquarius. Energetically, it absorbs and purifies. These qualities make it a great choice for protection and banishment work. It also makes it great for clearing out psychic gunk that might be attached to you or something that you own. I even make a protection salt that incorporates herbs of blessing and protection that one can use to block out negative energies.

I often use salt in my own energetic clearing. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve begun an exploration into a very intriguing magical system called Quareia. I’m still in the beginning stages of the course, so I can’t really give too much of an opinion of the magical system. One of the first things that you learn in the course is how to make a sort of holy water. The idea is to make cleansing baths once a week for a few weeks to learn how it feels to be clear of the psychic grime that we accumulate throughout our travels in life. It can also be used in clearing a room of unwanted energies, as well as helping to remove simple energetic parasites from someone.

Here’s an example of its use. Josh and I attended a sound healing event. The space it was held in was full of people, so there wasn’t a lot of room to work with. As I laid down, I set the intention that the session was for me and that I wouldn’t connect to those around me as the session went on. I wanted to focus on my energetic stuff, and I didn’t want to get sucked into doing healing work for others while I ignored why I was there. I set up strong boundaries and let the sound wash over me.

Josh had a very different approach. He opened up to feel what was going on in the room. He interacted with spirits of the place and the energies of the people in the room. He didn’t feel anything too out of the ordinary until we arrived home. I noticed that he was edgy and something was off. As we tried to go to sleep, he was wide awake with the feeling that something was off. He had picked up some small parasitic energy from the session, most likely dislodged from someone else during the sound healing session. Josh was an open target! So, I rolled out of bed, grabbed some salt, poured some water, and got to blessing. After dousing him in the salty water mix, he began to feel like his normal self. The salt water had worked!

It may seem like a little thing, but the usefulness of this is pretty fantastic. You can find the blessings I used in this PDF (starting on page 8). I’m still playing around the uses, but it’s shown some promise. It makes me wonder how much of it is the blessing, and how much of it is in the natural properties of the salt and water.

An interesting note in the use of salt, holy water, and cleansing herbs. My teacher Adhi has a theory about the uses of these items in Catholic baptism that may help shut down people’s third eye. She theorizes that the mix of symbolism, salt, water, and herbal oils (all of which, by themselves are useful tools for healing and clearing work) were formulated to help shut down the intuition of the common people about a millennia or two ago. While it may seem a little like a conspiracy theory, the methods that she taught me that employ sacred geometry and dowsing to counteract this “psychic scarring” have a powerful effect. There is certainly something to it! I bring it up to look at all the sides natural magic, and how too much of a good thing can be counterproductive.

Well, that’s all I have for tonight. Thank you for exploring the mechanics of a little natural magic with me.

 

Be well and do good work

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

Old Holidays in the Modern Age

Today is Lughnasadh (phonetically loo-nah-sah), an old Irish festival said to be started by the god Lugh as both an athletic competition and a memorial feast for his mother Tailtiu, who died clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. It is part of the eightfold wheel of the year that so many European inspired nature religion’s use. This is a modern mix of four different Gaelic holidays with the two Solstices and two Equinoxes. I don’t believe people really used these eight together as a sacred holiday cycle until Gerald Gardner, father of Wicca, stitched them together. Since then, many other nature orientated spiritual groups have taken up this cycle in their practice. It is an earth cycle honoring set up which I like, so I try to follow it.

Lughnasadh itself has a really interesting, varied history. It’s been Christianized as Catholicism took root in Ireland, as well as secularized. People have celebrated it with bilberry harvest, athletic competitions, cultural celebrations, dramatized re-enactments of mythology of Lugh stealing grain for mankind, or later on the mythology of St. Patrick converting pagan chiefs. Holy wells would be visited. Pilgrimages would be made. Goats are still crowned king for the day. Trial marriages were created for a year and a day. Feasts were and are eaten. It’s an interesting mix that has changed with its times.

This brings us to modern day practice. I love the set up of the eight holidays. They are spaced rather evenly, so it makes it a little more sane to celebrate. A few of them even line up with holidays that most of the United States celebrate (such as Halloween and Christmas). They are mostly focused on our interactions with the life around us, connecting me to the seasons. Those of you who have read my post about the wheel of life (if you haven’t, here’s the link) know how these points in time play into my spiritual practice. I see each of these points in time as energetic qualities to connect to in my work.

