Thursday, July 28, 2016

Owl Sighting, Interaction, and Readings

The Initial Sighting
About a month ago, the coyote pack that lives around here came through one night. They were howling and yipping up a storm, really late. I got out of bed to look and see if I could see them. I saw something strange on our fencepost. In the dark, I just couldn't figure out what it was. I was worried it was an injured or harassed animal that was trying to avoid the coyote pack. I got a flashlight and shined it through the window to that spot. It turned its head and I could see it was an owl. Of course the light startled it and it flew off. I was happy to see it flew off normally, so I wasn't worried about it being injured.

Full Moon Interaction
A little over a week ago, the night before the Full Moon, I had an INCREDIBLE experience. I let the dogs out into the backyard to go potty late. While they were pottying I heard an owl hooting loudly, so from very close nearby. I was looking around to try to find where the owl might be. I looked up and directly over my head, on the peak of our roof, was a very large Great Horned Owl. I quickly and as quietly as I could shooed the dogs back inside. I quietly called to my husband to come outside as fast as he could, but to be quiet. I pointed up above my head and he too saw the owl. The owl hooted several times and we could hear a response coming back from his mate off in the distance. It was INCREDIBLE!!! To be so close and have the owl actually on our house! My husband got his phone out and took a picture. Unfortunately he didn't realize his flash was on. The flash went off and the owl was startled and flew away. I was SO disappointed! We said apologies and said we'd appreciate if the owl would return if he felt comfortable in doing so, that we would do our best not to startle him again. We saw that the owl hadn't flown too far off. We could still hear him and his mate calling back and forth to each other. We went back inside to feed the dogs their dinner.

Great Horned Owl on our roof, directly overhead
(camera flash on, unfortunately, which startled the owl)
After the dogs ate their dinner, we let them out again for their final potty break of the night, before bed. We heard the owl hooting again from closer. We looked and he was perched at the top of our neighbor's house, almost directly below the Full Moon. It was incredible! Again, we put the dogs away. My husband took some pictures (NO flash this time!) and video. It was just so amazing! We thanked the owl for returning, said goodnight, and went inside in the hopes that we wouldn't deter him from staying or coming again.

Great Horned Owl on our neighbor's roof
(the light dot is a plane flying in the distance)

Great Horned Owl on our neighbor's roof
(the light dot is a plane flying off in the distance)

I was absolutely so completely dorked out excited! To have such an amazing visit from an incredible animal in such an urban area was just so awe inspiring. I felt like it was a living manifestation of my spirituality, my spiritual path... I was excited and happy and awed and honored, a whole bunch of feelings all at once. Just an incredible experience...

Owl Card Reading
The next day I decided to do a reading about what message the Owl may have been bringing me. I don't do a reading on every animal sighting I have. Some sightings are just natural occurrences, because the animals live where I can see them. This visit from the Owl felt significant.

I did a reading with The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle and The Wild Unknown Tarot. I pulled the Owl card from TWU Animal Spirit Oracle as the topic card, rather than choosing a card at random. I read the book entry for that card and considered that as I drew 3 cards from TWU Tarot asking what message the Owl I encountered might be bringing me.

Owl Combination Reading
The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle (c) 2016 Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown
The Wild Unknown Tarot 1st edition (c) 2012 Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown 

The keywords for the Owl card are abundance, clairvoyance, treasures. Owls are about wisdom and knowing. This knowledge will help bring about abundance in your life.

My interpretation for the 10 Cups, 5 Swords, Judgement cards is that to achieve happiness you must break through challenging thought patterns. Leave the past behind. Let go of the past and embrace the present so you can move forward into the future. (The last sentence is a meaning for the Judgement card that I read somewhere and unfortunately can't remember where...)

Drawing Multiple Owl Cards
I also decided it would be interesting to pull Owl cards from various decks I have and read the meanings of those cards from their accompanying books, to add to this reading for myself.

Owl cards pulled from several decks
The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Oracle (c) 2016 Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown
The Animal Wisdom Tarot (c) 2013 CICO Books
The Animal Wise Tarot (c) 1999 Dragonhawk Publishing
Oracle of the Shapeshifters (c) 2011 Blue Angel Publishing
Oracle of the Shapeshifters (c) 2013 Beyond Words/Simon Pulse
The Wild Unknown Tarot 1st edition (c) 2012 Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown
The meanings and interpretation are fairly detailed and personal, but here's a few keywords for each:

TWU Animal Spirit Oracle Owl-abundance, clairvoyance, treasures

The Animal Wisdom Tarot-Keeper of the Light (Hermit); Solitude, Introspection, Enlightenment, Wisdom; Illumination through direct experience

The Animal-Wise Tarot-wisdom, vision, guidance, silence

Oracle of the Shapeshifters-Wisdom as light as a feather; Gift of justice, wisdom, transformation, and the pure power of directed intention

The Wild Unknown Tarot-Father of Swords (Great Horned Owl)-corresponds to the King of Swords, taking charge of my thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, perceptions
     (I only included the Father of Swords in my reading, but am showing the others because they're all owls)

This all felt very meaningful and applicable to me. I will continue to explore Owl energy and correspondences until the next Full Moon.

