A Whispered Return

You know me by the redd’ning leaves-
That touch of ice in the dawn.
Your every inch of being stills
In that brisk moment of my gaze- then… gone.
Ragged breath from ragged creature drawn-
Sharp.
In the knowing that my time is nearing,
And is that lustful anticipation or fearing that
Comes with the end of Cicada’s song?
You know that when the sunlight weans
I will ride in windy throng.
And each falling acorn in that clearing
Staccato.
Startling.
…Calm,
Draws you, begs you, calls you on-
To rest there on silken, fallen leaves.
Lie your head upon the moss-
For I am the truth the forest breathes,
He who in those shadows sees,
The whispered name amongst the trees,
The tingling in your spine that knows:
The Hunter comes again to call.

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A Self-Love Journey: My Teeth

For the month of September, Kelly-Ann Maddox is hosting Self-Love September on her blog and YouTube channel as well as in exclusive sounds and sessions material (if you can purchase it, I highly recommend it; alas, I cannot this year, but Kelly-Ann is a total inspiration).

But, in participating with the free bits of Self-Love September, and in continuing some of the work I’ve already been up to over the past couple of months, I thought I’d talk about an aspect of self-love that’s really affected me greatly as of late.

My teeth.

I’ve had anxiety and depression that I’ve struggled with for quite some time, and it really only increased once I left home and went away to college. My first year was rough: I had head lice that seemed to have spawned from Satan himself, I lost a dog _and_ my grandfather, I didn’t break out of my introvert shell and make a ton of friends, so I spent a lot of time in my teeny tiny fourth floor dorm sort of hiding out from the rest of the world. Somewhere in that year, I quit caring about a lot of things, and a lot of them were to do with my personal health. There were plenty of times where I just wasn’t properly taking care of myself, and the worst thing of all was my teeth. I just wasn’t taking the time to brush them a lot of the time (I know, gross, right?).

By about mid-way through my junior year, I was not only not taking care of my teeth? But the crippling fear about “How bad are they? What if they abscess and I die? What if I need them pulled- what if they just fall out?” was literally enough to keep me up for hours in the middle of the night if I hadn’t talked myself to exhaustion on Skype with someone first. Having a real, on-campus job that got me out of the house, and having a serious boyfriend, sort of helped me start taking a little bit better care. It got me moving, motivated. I felt like I was accomplishing something finally- I got complimented on my hard work, and had someone who was there sort of cheerleading for me from the sidelines.

That was a year and a half ago. And while I’d come a long way in working on things and starting to feel a lot better? I wasn’t done. This summer, after the mess of a school year last year was, I decided I wanted to make some major improvements: to my self-care regimen, to my spirituality that wasn’t feeding my soul and helping me through hard times like it ought to, to my physical living situations. No sooner had I said that, and I broke a filling on M&M’s. I wanted to be sick. All of the fears I’d had about my teeth, and about the dentist came flooding back. It was easy to sort of repress them until the wee hours of the night until there was a gap in my teeth and a piece of metal wedged in there and broken. It was a total wake-up call, and you can bet your ass I was obssessively keeping them clean after that.

I genuinely think I was panicking when I first went to the only dentist in town that my insurance would completely cover: like, sort of shaking, has to blink back a tear or two every couple of minutes, heart-racing, panic attack in this dentist office by myself. Their complete lack of professionalism didn’t help. I waited for an extra 20 minutes in the x-ray room because the hygienist was busy chatting with someone, and spent 2 hours there overall. All that, only to be scared with the possibility of a root canal that day (the way they made it sound made me think they were just gonna get it done because it was serious- and I was freaking out), made to test out an electric toothbrush, have absolutely nothing actually done to my teeth or the broken filling, and given an extensive payment plan for the work I’d need done- which would take a trip to an oral surgeon for a root canal and several trips to get everything done. What? What ended up happening, thankfully, was that my mum took me back to our old family dentist. It was going to cost more, but at least care was actually being taken. All of the plaque and crap on my teeth? Blasted off in one cleaning- and they even got the bit of broken filling that had been hanging out in my mouth for weeks out. I didn’t need a root canal; my cavities weren’t all that bad- or numerous thankfully. The best part of that experience was that they asked to make sure I was okay when I explained the why I hadn’t been taking care of my teeth. They made me feel comfortable sharing that with them, and then wanted to make sure that I was okay. That, to me, was really cool.