I find a few issues with practice. It can be a bit odd to try and focus on holidays that a majority of the population do not acknowledge. There’s a certain cultural push towards celebrating certain holidays. When that’s not there, and that recognition of its sacred nature isn’t culturally acknowledged, it can feel a little lonely. We often expect to have religious holidays like Easter off from work, but it’s hard to have the conversation with your employer that you’d rather switch Easter for the Spring Equinox.

The biggest obstacle for me, though, is creating my own way of celebrating. When it comes to any Irish traditions concerning the Gaelic four festivals, some transfer to the hills of Northern Vermont well. Others, not so much. Many spiritual groups have their own ways to celebrate, but they are either tradition specific, apply to the seasonal cycles of Celtic lands, or apply to the seasonal cycles of where the spiritual group is. My part of Vermont certainly keeps its own time and seasons. An example is Imbolc, which was traditionally the time in Ireland when the ewes started to lamb. Not up here, it isn’t! It’s too damn cold at the beginning of February! Spring in Vermont is still a long ways away at that point, so that tradition does not transfer.

So, here I am, trying to figure out how I can celebrate Lughnasadh in my own way, while being area appropriate. If I’m not seasonally appropriate for where I live, I’m missing the point of celebrating holidays to explore the energy of the seasons of where I live. Besides having a ceremony to thank the land for the produce in my garden, I will try to embrace some of the competitive nature of some of the older traditions. I will make sure that my husband and I break out the boffer swords we own and practice. I also have karate class later on, so that’s pretty appropriate. The mentions of bilberry harvest makes me think of blueberries, which are in season as we speak. Sounds like a perfect way to connect to the cycles.

Ceremony, competition, garden harvest, and blueberries. Sounds like a good start to me. The importance is that I make space to explore how this time of the year feels, and try to take what I know about the traditions of this holiday into context. Every year, I create a stronger connection to it and maybe, just maybe, get others to join me in connecting to this moment in the cycle of the year. We talk often about the spirit of Christmas. Today, I feed and experience the spirit of Lughnasadh in both what that means to me and what that means to the life about me in this point in time.

How will you feed the spirit of Lughnasadh?

 

Until next time

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Spirits of my Past

Today is my 34th birthday. Anyone close to me knows that I am really into celebrating my birthday. I can take a day to celebrate another year of exploration of life and the world I live in. It can also be a great time for reflection.

In my reflection, I’ve been going back to my childhood and the form that spirituality took then. I was raised by fiercely religious folks whose belief system was still rocked by the 80s satanist scare. Magic and other forms of spirituality were sure paths to hell.

My childhood was my first magical training, though. My mother and grandmother would probably be horrified to hear that, but it’s very true. I learned a way to interface with Divinity in those years. I learned how to feel energy. I felt the difference between praise songs, how they felt different, how the people singing these songs with me affected the feel of praise, and how the right mix could lead to a mystical experience. I remember learning that many of the kids in the churches I would attend didn’t feel the same, weren’t looking for the same spiritual experience as I was. While I was looking for connection to the Divine and Divine Love, many of the other kids were there because they had to be. I felt the same for many of the parents. It was a social thing that was expected of them.

To be fair, hypocrisy is a human thing that is not just the domain of any one religion. I saw it in the one I was raised in, though, and that was part of what drove me away. From what I saw when I was young, it seemed that other traditions had more developed ways to explore magic. Now that I am older and have waded through a bit of magic theory and traditions, I’ve learned that I was very, very wrong.

You’d might be surprised to find that most paths of power on this continent have Christian roots. Renaissance magical study abounded in Christian symbolism, and the Church hasn’t always been so antagonistic to its practice. It is heavily present in a lot of folk magic like Root Work (Hoodoo) or Pennsylvania Dutch Pow-wow. Even the famous Golden Dawn magical system uses a mix of Christian and Ancient Egyptian symbolism in their work.

When I began to actively research magic outside of my religious experience, I was pretty sure that I had finished my path with Christianity. I thought that I would be jumping into a world of pre-Christian European deities, and that would be that. That turned out to be yet another thing that I would be wrong about.

