4SJ2014 | Opening Gathering

About the Opening Gathering (OG)

The Opening Gathering was about connecting with my fellow Mermaids, creating a stable foundation and feeling out my intentions for the year ahead.

My Thoughts

“I had the most AMAZING time at the Opening Gathering to my Four Seasons Journey! There really are no words to explain how blissful and safe I felt when I was there and how calm I feel now.
Change is coming and I’m totally OK with this ❤ ❤ ❤
BRING IT ON UNIVERSE.”

I have this image in my head of sitting in The Grove next to the creek whilst I was creating my drum. I’m surrounded by my fellow Mermaids, in this contained space. Someone is humming gently whilst she weaves. I smell sage, Earth and raw deer hide. The air is warm and every now and then a cool breeze caress’ my face. The stream gently weaves itself through the Earth and around rocks. Frogs and small birds are speaking to one another. The sun streams down through the leaves of the trees, creating patterns of shadows on everything around me.
I feel completely safe and calm in this moment. I have the quiet support of everyone around me – someone starts to play a flute softly.

I left feeling revitalized and content with my lot in life. My fear of vulnerability was something I really needed to overcome to get the most out of it all and once I did that, I began to learn a lot about myself.

…and it’s just the beginning!

What I Learnt

I learnt about vulnerability and how to hold space for someone else to show their vulnerability.
I learnt how big of a role my birth plays in how I process and how I create.
I made a drum out of raw deer hide and learnt how to get past my negative self talk regarding my creative process.
I learnt about altars, rituals and cycles (foundational knowledge).
Most of all I learnt about myself and I got regular glimpses of who I really am.
I learnt how reluctant I am to share things with others; how embarrassed and awkward I get when I do share.

Course Work

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Altars

Altars

Introduction

Altars are an integral part of my practice. I use them as a spiritual connection – somewhere I can pray, meditate and send offerings. I also use them in my craft as a witch – for spells and as a place to focus my energy.
I think altars are important for everyone and not just as a spiritual tool. It’s your space and it’s something that you have complete control over. To tend to it daily also sets up a healthy ritual for your mind; to help focus and calm.

How to Create an Altar

An altar can be literally anything. There really are no rules to how you set it up, what it contains or what you use it for. As long as it’s somewhere you walk past or interact with everyday then it’s classed as an altar. It can be a bookshelf full of your favourite books or a kitchen cupboard full of your favourite teapots and cups or even your garden!

Creating an altar is really about intuition. I use things which I have around the house – I very rarely buy anything new for my altar (but you can totally deck out your space with brand new things if you wish).

Follow this link to my Spellwork and Ritual Category where you can check out some altars I’ve done in the past.

The first thing you need to do is figure out why you’re setting up an altar. If it’s to help you reduce fear or pain in labour for example you would need to put objects on the altar that you associate with these things. An image of a powerful looking pregnant woman, an animal who you find inspiring in birth (elephants help their sisters in labour for example) some stones or oil that is said to aid in childbirth, etc etc.

Secondly, you will need to find things that you associate with your intention. The possibilities are literally endless – the most important thing here is to use whatever it is that you associate with the intention or end result. Something that seems powerful and appropriate for you. The more you do this, the easier it will be.
Also, it’s important that you don’t worry about getting it “wrong”, you don’t want that kind of energy coming through! (plus, it’s yours so you can’t get it wrong).

Finally, I like to have some sort of candle, incense or another kind of object that I need to interact with. I like the idea of having something that goes out into the air around me because I feel like it sends off my intentions into the universe (that will come back to me eventually). You can use this idea, or something else that you associate with the idea of sending out your intention or that you touch/use everyday. Your daily cup of tea is a great example. You could set up a little altar next to the jug with your favourite cup, favourite tea, a stone or some other object on top of a doily or cute placemat. Then when the jug boils you could meditate over your intentions, visualise what you want to happen or inhale the steam ritually. Use your imagination and come up with something that really resonates with you.

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4SJ2014 – Goals and Intentions

4SJ2014 - Goals and Intentions

Two weeks in to my Four Season Journey (4SJ) and I’m starting to get into the swing of things. I’ve been regularly writing in my Thirteen Moons Journal and recording any dreams that I have as soon as I wake up.

