Our Wedding – 23/7/13

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Last week I got married.
Where do I even go from there? Nothing I say here will even come close to explaining just how magical the ceremony was nor how amazing my now husband and I felt on that day. But alas, I promised a post about the ceremony so here it is!

What is Marriage?

To me and my husband, marriage is a stepping stone to raising a family (that doesn’t mean we believe it’s necessary for others but for us it’s important) and having a family has been one of my lifetime goals since I was a little girl. In fact, Brian and I have very similar life time goals, including raising a family, and this was the reason we decided to get married. Sure, we love each other and that’s a lot of the reason why we’re still together but it’s not the reason why we got married.

Marriage is how you say to the world “we’re a team and we will deal with everything together”. It’s a guarantee to our future children that there will always be someone there who will love and take care of them because we are bound not only by law to each other but also by our souls; in both inner and outer worlds so to speak.

We chose to hold the ceremony on the full moon as this is when I believe my power is at it’s greatest (plus it’s pretty).

The Spiral Aisle

Our aisle was created by our guests into the shape of a spiral. To me, walking into the center of the spiral signified entering into the inner world. Before we walked down the aisle we stood at the entry accompanied by our wedding party, while our celebrant explained the extent of the commitment Brian and I were about to make to us and our guests. He then asked us both separately if we were here of our own free will and accord. Our bridal party then walked down the aisle, alternating boys/girls, followed by me and Brian walking together hand-in-hand. We then conducted the spiritual ceremony in the center of the spiral.

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Blessings, Cleansing and Drawing Down of the God and Goddess

The inner circle of the spiral aisle consists of the Bridal Party, our family and then our friends around the outside. Once we have settled into the center of the aisle our celebrant asks our guests if we have their blessings. There’s a number of ways to do this but we chose to get our guests to yell it out all at once. It took about 3 goes to get a good loud response from everyone but it made everyone relax – with such an out of the ordinary wedding I feel this really loosened up the atmosphere a bit (and stopped me from shaking with nerves haha).

We were then cleansed and told to leave our worldly worries behind us so as we may focus on our wedding ceremony. We chose to use salt water but you could use anything really as long as you feel new and free afterwards. After the cleansing we called down the God and Goddess into Brian and I respectively. Our celebrant placed a crystal wand on one of our shoulders then starting with Brian said:

“Brian, I ask you to call upon all that is divine within you, let it come forth and shine. In you lives the essence of the Gods, the active force that has sparked and powered all life.You are he who has been worshiped and adored throughout the ages. You are husband, father, lover, protector, visionary, friend and confidant. In you is everything that anyone could ever aspire to be and more. In you is strength and wisdom, perfection and peace. Shine mighty one and show to all the God within.”

“Amanda, I ask you to call upon all that is divine within you, let it come forth and shine. In you dwells the essence of the Great Mother and the divine feminine principle of the Universe. You are she who has been worshiped and adored throughout the ages. You are wife, mother, healer, friend, prophet, and confidant. In you is everything that any one could ever aspire to be and more. In you is strength and wisdom, perfection and peace. Shine dear one and show your true nature as Goddess.”

This felt right for us as Brian and I identify with the qualities of the God and Goddess however it could be the other way around. It doesn’t have to be God=the man and Goddess=the woman. Nor does it even have to be a God/Goddess at all, it could be anything as long as it makes you feel strong and like your true, inner self.

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Exchanging Rings, Handfasting Ritual and the Vows

We then cleansed our wedding rings in water from the place we got engaged, again this can be done in any way. Wedding rings are still an important wedding tradition in modern times (if I could do it again though I would try harder to find Brian an engagement ring and plan a proposal for him). Our rings are in the shape of a circle which has no beginning and no end, a circle symbolises a continuing bond and the equality of the wearers. We chose rings that had a similar theme (mine is in the shape of leaves and his is inlaid with wood) which we believe links us and our common goals. Once they were cleansed we handed them to our parents to ‘warm’ – they infused good thoughts, feelings, advice, etc into them.

We were then given our rings to hand to the other if we chose to be wed. First Brian, then me. We put the rings on each other then said some standard vows.

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Our celebrant then called upon our mothers who were minding each of our handfasting cords (which we made ourselves). Our celebrant twisted them together and then tied them around our clasped hands.

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Whilst our hands were clasped we stated our personal vows. As a general thing I said what I believe our marriage will be about and promises that I intend to keep. I also spoke about what I wish for our future.

