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The Magic of Working With Difficult Emotions (part 1)

girl-107163_640We all experience challenging emotions at times. It can be all too easy to get caught up in our reactions to these intense and unpleasant feelings.

We might find ourselves getting irritable and taking out our anger on our loved ones. Or we might find ourselves spending a lot of time and energy disconnecting from ourselves in order to avoid feeling what we feel. This article will help you overcome and successfully resolve your feelings.

Imagining Another Way

But what if we could learn to welcome such emotions instead? What if we could learn to experience our difficult emotions as gifts, as opportunities to deepen our self-care and spiritual practice, as potential allies who have much to teach us?

If you are interested in pursuing this approach, here are several steps that you can take to befriend your pain and sorrow, your anger and fear. These steps are presented as a rough outline; feel free to choose your own path, to mix and match elements of them, to skip over or replace some of them or to work through them in whatever order makes sense to you.

Accept that you feel what you feel.

Before we can start to move or transform any emotion, we have to simply be present with it. We have to stop resisting, stop fighting, stop pretending that what’s happening is not happening.

Acceptance is powerful medicine. It’s the best antidote for all the convoluted snarls and tangles we can find ourselves stuck in. For many people (including myself), it’s so easy to start feeling bad because we feel bad.

I often find myself feeling angry or sad that some old familiar pain has resurfaced in my heart. I might start to believe false stories, such as that I’ve always felt this way or that my sorrow is never going to end.

This dynamic can also show up in different ways. For example, you might be scared of the intensity of your own anger. Or you might be ashamed of the depth of your grief. You might be frustrated because your emotional reactions don’t seem to make rational sense.

But you don’t have to beat yourself up for feeling how you feel. You can simply accept that this is where your heart is, in this moment, and trust that, no matter how lost you might feel, you are on a long and winding path towards wholeness.

Ask for help…

friends-204324_640We don’t have to deal with our pain and difficulties alone. We are stronger when we are interconnected, when we draw on the many resources that exist within and around us.

Asking for help can look very different for different people. It can also be quite different for one person at different times in their life. One important strategy is to cultivate a network of emotional support.

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When you have a range of relationships with people that you enjoy and trust, you can often find great comfort and help. It can be challenging for most people to reach out when they’re overwhelmed. Because of this, it’s often a good idea to ask people beforehand if you can contact them for support when you’re having a hard time.

…From all your allies.

As magical practitioners, we have the ability to ask for help from more than human allies. Depending on your tradition and preferences, you might reach out to Gods and Goddesses, to faeries and elemental spirits, to your ancestors and/or to angels and spirit guides.

All of these can be great sources of healing, soothing and spiritual insight.

Some people also cultivate relationships to non-human allies who exist physically in this realm. For example, many magical people use crystals for a variety of emotional balancing purposes. You can also use herbal teas, plant-based remedies and aromatherapy oils in similar ways.

If you have rituals that you are familiar with, performing them during a trying time can be a great way to comfort yourself. Doing something familiar can also help you feel empowered and competent.

A Simple Prayer to Ask for Help

Emotions and Candle Ritual

Emotions Candle Ritual

Here’s a very simple ritual that you can do if you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you need to something quick and easy, or if you simply aren’t sure how to ask for spiritual help. Light a candle. Imagine that your heart is a bud, a tightly closed flower.

Say out loud, “Divine Beings, Spirits of Benevolence and Grace, I ask for help. I ask for support and comfort to enter into my life. I am willing to open and be changed.”

Imagine that the flower of your heart is opening and blossoming. Imagine that your heart is giving off a sweet, alluring scent that draws love and connection towards it. Allow yourself to see any images of support that might appear, like honeybees, to pollinate your heart.

Check back next month to read part 2 of this article, which will explore expressing difficult emotions and gleaning lessons from them!

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Harvesting the Magic of Autumn

 Some rightsreserved by gre.ceres http://www.flickr.com/photos/greceres/

Grain in Autumn

This time of year is the harvest, when the fruit and grains that ripened in summer are gathered in. It is a time to give thanks and a time to take stock, a time to share the bounty we have been given and a time to consider the fruits of our labor. Here are several ways that we can align ourselves spiritually with the magic of harvest.

