Incense

Granular incense is a beautiful way to purify a sacred space, make and offering, change the energy around you, and shift the feel of your home. It has been used through the ages and is increasing in popularity as this century trundles along. With its energetic properties being so cleansing its a great way to keep the energy around you feeling positive.

Granular incense differs from ” joss sticks” in its appearance and in the way you burn it. The amount of scented “smoke” that it creates is more than with joss too – meaning the mood it creates is often different too. It is sprinkled onto a disc of charcoal, placed in a heatproof bowl,  and this can create a room full of scented mist very quickly so its worth using a tiny bit at a time until you are more used to using this method. Another method is to use it in a little unscented base oil in an essential oil burner. This is a much more gentle way to use it and one I’d recommend if scenting the home is your intention.

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It is usually made of a resin base, ground down  , and then flowers, barks, essential oils and any number of herbs and spices are added. Look up properties of different resins and plants before you begin, and make sure that they safe for animals* and humans. It depends on your aim for the incense, and what properties you’d like it to posess, and energy you’d like it to create. and then enjoy experimenting! Use your common sense and realise that you probably know far more than you think you do – frankinsense for purification, rose for love and cinnamon to warm you on a cold winters day. The possibilities are endless. Mix a little at a time and see where it takes you.

 

  • I feel its important not to use granular incense on charcoal in rooms with animals.
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Brrrrrrrr

There’s a folk saying that I usually take notice of:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright, 

Winter will have another flight,

But if Candlemas day be wind and rain, winter has gone

and won’t be back again!

Now for the life of me I can’t remember what the weather was like on Candlemas, but I presume it was fair and bright, as this is the coldest February I have known in a LONG time. We have had glorious days that tell of Spring, but they have all disappeared this week haven’t they? Brrr!

There is other weather lore that one can follow. I’m not sure why I was so distracted this year, but I shall be sure to follow it next – and I’m going to research what applies for the rest of the year too.

If you note down the weather for the last 12 days of January, its meant to indicate the weather for the next 12 months, and the same for the last 3 days indicating the weather for Spring. I have to say its always been pretty accurate when I’ve observed it. If you have any memories of weather from that time, take note and add it to the relevant month.

This week we are cold. I have made public one of the meditations from the online subscription service for us all to share this week. Its a body scan to relax the body and clear it of any tension, and then goes into a very simplified microcosmic orbit breath to generate some internal warmth. I hope you enjoy it and it helps you to through this cold snap. ( I keep talking like this week is IT, cause I’m sending positive energy to Spring so it hopefully happens sooner rather than later! If its any comfort, I observed that the Summer following the last long harsh winter that we had was a scorcher.) It talks of the darkest of weeks, cause as you can see it was for January – so ignore that detail and enjoy the rest.

Loads of love xxx

 

Easter Energy

If you’re like me then on Christmas Eve you’ll feel the magic all around. I’m not Christian so for me it has nothing to do with joy at the birth of the Son ( I celebrate that at Yule and my Sun is spelt differently 🙂 ), and it has nothing to do with me thinking that Santa is coming down the chimney to bring me all those things that I had been hoping for, for sadly that sleighbell stopped chiming for me long ago. It may have something to do with the Sun beginning his ascent on the Horizon, and I think it has a lot to do with the Spirit of Mid Winter riding across the sky, playing his part in the Great Hunt. What I do think it has a lot to do with is collective consciousness. So many people , of varying ages, waiting expectantly.  The night will be magic, whether it is because those mince pies will be gone in the morning , or because those candles will be lit at midnight.

This collective consciousness also touches me at Easter. The Spring Equinox is often long gone with the moving dates of the weekend, but the energy of renewal is still all around us. With that in  mind sometimes its hard to acknowledge the deep dark sadness of Good Friday.

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I always feel it. And I always revel in it. I feel a deep reverence for the sacrifice made, and the grief of His loved ones. I feel the collective grief pouring from the Christian mind. I sit in this stillness and I reflect.

What endings do I need to make, what sacrifices? What should I learn from this pause?

I feel it touch me and envelop me, and I stop, and I listen.

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Then on Easter Sunday the energy is joyous. The voices from the Churches are happy and hopeful, and families gather together. Even if its simply a time of rest, the Sun is usually shining and the activity great. ( If you live where I live then there’s a definite gardening frenzy!) Love is all around.

This week in meditation group we are going to look at these two strong energies. The coming Full Moon has filled us with positivity , but with the planetary predictions for next week, the coming darkness will be a welcome time of introvertion, regrouping and rest. We will sit within that energy and imagine ourselves filled with the beauty of the night sky.

Then we will send LOVE and PEACE to all across the globe, without and within, to all who suffer, including ourselves.

 

What is Meditation?

What is meditation?

Meditation is active relaxation. It is a spell of time when you allow the body to be still but the mind is focussed. When you are meditating your mind may wonder but you recognise this and return it to your focus – be that observing your breath as it moves in and out of your body, a journey in a guided meditation, or a mantra. ( It can be a multitude of things) It allows you to observe your body and your mind, and a feeling of emotional stillness and energetic rejuvenation can follow.