Removal of Handfasting and Blessing of the Hands

At this point we let our hands go, leaving the handfasting cord tied. A red sash was then draped over our holding hands again and a blessing was said over them.

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today tomorrow and for the rest of your lives.These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy.These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. And lastly, these ARE the hands that, even in the twilight of your years, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

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After the blessing of the hands, we sealed our vows with a kiss then exited the spiral and went to do all the legal stuff. At this point we then walked back down the aisle to be presented as Mr. and Mrs. where our friends and family congratulated us on our way back out and rained rose petals over us.

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Conclusion

I think if I could do it over again, there would be a few things I would change. In saying that though I’m extremely happy with how things went on the day and it’s only in hindsight I have those thoughts.

Brian and I wanted to create a ceremony which reflects us as people and clearly represents the people who we aim to become. We want future generations to not be restrained to having traditional beliefs, ceremonies, rituals, etc just because that’s what’s expected. It was a hard journey as most of our family were very skeptical of what we had planned, but in the end it turned out beautiful and everyone was pleased and moved by how emotional it was.

Rituals are important to me, you just have to look back through my posts to see that. This one was one of the most important ones that I will ever have to attend and I’m glad we chose to personalise it as much as we did.

Note: Please don’t steal any of these photos. They are images of a very important and vulnerable time for Brian and I. We would appreciate your respect and understanding in making sure that if you want to share them, to keep the corresponding information with them. Thank you.

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Happy New Year – Dark Moon

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This weekend was the Dark of the Moon and lucky for me I got the weekend off work. My fiance and I went camping in the middle of the Australian bush next to a beautiful river that flowed down from the mountains. I saw this as the opposite of the first full moon of 2013 as it marks the end or beginning of the first moon cycle of the year (depending on how you look at it I guess).

Not much conscious decision making or planning went into this trip. I’d only gotten the weekend off maybe two days beforehand, we started packing at 10.30pm the night before which led to us forgetting a bunch of stuff and we hadn’t even really decided where we were going until we started unpacking the car. I must say though, it was one of the best holidays I’ve had.

The purpose of the get away, for me, was to celebrate the new moon but I didn’t take any of my ritual items a part from my diary and some herbs. In hindsight though everything I needed was there – Brian and I, nature, a fire, some paper and a pen. This year is a big one for us as individuals and us as a couple. Big changes are coming, our personalities will be tested and we’ll be pushed to our limits. Lots of decisions need to be made, responsibilities need fulfilling and experiencing life needs to be made a priority. We talked, contemplated, laughed, made love, feared and comforted each other. We learnt about each other as we always do whilst camping – it always leaves us closer together than when we start unpacking the tent on the first day (a clear sign is how much we fight when we’re putting it up vs. taking it down).

Before we were about to leave we washed ourselves in the river and both wrote down our wishes and hopes for the coming year. We read them to each other and they both contained the same basic elements – then we sent them down the river.

Pagan Blog Project #1 – “C” is for Cannabis

Yep, I don’t do things half-assed – my first topic for the Pagan Blog Project will be about one of the most controversial substances of our time.

Introduction

Out of curiosity I did a bit of my own research on Cannabis and it was extremely hard to find any unbiased information on the plant – on one hand there are people saying it should be legal and other people who think it should stay illegal. Both parties had their extremists and, as a studying herbalist who has been taught to do research upon more research, nothing I’ve been able to find has really convinced me that either side is right or wrong.
Again, as a studying herbalist, I disagree with the amount of control the government holds over us – it seems a little bit hypocritical when I see doctors handing out prescription only medication like they’re lollies. But I know it’s not every doctor and I understand the reasons behind the scheduling of a wide majority of substances, not just cannabis. In my personal opinion I think cannabis should be offered as medication and treated like any other medication, but I also believe that more power should be given to qualified herbalists. We should be able to prescribe cannabis to people who would most benefit from it eg. cancer patients going through chemotherapy.3
Personally, I use it in spiritual ceremonies, recreationally and for anxiety – particularly social anxiety. I use it to allow an opening of my mind whilst also allowing inner dialogue to come through without over thinking it (which I have a habit of doing if you haven’t already noticed). A lot of my close friends and family use cannabis – a few of them being highly addicted. But I also have friends and family who are extremely against it and just from talking to them I know that they’re uneducated about the whole situation.

I don’t see it as a drug – I see it as another herb that allows me to change the body, mind, emotion and spirit of an individual. Just like any other medicinal herb. Of course if you abuse it you can get into a lot of trouble, but you can abuse anything. This is why I think it’s important that a qualified practitioner such as a Herbalist or Naturopath be given more power.

