The Threads That Bind Us

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Peace Begins With Us - A Remembrance Day Poem

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on November 11, 2011 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The rat-a-tat-tat of enemy fire

Startles you awake.

You crouch in the trench with a pounding heart,

Your loved ones' lives at stake.

*

Your friends about you scream and die;

It echoes 'cross the field;

You swear to them you'll win the war,

A promise locked and sealed.

*

And as another shrieks in pain -

A shocked and dying bleat -

You load your rifle, whisper prayers,

And stagger to your feet.

*

A bullet kisses by your ear.

A friend collapses, dead.

You wish in sorrow it had hit

Your temple, or forehead.

*

With a snarl of rage you fire back,

And people drop like flies,

And as you watch, the one who shot

Your friend is hit, and dies.

And when the War is over, done,

You return to your friend's grave.

In your dreams you blame yourself;

His life you might have saved.

*

Staring at the poppies blowing

You study the what-if.

What if you'd refused to fight?

Would that have saved ol' Biff?

*

No, your mind informs you sadly.

No, that it would not.

He would have gone on anyway.

He would have gone and fought.

*

Only if there is no war

Can those lives lost be saved.

If there are battles to be fought,

Then battles will be braved.

*

"So how can such things be prevented?"

You enquire of your mind.

"Just one man cannot create

"From hatred, a friendship bind!"

*

Remind the others of the pain

That fighting war provides.

No one wants to lose their friends,

Their families, or their lives.

*

You've seen a War, your mind goes on.

You know what it can do.

And you look down, and see a blood-red

Poppy by your shoe.

"I'll pick a day," you say, "for us

"To remember those we lost.

"I'll say to them, well, we have peace,

"But this is what it cost.

*

"The Was was ended at eleven

"On the 'leventh of November,

"And all these poppies growing . . .

"I'll use them to help remember."

So the next November 'leventh finds you

Standing on the street.

You're handing out red poppies

And staring at your feet.

*

"Thank you," says a woman, smiling,

"But tell me, what's this for?"

"To remember those," you say to her,

"Who perished in the War."

*

"Were you involved?" she asks with interest,

"Or is this just good will?"

"Lady," you reply, "I fought,

"And I am fighting still.

*

"It just takes one to start a war,

"And two to keep the peace.

"If we agree we don't want war,

"Then maybe wars will cease.

*

"Recording info into books

"Is useless, collecting dust.

"We have to remember those who died,

"'Cause peace begins with us."

*

The woman takes the poppy, and

Pins it to her blouse,

And as she continues past, you say,

"Biff, I kept my vows."

- Diane Morrison, 1986

The Creative Process

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on July 1, 2011 at 2:48 PM Comments comments (0)

I am not a painter. No one ever told me in art class that I had any particular talent. I got consistant Bs, which isn't bad, of course, but there are other areas of my life in which I received much greater accolades.   I was not encouraged to pursue art.  Mostly such things were politely ignored.

 

My parents didn't encourage me to pursue writing or music, either; other areas where I had actually received several accolades through my school career.  They were big on getting a stable income and then doing these things on the side.  But they didn't have the money to send me to university even though I excelled at acedemics, and I was too depressed as a teenager to successfully pursue scholarships.  I didn't want to start my life with a great big debt when I didn't really know where I was going.

 

At one time, I figured I was going to be a professional author or a musician, and since both pursuits had been actively discouraged as impractical, lazy, and whimsical, I was cut loose and drifting.  I went from school into the Recession, with no trade training, no history of clerical work, no post-secondary education, and a dreamer's soul.  I suffered through long periods of unemployment and nowhere jobs that I loathed.  I was a server at a malt stop, a housekeeper, a fruit picker, a babysitter, an underpaid care aide (a job that lasted exactly two days) and finally a tow truck, delivery service, and taxi dispatcher.  I made nothing or less than nothing, often taking less than the legal minimum wage.  I lived at less than subsistence poverty level for many years.  I have been poor enough to not be able to pay the gas bill in the winter in a dive of a place where we couldn't get equal payments because of the high energy costs, and I heated my bath water in pots on the stove, warmed the place as best I could with space heaters and my oven, and endured three months of pneumonia.

 

I was delighted when I finally got the taxi dispatcher job.  At least it was a job that paid a little bit more than minimum wage for full time work!  Never mind that the job description should be "professional target for abuse"; from the customers on the other end of the phone when their taxi was later than they desired, from the drivers who lived or died on the calls they got and therefore tried every dirty trick in the book to abuse, manipulate, whine and cajole until they got special treatment, from co-workers who wanted better shifts and more attention, and from the owner, who viewed everyone in her employ as a personal serf, or perhaps a poorly-functioning robot.  I was called a bitch at least once a day, but at least I could pay my ridiculous heating bill!

 

In many ways, my husband's accident was the best thing that ever happened to me.  I suppose that sounds really horrible to say.  But it drove me from that horrible taxi job for many reasons.  And it also taught me that there was a big difference between "can't" and "don't want to" or "am afraid to."  I found I could do anything when I really had no choice - pick my 280 pound husband up and put him in a car; carry 50 pounds of groceries for 45 minutes; learn to drive even though I was terrified; live alone; turn a little thrift store that I bought for $2000 into a respectable little metaphysical business; face the imminent loss of the man I loved more than my own life.

 

This lesson has begun to make its way into areas of my life where I have traditionally defeated myself because of lack of self-confidence.  Once again, I am pursuing my dream of writing; my business is growing in a time when most of the others in my field are going out of business; I'm singing again and working towards getting some new things recorded; and I thought, "Why not try my hand at artwork?"  The crafted items I have made for the store seem to be doing reasonably well.  I have painted many things; pentacles, feng shui charms, boxes, etc., and people buy them; not quickly, but they do.