Count Your Blessings

In this season of bounty, it’s important to take time to acknowledge all the many gifts we’ve been given. Of course, for each of us, the exact nature of these blessings is different.

And for each of us, the best way to take stock of our gratitude is different. You may want to write down a list in your diary or magical journal. You may want to gather with some friends and community members in order to speak your reflections out loud. You may want to create some other form of expression, such as a song or a painting or a collage.

The point of this exercise is to survey your life. Allow yourself to become aware of all the things that bring you joy and contentment, whether those elements are relationships with other people, features of the natural landscape, physical objects, or freedoms that you enjoy.

Sometimes this exercise can bring up feelings of scarcity or lack for people. If nothing else, you can start with the eyes that you’re using to read these words and the mind that you’re using to understand them. You are alive, which is in itself a great and miraculous gift.

Once you begin to connect to your gratitude, you are likely to find more and more items to include in your count.

Remember Your Part in Creating the Feast

As you sit down to the harvest table, take some time to consider the food that’s in front of you. This food might be metaphorical or literal; it might be literally the fruits of your garden, the ripe apples of the trees you tended, the bright orange globes of the pumpkins you watered all summer. Or it might be the relationships you’ve deepened this year, the lessons you learned, the abundance you created for yourself, the projects you completed.

Whatever your harvest is, it’s something that you created. It’s the result of the seeds you planted in the spring and all the weeding and nurturing you did in the summer.

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So after you thank the world for all the gifts you’ve received, thank yourself as well. Remember the part you played in manifesting this harvest feast.

If You Reap What You Sow…

And after you’ve expressed your gratitude, consider: does the food that’s before you truly nurture you? Is there something missing? Is there something that you wish wasn’t there?

If you do notice a desire for something to be different, be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to simply be aware, without judgment or blame.

And imagine, if you can, that the difference that you’re craving is already present, that the difficult fruit is gone or the missing bounty is there, sitting on your table. And ask yourself, or ask the harvest, how did that nourishment come to be here? What seeds did I plant in order to invite this gift into my life? What did I sow in order to reap this bounty?

The answers you receive can serve as inspiration for next year’s garden.

Bigger than Human

These meditations, while beautiful and helpful, are very human. If you want to connect to something larger than yourself, something wilder and more ancient, harvest is also an excellent time to do so.

The easiest way to do so is simply to take nature walks as often as you can. This can be a little challenging, as the blissful heat of summer starts to give way to the cold and dark of winter. Personally, I have found that consciously spending time outdoors makes it easier for me to adjust to seasonal transitions, both in terms of physical comfort and in more emotional and esoteric ways.

As you walk, allow yourself to notice the changes that are taking place all around you. Let yourself feel whatever you feel about the colder winds and the dying leaves, whether that’s sorrow or excitement.

After you have acknowledged the arising feelings, say a small prayer of thanks. Thank the summer for the bright sun that feeds growth and abundance. Thank the autumn for being the time of harvest, the time of gathering, the time of change and preparation. Thank the winter that is coming for the deep rest and the sheltering dark.

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The Viking Vision of Peace and Plenty with God Freyr

448px-Freyr_by_Johannes_GehrtsWe’ve already explored the central roles that physical strength and war play in Viking mythology. But the Vikings were a multi-faceted people; they also told stories that celebrated peace, diplomacy and the courage to give up your arms and embrace those who had once been your enemies.

Again, the Vikings’ mythology reflected the conditions of their actual lives. No people, no matter how fierce, could continuously be at war. Many of the conflicts the Vikings experienced were no doubt internal conflicts, fights between various Viking families and clans. They needed inspiration and guidance on how to restore peaceful relations after violent disagreements.

Who is Freyr?

Several of the most potent Viking stories of peace feature the God Freyr. Freyr is a God of sunshine and plenty, pleasure and generosity. He is said to bring blessings of peace and prosperity to humans who honour him. Freyr has a close relationship with humanity; legends claim him as the Father of the Royal House of Sweden.

The story of how Freyr came to live in Asgard, home of the Norse Gods, is a tale of reconciliation going back to the very roots of Viking mythology. The Gods themselves were once split into warring clans: the Aesir and the Vanir. The Aesir, led by Odin, invaded the homeland of the Vanir, where Freyr lived with his fellow Vanir Gods and Goddesses.