I’ve mentioned the Sphere of Protection ritual that I practice in other blog entries. In case you’ve missed them, the Sphere of Protection ritual is a practice created by the Ancient Order of Druids in America, a Druid Revival Order of which I am a member. The purpose of this ritual is to align myself with the archetypal energies of the elements, as well as the planet and the cosmos, while creating balance within myself and banishing unbalanced energetics within and about me. Part of this ritual involves intoning divine names. The original example is written using the names of old Welsh deities. They’ve never called to me, so I tried out names from other Celtic deities. I have a connection to Mannanan Mac Llyr after all, so that pantheon group should make sense to use in my daily ritual. Something wasn’t right, though.

Fast forward to a session of shamanic journeying with a teacher of mine. We were meant to go and meet guides who represented the four directions. We started in the East, the direction traditionally attributed to the element of Air. My teacher started drumming, and I began to journey East in my mind’s eye. I was heading into this with an expectation. I work with Hawk, as I’ve mentioned before. He is often attributed to the East and to the element of Air, so I expected to bump into him. Instead, I found the archangel Raphael.

I didn’t expect my meditation to go this route. Raphael is the archangel traditionally attributed to Air and the East. I started to talk to him, but I told him that I thought I had made a mistake. A wrong turn in the corners of my subconscious, if you will. So, I left to find Hawk. As I did, Hawk laughed and told me to go back to Raphael and talk to him. Confused, I went back to Raphael, archangel of Air, archangel of healing. Apparently, I was not finished with Christianity... or, at least, its archetypes.

This was my first hint that I should be working with angelic energies (not my last). This is now a little bit of a weird concept to me, but I think it’s a way of the universe reconnecting me to a spiritual part of my youth. I now invoke the elements of the Sphere of Protection ritual with the names of the archangels traditionally attached to the directions: Raphael for the East, Michael for the South, Gabriel for the West, Uriel for the North, Sandalphon for Below, and Metatron for Above. It seems to work well for me, so I’m running with it. It gives me a good excuse to delve into old angel lore, at least. Who knows where it will take me from there?

Well, it’s late. May your explorations produce good information, and may your roots help you, not hinder you.

 

Until next time

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Planets and Constellations

We are embarking on an experiment in magic today. In fact, this experiment is the reason why I’m posting on Wednesdays. It goes back to the idea of working with the energetic currents that naturally happen around us every day.

Magic and astronomy have gone together hand in hand for a very long time. The idea that different sorts of energetic currents moved around our planet (and us) at different times is an old one that more than one tradition has tried to develop a language for. One of the ways that people could tell where our planet was in it’s cyclical currents was watching what stars we are facing from where we are standing on this big hunk of space rock that we are travelling around the sun on. A common language that people use now a days for these currents is the language of astrology.

Before we continue much further, I’d like to make something known. I am not an astrology expert. I wouldn’t even go as far to say that I know it all that well. I do know enough to experiment with it in my magical practice, though. It is this knowledge that I am sharing.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you will already have noticed that I use astrological terms when talking about the esoteric uses of plants. Lemon balm’s correspondences are Jupiter in Cancer. Plantain’s correspondences are Mars in Capricorn. You may have wondered what planets and constellations have to do with plants. When I speak of these celestial bodies in reference to energetic properties, I’m referring to the energetic currents associated with these planets and constellations. Each of the planets known to Babylonian and Greek astrologers millenia ago and the twelve constellations of the zodiac represent a certain energy. If you don’t know these correspondences, here are some charts that I stole from the internet.

Planetary_Astrology_For_dummies
Zodiac_Astrology_For Dummies

That’s actually what a lot of astrology is all about, as I understand it. The popular pigeonholing of someone due to their sun sign is talking about the yearly energetic current that someone was born into. The constellations that we use to describe this was where the sun was approximately hanging out in the sky about 2,200 years ago. While the sun no longer is in the constellations due to the wobble of the planet, we still use the constellation’s names in describing the energetic currents that happen at that point of the year. Presently, we are in the astrological sign of Cancer. Though the sun nowadays is actually hanging out in Gemini, the current of the year remains the same. We’ve called it the Sun in Cancer 2,200 years ago, and we’re sticking to it.

When getting into astrological birth charts, they are a lot more complicated than one’s sun sign. They cover where the moon was, where the planets were, and other astronomical events at the point of your birth. While fascinating, that’s not what I’m covering today. Instead, I’m talking about charting these energetic currents and trying to ride these currents to be more successful at whatever you are trying to do.