Once, just a couple of years out of high school when some of us were coming together to form the beginnings of the Okanagan Pagan community, I painted some pentacles for myself and my friends.  I did this because you can't seem to buy pentacles at stores, even metaphysical stores.  I sold some of them at the local metaphysical shop on consignment (Dreamweaver at the time,) but eventually they were given back to me because they weren't moving fast enough.  I gave that idea up, of course.  But you know, on my recent cross-Canada trip, I stayed with many friends whom I hadn't seen much of since that time, and I'll be damned if everyone who had purchased, or been given, one of my pentacles doesn't still seem to have them.  I know this because I saw their altars and there they were, usually being used as centerpieces.  That's encouraging!

 

I have toyed with the idea of taking up painting for a long time.  I have no less than five blank canvasses at my house.  I've picked them up here and there - at the dollar stores, at Wal-Mart - and I've done nothing.  I have lots of excuses:  "Not enough time," "Don't have any good ideas," "Paints are separating," "Not in the mood," but the truth is, I just looked at that empty canvas and thought, "What if I mess it up?"

 

Silly, really.  The answer, of course, is, "You buy another canvas and start over or do something else.  You got them at the dollar store; how expensive can they be?"  I'll buy snacks and a good coffee when I'm out on the road, and I'll buy restaurant food at work, so why be so afraid of spending money on a little canvas?

 

I was supposed to be going to a festival this weekend - I'm very good at filling my days with stuff to keep me busy - but decided against it at the last minute and determined to take an actual weekend off over Canada Day.  I know perfectly well that nobody is really going to show up over the long weekend at the shop, so why waste my time?  And I had a practical project that I wanted to do that gave me an excuse to use that blank canvas; I needed something to cover the back of my desk at the shop, which is facing outward from my till area and is nothing but ugly pressboard.

 

I went to the dollar store again and bought an enormous canvas.  It was the biggest one they had.  I need that much area to cover the back of the desk.  Now this was really intimidating.  So much canvas to destroy!  I waited for a couple of weeks before I even took it out of the plastic wrapper.

 

I started painting the background with the base coat.  I have several acrylic paints.  You used to be able to get them at the dollar stores and I have been accumulating them for years.  Some of them have indeed separated now and will have to be replaced.  I started with a very neutral iron black, and then a midnight blue.  I had this idea of a Goddess and God image making the cosmos.  I wasn't really sure where to start, so I started with black.  I laid out the canvas on my picnic table and painted as I chatted with some friends who came to visit.

 

One of my friends is an accumulator of useful items.  She would be a hoarder, really, except that she generously gives away said items to people who seem to be able to use them.  And she informed me that she had an old homemade wooden easel that was big enough to handle the canvas I had chosen; did I want it?  Would that be easier for me?

 

Well, of course I said yes, so she brought it over in her big van.  It really is a monstrosity of a thing.  It's bigger than I am and made of unsanded plywood.  I still have a sliver from it, actually.  But a) it was free and b) it was exactly what I needed.

 

I waited until my day off, pulled out the easel and because it was a cold day, I brought it in from outside and put it in the kitchen, where the light is better.  I brought in my box of paints and sat them on the kitchen counter.  I got my packages of dollar store paintbrushes out.  I don't know what the technique was.  I've never had a formal art lesson.  All I had was an idea and a desire.

 

I went to my computer and started Googling nebula images.  I wanted to use nebulae to represent the raw starstuff of Creation.  I have had some success with that glowy star look in the past by dry brushing on a dark background.  I figured I would give it a try.  Because the pictures were square and the canvas was rectangular, I decided to combine two nebulae into one image as my background.  I started with the Crescent Nebula because it almost looked like a landscape to me:

 

Then I found this image of something called the Cygnet Loop Nebula, with a lovely lightning-strike like cloud that made me think of the God instantly and His dynamic, fertilizing energy: "Deep calls upon height, the Goddess on the God, She on the flame who quickens Her . . ."  and I thought that the colours would combine well with the Crescent Nebula to make the whole rainbow spectrum:

I didn't realize this, but I included an image of this nebula in my Great Rite video, which I used because it looked to me like a lightning seed striking the sky with the force of Creation.

I figured I would overlap the two somehow in the middle, and then I would use something called the Eskimo Nebula to represent the cosmic zygote of Creation:

Why they call this the "Eskimo Nebula" I have not the foggiest notion.  It looks to me like a fertilized cell growing and dividing, illuminated by sun rays.  I'm probably going to work with it again.

I thought, then, that I would add nebula-like images of the Goddess and the God to either side.  I had a vague idea for a dancing Goddess based on the Phoenix Nebula (yes, this really exists!):

And I thought maybe I would have the God shooting a cosmic seed at the zygote.  This is called the Elephant's Trunk Nebula:

So I printed these images out on my colour laser printer, which helped but did not quite capture the same light qualities as the computer images.  I brought them into the kitchen and taped them to the top of my easel over my canvas with masking tape.  I put on some trancy, almost lyricless music (Delirium and other such sounds that I had on my hard drive).  Grooving to the sound, I started to paint.

I repainted the canvas in a darker black because I could tell I would need the contrast to get the nebula colours right.  It came out flatter than I wanted.  Usually I spray Varathane on my wooden painted items when I am done to protect them, which makes the black shinier, but I knew I wouldn't be doing that with canvas.  I decided to go over it again with a wash of "Sequin Metallic Black" to make a slightly shinier look.  Of course I didn't mix it perfectly and that created some banding that you can see if you look closely, but I figured I was going to cover it with my Goddess anyway and decided not to worry about it.  Ultimately I think it gave the sky texture and depth, and it provided the deeper black look that I wanted.

