Saturday, August 22, 2015

My first personal ritual, sort of...

This my seem kinda strange and it's a bit embarassing. I have been learning about, studying, and practing Paganism for nearly 7 years now and I haven't really done any rituals myself. I've participated in a few over the years with varying degrees of success. I have just never felt very comfortable with the eclectic Wicca types of rituals. The ones I have participated in felt strange and awkward for me. I felt a lot like when I was nearing the end of going to Church. It felt awkward and strange and like I was going through the motions in a fake sort of way. I just didn't feel a spiritual connection. I did enjoy the few shamanic rituals that I participated in with my shamanic journeying group. Those felt really meaningful and spiritually connected for me. But they aren't quiet right for me for a regular practice.

I have long felt a yearning, a pull towards doing something more with my personal practice. I've spent a LOT of time studying and learning and not a lot of time DOING. But that's me though, a big part of my spiritual practice is the learning and studying and reading. But I've felt a strong pull towards a more active personal practice, especially lately. I just wasn't finding stuff that felt right. The eclectic Wicca type rituals just haven't felt right. The Full Moon and New Moon ritual stuff I've found just hasn't seemed quite right either. I know it doesn't have to be perfect, but I have to feel SOME kind of connection with what I'm doing or it just makes no sense to do it, especially if it feels weird and awkward.

Lately I've been looking into Druidry. I've looked at what seems to be the three main Druid organizations that I can find, ADF, OBOD, and AODA. I'm sure there's others, but those seem to be the largest and most well known. Each has varying perspectives on Druidry and their own takes on it. There's a LOT of excellent information available through each organization. However, I have found that I really seem to resonate with the ADF style rituals. I've read a bunch online at their website and I have also read a few books that had information based on the ADF, written by current or former members. I really feel a connection to their ritual format.

Today I decided to kinda give a ritual a try, loosely based on the ADF format. It was more just kinda pulling things together for setup to see how I'd arrange the altar setup and how the flow might go, to see if it's something I might actually feel comfortable doing. I didn't quite do the ritual, though I did light a candle once the setup was all done. It felt very nice. I think with a little adaptation for my own personal practice it will be a nice ritual format for me to use. I'm actually looking forward to giving a full ritual a try.

For now, here's a couple pictures of how I had some things set up to try today. There are representations of Earth, Sea, and Sky as well as the Sacred Well, Sacred Tree, Sacred Fire. There's a circle created by 4 Citrines to represent the Solstices and Equinoxes and Quartz points to represent the 12-13 Full Moons of a year. There's also stones for grounding and shielding (black tourmaline, smokey quartz, amazonite, fluorite, selenite) as well as stones to support me energetically as I usually get very fatigued after rituals (ametrine and red apophylite).

Portable Version

Full Altar Version
The portable version isn't quite complete, but I was just trying some things while resting in bed. I decided to give a full altar setup a try after working with the portable setup for a while, just to see what would work. I still have a little adapting to do, but I'm looking forward to giving this ritual format a try on the Full Moon on Friday. I'll be sure to post about how it goes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I had it all backwards...

Well, I'm trying something new this week. It seems to be working out well so far, though it's the opposite of what I've been doing up until now. I had been choosing an Oracle deck to work with for the week. I was drawing a daily Oracle card and then using my Tarot apps to draw a daily Tarot card to relate to the message of the Oracle card. That was working okay, but sometimes there just wasn't a correlation that made sense. This week I decided to do the daily Tarot card on my Tarot apps FIRST, then do a 1-3 card Oracle card draw in regards to what I need to know about the Tarot card. It's working REALLY well that way. So I'm thinking I'll stick with doing that for a while and seeing how it goes.

I also got two new Tarot apps by The Fool's Dog, The Animals Divine Tarot and the Revelations Tarot. That brings my Tarot apps total to 18, plus two Oracle apps, a Runes app, and one Lenormand app. I'm really enjoying working with the apps. There's no substitute for real, printed decks though. I'm really liking the apps for ease of comparison. I like to draw a daily card and then compare that same card amongst the different apps. I feel it helps give a more detailed and well rounded study of the individual cards.

I've been working with the Oracle of Visions by Ciro Marchetti for the past 2 weeks. I'm really enjoying working with this deck. I'm able to use it relatively intuitively, though I still refer to the book after my initial impressions. I'm hoping to be able to offer Oracle deck readings in the future, in addition to Tarot readings. Some people aren't as comfortable with Tarot, so I'd like to be able to offer them an option. As of right now, I'm thinking I'll be able to offer Oracle readings from two decks, The Oracle of Visions and the Nature Speak Oracle. Those are the two Oracle decks I feel most comfortable working with at the moment. So many Oracle decks have such unique meanings that you need to utilize the accompanying books frequently in order to get the full meanings from the cards. With the Oracle of Visions and the Nature Speak Oracle, I feel relatively comfortable using those decks intuitively and not having to rely so heavily on their books for interpretation.

