Know Thyself

One of the things that we really work hard at in Wellspring is knowing who you are, knowing your boundaries and honoring them.  But we also try to balance that with supporting each other and our community.  Today, I committed to going outside of my normal boundaries to support two of my communities -- the Blue Star Community and the rescue community that I am part of.  

When we step beyond our normal boundaries, a few things happen.  You learn new things.  You meet new people.  You have new experiences.  Also, you stretch yourself further.  You work harder.  You can be uncomfortable.  

Both of my commitments today pushed my boundaries as an empath.  Normally, I'm good at knowing when I should not go into a situation because I can't shield appropriately enough.  Like, I don't often go out on Black Friday (unless it is with my mother-in-law, but still it is very laid back).  I don't go to Wal-Mart much.  If I do go to Wal-Mart, I carefully pick and choose which one I'm willing to step into.  And when it comes to rituals, I avoid certain communities and I avoid certain rituals.  It doesn't mean those rituals or communities are bad.  I just know that I may have adverse reactions.  

Today, I went to a mall on Black Friday for 5 hours.  Well, more like 6 hours with being dropped off early enough for set up and then being picked up after we had time for tear down and clean up.  I got to talk to some of the people in the rescue that I hadn't met before.  We raised some money.  I got to spend some great time with my daughter.  We got some Christmas shopping done.  (Yes, we celebrate Yule and Christmas.  Yule is our spiritual holiday.  Christmas is our secular and familial holiday.)  It was great to watch her do some things with her own money that gave her a lot of joy.  However, it was 6 hours in a mall on Black Friday.  With all those people.  With all those emotions.  With the stress and worry and excitement and concern and happiness.  There is so little calm and peacefulness.  

If I had stopped there, I would have probably been fine.  My feet hurt.  I don't stand or even walk for 6 hours like that.  But really, I would have been fine.

However, I didn't stop there.  I had made a commitment to be at a ritual too.  I knew that there were going to be two people that I wanted and needed to support.  I had committed to them that I would be there.  

This ritual is a very heavy emotional ritual that is incredibly cathartic for the participants.  This was the third time I've been in 12 years...  13 years...

I don't go because it's a lot of work for me.  A lot of work.  In ritual, it is when I usually can let my shields down and just feel and be.  This ritual means that I'm usually doing double time keeping those shields up.  And then when I know that people probably need some extra from me, I try to give it.  We had a couple of new people there.  One of which I feel responsible for and so when the emotion was really high, I helped reinforce shields for that person.  Another person there was raw and open for a while and so I helped reinforce shields for that person temporarily until they were back on their feet.  

And as people near me had their catharsis, I wanted to be there for them, to help support them.  It's kind of what I do.  I use those empath abilities during those times to help them funnel off and stabilize emotions.  I don't take them from them.  They are important.  Everyone needs to feel those emotions.  But as they let the emotions bubble up and come out, I try to flush out the excess.  This is only with people that I know and have an intimate connection with, unless I've been asked to help.  Sometimes, holding them is just holding them though.  

Tonight, after pushing past my normal boundaries, I know that I have pushed too far.  I have literally made myself sick.  It will pass.  Clearly not as quickly as I'd like as I'm blogging at 3am, but it will pass.  Would I do it again?  Yes... I say that begrudgingly because I know what the consequences are, but yes, I would do it again.  I might try to schedule things better where I could have had control.  

Sometimes, knowing thyself means knowing when you need to do something regardless of the effect on you and being ready to live with those consequences.  Sometimes, knowing thyself is knowing who you are willing to make that sacrifice for and who you are not.  For now, I'm grateful for my renewed daily meditation habit and knowing that habit will help to make this pass more quickly.  I'm grateful for all the different people in my life and I'm glad that I can be of service to them.  

All the best, 

Lapis

Paths of Power: Meditation

Miel and I were prepping for our next Wicca 101 class which is about Grounding, Centering, and Shielding.  As part of this class, we are using a guided meditation to help with the concepts and techniques of grounding and centering.  It led to a deeper discussion of meditation practices in general.  This got me further thinking about my own personal development and use of meditation.

There are some basics about meditation that not everyone thinks of as meditation.  First, the most common form of meditation that most people think of is quiet mind/quiet body.  Basically, you sit still and empty your mind.  This is probably one of the most difficult types of meditation out there.  If you can do it right off the bat, bravo!  But there are three other ways to describe meditation -- quiet mind/moving body, moving mind/quiet body, and moving mind/moving body.  

Moving mind/moving body is one that lots of people.  Without even realizing it.  Do you listen to audio books while running?  Watch TV and just kind of zone out while on the bike at the gym?  Your brain is following some sort of story and tunes everything else out.  Your body is getting into some sort of rhythmic movement.  They work together to release stress and settle your mind.  