I knew that I would have to start with the darker colours in the nebulae and work from there into the brighter colours if it was going to work right, and I have limited palate space (I was using plastic Gladware lids and a washed-out sushi container.)  I also knew that I would have to get just the tiniest bit on the brush to make it look right or it would get too big and too bright too fast.  I also knew from past experience that when using light paint on a dark background, it is easier to start dark and make it brighter than it is to make it darker once you've gone too bright.  Also, being nebulae, I figured that transparent gas clouds should look free flowing and natural, so I fought my natural instinct to be fussy, and though I was careful to dab just the slightest amount of paint on the edge of my brush and then wipe it off, I wasn't too careful about my movements with the brush and let it happen naturally.    Sometimes it didn't blend quite right on the canvas texture, so I wet my finger and smeared it around like fingerpainting.  I wanted the paint to seem to glow slightly as well, so I made use of a technique that I'd tried effectively when painting stars before; I mixed in just a tiny bit of a metallic paint with each of the colours I used.  Fortunately, I like metallic paints and have something in just about every colour of the rainbow, so was able to match at least the general shade:

I had yet to add the red shades when Steve, whom we live with and is part of our extended family, got home from his new job.  I told him all my plans and he said, "It looks great!  It seems to me like that might get a little busy, but I'm sure you'll make it work."  I realized that he was right.  It was going to get too busy if I did everything I wanted to do.  Time to minimize.

I had decided not to paint that yellow part in the Crescent Nebule because I was going to put my zygote there, and I didn't have the red shades yet and wasn't sure what I was doing from this point.  I figured I would put my bright phoenix goddess in the dark sky part above my Crescent Nebula image, but I knew the God therefore had to go in the bottom right hand corner, where I had left out the yellow parts of the Cygnet Loop Nebula to make room for Him under the "lightning" strike, and I wasn't sure how I was going to work it.   Originally I was thinking of the Deities as sillhouettes in the yellow parts of those images.  But then it struck me that what I had done with the Cygnet Loop, without the red bits, looked like it was all shooting out of that bottom corner (see above,) and the Crescent Nebula, with all its greens and blues, looked like a river of starts going past a green shoreline:

Then I saw the solution like a flash in my mind's eye.  The God would be a glowing golden nebula with golden antlers on His head, spinning space, and the Goddess would be a silver icon of beauty, rising triumphantly from the river of Her creation with those perfectly-placed stars in Her hands and a silver crescent on Her brow.  I asked my nephew, an athletically built young man, to come and stand in such a way that he could have been spinning the pink nebulae from his hands, and painted his silhouette in glowing bronze tinted orange, then yellow, which I did as quickly as possible so he wouldn't have to stand there in an uncomfortable position forever.  This is the result:

After that, I painted a white-silver silhouette Goddess as I envisioned Her.  My final touches were to paint the antlers pure bronze with pure metallic gold outlining instead of just gold because it matched the colouration better, and to limn my Goddess in purple and pink, with stars streaming from Her hair:

The part that makes me happiest is that I managed to communicate with Their postures alone the joy of life that I think They share with me.  They are obviously having fun creating the Universe - as it should be.

So here is my final result, and I'm very proud of it!  It took courage to do it; it isn't exactly how I originally thought it would be, but I opened myself to the possibilities when I asked my Deities to help me communicate the beauty of Them and Their creation, and I was deeply inspired.  It took me eight hours in a single day.  My clan thinks I could sell it, but I think I'm kind of reluctant to part with the original.  After all, I'm not a painter!

Why did I blog about all this?  I thought maybe others might be encouraged to explore their own latent creativity through my journey.  I was very happy with the results of this project and I'm going to do more painting.  Maybe people will want buy my work, and maybe they won't.  Either way, I enjoyed it and I feel good about it, and isn't that what it's all about?  The creative process is just that, and nothing ever turns out exactly the way you consciously intended it.  Doesn't mean that it isn't great though, and I did manage to communicate my original intention - painting the Creation of the Universe as my Deities may have built it; in colour and chaos, celebration and cosmic beauty - much more effectively than if I had tried to control the whole process.  Get out of your own way and let inspiration guide you!  And don't let your doubts stop you.  You really can do anything.

Blessed be,

VOTE, Dammit!

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on May 2, 2011 at 1:01 PM Comments comments (0)

So today is day two of election days here in Canada. I'm writing this to make an urgent plea - please, please, please, for the love of the gods, VOTE!

 

I know that many of the people who are interested in alternative spiritualities of any kind, be they Pagan or otherwise, are disillusioned with the system. We don't believe our voices are being heard. We lose faith and trust, especially amongst the young. Many of us develop contempt for the whole process. I can't tell you the amount of times that I have heard in the past few weeks, since the Minority Conservative Canadian Government was toppled for contempt of Parliament, something to the effect of, "Well, they're all a bunch of crooks anyway, so I just don't give a damn and I'm not going to bother voting at all."

 

Folks, your silence is NOT an effective protest! There is a lot of discrepancy between statistics, depending on who is keeping track and what they are trying to prove, but only anywhere from half to about 60% of Canada's eligible voters actually voted in our last federal election. That means that about half of us, maybe a little more, decided who should govern the rest of us. How does that help anything? Then we end up with what we've got. The entrenched right wing power structure, being the only ones who can get together in a sufficient group because they've only got one choice, vote us in a minority government that nobody else really wants, while the majority of us, who have more leftist political views, divide our votes amongst three major parties.

 

But think about what would happen if the silent 40 to 50 percent of us, most of whom don't bother because they hold the system in contempt, actually voted! I think we'd see a new day in Canada. I think that there would be considerable change.

 

Many of us live less than sedentary lifestyles so we believe that we do not have sufficient identification to vote. We think that we have to have picture ID and so forth. So we don't try. But it's not true! If you don't have picture ID, what you need is some kind of ID card - which could be a Care Card, a Social Insurance card, a Veteran's card, a paper copy of your interm driver's license or even a public library card (yes, seriously!) - and a piece of mail with your current address on it, which would be something a little bit more substantial than a letter - like a bank statement, a hydro bill, or even a Welfare or disability cheque. You can even get your family members to vouch for you if you have none of these things. Rowean, my sister-in-spirit, lost her purse this year. Her husband spoke for her and she voted anyway; they just got home now.

 

Listen folks, people kill and die everyday all over the world, and have for centuries, for the right to vote. We have that right. If we don't exercise it, nothing will ever change without violence - and what thinking person really wants that?