As part of the Course Work for the Opening Gathering (OG) I’ve got to come up with some intentions and goals to use in ceremony so I thought I’d do a bit of brainstorming here.

My Intentions

  • To learn about myself by connecting with the ancestral knowledge that I can feel lurking just beyond my reach in my subconscious.
  • To help other people access this same knowledge. I want to change the way people perceive the Feminine and through that, change the way they treat it/her.
  • To learn to use my intuition properly and to develop my divination skills.
  • To approach my life and my studies with curiosity, respect and acceptance.

My Goals

  • Make friends with like-minded people.
  • Get involved in discussions (and expressing my opinions regardless of what I think other people will think of me).
  • To feel more confident and well-spoken on the topic.
  • Allow my creativity to lead the way.
  • Make a drum, a medicine bag and a mask.
  • Make myself available to my community (and feel confident and proud at what I’m doing).

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.

Weather Observations – 21/5/13

A Mother duck and her ducklings.

A Mother duck and her ducklings.

It has taken a little longer than expected to get into the Winter mode. The warmer weather seems to have motivated some animals to reproduce – as far as I know I thought ducks only had ducklings during the Spring (so that they could raise their young whilst it was warm and there was more food around). During one of my runs I spotted a Mother duck with quite a few ducklings following her around.

It has been sunny during the day but not very warm. The temperature tends to drop pretty quickly once the sun sets and stays low until it rises again. I haven’t seen much fog though.

We have been having on and off rain – it began after the April floods. It started as a week rain/sprinkle then a week of sun and since then we have been seeing sun more often (with maybe a day or two of rain every few weeks).

Protection Ritual

Goal

My fiancé and I love helping people but sometimes we become too generous with our time and energy.

We’ve finally moved into our new house (still don’t have internet!) and it’s just him and I again. Now that we’re settled in, I want to create a protective barrier or ward around our property to:

1. Protect us from unwanted guests.

2. Make any invited guests feel safe.

3. Create a space that we can use to safely express ourselves.

4. Our energies are focussed on each other and our relationship (not exclusively but more so than usual).

Introduction

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Draft Diagram I’ve drawn in my journal – when I’m happy with the finished product I’ll copy this into Nwyfre Raven-seer.

Part One

The first part of this ritual began on the day we moved in. I smoke cleansed the property using sage and other incense (Jasmine and another one I’m not sure of).

I’m not sure if you can see it but in this picture you can tell that there is one side of the property that isn’t physically protected. Will probably put a sigil there in the form of a painting at some point.

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The Central Piece – containing a wish bone and a piece of Tourmaline.

Part Two

The second part involves this central piece that I’m going to use to concentrate the protective energy over the centre of the house.

I’m not sure of the wood I used but it’s flexible and easily manoeuvred into a circular shape without snapping. I also included a chickens wish bone (unbroken) and a piece of tourmaline.

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Anchor Side

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The Echidna side

Part Three

The third part consists of 5 Australian 5c pieces. I’ve drawn a picture of an anchor on each of them using white out. The reason I chose the 5c piece is because the Echidna appears on them. Echidnas are covered in quills and, when threatened, bury themselves so only their quills are visible. This strong and passive self defence seems to be relevant for what I have in mind.

Ritual

I buried the 5c pieces (anchor side down) into the ground at each corner of the property along with a couple of pieces of frankincense resin. I then walked the perimeter with the resin and sprinkled extra pieces all along the fences and outside doors.

I then meditated and visualised myself erecting strong and high walls all around and then I concentrated that energy into the centre piece.

Results

The rest of the day I danced in the backyard and in the afternoon I had a friend visit. Later into the night when my fiancè got home it begun to storm.

My friend ended up staying the night and we stayed up late talking.

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Something tried to bury in under the front gate.

A day or two later I opened the front gates to find that something either attempted to get onto the property or actually got in. I think I will strengthen the physical entry ways such as the gate and front and back doors.

Edit 11/5/13: On closer inspection of the hole I noticed that there was a mound of dirt on our side of the fence – meaning it would of had to of been digging it’s way out of the property. I still plan on strengthening the physical entry/exits.