And I was nervous when I went in to get my broken filling fixed? But my anxiety about my teeth has been lessened, I’m not afraid of the dentist- at least not as afraid as I was, and through all that’s happened, I’ve started feeling better about myself and really wanting to take care of myself better than I have been- I’ve actually smiled, like teeth-showing really smiling, in photos and real life because I’m not ashamed of them anymore. And I think that feeling will only get better as I continue on my journey.

-Rachel

Summer’s End: A Reflection

I started the summer, and this blog with a post about shadow work, and the fact that this summer was going to be all about that process of radical transformation. Now, though I hardly think that process is over, school is beginning in just a few short days. My arrival at GVSU always marks, for me, a sort of new chapter. It’s a new living environment (as I’ve switched dorms each year), I’m often living with new people, new classes, etc. There’s unlimited potential for the academic year to be something great / interesting / whatever.

This year, it feels almost more potently so. I’ve had a rough summer between dental issues, plans not working quite as hoped, and interpersonal problems, it’s been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. A lot has changed in the past few months, for good or ill.

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I’ve embraced a lot of old things that I once had felt connected to, but decided didn’t fit into the box or image I was trying to make for myself. This was literally anything from witchcraft practices from my earlier stages of practice, to more mundane things like Sailor Moon and my darker music and style interests. Old friends came back into my life- more than they’d been in the past five years or so since graduating high school. It was refreshing, and felt like a total homecoming that I was very much open to. Participating in my usual summer traditions with old friends for the first time in ages was nothing short of amazing.

But, just as I was embracing many many things that had undoubtedly been a part of who I am, I was faced with much to let go of: anxieties and fears, practices that weren’t working, physical objects, even a couple of relationships with people. Conflicts did indeed happen over some of these issues, and they sort of opened my eyes to aspects of myself I hadn’t necessarily recognized at the beginning of the summer. For example: I wasn’t, for quite some time, careful with my energy, and spending that energy unwisely, or not protecting it from others’ influence, led to myself and the other people involved getting hurt. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of anxiety I’d built up about my physical health, and those whose job it is to help me maintain it. I’m not nearly as terrified of the dentist as I was at the beginning of summer, and I’ve certainly been taking better care of those teeth now. I’ve come to realize that I have a bit of a control-freak streak. When I can’t be in charge of what I do- and especially when I’m told how I do/should feel or think in situations, I get a bit irrationally angry. I’ve been trying to take the time to step back, release that anger, and dig deeper into what is actually being said rather than closing up and getting defensive. This is a work in progress.

Some things aren’t resolved- and may never be completely. But I feel like I’ve come out of this summer’s bit of growth stronger, more confident, and ready to take on the school year and what challenges come next. The process isn’t over, but I’ve done a lot of digging and feel happier for it.

Much love to you all,
Rachel

Tarot Readings: August 2016

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Hello, all! I’m a bit late again posting this (whoops), but this is the monthly reminder that I do offer three free readings each full moon. The next will be one week from today, on August 18th, 2016. Things sort of fell through with Fiverr and my for-sale readings, but I want to keep offering these free ones.

As always, these free readings will include a picture of your reading, and a detailed interpretation of the spread. These will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

There are two methods by which you may contact me for this service: via the contact page on this blog, or via the “ASK” button on my Tumblr account. Please, in the greeting for your request include the month/year you are requesting a reading for (example: ‘Hi, I’m _______. I’d like to request a slot for the full moon of July 2016!’) so that I can keep them all separate in my inboxes. Then, feel free to leave me a question you’d like answered or a brief explanation of a situation you’d like a reading on. If you message me on Tumblr, please include an e-mail address to which I can send your reading once it is finished.