 

I voted in the advance poll because I thought I might still be driving today from the festival I attended on the weekend, and so did my husband, and most importantly of all, my 19 year old son (who had his Care Card and his bank statement) did too. It was his first federal election, and I am very proud. He told his friends to vote too.

 

Get to the polls today! It's your right and privilege as a Canadian. Be the change that you would like to see in the world!

Blessed be,

The Happiness Formula

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on March 9, 2011 at 10:42 PM Comments comments (0)

When I went to the Deepak Chopra event in Penticton in the fall, I was struck by this story, and it really stuck with me:

He said that one of the things that he is involved with is a project called "Sages and Scientists," where philosophers, spiritualists and religious leaders get together with scientists of a variety of disciplines and discuss life, the universe and everything. He said that when the Dalai Lama came to visit, they were delighted to tell him that they had discovered the secrets of what causes stress. The Dalai Lama then pointed out that everyone dwells on the negative all the time, and that it would be of much greater value in the world if they were to discover the secrets of what causes happiness.

Well, they took this under advisement, and the next time they encountered the Dalai Lama, they told him that they had found it.

"Oh, really?" said His Holiness with a raised eyebrow.

So what they said was that happiness can be directly corrolated to a formula, which was invented by a man named Martin Seligman. And the formula is this:

(S)et point + (C)onditions of living + (V)oluntary choices = (H)appiness

Seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? But what is most interesting is the percentages that each one of these factors occupies.

Your Set Point (S) represents the perspective that you begin with. In simplest terms, are you an optimist or a pessimist? Is the glass half full, or half empty? Or as Deepak Chopra puts it, "do you see problems, or do you see opportunities?" We learn this perspective from our upbringing. If our parents are negative people, always looking on the bad side, always talking about the worst case scenario, expecting ill fortune and getting it, then so do we. Our Set Point makes up 50% of our Happiness (S=50%).

This sounds like bad news! Are we doomed to always be negative if our parents are negative people? The answer is NO. There are two ways in which you can actively change your Set Point.

The first is Cognitive Therapy. Change your thoughts, change your expectations and your actions and emotions will follow. People who have been in Anger Management classes or therapy for Addictions or Neuroses know all about this, but it is easy enough to do it on our own. Every time you think something negative, examine that belief and ask yourself why it is that you have it! For instance, you may have picked up the belief somewhere that people who are wealthy are jerks. This could be blocking you from prosperity, because on some level, you don't want to be a jerk! Why would you have this belief? For me, it was a belief that my parents passed on to me. It, of course, does not necessarily hold true. Another thing you can do is practice the art of affirmation. You need to understand that your subconscious does not understand negatives or sarcasm. So if your friend repeatedly tells you, "You're such a dumb blonde!" for example, even if you know they are joking, it will begin to have an effect on you and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you say, "I am not stupid," then your brain will not hear the "not". Say instead, "I am smart!" It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy too.

I know this is possible because I learned to be very negative from my parents growing up; but I like to joke that I spent my twenties getting my mom's voice out of my head telling me why everything wouldn't work. And in my thirties, I have been gradually more and more successful at everything I do.

The second method is Meditation. Changing your consciousness levels, and learning to relax your mind, rewires your brain to feel less stress and to think more positive thoughts. It improves your ability to produce beta brain waves overall, and people who produce more beta waves are not only "smarter" than others, they think more positive thoughts too.

Now, as you might expect, your Conditions of Living (C) also affect your overall Happiness. Whether you are wealthy or poor, what kind of condition your health is in, whether or not you suffer from pain, whether or not you are in a good marriage or an unhappy one, and whether or not you hate your job or have one, all do have an influence. What will surprise you is the percentage. Only 10% of your total Happiness is at all affected by these things! (C=10%)

It amazes us in the Western World that we can look at films of children in Third World slums and wonder how they can laugh and play and enjoy themselves, even with swollen bellies from malnutrition, playing in mud and sewage. Or to put it another way, people are often amazed at the fact that Erin can joke and laugh and smile when he has so many challenges facing him. Well, Conditions of Living only make up 10% of your Happiness. So change them if you can, but it really isn't that important. (This has another side to it too: those of you who think your life will instantly be perfect if you win the lottery - hah! think again! Money will not guarentee your Happiness; only YOU can do that!)

The remaining percentage, fully 40% of your Happiness, is a result of your Voluntary Choices (V=40%). So, aside from your innate perspective, the greatest bulk of your Happiness depends upon what it is that you do. What's interesting is that this works sort of like eating! You can choose to do things to make yourself happy; Retail Therapy, eating chocolate, taking a hot bath, or other simple, selfish pleasures, and they will make you happy for a while - like eating a chocolate bar will fill the hunger gap for a while. Or, you can choose to do things that either make other people happy, or that have long-reaching effects in which you are making a difference in the world, like become a parent, working for a cause you believe in, exercising your creativity, doing important scientific work, being a listening ear when your friend is going through a tough time, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or counselling, and these things will make you happy for much longer periods - like sitting down to a nutritious meal will ease hunger for several hours, if not all day.

So if you are in a job in which you feel curtailed or unfulfilled, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a job in which you feel that what you do matters, whether that is being a stay-at-home-mom or working on the Nobel Prize. And instead of seeing problems that stop you from pursuing these dreams, see challenges that you must rise to face with courage!

Also, practice compassion whenever possible. Love others, even when they hurt you, and try to practice acceptance and understanding. Just remember that loving them can sometimes mean tough love, and so you need to set boundaries and not be an enabler for negative behaviour. On the other hand, hating others, and holding grudges, teaches them nothing and just brings you harm. Learn to let things go and practice forgiveness.

What can we learn from all this? It really is very simple: Happiness is a choice. "Your living is determined by not so much what life brings you as by the attitude that you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens." (Lewis L. Dunnington). Or, as the Dalai Lama says, "What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful."

Come and join The Medium, the Witch & the Shaman for our workshop on March 19, 10 am to 1 pm, "The Keys to Happiness" to learn more!