General Information

*Botanical Name: Cannabis sativa & Cannabis indica. Subspecies sativa is used for it’s fibre and seed oil (among other things) whilst subspecies indica is used for medicinal and recreational purposes.1
*Medicinal Properties: Intoxicant, sedative, analgesic, anti-emetic. Traditional uses include the treatment of pain, rheumatism and asthma. The herb has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic medicine and TCM since ancient times. In the 19th century, marijuana was popularly used as a pain killer especially for menstrual cramps. Nowadays it is used for nausea caused by chemotherapy, depression and lack of appetite in AIDS patients and to lower intra-ocular pressure in cases of glaucoma. Seeds are still used in Chinese medicine as a mild treatment of constipation in elderly people and as a superfood for a nutritional boost.1 4
*Parts Used: The female flowers, associated leaves and the resin which contain the highest amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC has been the only chemical found in the plant to cause the hallucinogenic effects on the central nervous system. However, in my research I have come across the drug Marinol which contains the synthesized version of THC and has had many side effects including death.1 2

Ritual

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As stated previously I use cannabis as a way to open my mind – this can be extremely useful when I’m meditating for a particular purpose that I don’t think I can accomplish on my own. On numerous occasions I’ve heard cannabis being referred to as a ‘teacher plant’ – one of the many actually (Ayahuasca being another).
This I completely agree with because when I first started smoking, one of my friends from high school died in a car crash. It felt like after that that someone had shaken up my brain and all the information that was stored in there was out of place. The reason why I liked it was because it taught me how to get past the grief and sort everything else in my life out at the same time. It’s also taught me things about other plants and many other things besides.
I started using it in ritual about a year and a half ago after I meditated a few times high and learnt some amazing things about myself and the people around me that I would never had if I was sober – things that I use in everyday life now.

I set up the ritual as usual then roll a joint (1 part mugwort, 1 part damiana, 1 part lions tail, 1 part cannabis). Ideally I would have it sitting on my altar for a couple of days before I smoke and keep a majority of my herbs on or next to my altar. Whilst doing this I think about the purpose of the ritual and what it is I want to learn during the meditation. Of course, you still want some sort of intuitive flow so it’s important you don’t become too rigid with the question or intent. It’s also equally important to have a bullshit filter to avoid your mind going in circles or latching on to every tiny thought (meditating for 15 minutes before smoking or my Meditation flower essences can assist with that).
Next Cannabis will usually take me to the place I need to go this can be in the form of an overwhelming desire to walk down to the park or art gallery or to simply sit on the balcony. When I’m in the right space physically and mentally, I will meditate. Guided meditations are extremely helpful for me, however I’ve only come across a couple that I like it’s important that you look around a bit (music, movies or being in nature can also assist).
Next I will usually draw, paint or write what it is I see, hear or experience. Once I have what I need I usually have something high in protein to ground me again (plus some flower essences and water). Having a shower or bath or simply taking a nap can also be effective – this is why it’s important I have an entire day or night to conduct such a ritual.

Note

In my experience Cannabis needs to be smoked with respect and reverence – even if it’s just recreationally. Being educated on the herb itself and being aware of where it’s come from (hydro or bush) is also important so that you can gauge how much you will need. Of course everyone is different so it’s essential for your first time smoking to be with someone you can 100% trust, in a place that you know and that you know how to meditate effectively. Generally, it’s extremely harmful to smoke cannabis with tobacco – this is usually how people develop an addiction to cannabis. Do yourself a favour and chop up with some other herbs that can enhance the effects or offset the potential side effects.

Conclusion

It’s a bit of a riskay post but I use it a lot in my practice and I thought it was appropriate to document on my spiritual blog. Of course there is a lot more to a ritual or ceremony than meets the eye or that can be recorded in words. If anyone has any questions or comments I encourage you to come straight to me with it and I will answer or listen to the best of my ability.

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Happy New Year – The First Full Moon of 2013

Full Moon Ritual Jan 2013

Full Moon Ritual Jan 2013

Even though I still celebrate New Years on the 31st of December like all the other people I’ve grown up with, the first full moon in January is where I really get down to business. Thankfully it also fell on the long weekend – so I actually got time to plan and conduct a decent ritual (and document it!).