Some helpful tips are included on my tarot readings page on this blog. I hope to hear from some of you. ^_^

~Rachel

Camping! And Some Spiritual Updates

This past Saturday, I returned from another week-long camping trip, and I’ve been wanting to write and share some of the experiences I had during it. My very good friend, Mark, and I went up to Young State Park in Boyne, Michigan. We’d been planning for it to be our really big spiritual retreat, as our previous camping adventure had been focused on setting intentions for the summer and the future of our spiritual practices. However, we found it really difficult to find a focus or a direction we wanted to take our trip in. We were also met with some very mundane and (mostly) minor interruptions like watching the family’s dogs.

That’s not to say that it didn’t feel really good getting back out in nature and whatever few precious moments we could find to do witchy things as well as indulging in some traditions for visiting the area each year.

We spent some time one of the first nights there doing tarot readings for each other near the water in Boyne City itself. I’ve cleansed my Raven’s Prophecy Tarot deck, and plan to make it a deck that only my own energy goes into- something I’ve seen Mark doing with his Raider-Waite decks lately. I’ve never had a deck give me a reaction quite as intense as I experienced shuffling the cards for Mark’s reading; the entire middle portion fell out and I picked the cards from that. It just simply felt right at the time.

We also cleansed a number of crystals at the stream in the woods, and then took them to the beach. For the first time in well over a year, I cast a circle, drawing its boundaries in the sand with a blue goldstone wand I’d just cleansed. I empowered the deep brown agate mirror I’ve had for some time, and called on the goddess Morrigan. Each night, following, I had a number of intense dreams. One in particular stuck out to me:

What started as a dream of a rather normal camping trip, soon turned into one of myself wandering a stormy moor at night, wearing long dark skirts and a shawl. I knew that I was looking for someone, and found- among a tangled shrub on the moor- a black feather and a scrap of blue and green tartan cloth. I seemed to know what to do then, and called to a dog which came running towards me from the darkness and mist. It was black and resembled a Belgian shepherd, and answered to the name ‘Yew’. It led me through the moor and into an area that more closely resembled a suburban area, where I found a little girl (whom I was presumably looking for) hiding in bushes from some of Mark’s cousins and nephews. They were telling her they would tell Mark’s family she ran off. I managed to coax the little girl, who resembled a younger version of myself, out of the bush and into my arms, where I comforted her before returning to camp. When I returned there, a close friend of mine was there, and looked rather displeased with me.

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I’ve still been pondering the meaning of the dream. Mark suggested the little girl might be representative of my inner child. Much of the symbolism of the dream is that of tenacity, death and rebirth, and otherworldly messages. The energy of the dog has been hanging around me ever since- though it’s significantly less noticeable while at home with my entire family around. He has appeared in multiple meditations throughout the last few days as well. I’m beginning to wonder if he isn’t, perhaps, a familiar spirit of sorts.

We occupied ourselves in all manner of ways: climbing the steps up the mountain, visiting the park in Boyne City, stargazing- we even took a quick adventure up over the Mackinaw Bridge with Mark’s friend, Dustin. One of my favorite things I saw during our wanderings was a now not-working telescope that had been built for the sole purpose of viewing the constellation, Draconis. It’s now become a home to a family of ravens, and my connection both to the birds and the constellation made it a really cool and special thing for me.

The sunsets there are beyond a doubt the most beautiful I’ve seen. There’s no better place to meditate, read tarot, or journal than on the shores of any of the lakes in Michigan. We didn’t, unfortunately, get to go up into the Headlands International Dark Sky Park near Mackinaw, but the dock at the campgrounds was a perfectly acceptable place to view hundreds of stars.