Blessed be,

Video from Deepak Chopra's video blog at YouTube:

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Death, the Universe & Everything

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on February 6, 2011 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

My husband Erin recently spoke to me about a near death experience that happened during his nearly-fatal car accident. While this has been a very difficult process for him, I have found it to be spiritually uplifting and enlightening. His experience confirms and validates a lot of my own beliefs and experiences. I hope to share some of that with you here, but I don’t know how well it will come across. I will do my best!

 

Erin told me that he did not have the typically described experience of “light at the end of the tunnel.” He told me that instead, he felt personally connected to the Gods. He said also that for one moment, rather than his “life flashing before his eyes,” he was shown (or understood) all possibilities at once, and the likely outcome of any possibility that might have been and was likely to be up to that point, as these things related to himself and to the people he cared about. He says that he still remembers those possibilities and it informs his interactions and behaviour.

 

For me, this was similar (with less trauma) to the experience I had when I received my third degree. I was aware of that interconnectedness of all things, our unity with the Divine and how irrelevant time and space really are. As a precognitive, that “memory” of how things are likely to turn out has also been a part of me as long as I can remember. I can’t recall it all at once, but I have strong good or bad feelings about most significant actions in my life and the lives of the people I am closest to, which really feel more like memories than intuition. I often experience significant déjà vu when something is about to happen that is a turning point. So I often find myself in the awkward position of knowing things and trying to explain how I know it, with no way to do so. As a result, I often experience “Cassandra syndrome,” and my accurate prophecies and portents go unheeded. (This happens frequently regarding the car, for example. Men just never seem to take women seriously about misgivings regarding the mechanical deficiencies of a vehicle. I am not a mechanic, so when I say “that’s a weird sound, I think there’s something wrong with the front end, let’s get it checked,” they sneer at my ineptitude and ignore me because it would be inconvenient to heed my warning – and of course, the car inevitably breaks down, the repair is significantly more expensive than the maintenance might have been, and I sigh in exasperation.)

 

For me, this confirms several key elements of the nature of reality as I experience it and reinforces my beliefs. Not my dogma. I don’t think your dogma really matters, it’s all in the paradigm you use to understand the reality beyond this limited 3D reality. But here are the key points that I currently believe I have learned from this experience, and I would like to share them with you.

 

1) We continue. Death is not the end. Death is a waystation between realities, where you reunite with your loved ones. Where you go from there depends on your decisions as a unit. Perhaps you come back for another bite at the apple. Perhaps you seek to transcend this reality and become a bodiless, other-dimensional being. Either way, it is a break before the next step, whatever it might be.

 

2) Time and space are irrelevant. They are entirely 3rd dimensional constructs. All possibilities exist simultaneously beyond this dimension, and your next bite at the apple might be a thousand years in the past.

 

3) Anything is possible. If we are capable of accessing knowledge of all possibilities (even if it’s not all at once,) we can both anticipate the consequences of any action (muscle testing, pendulum work or divination, or just a good or bad feeling,) and influence probabilities in our favour towards one outcome or another (creative visualisation, the secret, or magick.

 

4) Everything does, indeed, happen for a reason. If it weren’t meant to be that way, you wouldn’t have made that choice, even the things that are apparently “bad.” That “bad” choice becomes the lesser of two evils, even in big bad situations.

 

5) Even death is a choice. We stay in this physical reality exactly as long as we choose to do so. Unfortunately, sometimes through extreme harm, or through the wearing of age, the body becomes so damaged that it is no longer possible for a person to experience any joy through that body, or becomes incapable of interacting with this reality at all. It is at this moment that death (which is not the end, but merely choosing to start the game over rather than stare at the frozen screen) takes place. If we change our minds at that moment, then we sometimes become stuck here – but that is far more rare than people think.

 

Erin told me that he had the choice of dying and abandoning me and our family, who would never recover, or living in a body that had a very good chance of being very broken, but living, knowing that I could handle it, as rough as it might be. He made the latter choice, and accepted the damage as a consequence (and I am grateful.) He also told me that his stepfather, who was shot in the head when Erin was young, was shown that his options were to die, leaving his young wife a widow with three young children, or to live with severe brain damage, requiring that his young wife with three children care for him as well, and chose not to burden her in that way. That’s why people live or die when their lives are imperilled.

 

Is that going to anger people, if I declare that I truly believe this to be the way it works? Perhaps, but for me, it comforted me in my fears of death. I know that we continue! And I know that no matter what happens, the greatest good is met as far as it can be by the people we love, even if they choose to pass from this world into the next. Sometimes your choice is the frying pan or the fire, and sometimes victories are, at best, Pyrrhic.

6) The best part of all of this is the knowledge that we are part of something that is much greater than us. Call it God, the Gods, Goddess, Source, the Brahmin, or whatever, it is very vast and to connect with it, even for a split second, is to experience wonder beyond our vaguest comprehension. My limited contact with this force has informed and transformed my life. It drives everything I do and inspires me in my darkest hours.

7) But even greater than that is the realization that part of us is a cell in this grand transcendent organism. And that means that all living beings are also cells in this grand organism. So, we are all interconnected, and we are all, essentially, Divine, and immortal! And that, to me, is a very empowering thought!

 

Blessed be,

Wards

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on January 29, 2011 at 6:32 PM Comments comments (0)

Wards in a metaphysical context are symbols used to divide one area from another, and to ensure its protection.

Outdoor wards usually involve marking the four or eight compass of a property with a tangible marker. In the modern age, this tends to involve crystals with elemental associations appropriate to the direction, and in older days it involved natural features of the property, animal tokens, particular arrangements of stones or other natural objects, ochre and symbols. The objects chosen should have personal meaning to you and to the land, and acknowledgement of any spirits of the land that you work with should be made (for instance, an offering of honey and milk might be poured for any faeries, etc.) This is both a gift and an appeasement; you are seeking to appease the negative or mischievous spirits of a place, and also to enlist the help of the positive spirits. If you have guardian angels, protective spirits, ancestors who watch over you, Gods and Goddesses or Totems, this would be a good time to call upon them as well.