Have you experienced sighting a wild animal and it felt significant? What animal did you see? What message do you think it was bringing to you? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Changing My Altar

A blah altar...
For a while now my altar has been kinda blah. It's just been sitting there, not quite functional, not quite right, just feeling a little dusty and off. Sage Goddess put out an article on setting up and changing your altar (How to Create and Refresh a Sacred Altar for your Magical Practice). I took that as a sign that I needed to refresh my altar.

Things have changed a bit in the focus of my spiritual practice since I last set up or changed my altar. I decided to sit down and do some brainstorming and brain dumping (a new favorite technique of mine lately) on what my current focus is for my spiritual practice. This way I could re-design my altar so it would be functional for my current needs and uses.

What I'm drawn to
This brainstorming was interesting. I realized that there are ideas and concepts I'm drawn to and feel a connection to, but they aren't related to what I'm actually doing and utilizing in my current spiritual practice. For example, I'm very drawn to the concepts of the Four Elements. Shamanic practices are still important to me, though I haven't been utilizing them lately. I'm also drawn to some of the concepts and cosmology of ADF Druidry like Land, Sea, and Sky and Sacred Tree, Sacred Well, Sacred Fire. I just haven't really incorporated these concepts actively in my practice lately. I LOVE the idea of candles, but in reality I haven't lit a candle in months and months.

What I actually do
Then I thought about what I ACTUALLY do and use in my spiritual practice, day to day. I came up with Crystals and Cards. That's my main focus right now, crystals and stones, and Tarot and Oracle cards. I've also been really drawn to the concept of Mind, Body, Spirit for healing and balancing (as opposed to the 7 Chakras, for example). Nature is also still important to me. Though in reality, this is a bit more theoretical than real. With my chronic illness issues, lately most of my experiences with Nature are me spending a few minutes outside each day in my backyard. I observe the weather and do my best to observe any obvious changes or unique animal sightings. Seasonal work is a big part of my Tarot work. I'm also drawn to the concept of the Moon cycle, though I'm still figuring out how best to work with that. So my practice lately has been fairly simple and focused, Crystals and Cards.

Cleaning and setting up
I set about clearing off my altar, physically cleaning the space, and thinking about how I could set up an altar to represent my current work with Crystals and Cards and Mind, Body, Spirit, preferably using the tools and items I currently have. I removed everything from the space on my dresser dedicated to my altar space. I figured having a fresh, clean, bare space to start with would be best. I looked at what I was currently actually working with, some crystal layouts and cards I had up on my altar along with a few other things. I moved my shrine to Epona to another place on my altar space and set things up according to some ideas I got while brainstorming.

The new altar

My new Crystals and Cards altar
The wooden bowl is for any crystal layouts I do
"Witchlings" used with permission U.S.Games Systems. (c) 2014. All rights reserved
My new Crystals and Cards Altar-front view
"Witchlings" used with permission U.S.Games Systems. (c) 2014. All rights reserved

The space looks a little bare. It's much more simple. It's VERY different from the way I've had my altar set up for a long time now. I think I like it, but because it's so different I think it's going to take some time for me to get used to it. The wall behind the altar space seems especially bare right now. I'm going to leave it as is for now to try to get used to it. I can always change things later if I feel the need to.

Using herbs energetically
While brainstorming I did get a unique idea about using herbs in a way I haven't before. Because of my allergies, in general I can't tolerate ingesting herbs and spices. They give me migraines. So I haven't really explored using herbs much. I also generally don't care for essential oils as the scents are too strong for me. I got some ideas related to using some teas that I really enjoy the scent of as loose herbal mixes on my altar. So instead of ingesting the herbs, I'd basically be utilizing them energetically. Their presence on my altar would contribute energetically while adding a small amount of pleasant scent. I haven't made a final decision on whether to use this technique or not, but I'll be thinking about it.

More cleaning and organizing
I also cleaned off my nightstand next to my side of the bed. I've had crystals and stones on there, ones I use day to day, since I do spend a fair amount of time in my bed. The whole top of the nightstand had just gotten completely cluttered and dusty and felt really stagnant. I took everything off of it, dusted and cleaned everything, got rid of the clutter, and set up my stones again. The Sage Goddess article mentioned a sleep altar to help with insomnia. That really drew my attention as I've been dealing with sleep disruption for a while now. I set up a small crystal layout for sleep on my nightstand in addition to my crystals and stones I use regularly and my other few essentials (glasses case, eye drops, pen, etc).