The two clans fought each other bitterly. As you might expect from beings of vast supernatural power, the war between the two families of Gods went on for a long time, causing vast damage and loss to both sides.

Eventually, both the Aesir and the Vanir were ready for a peace treaty. In order to ensure that both sides honored the peace, the two families exchanged hostages; several Aesir Gods went to live with the Vanir in their homeland, and Freyr (as well as his sister Freya) went to live with the Aesir in Asgard.

Though he comes from an enemy clan, Freyr’s charm and contagious optimism soon won him the trust of the Aesir. As a token of their respect, the Gods gave Freyr Alfheim, the world of the elves, to rule over. In time, Freyr became one of the most prominent and powerful Gods in the Norse pantheon. He is the God of Sacred Kingship and masculine fertility, the bright sun who brings growth and plenty to all the land.

The Blessings of Freyr

A detail from Gotland runestone G 181, in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. The three men are interpreted as Odin, Thor, and Freyr.

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The gifts that Freyr brings are those that come from a long peace; abundant harvests, stockhouses full of meat and cheese, celebratory feasts where neighbouring clans come together and dancing might lead to strangers becoming spouses.

Freyr himself fell in love with a stranger, in another old tale about the power of peace. He became infatuated by Gerd, a giantess. The giants were a race at war with the Gods. In order to win the trust and affection of his beloved, Freyr agreed to cast aside his magic sword. He won the hand of Gerd and the two were happily married. But Freyr’s sacrifice of his weapon came with a price; he was destined to be slain in the final war, Ragnarok.

Freyr, Lord of the Sun, can teach us how to move from strife and distrust towards peace and prosperity.

Working With Freyr

Ask yourself:

* Is there a way I can turn the forces I see as my enemies into my allies instead?
* Where do I need the life-giving abundance of the sun?
* What am I willing to sacrifice in order to find love and trust?

Freyr teaches us that peace and prosperity are bound up together. In the world of the Vikings, freedom from war meant more hands to work the fields and gather the harvests. For any society, it’s much easier to get along with your neighbours when you know there is plenty of food and sunshine to go around.

In the end, Freyr’s most powerful blessing seems to be the realisation that the well being and prosperity of our neighbours -even those we might sometimes deem enemies–brings good to us as well.

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Dancing With Summer’s Light

sunflowers

Sunflowers

This time of year, the days seem to stretch on forever. The afternoons, overflowing with golden sunlight, seem to go on and on.

Whatever age we are, we can’t help but remember the promise and delight of summer holiday: swimming and taking long walks in the woods, savouring ice cream cones and watermelon slices, bike rides and games of tag and epic water fights.

In the natural world, a celebration is happening as well.

The trees are gratefully soaking up the abundant energy of the sun, transforming insubstantial light into the solid substance of their sweet, swelling fruits. The fledgling birds and young animals who were born in the spring are leaving their nests and dens behind, venturing further and further out into the wide world.

Summer Magic and Fun

Lughnasagh

Lughnasagh

During summer, aligning ourselves with the rhythm of the seasons can seem easy and appealing. Now, the call is for us to expand, to drink in the wealth of inspiration and light and to use this abundance to nourish the fruits of the projects and intentions we planted earlier this year.

Summer is also an excellent time for us to reconnect with the beauty and simplicity of the wild world. Whether you’re drawn to going on hikes in the wilderness, to taking long walks in your neighbourhood or to sailing on local rivers and lakes, the long, warm days are the perfect opportunity to spend more time outside, to strengthen our bodies while simultaneously deepening our relationship with the living body of Gaia.

The increased presence and activity of animals makes this a great time to connect with animals allies, helpers and guides. If you already have an established relationship with an animal spirit, consider travelling to its natural habitat so you can further build your connection.

If you’re seeking new animal allies, there’s a couple of different strategies you might use. You could use techniques such as lucid dreaming and shamanic journeying to enter into the spirit world. However, in the summer months, the pull of the physical world is strong. You might have better luck if you physically travel into a green, untamed place.

Wherever you go, simply hold the clear intention of seeking an animal companion to guide and accompany you on your spiritual journey. The world will hear and respond to you. 

So Much Abundance  

Summer forest

Summer forest

The abundance of light in summer can reveal new possibilities. This makes the current season an excellent time for exploration, for trying out new activities, new ways of being in the world. Is there a new spiritual practise or healthy habit you’ve been considering trying for a while?