When creating an outdoor ward, be sure to visualize the protective marker that you have developed as extending into a spiritual pillar that reaches deep into the earth’s core, and into the cosmic Source at the centre of the Universe. You can think of it as “grounding and centering” the marker.

Begin with whatever direction you deem appropriate, and move in an appropriate manner (which may involve travelling in a clockwise “sunwise” direction, a counterclockwise or “moonwise” direction, or balancing opposites, depending on your beliefs. Clockwise brings in energy, counterclockwise banishes negatives, and balancing opposites creates a cross.)

When creating symbols, use whatever symbols seem appropriate to your spirituality. Traditional protective symbols include crosses, crossed circles, an X, bindrunes, pentagrams, oms, or the holy symbols of any faith.

When completed, join your wards together in your visualization, either by linking them overhead, or by visualization a circle connecting each of the points (or a square, or an eight-pointed star, as is appropriate.) Say something to invoke the Powers you pray to, and ask all guardian angels or spirits mentioned to protect your space.

When warding the inside of your home, things are often done a little bit differently. You can use the pillar model already suggested and the markers become the four outer corners of your house, the markers of which should, ideally, be bound in or by the foundation of your home “cornerstones.”

Another method that can be done instead of, or in addition to, the markers, is to seal each and every entrance into your home with a sacred symbol. Often this is preceded by sweeping with a besom or smudging or ringing a bell to drive out all negative influences prior to the warding. In this case, you drive everything out your front door once you are done clearing it. Then, you draw whatever symbol feels appropriate to you (I typically use Earth Banishing Pentagrams, but others may choose to use crosses, eight-spoke wheels, or whatever) on or over every possible entering point with a mixture of blessed salt and water. Typically you would move in a clockwise direction, starting just to the right side of your front door and moving along through every room in turn, finishing at the front door (or most-used entrance to your home.) At this point, you loudly declare that anything with ill intent or negative effect for you and your family is to leave and not return! You seal it with an especially large symbol and punctuate it with a firm declaration that “seals” things in your mind, such as “So mote it be!” or “Amen!”

Remember, this is every entrance to your home or business – that is, any place that anything can come into it. So, for convenience, I have included a checklist in case you forget something:

• Windows

• Doors

• Spy holes

• Heat vents

• Dryer vent

• Knotholes

• Main power supply or fuse box

• Keyholes

• Mirrors (entrances to the spirit world by tradition; don’t forget mirrors in odd places – for instance, I have one on the headboard of my bed)

• Drains (toilets, sinks, storm drains, laundry room drain, etc.)

• Chimneys (even if blocked off)

• Stove pipes

• Attic windows and air vents

• Mail slots that enter into the house

• Pet doors

• Phone line (communication comes in that way!)

• TV cable or television

• Any screen or monitor (it is a reflective surface and you use it for communication)

• Internet connection

• Satellite connection

• Significant cracks that lead to the outside (I have one in my ceiling and one in my foundation of my old house, and I seal them both)

• Unused doors or windows (spirits still use them, even if they are sealed off)

• Skylights (I have an unused one in my store that I didn’t even know was there until someone used it to break in, and I wondered why my warding seemed ineffective until then! Double check these things!)

• Pipes that lead outside

• Some people even ward their electrical outlets – just don’t actually get them wet!

There will be other places that I have not covered – just use your common sense. If it seems appropriate, do it.

May the protection of your guides, Gods and guardians be on your house and home!

Blessed be,

Reiki Healing

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on December 28, 2010 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Using energy generated by human touch to heal is not a new concept. This technique has been present since from our earliest recorded history. From shamanism to faith healing, healing touch and chi, healing by laying on hands is a natural human talent. Like other talents, some people exhibit more natural ability at it than others, but anyone can develop their talent if they want to. Lots of people tell me that they don’t really need any training to use energy healing, and they are right. I believe anyone can do it.

 

Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing that attunes the practitioner to a particular energy source through three successive initiations. As a practitioner of a few different forms of energy healing, I think that there are three elements of Reiki that make it worth pursuing for all energy healers. The first is that it connects you directly to an unlimited energy source, for which you are a conduit, and Reiki attunements just make you a more effective conduit, creating less resistance. Energy healing often creates weariness in the healer, draining life force. Reiki won’t do that. The second element is that Reiki is compatible with any other form of energy healing. The third is that the symbols and procedures you learn direct your healing energy in very specific ways.

 

Reiki, like other forms of energy healing, aids your body’s own innate intelligence to heal itself. Repeating sessions is of greater aid than single sessions. Come give it a try!

 

Blessed be,

Crystal Elixirs

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on December 4, 2010 at 1:29 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the products that I make myself at the shop are crystal elixirs.  These aren't well-known or understood by people in the Okanagan Valley.  They are homeopathic/energetic remedies; pure water that contain trace elements of a crystal, similar to flower remedies.  They are made by steeping a crystal in water in sun and moonlight, somewhat like a tea.  The trace elements released into the water by the steeping crystal homeopathically and energetically treat a variety of ailments, be they spiritual, mental, emotional or physical, and can also be used to enhance natural elements of the body, mind and spirit, such as creating a tonic for improved vitality, boosting the immune system, increasing fertility, aiding the pancreas, balancing the chakras, improving mood, or even opening to channel.

 

Crystal elixirs are easy enough to make for yourself.  All you need is to set a crystal in pure, distilled water for half of a moon cycle to charge in the light of the sun and moon (say, from waxing to waning, or waning to waxing,) then you leave the elixir to steep in a dark place, surrounded by a crystal matrix, for the other half of the moon cycle.  You add a small amount of high-test alcohol to preserve it (I like to use brandy because it tastes better, but have also used scotch, vodka, spiced and/or overproof rum, and even Fireball whisky) to preserve it and prevent bacteria growth, and take a few drops under your tongue once or twice daily, or add it to your water.  The size of the crystal does not seem to matter; I frequently make use of broken bits of crystal at the shop that I can't sell in this way.