What meditation is not.

Meditation is not something you do when you’re driving.  It is not when you sit and have a little bit of time relaxing with a cup of tea while your mind wonders over the days events. It isn’t listening to the birds and watching them flit about the feeder. It isn’t looking at your crystal collection. These are all things that I love to do – but they are not meditation. They are passive relaxation.

What meditation can do for you.

Regular meditation practice can improve your stress levels. It can give you a far stronger coping mechanism when times are tough. It can give you a healthy detachment from your emotional reactions – giving you the space to observe your emotions and understand  them rather than BE them. It can improve your focus and productivity in many areas of your life. It can help you to develop Spiritually. It can help you to think with clarity, wisdom and give you insight.

Again, what meditation is NOT.

Meditation is not a quick fix. It is a skill like any other that takes practise.

Meditation can give you so much , but you must be prepared to put in the time to help it along. It can allow issues to resurface too, maybe time for you to be aware of a physical ailment, but alongside that should be the strength to go forward with that issue – whether you feel that it is OK just to be aware of it, or feel you should get professional help. A lot of meditation is self awareness. Your body and mind may resist. A change in the status quo can be seen as dangerous by the subconscious, but please keep trying. It really is so, so worth it.

The Goddess Hekate

This is an article that I wrote for a magazine a while ago. I thought I’d share it with you.

Hekate , ancient Goddess of the Crossroads, older than Zeus, omnipresent in my life. The Goddess I hope I’m never without. Light and Darkness in equal measure and perfect balance. To me a true mother energy – respect Her, love Her, honour Her and She will encourage, protect and nurture you like no other…..cross Her at your peril. Written about for centuries and around the World. Inspiring new followers daily, encouraging her current followers constantly.

I was at the first ever Hekate Symposium in Glastonbury, when one of the speakers, Lezley Cunningham Wood uttered the sentences that are yet to leave me:

Hekate will always give you opportunities to fulfill your true potential. You may not take those opportunities, its up to you, but really, its best that you do.”

You see it is easy to stay small. Its far safer to keep your head below that parapet. These things make for a simpler life perhaps. But then, what sort of life would that be?

I had recently pushed myself out of another comfort zone, that of working as a solitary, and joined a group dedicated to Hekate. They needed a statue or painting as a focus. I thought to myself, no…you’re kidding me? You want me to do that? You want me to put my hand up to THAT? Putting my artwork in front of other devotees? I took a deep breath, resigned myself to my fate, hit “send” and the rest , as they say, is history.

I got the job of painting the Goddess Hekate for that group. It was the most challenging, rewarding and humbling experience. The connection I made with Her at that time is yet to leave me. There was the incredible time when she told me off for not listening to instructions about the colour of her dress, and whilst painting Her face she filled me with so much emotion that I wept. It was the most beautiful face I have ever seen and something I never, ever thought myself capable of. I truly painted that picture WITH Her. I felt her hand around mine as I crafted that image, all to Her specifications and craft it I did. I could feel the magic build with every brush stroke.

I continue to paint Her. Images come into my mind, or are given to me when I communicate with Her on the New Moons. It is always an honour to be crafting her image, and I only work with the information She gives me. Sometimes it will not make any sense until a long time after its finished– like the time a visitor pointed out the life in the Hekate mandala as well as the death, a detail that hadn’t become apparent to me before then, even though I’d kept looking at it, trying to see what else it was trying to tell me. The point is, she has shown me to trust in my own abilities. Art is so subjective, you either love an image or you don’t. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the artist’s perceived skill. It can simply be that the image is one that resonates with the individual, or not. Hekate has taught me these things. She has shown me what I am capable of, and I will continue to be capable of, and its more than I ever could have imagined. Every time I do a painting I am stunned by what I can achieve. Please don’t think this is indicative of ego, simply lack of belief. I certainly don’t think I’m better at anything that anyone else. But that’s another lesson from Her – to be all that you can be. To be secure in yourself. To walk your own path, with confidence and strength. She may push you, oh but the YOU that you become!

It was at a local MBS that I met Paul from New Age Music Garden. I was meant to be there giving healing, but it had fallen through as my colleague couldn’t be there. I had just finished a course in teaching meditation and so I again pushed myself and offered my services for the workshop space. It paid off! I spent time with some wonderful people there who I am still in contact with, and I met Paul Landry, whose work you can see on his website.