Now is an excellent time to start.  

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Another way of working with summer abundance is by cultivating gratitude. To start with, try taking a little time each day, perhaps right after you wake up or right before you fall asleep, and listing some of the things in your life that you feel grateful for.

As you continue to work with gratitude, you may find yourself spontaneously saying a silent “thank you” to the universe when something beautiful happens.

The magic of gratitude is expansive and contagious; you will likely find that the more gratitude you feel, the more blessings and gifts will appear in your life.

Remembering the Balance  

Lughnasagh (25 Jul - 16 Aug) Pendant To Invoke Intuition

Lughnasagh (25 Jul – 16 Aug) Pendant To Invoke Intuition

While the summer might feel endless, we know that it is not. The solstice, so recently gone by, may be the height of the sun’s power and brilliance but this means that it also marks the time when the light begins to wane.

As suggested by the Taoist symbol of Yin and Yang, the moment of greatest light also contains within itself a seed of growing darkness.

In ancient Celtic lore, the summer solstice marked the day that Lugh, the Sun King, died. There is no need to dwell gloomily on this aspect of the season. But it is important to remember that summer, like all the seasons, is transitory. The wheel turns, and keeps on turning. The light and the heat and the wild sense of expansive possibility: these are precious because they are only here for a time.  

This pinprick of sadness, this reminder of winter’s chill, can help deepen and enrich our gratitude. We can seize the long day of summer and live our lives to the fullest, knowing that nothing lasts forever. At the same time, we can hold the paradox; the wheel turns, and will return once again to summer. In this way, the brilliance is both fleeting and eternal, too quickly gone and always present.

by River

 

StormJewel Says: Thanks River for your beautifully poetic article.  I love your recommendations for getting in to the summer mindset, and I really love going to woods and parks to connect with nature in the summer, especially this one which in the UK is wonderfully warm for once! :)

Have you any Summer or Lughnasagh tips to share with us? What do you like best about summer? How do you connect with nature at this time? Let us know! xx

Img Credits: All photos except the last are by talented photographer Andreas Krappweis

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Understanding The Strength of Norse Mythology

Viking MosaicAt first glance, Norse mythology seems to be pretty bleak.

Many of the tales focus on the end of the world, a time known as Ragnorak. During Ragnorak, winter would come and never leave; the gods would battle with giants and terrible monsters; many of the gods would die.

The harshness of these myths is a reflection of the world in which the Norse people lived.

Each year, they faced punishing winters. In order to trade food and furs, the Vikings travelled across dangerous oceans. They did all this with much less technology and knowledge than we have today; they could not rely on cars and fossil fuels to power their journeys. The Vikings rowed their boats with their own arms.

In the face of these intense challenges, the Vikings developed a deep veneration for strength and endurance.

This can be seen in the central God of the Norse pantheon, Odin, All-Father, King of the Gods.

Who is Odin?

Odin's Mask for Cunning and Discretion

Odin is a God of War, who fights to defend his land and his people. He will lend his strength to those who call on him. Odin also possesses great courage. During the final nights of Ragnarok, he does battle with the dread Fenrir Wolf. Even though Odin knows that this battle will be his undoing, he stands his ground and fights valiantly.

But Odin has more facets than warrior. He is also a sorcerer, and a trickster. When he leaves his hall in Asgard, Realm of the Gods, he frequently goes forth in disguise.

In many tales, he uses cunning and misdirection to get what he needs. Odin has also mastered the arts of magic, at great personal cost. Odin plucked out one of his own eyes in order to gain wisdom and secret sight; he can see into the mysteries of past, present and future.

Loki

With all these powerful attributes, Odin represents a balanced mastery of body, mind, and spirit. But he also can be seen as representing the willingness to do whatever is necessary to survive.

Odin chooses to master feats of physical strength, guile, and hidden magic because there is no other way for him to protect himself and his people.

Again and again, he rises to the challenge. Even when it seems like the world is destined to end. Even at great cost to himself. Even when he knows, with his prophetic power, that his actions will lead to his own death.

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Working with Odin can help us discover our own hidden strengths and magics, our own capacity to endure the seemingly impossible.