 

Many believe that it is important to program the elixir to a specific purpose while making it.  I find that if you program the elixir to enhance the natural properties of the crystal, which I do by charging it with Reiki as I add the crystal, then you can charge it to a specific purpose later.

 

It is hotly debated as to whether you should keep the crystal in the elixir or not.  Since I generally make a large amount at once which I later decant into smaller dropper bottles for convenience, I find that keeping the crystal present in the mother elixir and then just not including it in the dropper bottle works well for me.  I occasionally add water to the existing mother elixir without the sun and moon cycle, and I find that as long as I haven't used more than a third of the original elixir, and as long as I include Reiki empowerment when I do this, that this works just fine for me.  Every once in a while you should add more alcohol for safety.

 

Speaking of safety, one thing to be cautious of is toxic elements in a crystal.  Some are not advised for human consumption, even in these trace elements.  You can still make an elixir by sealing the crystal in glass within your larger glass bottle, which imprints the energetic signature of the crystal on the water without adding the toxic element.  But, be careful!  Sometimes your best efforts fail; I recently had to throw out an experiment with a sulfur elixir that I tried to make in this manner, because I could smell the sulfur in the water anyway.

 

At one time, I made a variety of mixtures and concoctions of a variety of crystal elixirs, focused towards a specific purpose.  I found this to be generally more time-consuming and less effective than using a single crystal elixir and charging it to your intended purpose.  For this reason you will only find a few such concoctions left at the shop.  I'll still make them for you if you request it, but again, it helps to limit them to two or three different varieties only, which dillutes the healing elements less.  Herbalistis will tell you the same thing about mixing too many herbs.

 

Another cautionary note is that you are likely to lose the crystal.  Many crystals are dissolved completely in water (like selenite,) many are damaged (like angelite,) and even the hardest crystals likely are etched (like quartz.)  Even if they aren't damaged, keeping them in the original mother elixir improves its potency and makes sure that it is not diminished with time.

 

Now, why would I make these things to sell, if they are so simple and easy to make?  Why would you buy them from someone else, instead of making them yourself?

 

The first reason is that the initial investment is greater than you would think.  Crystal, clear bottle, distilled water, and alcohol have to be purchased individually, along with a dropper or dropper bottle to dispense it with.  If you only need one or two elixirs, this is much more expensive than it needs to be.

 

The second is the time involved.  If you're going to make numerous elixirs, it requires a fair investment of time, and if you only need one, it will be a full moon cycle before you can use it, and you might require it now!

 

The third is convenience.  You need to store the elixirs in a dark place in a crystal matrix.  Maybe such a setup isn't possible for you where you live.  And why would you go through all the trouble of doing that, plus acquiring all the crystals, unless you intend to make lots of them?  By purchasing an elixir, it's all right there, easily accessible.

 

The fourth is selection.  As the owner of a metaphysical store, I have access to a variety of unusual and difficult to find crystals, or to common ones at a lesser expense, than the typical retail customer.  I have been amassing my collection now for about two and half years, and it's getting to be significant.

 

The fifth is expertise.  I have to know a great deal about crystals in my work; people ask me about them all the time!  Perhaps you know what the problem is that you would like to deal with, but not what would help you to heal it.  Ask me.  Or, you could consult this quick-reference remedy guide that I make and keep updated, which helps to narrow down what might be needed.  To use it effectively, find the ailment or concern that best fits what you are trying to aid or deal with, then consult the list and select the crystal elixir that resonates the most with you from that list.  If none of them resonate, try selecting a different purpose.

 

The sixth factor is safety.  Perhaps you are not aware of which crystals can be toxic, but I (or anyone who, presumably, sells crystals) makes a study of this.

 

Crystal elixirs are available online from many different retailers, and vary in pricing from a few dollars to $20 for a 10 mL bottle or more, depending on the price of the original crystal.  I view the crystal as a renewable resource, and consequently keep my pricing consistent and low (otherwise, why wouldn't you just make them yourself?)  Currently, you can acquire one of nearly 300 different elixirs for just $2.97 each at The Threads That Bind Us.

 

Blessed be,

A Message from Gaia

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on December 4, 2010 at 1:26 PM Comments comments (0)

In the Psychic Development class that I am currently doing with Lois, we were directed to do an exercise in automatic writing. I haven't had any experience with automatic writing, so I asked for "the idiot's explanation" for how to do it. Lois' Guide explained it as "just like Drawing Down the Moon; you have to get yourself out of the way, and then instead of using your vocal apparatus, you use your hands." I had that eureka moment; that made perfect sense to me! "Yeah!" I thought to myself, "I can do that!"

 

We agreed that we would commune with Gaia, as an entity (Deity) that we all would be happy to work with (two Witches, a Shaman, and a Spiritualist.) We then did a meditation to focus our awareness, and understanding things from this perspective, I went within and found that connection fairly quickly. I then sat down in front of the computer, closed my eyes, and listened as Gaia dictated the following:

 

I weep for the wounding you cause to yourselves! I struggle to reach out to you. You do not know your own power; you are brilliant, perfect, passionate and free. The chains that bind you are the ones of your own making. They are illusions. They are only as real as you permit them to be. How can you not hear the cry of your brothers and sisters, with whom you share this earth? Why do you deny yourselves, and allow yourselves to live in fear? Reach beyond these things! You do not have to be taught how to feel the love/pain/passion of the creatures you share this place, this body of Mine, with. You just need to remember.

Take a moment now and reach out, reach like you did when you were a child. First, take your arms to the sky. Look into the sun and the clouds above you. Watch the clouds rolling past, gently shifting and changing. Do you remember what it was to feel you could touch the sky? Reach out with your arms, and your awareness, and then when you have floated through the clouds long enough to lose yourself in them, just do it! You can fly. Like the transformation of Arthur when he learned to be a Druid, you can transcend the limits of your physical form and soar with the birds, sail on the clouds, touch the Macrocosm that is the Star Goddess or Father Sky. Let your heart lift you into that free space. Here, there is no time and no space; there is only you and your heart.