Introduction

Even since this post I’ve been feeling pretty good about the things I’ve accomplished over the last few months. At the risk of sounding completely cliche I felt like it was the beginning of the rest of my life. I’ve been really getting my butt into gear with documenting this stuff – even finally going so far as to buy a decent journal to write it in so I may pass it on. This ritual was basically about saying thanks and a celebration of allowing these things to happen – I also cleansed and blessed a few of my new tools and projects for the near future.

The Ritual

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The besom

I had the house to myself today so I got to use the living room – I felt like I needed a bigger table and a more communal place to work from as this is magic that will potentially effect all areas of my life; not just my spiritual side. I set up the space as I usually would (click here to view a basic structure of a ritual) and then used my besom to sweep around the outside to banish any negative energy that may effect the outcome of the spell/ritual. I then spoke to the God and Goddess and thanked them for giving me the opportunity to be creative again (I cast a spell a little while back asking for them to ‘Reawaken the passion, reawaken the creativity”). I then cleansed and blessed all the objects I have recently collected to turn into ritual and divination tools. I also cleansed and dedicated my new tools to the God and Goddess. I named my new Journal – Nwyfre Raven-seer  (click here to view the rest of the ritual for Raven).
After this was done I had something to eat, put some music on and celebrated the new year. I remembered where I’ve been over the last year and reflected on my accomplishments – I thought about what I wanted to achieve this year and beyond.

Attune to Self Through Herbs and Nature – Week 3

Check In
Last week when I got there Kate was standing out the front. A lady walked past and asked if we worked in the shop; we shook our heads. She poked her head into the store, for some reason this prompted me to walk inside. This forced her to come in. I believe I did this for a reason because she joined the group after Nikki explained to her what we were all there for. There was also a bush fire somewhere close as we could all smell the smoke. We were told to think of an emotion – I chose fear.
“Resting in Awareness” I felt very still – by myself.

Passionflower
Felt my heart beating. The herb was “asking to be recognised” – this could be in reference to the fact I’d been prescribing passionflower all week and had not recognised it. I wanted to crush it between my fingers to begin with; I really wanted to play with it in my hand. The taste reminded me of black tea with milk. The taste then seemed to change every time I took a sip. At this point we were guided into meditation by MaYanya; we were told to picture a ribbon at the base of our spine (mine was red) and then unravel it using the breath (one vertebrae at a time) to the top of our spine where a flame was lit. The brow, third eye and crown chakras were activated and opened – this was facilitated by Nikki who was walking around touching us on certain parts of the body (she cradled my head at one point, touching the sides and the space between my brows; after this the space between my brows tingled until the end of the meditation). We were then directed to imagine a pillar of concentrated light expanded down and into the body where it was directed into the stomach area (inspired by this video – that isn’t the original music btw). This helped the release of emotion through the body. I held my hands at my stomach in a triangle shape (pointing downwards) and went into a deep meditation and far away. I imagined myself in this scene.
On waking my sense of touch was much enhanced; I liked the feel of my dress and the carpet I was laying on. Light sensitivity was also present.

Calamus Root Powder “After sending the mercury, silvery energy to the moon and back 3 times my area felt a lot stronger – more tangible” – direct quote from my notes. “We were taken into a pool of liquid in the stomach that looked like silver mercury. We expanded our light body to a field around the body, and then traveled in our light bodies to the moon and back, clearing all the emerging energies from the stomach that were activated by the passionflower” – direct quote from MaYanya’s notes. At the beginning and the end MaYanya instructed us to touch and feel our aura or light body. This is when I noticed that my aura was a lot stronger and more tangible.. I felt that I could physically feel the edges. Others in the group seemed to be getting quite a bit of movement in the stomach area – I didn’t feel anything noteworthy.

Horny Goat Weed
Nothing really noteworthy here. It gave me a soft feeling and I had a circular movement happening within my body (clockwise). MaYanya says that it “anchored us back in to the base center from whence we had journeyed and pulled us back into the body after our ‘cosmic’ handing over of our emotions into the energy body of the moon”.

Check Out
Afterward I felt strong and alive. I was bouncing around the shop and was extremely keen to do our ‘sound’ (at the end of every session we all make a sound to bring us back into the world and to also acknowledge the beings and say thanks). I felt that it helped me get through this week unscathed as it was very emotionally charged for me. I still came home and was extremely exhausted but it’s taken me a day to recover when normally 2 or 3 would be needed.
NOTE: We don’t find out what herbs they are until the very end.
NOTE: Everything written in “quotation marks” is a direct quote from MaYanya, Nikki or one of the other people of the group.