Thors Hammer Replica Pendant - Found in Skane

The Viking All-Father can teach us how to rise to our own challenges, to discover our own warrior spirits.

Ask yourself:

  • What are you inspired to defend?
  • What do you value more than your own comfort?
  • What are you willing to take risks for?

Odin, and all the Norse Gods, faced a legion of giants who sought to destroy the world. They faced the prospect of a world of endless winter. We can find parallels in these stories for some of the great environmental challenges of our day. At times, it seems like we face a system that is trying to cause grievous harm to the living web of life. We face the prospect of intense climate change.

Rebirth Follows Death in Norse Mythology

Gungir - Odin's Spear for StrengthNorse mythology can offer us inspiration and courage, stirring stories of beings who saw a terrible threat and found the strength and courage within themselves to fight as honourable warriors. And, while most contemporary conversations about Norse mythology focus on the harsh battles of Ragnorak, this is not the end of the story.

The death of the world results in a rebirth, a green and peaceful world that flourishes in the aftermath. In this world, the separation between the Gods and humanity vanishes.

There is more than enough abundant life to feed everyone. May our own struggles reach such a happy conclusion.

by Allison Grey

StormJewel Says: Thanks for this fascinating article about Norse and Viking Mythology, it certainly does help us to understand their myths when we look at the context of their lives.

If you are looking for Viking and Norse Pendants or figurines, then please check out these links on my shop

Viking figurines and MythologyHandmade Viking Pendants - More Viking Jewellery

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How To Make Friends with a Dragon

Get a pet Dragon

By Anne Stokes and Available as a wall hanging and also a figurine in my shop!

StormJewel Says: Dear All, as you may know I have a little fire dragon, Calcifer, as my familiar!  If you want to know why and how you can get your own dragon companion, read this excellent article by my newest writer Allison Grey!

Dragons are one of the oldest and most powerful legends in Western Culture.  Well-known by some for their fearsome strength, wild cunning, and secret knowledge, dragons have been cast as villains in many stories old and new.  Dragons have been painted as monsters, as foes, as symbols of evil.

But what if their terrible strength can be interpreted in another light? 

What if we can learn how to befriend dragons, to fly with them across mysterious landscapes and listen to the ancient secrets they keep?

Find out how to befriend and work with these magickal creatures in this article!

 

Why Befriend a Dragon?

Dragons are strong for a reason; they are guardians, charged with protecting precious treasures.  With this insight, we can understand them as necessary challenges on our paths.

How to Befriend a DragonIn order to reach the treasure, which we can see as our own power–a facet of our innate capabilities that we can’t currently reach–we must confront the dragon.  Dragons, like all monsters, force us to find our courage.  As we learn how to defeat a dragon, or outwit it, or perhaps even to negotiate with it, we learn how powerful we are.

But dragons guard more than treasures. 

Consider where dragons live–on the tops of mountains, in the hearts of forests, deep in the untamed landscape where humans have not yet declared ownership.  Dragons are guardians of the wilderness itself.  Like the snakes they resemble, dragons are intimately tied to the Earth.

This is why dragons have often been portrayed as enemies, because many humans have been trying to control and dominate nature.  But as more and more people are becoming aware that we need to protect nature, the potential for dragons to be our allies is becoming clearer.  Dragons demonstrate the wisdom of the wild world beyond human control.

If we can learn to live in right relationship with dragons, they can teach us how to become guardians of the wild ourselves.

Image Credit: Anne Stokes

 

How To Make Friends With a Dragon

Dragon Jewelley

The Draca Stella Dragon Jewellery Pendant available at StormJewel’s Gifts!

As with any magical venture, the first step in developing a relationship with a dragon is to set your intention. 

This can be as simple as saying aloud to yourself, “I intend to find a dragon ally to work with.” It could also be as involved as creating a drawing or painting that represents the type of dragon you would like to work with.

In general, the more strongly you can visualize a dragon ally, the stronger your call to the spirit realms will be. 

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You may want to gather inspiring images of dragons.  You could also place a statue of a dragon on your altar to serve as a physical embodiment of your intention.  Another way to keep these creatures close to your heart is by getting yourself a treasured piece of dragon jewellery that you feel drawn to, or some dragon figurines and other draconic items to decorate your home or altar.

 

What Kind of Dragon Do You Want?