And now, can you see the other hearts that share this space/time with you? When you realize that you are not constrained by matter, you know that you can do anything, be anything, connect to everything and all. You are luminous beings of light and stars and love. Release your limitations and inhibitions and just BE.

Now, look to My body beneath you. Do you see Me? No, you see lights, and cities, and fields, but where are My wild places where you can reach Me? Hidden in the street lights and the concrete and the smog. But My loves, I am still here. And now, some of you are beginning to awaken to that knowledge.

Sit very still, or lie still, with your body touching Mine. Lay on grass or rock or sand; do not lay on the floor. Stretch your arms out now and touch Me! I am real, and solid, and like you I have a body. Mine is just bigger, and slower. The cycles of your life are echoes in the cycles of My seasons. It’s just slower for Me. To My eyes, you are all flickering brief candles, passing in and out of the world like winking starlights. But you are part of My body, just like each organ and tissue that you have in your bodies. So understand, you are not a cancer or a blight, as some have said. You are meant to be here at this moment in time/space. You are like a baby growing in My womb, and you are taking over My resources and draining My energy, and you are growing faster than I am ready for, but you are just infants, zygotes, growing and changing and dividing and determining who you are.

All you have to do to complete this cycle is finish your growth, change, and Awaken! Stop resisting the birth pangs; you have no choice to be born. If you do not, both of us will die. Awaken, accept that change is necessary and that there will be growing pains, and know that I always love you and I am waiting to catch you in My arms, when your consciousness is awake enough to speak to Me at last.

 

I felt the need to share Gaia's message and so I'm posting it here. I will also be posting this on the new the Medium, the Witch, and the Shaman website, where you will also find Vicky's message from Gaia.

Blessed be,

Magickal Planets

Posted by thethreadsthatbindus on October 16, 2010 at 10:12 PM Comments comments (1)

The planets have been called upon for hundreds, even thousands of years, for their magickal properties. Some of this has come down to us through astrology, but some of it remains strictly the providence of magicians, Witches and other Will-workers. At the request of my students from the Wise Woman festival, I’d like to offer this brief article about some of those traditional associations and properties, so that you can call upon them in your magick and your everyday life!

 

The Sun (Sunday): Health, prosperity, leadership, success, protection, joy, ego, fathers, husbands. Metal – gold; Herbs – St. John’s Wort, saffron, chamomile, marigold, mistletoe, rosemary, chicory, High John the Conqueror; Scents – cedar, clove, cinnamon, frankincense, juniper, marigold, rosemary, rue.

 

The Moon (Monday): Emotions, intuition, healing, women’s mysteries, art & music, beauty, psychic abilities, subconscious, protection, spirituality, dreams, wives, mothers. Metal – silver; Herbs – white rose, birch, chickweed, cleavers, willow, yarrow, mugwort, wormwood; Scents – coconut, eucalyptus, gardenia, jasmine, lemon, lotus, myrrh, sandalwood, ylang ylang.

 

Mercury (Wednesday): Travel, learning, higher education, communication, expression, writing, healing, alchemy. Metals – mercury, electrum; Herbs – caraway, dill, fennel, hazel, spearmint, lemon balm, marjoram, parsley, lavender; Scents – bayberry, lavender, lemongrass, spearmint, clary sage.

 

Venus (Friday): Lovers, love, pleasure, desire, beauty, women, women’s health, hedonism. Metal – copper; Herbs – Elder, cypress, daisy, foxglove, ivy, violet, vervain, plantain, thyme, sorrel, rose, apple, strawberry, alder, tansy, marshmallow, primrose, evening primrose; Scents – African violet, apple, cherry, rose, jasmine, lilac, patchouli, vanilla, ylang ylang.

 

Earth: Money, health, home, safety, healing, strength. Metals – all; Herbs – Betony, dittany of Crete, moss, cedar, spruce, patchouli; Scents – Patchouli, niaouli, cypress, myrrh.

 

Mars (Tuesday): Physical energy, war, lust, victory, cutting & surgery, soldiers, strength, courage, law, accomplishing goals, men. Metal – iron; Herbs – basil, thistle, holly, pepper (all varieties); Scents – carnation, ginger, peppermint, pine, dragon’s blood.

 

Jupiter (Thursday): Religion, philosophy, expansion, luck, business, attracting more of what you have. Metal – tin; Herbs – milk thistle, agrimony, sage, balm, hyssop, borage, cinquefoil, nutmeg, oak; Scents – Sage, sandalwood, nutmeg, lime, anise, clove.

 

Saturn (Saturday): Structure, form, reality, limits, tests, obstacles, resistance, endings, hard work, real estate, karma, age, death, bones. Metal – lead; Herbs – Mullein, comfrey, nightshade, hemlock, henbane, hemp, knapweed, mandrake; Scents – Black orchid, iris, myrrh, black pepper, opium poppy, patchouli, violet.

 

Uranus: Astrology, technology, inventions, innovation, counselling, originality, sudden events. Metals – zinc, magnetite, uranium; Herbs – Allspice, clove, ginseng, linseed, nutmeg, lobelia, peppermint, pine, wormwood; Scents – Peppermint, clove, nutmeg, pine.

 

Neptune: Mysticism, music, imagination, dance, illusion, Dionysian pleasures (drugs, sex, alcohol, etc.), sleep. Metals – platinum, cobalt, neptunium; Herbs – Most drugs & poisons, belladonna, opium poppies, valerian, coffee, chamomile, coltsfoot; Scents – gardenia, opium, hemp, wine, honeysuckle.

 

Pluto: Investigation, the Underworld, insurance, wealth, loans, transformation, death. Metals – tungsten, bismuth, plutonium; Herbs – Galangal, pennyroyal, pomegranate, narcissus, musk; Scents – Galangal, musk, petitgrain.

 

Blessed be,


Moon Phase Tool

CURRENT MOON

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