On one of our last full days up there, Mark and I ventured to the Lavender Hill Farm. The spell of the flowers just hit you as soon as you stepped out of your car. The fields were beautiful, and it was an absolutely gorgeous sunny afternoon. We explored the large barn where they dried the plants and I even tried a lavender lemonade soda from the gift shop. On one of the upper hills, there was a lavender labyrinth. At its center, a group of stones that read ‘wisdom,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘love’ were perched on a pedestal. I walked it, focusing on the intention of prosperity for the coming months.

And of course, we visited Charlevoix. It’s a beautiful city on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, and filled with gorgeous shops. It was the first time I’d been back in the city since my grandmother’s death early in the year. The last time I’d been there, it was cold and nearly empty; this time it seemed overflowing with life. It was good to be back,  to lose myself in meditation on the sunset and sailboats for a few moments despite having the puppies with us, to remember the smells and the sights, and the fun times I could remember having there. Because my grandparents there are passed on and I’m planning on moving out of the state soon, I took a few moments to really connect with the place. After all, I don’t know when I’ll see it again.

My Fiverr, as of now, is closed down. I’ve had problems with getting my direct deposit information to clear with them and Payoneer, the other company they were using for the money transfers. If I find the time and funds for something like Etsy, I might try online readings there. For now, however, paid readings are unavailable. My free monthly readings for the Full Moon ARE still available. I’ll continue posting reminders of those as time goes on.

I’ve got much now to study and look into- and tons of things to prepare for the coming school year. I’m looking forward to getting my schooling done and over with. I know that bigger, better things are just over the horizon.

Blessings,
~Rachel

Re-Thinking the Wheel: First Harvest

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Van Gogh’s Wheat Fields

As part of rebuilding my practice, I’ve wanted to begin reexamining how I celebrate the sabbats- if at all. Like many, I’ve found that the Wheel of the Year that has been used across the Pagan community at large, just simply doesn’t fit for a number of reasons: my local climate not quite lining up just right for the sabbats, simply not connecting with certain holidays, etc.

So, being that it is the first sabbat since the creation of this blog, we begin with Lughnasadh… The name for this sabbat comes from the Irish god of the Sun, light, and just about any skill under the bright blue sky. While I find the tales of Lugh quite enjoyable, I don’t feel myself exactly called to work with him, and thus find using the name Lughnasadh (the more I really think about it anyway) to be something that also doesn’t quite jive with me- nor do I really care for the way Lammas rolls off the tongue. I’ve begun my personal reflection on this sabbat by simply calling it First Harvest. It feels much more appropriate for the celebration.

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Corn Dolly crafted by Walking On Fire.

Working with a group over the last several years has created a number of traditions and associations with the first harvest of the year. For me, it signals that Summer is coming to an end. Summer fruits and grains are ready to be harvested, days are gradually growing shorter, and for the great majority of my life, it has meant that school would be beginning in just a few weeks. Typically, there aren’t many big summer projects or trips taken after this date (at least in my circle of friends and family). So, for me, this has always been a time to give thanks for the fun and the work that I’ve gotten done during the summer. It’s also been a time for preparing what I need for the coming fall and winter months. School, generally, starts shortly after this sabbat, and I like to take this time to set intentions for the academic year. I reflect on lessons learned in the previous year, release old and useless patterns, and set about manifesting what I need for the coming one.

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Beautiful Lughnasadh Altar by Vandrake Druidstone

Traditionally, my group and I have a bonfire at this festival. We create a wickerman (a small, corn-dolly sized one), and fill it with bread and our energy of giving thanks for what has come of the summer. The wickerman is then burned in our fire. We also have a tradition of tying clooties to one of the trees in my yard, baking bread and having a potluck, making herbal sachets and poppets for manifestation for the coming academic year, and doing tarot and oracle readings for the darker months as well.

Tonight, we’ll be engaging in these activities again. I’m looking forward to getting together with everyone once more. I’ve got plenty of plans for this school year’s releasing and manifesting; I can’t wait to get them started.

First Harvest/Lughnasadh/Lammas Blessings to you all,
~Rachel