Water Dragon

As you imagine the type of dragon you might like to work with, consider these questions:

  1. What in your life needs a guardian?
  2. What do you feel called to become a guardian for?

Some dragons are associated with a particular element: air, fire, water or earth.

Air dragons would be excellent allies in a political campaign to reduce air pollution, or to guard your mind from worries and unhelpful thoughts.

Fire dragons can help with efforts to promote renewable energy, especially solar power, and with personal protection around creative projects.

Water dragons are a natural fit for those seeking to protect rivers, lakes and oceans, as well as the creatures who live there.  You could also work with water dragons to protect your own emotions and intimate relationships.

Finally, Earth dragons are well-suited to land conservation, such as preventing wild forests from being cut down, and to guarding physical health.

Water Dragon Image Credit: Dragon-Myths

Doing it Your Own Way?

Pentadraca

Pentadraca – available in my shop along with many other dragon pendants

You may not feel drawn to any of these elements or you may be uncertain about which would be best for you.  If that’s true, there’s no need to worry.  You can simply use an intention of welcoming in a dragon ally who can help you.

If you’re familiar with methods of exploring the spirit world, such as shamanic journeying, you can go forth and seek whatever dragon comes to you.

Whichever method you use, remember to be courageous.  Dragons respect power.  The stronger and more bold your call, the more likely a dragon is to answer.

Final Dragon Thought…

In all the art and all the stories, dragons are bigger than we are.  If we can learn to accept that the natural world is larger and wilder than we are, if we can learn humility and grow as spiritual beings.

by Allison Grey

StormJewel Says: Allison thanks for another fantastic article, I have always been fascinated by dragons as Calcifer will agree! :)  I’ve got loads of cool dragon gifts in my shop, from jewellery and figurines, to artwork, mirrors and boxes, so why not take a look for a bit of inspiration!

 

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How to Connect with Your Ancestor Spirits

How to talk to your ancestors

This reminds me of the funeral masks made by the Ancient Greeks and Romans to honour their ancestors

If you’ve been curious about working with your ancestor spirits, now is an excellent time of year to start, because the dark of the year is a great time to listen to otherworldly voices and connect with the shadow lands.

We’re nearing Samhain, which is the ancient Celtic holiday that Halloween is based on.

All the Halloween zombies and ghosts are half-remembered reminders of an ancient truth: around the end of October, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead grows thin.

We now have a heightened opportunity to reach across the divide and communicate with all the spirits of those who have passed.

Here are some tips for developing relationships with your ancestors:

First, keep in mind that your ancestors are as diverse as your living family.  They might not all want to talk with you, especially in the context of a Pagan ritual.  While most ancestors interact with their descendants in a loving and encouraging manner, some are difficult or quarrelsome.

If you have an especially trying time interacting with your deceased family, keep in mind that there are multiple types of ancestors you can work with.

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Who are my Ancestors?

Ancestors of spirit are all those who inspire you, whose work you carry on in the world, who built the tools and traditions you use in your life.

Your ancestors of spirit might include the Witches and Pagans of the past.  Your ancestors of spirit might include the writers and musicians and artists whose work has touched your heart, lifted your spirits, or inspired you to create yourself.  They might include activists who have fought for the rights and opportunities that you enjoy.  They might include the people who founded the field you work in, the people who started the hobbies that fill your life with joy.

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Ancestors of place include all the beings who once lived in the area you live.

They extend beyond other human beings to include the animals who lived and died, the plants who flourished and decayed.  The ground you walk on is literally made out of the bodies of those plants and animals, those ancestors of place.  If you live in a city, your ancestors of place include all the human hands who planned and built and cared for the houses and streets that make up your world.

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Ancestors of blood are the people you’re physically descended from.

Their bones are your bones; their blood flows through your veins.  You can imagine yourself as the bud on a branch of a great tree, with roots extending far into the past.  You are the child and the grandchild and the great-grandchild of people who survived, at least long enough to reproduce.  Whatever else your family might have done or failed to do, they brought you into this world.

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How to build relationships with these Ancestor Spirits

All three types of ancestors have given us many gifts. 

An excellent way to begin developing relationships with them is by expressing your gratitude for the many gifts they’ve given you.  Your ancestors of blood gave you your body and your life.  All the other experiences you enjoy are based on this first gift.