Cleansing without smudging...
After doing all this cleaning and rearranging I decided to use my singing bowl to do a bit of an energetic cleanse of the room. I know a lot of people use smudging for this. I don't, because I can't tolerate the smoke due to my allergies. Honestly, I also just don't particularly care for the smell of burning sage. I never have... I'll tolerate a brief smudge, with my breath held, prior to a public ritual, but I just don't use smudging myself. I have found that using sound to cleanse and get energies moving to remove stagnation works quite well for me. So I played my singing bowl as I moved around the room to get the stagnant energies moving again. Now the bedroom feels much lighter and much more pleasant.

Change is good
I'm feeling good about this "refreshing" of my altar. For a while now I'd look at my altar and feel that it just wasn't quite right. Not wrong, but that it needed something. That something was a change. I think it will take me a little while to get used to the change, but I'm happy with it. I looked over at my altar this morning and felt light and happy. I'm sure I have a few small kinks to work out, some small adjustments to make. I'm sure those will come with time. The change is a good one and had likely been long overdue. I'm glad I made the effort to make the changes.

Feel free to share
Do you have an altar? Does it reflect your current practice and beliefs? When was the last time you changed or refreshed your altar? How did it feel afterwards? Please feel free to share in the comments. I hope you'll join me in the future for more posts. :-)

P.S. A pet peeve of mine...
Ok, this talk about my altar reminded me of a pet peeve of mine. I absolutely CAN'T STAND when people misuse altar/alter. Altar is the sacred space. Alter means "to change." They are NOT interchangeable. So please make sure you're using the correct word. Maybe that sounds a bit bitchy, but it irritates me... :-)

Friday, July 15, 2016

I'm Back... Tarot Images Copyright Issue Resolved

I had to take a break...
Hi Everyone! I'm back. I took a break from blogging for a few reasons. First and foremost, an issue came up about Tarot images and copyright. I've been including pictures I've taken of Tarot and Oracle spreads and layouts I've done. I didn't know that some publishers considered that a violation of copyright protections. The issue came to a head online and I was following it through Facebook. The Tarot community addressed our concerns about this to the major deck publishers. Apparently, we weren't supposed to be sharing all the wonderful spread pictures and unboxing videos, and pictures we'd taken of spread and layouts to send to clients with their email readings. I didn't want to create any more blog posts that I might be required to take down until this issue was resolved.

Piracy and Fair Usage
There definitely have been ongoing issues with pirating of Tarot decks, especially out of Eastern Europe and Russia. Copying and selling decks that aren't yours is wrong, period, and a violation of copyright laws. But the Tarot community felt it was unfair of publishers to so strictly limit us in how we use and share images we personally have taken of spreads and layouts we've done, basically in the spirit of Fair Usage. Not taking pictures and selling them, but posting them on our blogs and social media, and sharing them with our clients in email and phone/Skype readings. Clients would see the layout if we were reading in person. To not be able to share a picture of a spread or layout we did with a phone/Skype or email client is unfair and basically penalizing readers who choose to not do in person readings, for whatever reason. We brought up these issues to the major deck publishers.

Major Publishers Policy Changes
I'm happy to say that the major deck publishers have clarified and even changed their image sharing policies. US Games was the first to change their policy and has been very generous in how they now allow usage. Llewellyn followed suit, after a little while, and after some confusing back and forth emails from members of the Tarot community as they worked to address the issue. Schiffer and Blue Angel have also come out in support of the Tarot community.

For more detailed information, please feel free to read this blog post by Tarot Association:

Tarot Association-Tarot Copyright

So now I'm back...
With that clarified and resolved I feel comfortable with blogging again. I also had gotten a little burned out, which I hadn't realized. I'm working to start a Tarot reading business, which I'm quite excited about. I've been taking a 21 day course by Fiona Benjamin, for starting a mystical business. Between that and blogging I'd let my self-care fall to the wayside. This all culminated in me pulling my back about 2 weeks ago. The first night was one of the most painful things I've ever experienced, and I've had abdominal surgeries before. I was literally forced to lay on my back for over a week, almost continually. Sitting was extremely painful. I was able to get up and walk a bit here and there each day, but spent most of my time laying down.

I realized that I'd gotten a bit burned out and needed to start back up on my self-care. I'd gotten so excited about starting my business that I forgot to take care of myself. So I started back on my self-care practices. I worked with my crystals and stones and did some personal Tarot and Oracle readings for myself. I'm finally starting to feel better and well enough to slowly start blogging and working on my business again. I've gotten some great ideas for my blog and my business from several resources lately. I'm excited about some upcoming improvements to my blog and blogging and hopefully getting my Tarot business started soon.

I hope you'll join me for future posts. I'm excited to share some new topics and even some new topic series.