Paul can still remember the moment I stood speechless as he asked me if I was interested in making some recordings of guided meditations? I remember wondering why I was being pushed so hard, at such an exhilarating rate, why couldn’t I just plod a LITTLE BIT? Challenge after challenge after challenge. But then I will never forget the first time She came to me , peering at me through the darkness. I shall see if you are worthy, she said. Prove yourself to me and we’ll talk. The relationship is never one way. That’s a fallacy. As with so much in Spirit, you show devotion and dedication to your relationship and it will build, and be so rewarding. Just like a friendship. You don’t expect to walk into someone’s house having only said hello in the street once do you? You don’t forget to show up to an arranged meeting and expect it to be OK. So I worked and I worked and I showed her that I wished to work with Her. So there I was, working again. Another challenge. Proving myself to her again. Lezley’s words spinning though my brain, while I dreamt of sitting under a duvet, and I agreed to look at it.

We started to discuss our plans. I realised rapidly how lucky I was to be working with such a talented musician and such a supportive colleague. Thank you again Hekate. I work with his music in my meditation group, and it truly has an existence and magic all of its own. It can fit into any guided visualisation, as if you have planned it so well to fit.

It became apparent to us both very quickly that whatever our plans were, She had others. And if I’m honest, I breathed a sigh of relief. She would be with me for our first project, and guide me, and guide the listener. The images that she wanted to convey came to me clearly, and although they might seem a little non conformist to general Hekate idealogy, they are as She wanted them, so I remain faithful they will be adored. After all , they are more Her work than mine. And guide us through the process She did. Through trials and errors, deadlines compromised and personal upheavals, She was there, keeping it safe, keeping us safe. She guided Paul too, working with his beautiful music, and keeping it to the time scale She required. No discs for the Symposium this year, it can be delivered there yes, but the discs….they’re for an event at Olympia.

And that’s something else people don’t always realise. Her sense of humour. Olympia? Oh good grief.

The backlash against meditation

It has come to my attention that the backlash against mindfulness and meditation has begun. If you want my opinion – with very good reason. Recent articles have appeared in the Guardian , and apparently it was written about in the New Scientist this weekend.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/25/mental-health-meditation

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/22/seven-myths-about-meditation

It would seem that in the western world we wish for sticking plasters. We want to feel better immediately. We want the quick fix. So when people become stressed or depressed, mentally ill, we sell them something – medication or maybe mindfulness. But where is the acknowledgement that something may have caused this situation in the first place? Yes , some people are lucky enough to be offered counselling to deal with those causes. If you’re super lucky you get 6 weeks on the NHS. Six weeks to solve all of your problems. Or six weeks to learn how to think differently , and learn how your negative thought patterns may have been damaging.

This is a very positive thing. I am fully aware that the NHS can only do so much, and I’m aware that they do a lot more than that in serious cases. But again I ask – what about the original causes? Surely not dealing with them properly merely masks the causes of a lot of the many mental health issues. Part of this backlash is about how mindfulness doesn’t suit all (and I agree. There is a difference between suiting all, and being suitable for all.)  But also the “side effects” of meditation. That is, the problems that come to the surface with the mental expansion that meditation brings. The things we had so neatly locked away deep inside float up to the top, and we really didn’t want to see them again.

This should ultimately be a good thing in the long term for many. Things buried deep are far better dealt with, and will effect our health long-term if left ignored. But we shouldn’t have to face them alone, or with someone who isn’t qualified to help steer us through those possibly traumatic emotions – or simply refer us to a different professional. Maybe even at a time that isn’t appropriate for an individual and their personal development. This is where the problems begin in my eyes.

Mindfulness is being spoken of as the cure all, the suits everyone, the perfect thing. On the Mental Health Awareness website, I had to check that I hadn’t been sent to another site, it was being spoken of so much. Its being used by corporations to help workers increase productivity. In a recent article I read about its use in schools , it spoke mainly of higher grades. Now I’m in no way belittling the raised self esteem that these things can bring, and the positive feelings of self worth that reaching your full potential can accomplish, but how about feeling comfortable within yourself without exterior validation? How about the calmness it allows you feel, giving you appropriate perspective on your problems? The inner peace?

Meditation should always be a spiritual practice. This doesn’t however, need to mean religious, even though its roots lie deep within the Hindu religion. Its about feeling that connection with Spirit in all its forms – the leaves on the trees and the breeze in the grass, the web of life of which we are allAAAAAA part. It is about learning about yourself, and your interaction with others and your place in the Universe. It is not about meeting deadlines and higher grades. It is about being calm within yourself, that you can focus easily and achieve your best- whatever part of your life that falls in. And that connection is so much stronger if the pain deep inside has been faced, the anger that you can’t articulate has dissipated as you understand your reactions to emotions, yours and others. If you can face life’s adversities then life itself is enhanced. But for some these must not be faced alone and without support, and people should not be lead into a meditation practice without the full facts of the changes that will come.

I am always very careful in my meditation group that during a meditation people only face the things that they, and I , can deal with. Path workings are gentle and comforting, and I regularly remind them how safe they are – wherever I take them. Lets hope that the care for meditation students can become as self-aware as we wish our students to be – a truly holistic approach. Recommend a style of care that will suit each person, and cater for their needs as a whole , rather than simply hand them the cure all sticking plaster of deep breathing and send them on their way.