Your ancestors of place give you solid ground to walk on, a home to shelter you, perhaps a lovely garden to enjoy.  Your ancestors of spirit give you inspiration, magical tools and ways to understand the world.

Building an Ancestor Altar

When we are trying to build a relationship with a living person, we might invite them to dinner.  In order to do something similar with ancestors, we can build an ancestor altar.  This creates a space for them in our homes. 

An ancestor altar can be as simple as a table with a candle and a few photos of loved ones who have passed, or as complex as a full spread of magical tools with a pentagram at the centre.

Try sitting with your ancestor altar once a day or once a week, as your schedule allows.  Thank you ancestors for what they’ve given you.  Tell them about your life.  Ask for their advice.  And simply allow yourself to listen.  Your ancestors may make specific requests from you.  They might want you to light a candle for them, or burn a certain kind of incense.  They might want to be served a small plate of the food you eat for dinner, or a glass of water.

Be patient and generous and your connection with your ancestors will flower.

By Allison Grey

 

StormJewel: Thanks for another fantastic article Allison!  There’s lots to learn and do from this.

I’d love to hear your ancestor experiences, or even just whether you think you will be trying this or not.  Let us know below!  Blessings!

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Preparing for the Dark of the Year

354 Red Sunset-Bourgogne
I Am Not I

As we’ve passed the Autumnal Equinox, the nights are getting longer and longer.  We can feel the chill of winter begin to creep into the air.  We are nearing the dark time of the year.

In the natural world, the squirrels are gathering nuts for the winter.  The hedgehogs are gorging themselves, building up fat reserves to nourish them through the long dreaming days of hibernation.

As humans, how can we prepare ourselves for the dark time of the year?  How can we live more deeply in harmony with the seasons and grow and shift along with the Earth?

If we take nature as our guide, we can see that the dark of the year is a time for rest.  Like the trees releasing their leaves and the animals hibernating, we can simplify our lives, let go our distractions and focus our attention inward.

The stillness that fills the world in winter provides us with a chance to explore our own interior worlds so that we can learn about ourselves, our spiritual gifts and our purpose in the world.

Many people in the modern world keep very busy.  In our fast-paced, technological world, we are often taught to keep moving, keep doing, to fill our minds with new information every second.    But the rhythm of the natural world is motion and stillness, action and rest, day and night.

The Darkness as a Nurturing Force

We are sometimes taught to fear darkness, to fear stillness, to fear the quiet, still, resting night inside of us.  The gathering dark of the year is an invitation for us to challenge these fears and enter more deeply into our own souls.

In order to move through our fears, we may need to let go of our old stories about darkness being evil or harmful.

Try instead to think of darkness as something natural, as necessary as the rhythm of day and night. Imagine darkness as the wide open sky, full of mystery and possibility.  Imagine darkness as the safe, enclosed space of the womb, nurturing that which is small and growing and not yet ready to emerge into the light.  Think of the darkness beneath the soil, nurturing tiny seeds.

Get in Touch With Yourself in Winter

Held by the sheltering darkness of winter, what do you hear?  Can you listen to the soft, wise voice of your own intuition?  This is an excellent time of year to strengthen your connection to that voice. Consider beginning to work with a new divinatory tool, such as runes or the Tarot.

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You may also want to start a daily practise of listening.  This could be as simple as setting aside ten minutes every morning to sit in quiet meditation.  If you’re interested in doing so, all you need to do is find a comfortable place to sit.   Focus your attention on your breathing.  If troubling thoughts or emotions emerge, allow them to pass through your mind like clouds blowing across the sky.  This practise can create a deep calm within you, mirroring the calm, reflective nature of the world in winter.

The dark half of the year, with its long nights, is also an excellent time to explore dreamwork.  Your dreams can reveal the depths of your own heart to you, and may also contain the seeds of spiritual wisdom and glimmers of the future.  The nights also provide ample space to explore spiritual realms.

In the quiet of the winter, it can be easier to hear the voices of spirit guides, guardian angels and spirit animals.  You can tap into conversations with these beings through practises such as shamanic journeying, guided visualisations and prayer.