The past 2 weeks have been hectic with having out of town visitors. My best friend and her cousin came to visit for a week. We had a great time,  but I did a LOT while they were here. I seem to be coping ok with that though, which is excellent. It means I'm having some improvements. Then after they left we had a heat wave that caused my chronic illness issues to flare. Boy am I grateful we bought the air conditioning units. I would have been in serious trouble without them with this latest heat wave. We don't need to use them often, but when we do need them they're worth their weight in gold. I'm finally trying to get back to my normal routine, and it's a bit of a struggle. I'm still looking into Druidry, though I haven't felt up to reading any of my Druidry books lately. The brain fog that's a part of my illness has trashed my comprehension and retention when it comes to reading and it's very frustrating. Some days I'm just not able to read at all, which is quite devastating to me. I LOVE reading, so to not be able to read some days just frustrates me. I'm also still working on incorporating daily movement (incredibly light exercise), but it's a struggle. Though I know it likely won't, I still worry about the exertion triggering a flare/crash. But I'll never know if I don't try... I'm trying to figure out a good time of day for me to do it. The day to day fluctuations of my chronic illness symptoms makes creating habits and changes very difficult. I had found a meditation class at a community center not too far from me. When I went to go see about registering it was no longer on the website, so it appears to no longer be available. I'm incredibly disappointed as it was so close to the house. I'm hoping I can find something similar nearby and soon. I'd like to figure out something that will get me out of the house a bit more often. So kinda a lot and nothing going on all at the same time. Hopefully I can get settled back into my daily routine soon.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Oracle of Visions Deck Interview Spread

The Oracle of Visions was created by Ciro Marchetti. He decided to create an Oracle deck after creating several Tarot decks. While he appreciated the structure of Tarot, he wanted to create something that didn't have to stick to a rigid structure, where the images would speak for themselves and not require a supporting text that had to be read in order to interpret the images, as so many other Oracle decks require. This deck includes an accompanying book with suggestions for possible card readings. However, the images are such that you don't NEED to read the book in order to interpret and understand the cards. The images of the Oracle of Visions are loosely broken into the categories of Situations, Emotions, Actions, and Behavior, while still allowing each card to serve in many roles. Keywords and titles are specifically omitted from the cards so that the cards can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways. The images are also generally "neutral" so as not to portray only positive happy outcomes that may be unrealistic and give false hope, since not everything can be resolved with just positive thinking. I personally really appreciate these perspectives. Not everything can be solved with a positive attitude or "thinking positive." I've seen victim blaming occur when people take that perspective too far and blame a person's difficulties on them, saying they must not be thinking positive, that you get what you put out so they must be putting out too much negativity. Such a perspective is unrealistic and harmful and I appreciate a divination tool created to help prevent that.

Here is a picture of the deck interview spread for the Oracle of Visions.

My deck interview spread is fairly simple. I ask four questions. What should I know about your personality and characteristics as a deck? What are your strengths as a deck? What are your weaknesses as a deck? What types of readings do you prefer to do/answer?

What should I know about your personality and characteristics as a deck?
22-Reflections, Looking Back, Hindsight
     This is a deck that helps us reflect on the past as it projects into our present and future. It helps us to assess the past and how it is currently influencing.

What are your strengths as a deck?
27-Attraction, Magnetism, Infatuation
     I had to laugh out loud a little when this card came up for this question. This deck is pretty! :-) The artwork draws you in and makes you pay attention and want to work with this deck. The artwork is such that we can develop our own interpretations and not have to rely on "book meanings."

What are your weaknesses as a deck?
48-Choices, Risks, Consequences
     This deck often shows you the "what if's", opening up a can of worms metaphorically speaking. We may not always want to know, even if we think we do. Once we know, we can't un-know...

What types of readings do you prefer to do/answer?
51-Messages, Deadlines, Anticipation
     This deck likes to give you the message you've been searching for, needing, and anxiously awaiting.

I hope you enjoyed this deck interview spread with the Oracle of Visions. Please join me for more deck interview spreads in the future.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Wheel of the Year?

I read this blog post this morning and almost yelled "EXACTLY!!!!" Ever since I started studying Paganism, the Wheel of the Year has been an interesting concept, but one I just couldn't get with the program with. It made absolutely NO sense to me to celebrate themes at a certain time when they didn't even come close to reflecting what was happening in the real world of my local area. Take for example, my hometown in the Midwest, Chicago. Imbolc in Chicago is likely still having snow and sometimes even sub-zero temperatures. NOTHING around that time makes me think of the coming of spring. Or how about when we lived in Kodiak, Alaska? Yeah, around Beltane we were lucky if the thaws were in process and it was just starting to feel like spring.

For several years now I have been pretty adamant about celebrating a LOCAL Wheel of the Year based on the local climate and local seasonal observations. I also, for the most part, focus on the solstices and equinoxes as those are actual astronomical occurrences. On those days I go out into nature and see what's happening where I'm at. With a husband in the military, where we live changes fairly frequently. So it's important for me to check in with nature to find out what's going on where I'm actually living.

I read a very interesting article in the 2014 Witches Companion book related to this subject. In essence it talked about ritual and celebrations and how we shouldn't try to lie to ourselves in ritual. Our brains know when we're lying and automatically reject it and it throws things out of whack for participating in the ritual. So if you're doing a Solstice ritual the Saturday before the actual Solstice, don't say "Tonight we celebrate this eve of the Solstice." Your brain knows it's not the Solstice. Same for all these Wheel of the Year themes. If it doesn't match what's locally happening, you're not going to get the full effect of your ritual or celebration because your brain knows it. Makes me wonder about the whole thing with affirmations...

Anyway, use the Wheel of the Year as you see fit. I use the Solstices and Equinoxes to check in with what Nature is doing where I'm actually living. I try to be aware of local planting and harvests and any local and regional observances or significant events and celebrate accordingly.

Lipp, Deborah. Everybody's Working for the Weekend. 109-120. Llewellyn's 2014 Witches' Companion.