Moving mind/quiet body are those guided meditations.  You are following a story.  You are being led down a path to gain some sort of information or insight.  You do this while sitting or laying comfortably and still.  Lots of yoga classes will end with this quiet guided meditation to help you relax your whole body.  Pagans and New Age Spiritualists often use them for self-discovery.  One of my favorites was a journey to discover the parts of myself that were hidden or neglected.  

Quiet mind/moving body is accomplished through things like tai chi, qi gong, or one of our favorites is the Tsalagi Dance of Life.  You focus on the movements and then quiet your mind and just feel the flow of the movements.  Once you are familiar with the movements, they automatically help you slip into that meditative state. 

And now on to quiet mind/quiet body.  This is finding that comfy spot and and quieting your mind.  The key for any quiet mind meditation is learning how to silence those voices in the back of your head that keep talking about the things you need to get at the store for the house, that nagging thing that you didn't quite do right at work, the errands that you need to run, the bills that you need to pay.  You learn to acknowledge the thought and then let it slip by.  At first, I would clearly think to myself, "Yep, I got it." And then move on.  As part of my pagan learning, I learned to use those thoughts as cues to go deeper into the meditation.  Same with noises around me that I can't control.  You'll find that there are different positions that you can or cannot be in.  My hands cannot touch my head or arms, but resting on my abdomen is good.  

The other thing to consider is music.  Music helps on a few different levels.  First, the ups and downs of the music.  Most music has some sorts of peaks and valleys.  If you are into the meditation, your journey will follow those peaks and valleys.  If that is part of your plan, then it's good.  If it isn't, then you need different music.  Having a rhythm and a sound that speaks to you is important.  Miel finds some types of trancy club music to be good for her.  I love Liquid Mind for my meditation.  But also Gregorian chants, tribal drumming, and any of the new age music or soundscapes can work pretty well.  One of the things that I love about using Gregorian chants is that I can't actually tell what they are saying so it allows the voices of the gods to materialize in them for me.  A good steady drum beat is fantastic.  Often hard to find, but still fantastic background to help you dive deeper and deeper into your meditation.

So why use meditation?  It isn't a Wiccan thing per se, but a lot of Wiccans use it as a tool.  For Blue Star, it is one of our Paths of Power.  If you can hush your mind or use the active mind to journey, then you can connect with your higher self, your subconscious and/or the gods.  You can use meditation as a jumping off point to learn move about trance work, lucid dreaming, astral projection, A strong meditation practice can aid in self healing and pain management.  

I used meditation during labor and delivery.  I don't think that I could have made it through without.  Labor came hard and fast.  But we put on my music (Liquid Mind -- I had enough peaks and valleys coming with the contractions) and I slipped into deep meditation.  I know that nurses and midwives and even doctors came in and out of the room, but I don't consciously know it.  I know they tried to move me over a couple of times and because it was disruptive to my meditation, I resisted but I stayed pretty deep.  There was no screaming, yelling, cursing my husband or any of that.  

If meditation can manage that pain, you know it can be a powerful tool.  I encourage you to develop your meditation practice.  Find the methods that work for you and master them.  Move on and experiment with the other ones until you can simply slip into that meditative state on demand and without extra tools.  

Enjoy.  Peace.

All the best, 

Lapis

We Are a People of the Library, Not of the Book

A wise man once said that about pagans... Steven Posch to be specific about it.  Steven Posch is one of the leaders of our local pagan community.  He'll be doing the opening ritual at Pagan Pride by the way.  We do not have a single book that defines our religion like many other religions.  We have books and books and books.  We have historical books, herb books, mythology books, fiction books, archaeology books, etc.  

Miel and I were talking about what books to put down on our reading list.  We've sadly discovered that we apparently gave up reading books on Wicca or Witchcraft a while back.  So many of them are just crap.  The books that we refer back to over and over are reference books.  The books that remain on my shelf after 20 something years are reference materials.  The same is true for Miel.  

The biggest secret about magic...   Is that it is inside of you.  You don't need a book to tell you about it.  What you need is time and introspection.  Magic is happening all around you all the time.  You just have to stop and notice it.  

Did you see Apollo drive his chariot across the sky today?  And did you notice Demeter gathering the grains and turning Summer to Fall?  And will you see the work of Diana as the moon rises?  

Now, stop and be still for a moment.   Actually take notice of the world around you.  Find the magic.  You can do it!

Now, if you need a book or two to get started, I still keep on my shelves the following books:

Spiral Dance by Starhawk

Wicca: A Comprehensive Guide to the Old Religion in the Modern World 

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner

And a little meditation music to go with them



All the best, 

Lapis