Magically, a good way to do this is to pay attention to where the moon is hanging out in the sky. As I write this, the moon is in between Pisces and Aries at a point that astrologers refer to as “Void Of Course.” Not the most auspicious time, this should have a bad effect on intuition. It’s not a good time to do something magical. It would be better to wait for the moon to go into Aries tomorrow. Not to say that one can’t do something magical, just that it would not be as easy as it would be to wait for a better time.

The other planets in the sky also move through these different points of the sky, and mark movement of energetic currents. The theory is that they are reflecting solar currents flavored by the planet, subtly coloring the energetic movements on our planet. I’m sure you’ve heard of the dreaded “Mercury Retrograde.” That’s when, due to planetary movement and perspective, Mercury moves across the sky in the opposite direction as everything else. While it might be sending vibes of botched communication, it certainly is not the game changer that a lot of people try to make it. When it comes to planetary astrology, though, I usually don’t pay too much attention. They’re pretty far away, so I imagine that their effect is pretty subtle indeed. The moon and the sun, on the other hand, affects us in so many ways, astrology aside. I find the idea that their position in relation to us defining subtle energy shifts intriguing.

This brings us back to the beginning of this blog entry. Why Wednesdays? Well, someone noticed a long time ago that there are seven planets in traditional astrology (the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) and there are seven days in our week. It was only a matter of time until someone assigned a planet to a day. Wednesday happens to be the day assigned to Mercury. While the week seems to be an arbitrary human construct that divides the solar year pretty well, who am I to argue with tradition? Let’s try this experiment out. Will blogging on Wednesday be better at communicating than a Friday (the day of Venus) or Saturday (the day of Saturn, which is not the best choice for communication)? Let’s find out.

Talking about using astrology as a way to follow energetic currents, I will be expanding on that theory and how to use it during my upcoming Amulet Making Workshop. It will be on Sunday (can you guess that day’s planet, and what kind of amulets will be made then?) July 15th from 1 pm to 4 pm. If you’re interested, email me at greenmountainmage@gmail.com and I can tell you more.

Finally, have a fun (and relatively safe) Independence Day (for those of us who live in the United States). Don’t let the void of course moon mess with your intuition too badly.

 

Until next time

 

-The Green Mountain Mage

A Tale Of Hawks

I remember my first time trying out the art of shamanic journeying. I was a senior in high school, hanging out with friends after school. My friend Robin had been learning about different shamanic practices, and was sharing her experiences with me. We headed to a back storage room in our friend’s house, I laid a bunch of blankets to lay down on as she sat close by with her drum. She began drumming, and I tried to relax into the sound. I remember how hard it was. It didn’t help that our friend’s younger brother busted into the room a few times for some reason or another.

Something did happen that afternoon, though. I clearly saw the underside of a bird flying over me. We looked up what I saw in a bird book and I decided that the Broad Wing Hawk was the most likely candidate.

I don’t know how many years passed until I decided to research this hawk a little more. I did eventually look up the Broad Wing Hawk on a bird song website, and what I found gave me shivers.

For a little background, I live on old family land. My grandfather bought the farmhouse I live in sometime in the 60s. He lived on the Connecticut coast, but wanted a place to go to disappear in the woods for a bit to hunt. He found this run down farmhouse built in the 1850s on a dirt road that closed in the winter. It made the perfect hunting cabin. Eventually, my parents moved in, having a proper basement replace the cellar hole and arranging for power lines to be run down so we would have electricity. I was about twelve when we moved in. I was never really good at identifying birds when I was younger, but there were certain bird calls that strangely wormed themselves into my memory of home.

The Broad Wing Hawk was one of them.

I cannot remember a time that there wasn’t a pair of Broad Wing Hawks that lived in the forests surrounding my house. They’ve always been these strange guardians in my life that I never really knew were there.

Hawks are the messenger of the day. They have keen eyesight, which is ironic to me that I have them as an animal spirit in my life, as I have glasses. The connection to hawk isn’t about physical sight, though. It’s more about seeing the bigger picture. They are strong guardians. They travel south for winter. That travel lust, that longing for adventure is what I most strongly connect with when it comes to them.

I love my home. I always return home, as hawks always return to their summer nesting grounds. But, I love a good adventure. That’s part of my love of hiking. It’s an adventure to the top, a pilgrimage to the skies for those of us not blessed with hawk wings. Once you get to the top, it’s all wind, mountain spirits, and a better view of the world. For me, it usually coincides with a better view of life. The hike up is processing time, matched with time to connect to the land. At the top, the clear view of the land matches a clearer view of the situation.