Friends, Warmth and Light

While you’re venturing into the hidden spaces within yourself and into the spirit world, it’s important to keep one foot in physical reality. You don’t want to get lost in the vast, wide darkness.  As the Equinox reminds us, there is a need for balance between dark and light.

You need to cultivate some warmth and light along with the solitary introspective dark. 

One excellent way to do so is to create a winter circle of friends.  You could meet once a week or once a month to share food, laughter, and stories.  Such a group could be a place to share your experiences of wandering in the dark, and a place to recount the beautiful treasures you find there.

By Allison Grey

[StormJewel] Thanks Allison for that great article, it’s really inspiring to me as someone who feels the cold and loves the light of summer!  This serves as a reminder to me that as Pagans it’s important to embrace natures rhythms and it’s clear that if we learn to love the changing of the seasons we will find it very rewarding! 

Do you prefer winter or summer? What things do you like to do in winter? Let us know below!

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StormJewel’s Competition Winners

Hi All!

Ok so the winners of my favourite animal competition have been drawn and are ready to be announced….

*fanfares playing*

In First Place winning the £30 gift voucher is Lauren R whose favourite animal is Tigers!

Runner up prizes of £5 each go to Rebecca W who loves Giraffes and Clair D whose fave animal is cats!

Thanks so much to all for entering and sharing your favourite animals with me, and please do keep an eye on my facebook page for more competitions and giveaways!

Want to be sure you never miss out? Why not sign up to my occasional newsletter to find out about new competitions, new items and my latest blog posts.

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Does the Law of Attraction Really Work?

Does the Law of Attraction Really Work?Can the Law of Attraction get you a home, a job, a partner or whatever else you may wish for? I think it can but perhaps not in the way you think.

With the popularity of ‘The Secret‘, many people are now trying the law of attraction to get what they want.  In case you’ve been in a hole and never heard of it, it basically involves building up a clear picture of what you want in your head, and thinking about it, putting energy into it until you get what you want.

It also says that if you spend too much time focusing on what you are afraid of, or don’t want, that you will attract this too.

But does it really work like this?

I’ve seen quite a few disillusioned people on the internet sharing their experiences.  One guy (sorry forgotten where I saw it) had spent a lot of time visualising what he wanted and it never transpired.  This led him to think out the rules of the law of attraction and find it useless on this basis:

Thoughts don’t equal action.

His opinion was that believing that what we think influences what happens is a mistake understanding of the causal chain – eg when about to start a flight many passengers may be worrying about it crashing, but it still doesn’t crash because thought don’t influence things in this way.

Is he right?  Well yes and no.  Some people worrying about the plane crashing is not going to have any effect.

What if 300 people onboard willed (as opposed to worried about) it to crash? Possibly this might affect it (after all I do believe spells are possible, which are a sending of intention) but I doubt anyone is going to test it out particularly soon, and quite possibly it wouldn’t be strong enough to have an effect.

But in essence this guy is right, simply thinking about things is not enough to change things, but it is a very good start as long as you realise that it is just the start.  One of the most important things in life to me is helping people to realise that we all have the power of our own destiny.

I strongly believe and have seen much evidence to support the idea that the more energy you put into something the more you will get back.

Does that mean every project you do will succeed? No, but usually you will get some kind of energetic reward for putting effort into something, even if it just experience and determination to do better, but quite frequently new doors will have opened just by the fact that you take action.

ACTION! Yes this word is perhaps the key word for this article, since that is what most people who find the secret and law of attraction unsuccessful don’t realise.  Putting the thoughts and energy into creating the ideas things you want is the vital first step, and doing this correctly will set you up for success.

But if you don’t actually go and do anything, just let these little dreams and ideas sit in your head, that’s all they will ever be, ideas.

It can feel really difficult to begin something new (right now I am trying to make dragon t-shirts and have nearly given up several times before I even really started due to my fears of failing and it looking rubbish) but all you have to do it push through that fear and take even baby tentative steps on your journey.

Most likely you’ll be spurred on my your progress, no matter how small, and then all your mental focusing and energy can be expressed, or possibly you realise the project is no good and can begin starting to look for another better way to do things, which in turn will lead to success!

So that’s what I think, and in fact have long since thought about achieving what you want.

What do you reckon, does the Law of Attraction really work? Have you used The Secret, Cosmic Ordering or some other similar idea or mindset? Let me know below!

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