Pagan Blog Project #2 – ‘C’ is for Children (and Culture)

I’m ‘creating’ a culture for my children.

How do Children relate to my spirituality or to paganism for that matter? Well, my children and my children’s children continue to be the inspiration for a lot of the choices I make, including why I study Druidry and worship the Earth. It became important around the time I begun learning about Global Warming and the damage humans inflict on nature – how will that effect future generations and is there a way we can change our lifestyle now to improve that?

I’ve never really had much of a culture (unless you call bigotry and alcoholism a culture) and in my study of nature, culture seems to be a key element in achieving a sustainable and successful civilisation. It’s also effected me on a personal level as I’ve always felt out of place and that there was something missing – Paganism filled that void temporarily but the relocation of my bloodline to a place completely different from my ancestors and everything that I relate to spiritually continues to make me feel like an intruder. I decided that trying to lay an entire Earth worshipping religion over a land that’s completely different to the land where it was originally created is a band aid solution to a problem that needs to be fixed from the inside out – it seems to be the only way to permanently fill this void. In a nutshell; I’m personalising old traditions and applying them to a new land and set of deities. I will then use that as a foundation to ‘maturing’ the culture that we already have. White Australian’s do have a culture it’s just not very accepting nor is it beautiful – it’s rough as guts, intimidating, and exclusive (even if you were born into it, if you don’t like drinking ‘X’ beer, watching ‘X’ sport and just being a general asshole to people then you are excluded or tormented).

To me culture and spirituality should be intertwined but not to the point where we confuse fact and imagination. Spirituality and imagination aren’t bad things but they should be developed on an individual level – not forced down children’s throats before they’re old enough to ask the questions themselves. I want to teach my children about art, I want to tell them stories about mythical creatures and Gods/Goddess’, I want to teach them about dreams and how to celebrate without having the adults they look up to getting drunk. These things for me are spiritual but I don’t want to force my particular beliefs on my children and I don’t want them mistaking what I believe as fact because it’s not – it’s just the way that I see the world.

I want my children to feel like they have a purpose and that they belong here. I want to teach them to have respect and a reverence for the Earth that we don’t experience in our current culture, so that they can be conscious of how they treat her and every being that lives here. I believe that practicing a form of spirituality that regularly worships nature can do that – it’s not the only way but it’s the only way that seems fun to me. Then I can develop a culture, using those principles, that I will feel comfortable raising my children in.

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A Dedication to the Goddess’ in my Life

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If anyone follows me on my tumblr or my facebook you might have already heard me talk of VDay or 1 Billion Rising. It’s a movement against violence; specifically against violence towards women. The website for 1 Billion Rising inspired me to create my own event where the people I know and love can come together and communicate.

My goal for this is to see the elephant in the room and get women and men talking about the issues of marital rape, casual sexism, spousal abuse, etc which are more common in our society. Other issues such as forced female circumcision, rape and other horrible things experienced more overseas will also be on our minds and tongues.
After creating this event I got quite a positive reaction from those closest to me which then inspired me to create this altar. The jewellery box was given to me by my great grandmother, the incense holder by my mother-in-law, the oil burner is from my mum, the necklace is from my sister and mum (I wear it during my period), the jar is filled with coins and draped with fabric from my mother-in-law, a silver bangle from my nan surrounds the goddess statue I made from clay, the daffodil pin is from my other great grandmother, there are gold earrings worn by my aunty at my parents wedding, a book mark from one of my sister-in-laws and a key ring from my other aunty. Basically I made it as a dedication to the women in my life.

In the couple of days following the ritual I saw more people getting involved – even my grandmothers friends were excited and shared with me their stories. My relationships with women seem to be blossoming into something beautiful. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with other women for reasons I can’t quite pin point and I’m starting to believe that being comfortable with my sex is probably a step in the right direction to true equality.

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.

30/1/13 – Weather observations

30/1/13 - Weather observations

Today we harvested our corn – they’re so sweet! We waited until the ‘hair’ was a black colour (but I think we could have waiting a little longer for a couple of them). Definitely a success.

For the last day or so it’s been storming – we had rain for a couple of days before that but then it turned into more wind and scary looking clouds than actual rain.
Today the clouds cleared and we’re back to being sunny again.