I know. I wax poetic about the mountains often (when I’m not doing it about the ocean). It ties back into it, though, doesn’t it? Hawk and his fondness for a clearer view of life situations. This is why I love journeying. You can discover something as simplistic as the underside of a bird that you can’t identify, and, through exploration, meditation, and spirit-led discovery, you can still be talking about it years later.

It amazes me how this sort of work ties into everyday life. When I was exploring the shores of Assateague, in the midst of this mystical experience miles away from home, I noticed a feather sticking out of the mud on the bay side of the island. I walked over, picked it up, and gave it a good look.

Oh yes. It was the wing feather of a Broad Wing Hawk. Even miles away from home, hawk was still with me.

 

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You may have noticed the website has been reborn as Deep Earth Arts. It’s been an amazing (and amazingly busy) few weeks, but we’ve settled into the new space. It’s pretty awesome. We’d love for you to visit it! We’re having an Open House this Saturday. Live music. Prizes. All the things a good Open House should have.

You may have also noticed that the blog has been released on Wednesday. This isn’t an accident, or a product of procrastination. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog. Which brings me to another point…

Josh wants to get in on the blog writing. So, he and I will be alternating weeks. Next Wednesday, he will be publishing his first blog entry. He’s a great writer, so you should check it out. I know I’m looking forward to seeing what he cooks up.

Finally, check out the calendar section on the website if you get a chance. I have an Herb Walk and an Amulet Making Workshop scheduled in July. If you’re around and you’re looking for something fun and maybe a little educational, sign up. I will also be doing a Reiki Clinic (with Josh) and a Shamanic Journeying group. Both are monthly and both are by donation. If you show up and have some money to put towards it, great. If you show up and don’t pay a cent, great. Just show up. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have a journeying experience that you’ll talk about years down the road…

 

Until the next time

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

My Mesa

In my shamanic work, I have a few tools of the trade. While my rattle and drum are two of the most important, there are others that are just as helpful and powerful. Today, I want to talk about one of my tools that I use everyday… my mesa.

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One of the first tools that my teacher had me work on was my mesa. The mesa is a sort of sacred bundle. I carry spiritual objects in it that relate to my power, or objects that I use in my work. I bring it with me when I work with clients. It’s like portable sacred space. As I set up, I open my mesa, set out the items in a sort of mandala, and light a candle. The only part that can be bought is the cloth itself, which is where one starts in making their mesa.

There are certain fabrics that aren’t conducive to this work. Most synthetics don’t hold a healthy charge at all. So, cotton, silk, or wool are best. I found my big mesa cloth at a fabric store. I hemmed the edges with embroidery floss, working in my energy into each stitch. The red cloth is actually from my first mesa, the one that I made on my Assateague adventure with my teacher, Adhi. She had found the material at the Goodwill in Burlington, VT.

My connection to my mesa began with the cloth. I was told to sleep with the cloth under my pillow. The idea was to connect it to my dreaming self, and to see if I had any interesting dreams that could relate to the mesa I was building. While I didn’t have any dreams worth noting, it was an interesting start to connecting to the future mesa.

One of my first big items in my mesa I found on the Autumn Equinox a few years ago. I wanted to find some sort of power object for my mesa before winter came, and the Equinox seemed as good a day as any to search for one. I put it out to the universe that I only had a half an hour to find one, so if it wanted me to have something, I needed it to guide me to something in that half an hour. I made an offering to the land, and tried to to listen to Spirit as to what direction to head in. It was difficult to find the focus to hear, but about 20 minutes in I had a pretty clear sense of the direction I needed to head. I ended up in a swampy area that I must have been through a hundred times before.

I was getting a little worried and skeptical.

Then, I felt my gaze directed past a mossy log. There, hidden in moss and ferns, was a deer skull and a few vertebrae. It just so happens that deer is one of the animal spirits I work with. Specifically stag. And here, hidden for years, was a skull of a buck.

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He was in a little bit of a rough state, so I rubbed him down with cedar oil and beeswax, then wired him together. He is now part of my mesa, a connection point to spirit for me.

Talking about deer and my mesa, it was that autumn that I did not harvest any of my apples. I let them fall from the trees and lay about on the ground. The deer were frequent visitors throughout the winter, digging them up from the snow and snacking on them. The spring of next year, an antler lay next to one of my apples, as if it was a gift in return for the apples that I had left for the deer. That also made it to my mesa. It’s a powerful tool for removing things from client’s energetic body, as well as a tool to help things move in the correct flow.

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There are quite a few other items in my mesa that connect me to other animals and places that assist me in my work. I have a dried seahorse, feathers from birds that I work with, a rock from my favorite mountain, seashells to keep me connected to the ocean, and more. It’s personal and ever changing. I feed it with offerings and prayers so that it can continue in assisting me in healing and connection to Spirit.

On a side note, Josh and I have officially began fully using our studio. We’re still figuring out hours, and the what and when of our workshops and events, but that will have been all hammered out by this upcoming weekend. One detail that has been decided is that Deep Earth Arts Studio’s website will merge with mine. That means some of the old blog links won’t be usable in a week. All my old blog entries, as well as my future ones, will be found there. I’ll post when the merge happens both on my Facebook and the Deep Earth Arts Facebook. All the pieces are coming together, and I have to say that I am excited.

 

See you all on the other side….

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage

Lessons in Weeding

It’s been a little crazy over here in my corner of the world. I love Spring, yet the season moves at its own pace. Sometimes it feels like it’s taking forever. When everything starts going, though, it can be quite the adventure trying to keep up. The plants are on their own time and they plan on doing their thing with or without me. The race between the plants and I is on.

Along with that race, my husband and I are in the midst of putting together the plan for our studio space, its set up, and what we are doing in it. Reiki, runes, shamanic work, tea, and more… it’s quite the fiasco! The date of our Open House closes in, and there is still so much to be done.

I know that this is the craziness of late Spring. Summer creeps upon us to envelope the sweet unfurling from the Winter months to greet us with a verdant world wrapped up in hot weather, plants everywhere, and adventures to be had.

It’s overwhelming and glorious.

In this craziness, I have to remind myself to take moments to enjoy it all and listen. This is a big part of my shamanic practice: taking time to stop and listen. My teacher Adhi has her apprentices taking time everyday this month to find something that the Earth offers and eat it. Whether it’s burdock, dandelion, or sorrel, we are to take time to taste and commune. If there’s a plant type that we continue to hit up, take some time to sit with it. Maybe make offerings or rattle to it. See what happens.

I’ve been turning my weeding regimen into a chance to explore this practice. Goutweed has found a home in a few of my garden beds and if I am not careful in eradicating it, it will happily (and aggressively) take over any space it can get. It’s also a medicinal and edible plant. It was used primarily for arthritis and (did you guess?) gout. While I am not aware of any magical history with goutweed, it is an interesting plant that is very intent on covering open spots.

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So, I am exploring my relationship with this weed. It’s tenacity is surely part of its magic. Its taste is a little unusual for the more modern palate, so I understand why it’s not a popular food in our cuisine. I have yet to really sit with it and listen. When I do, though, this is my plan. I can start with giving a plant an offering of tobacco. Say hi. Introduce myself. Then, I sit and listen. I don’t just listen with my ears. I use my entire body. I am in stillness, receptive to anything that the plant might throw at me. I can also try rattling to get my brain in a more receptive state, as well as another method of honoring the plant.

Take some time this week. Sit with a plant that you can identify. Taste it if its edible. Sit with it in silent meditation. What does it look like? What does it make you think of? Why? See if you can get any impressions from it. Plants and trees have surprised me many times with the insight that they have offered.  Don’t expect a voice (though, if your brain is wired to receive information that way, it’s possible). It can be a gut feeling. It might be connected to a thought. You can even try sleeping with a piece of the plant under your pillow to see if you can get something in dreams.

I’m still in the beginning stages of my relationship with this plant that I am trying to keep in check. I’m sure that there’s something to be learned even in the antagonistic nature of this plant. I just have to dig and find it.

In other news, I had mentioned in a blog a while ago about a project that I wanted to do with planting amulets under trees and seeing how it affected the surrounding area. For those of you who are interested in participating, please reach out to me. I’ll supply the amulet. All you have to do is get a tree and plant the amulet beneath it. Worse case scenario, you have a beautiful new tree in your yard.

I hope it has been as beautiful where you are as it is up here. Stay tuned to hear more about the new studio space and all the things that we will be offering there.

 

Until next week

 

  • The Green Mountain Mage