Part of loving nature and the earth, is caring about it and all it’s inhabitants. Sadly, climate change is happening, but there are things we can do to try and improve the situation. This donated infographic shows us the kind of impact that recycling can have in saving energy, pollution and more (ok its a bit US centric but still we can all get the idea). If you like it, why not pin it on pinterest, or bookmark it to your favourite site and spread the eco world around the world!
31 Important Facts About Alternative Living and Recycling
Do you like interesting/weird/funny/beautiful/inspiring pictures? If so take a quick look at some gorgeous images on Pinterest – the newest social media site on the block! (You don’t need to sign up or anything).
Recently I’ve been spending quite a lot of time on this exciting site, which is described as an online pinboard.
What this means is you can grab pictures from all around the web and put them on your virtual pinboard to look at later or to show to others. Like Twitter, (which I also use – feel free to follow me!) you can follow people of interest to you and see when they add new pictures (aka pins).
Its very simple to use and great fun, and if you follow my account you can see all the fantastic and amazing photos I have found on the web, and also see some of my most pretty products! If you are only interested in some of the things I pin, you can just follow specific pinboards.
Dr. Stuart Eisendrath, director of the UCSF Depression Center, explores mindfulness as a method for sustaining mental wellness. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [2/2010] [Well being and Medicine] [Show ID: 17626] Video Rating: four / five
As Pagans (and non-Pagans for that matter!) it’s important that we remember that having a deep love for nature and the earth needs to translate into environmental concerns and throwing away less things is a great way to do this.
I recently published an article on how to be green while gift giving, and so here is another on that theme.
But first if there are any sceptics about environmental issues and climate change reading this, here is a very funny but convincing 2 minute ‘rant’ from UK comedian David Mitchell about why you should consider a rethink. (If you want to see more of his stuff, search for Soapbox on Youtube!)
Ok still with me? Good :o)
I just found this great article about all the ways that we can reuse glass bottles, from gorgeous cola bottle lights to rustic table lamps and atmospheric outdoor candle holders.
Whilst in south east asia I saw loads of this kind of thing, particularly in Luang Prabang in Laos where restarurants by the river had chandeliers made from plastic spoons, beer bottles and more – sounds crazy but actually looks really unique and cool.
Here’s the inventive article: http://ecosalon.com/12-ways-to-re-use-recycle-a-bottle-373/
Do you recycle anything and make it into gifts, ornaments or even altar tools perhaps? I’ll send a small free gift to the best picture that gets sent in of something that you’ve made from old rubbish!
I regularly meditate, but find it very difficult at times (in fact a lot of the time!) to clear the mind. Active meditations (which can be anything from walking to something you always do) are ideal if you feel a bit restless when you meditate, and something like Qigong, Tai Chi or Yoga are excellent forms of doing this.
I was always intrigued by Qigong, but became interested when a friend taught me some of the moves. I was struck by the seeming simplicity, the joy I felt in doing it, and the powerful feelings of energy coursing through me. I scoured the newspaper and other local magazines for a Qigong course but there was none as it is not as well known as Tai Chi and Yoga.
When I found Marcus’s course I was very pleased and so got started straight away. I am now on week 6 of the course. Unfortunately I got very ill for a few months and was unable to do the exercises so that is why it has actually been a good bit longer than six weeks since my last post.
Qigong Secrets Home Study Course – The Review So Far
Marcus’s Qigong teaching style
As soon as I bought the course I was impressed by Marcus’ friendly, clear and encouraging teaching style. In the first few lessons he explains some of the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine, showing us how in this holistic conception of health, disease (dis-ease) is the result of energy blockages in the body, and Qigong is one way of removing these blockages, thus restoring or maintaining good health.
Each week he prepares an interesting handout with all the info on it, complete with diagrams and pictures. Whilst all this info has already been given to you on that week’s video, its nice to have a quick way to recap what you have learned.
As well as the theory, lessons on the patterns of Qigong (the forms) begin straight away which is great as you feel you are getting stuck in to the practical side, and getting a feel for the martial art. Marcus encourages you to practice every day, but structures the homework so that it only takes a few minutes at first.
Getting the most from your practice and how long it takes
He gradually teaches you more preparation tools so that you get the most out of your practice, but even now it only takes me about 5-10 minutes a day to do everything that he recommends. Some days I feel lazy and don’t want to do it, but I try and make myself because I feel so much better afterwards.
As well as showing you how to relax your body, one of the most valuable preparation methods he reveals is how to relax your inner self through a simple technique called ‘Smile from the Heart’. I particularly value this technique as it draws on much that I have learnt from many traditions (from Reiki to Hypnosis) about making yourself happy and healthy.
How QiGong helps me and how it can help you
So far I’ve learnt two forms through the Qigong secrets home study course – Butterfly dancing in front of flowers and Lifting the Sky. These seemingly simple movements fill me with great joy to do, and after doing qigong I almost always feel lighter and happier, so something must be working.
Marcus gives you a progress tracker to chart your mood and general health, which I have been very naughty about and not done, (but I’m going to start from today, honest Marcus!) but even without that I can see that I feel better after doing Qi Gung and generally in better health and mood.
Physically I enjoy the (gentle) stretching and movements, particularly at night times where during the day I have been cramped in front of the computer.
Ultimately this course comes at a time where I feel I am changing and (hopefully!) growing as a person. I’ve been feeling a desire to improve my self and my life by becoming calmer, being able to put things in perspective more and generally be more happy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not generally a depressive stress head, but like anyone can suffer from sadness and worry under pressure, but I see that this does not help me much, and this Qigong secrets course is really helping me to be that person and it could do the same for you as well as keep you healthy!
So that’s all of my QiGong secrets home study course review for now, if you have any questions please do comment or get in touch.
Thinking of trying the course but still not sure?
Marcus is offering the first two weeks of the Qigong Secrets home study course for just $4.95 and there’s also a free video explaining more about him and the course,so do take a look, you’ve got nothing to lose and lots to learn even if you don’t take it further than these two weeks!
Yay for new stuff! This week I have added over 300 lovely new items to StormJewel’s Gifts, mainly from the fabulous Alchemy Gothic and the ever popular Nemesis Now.
In case you haven’t seen their stuff before, they work with artists from the UK to create gorgeously gothic figurines and jewellery, and allow you to indulge your fantasy side with all different kind of fairy figurines and gifts (butterfly and bat winged fairies, cute ones, gothic ones) which you can decorate your home, garden or altar with.
For the dragon fans among you (and you may know that I am obsessed with these majestic creatures) there’s gorgeous dragon figurines, and lots of unusual gifts from dragon boxes to wine holders, wall plaques and artwork by Anne Stokes.
As well as fantasy artwork (in the form of scrolls to hang on your walls), the talented Anne Stokes brings us her gothic collection of figurines, including wonderfully vampy ladies, gorgeous trinket boxes and more, do take a look!
Recently I wrote about my experience with what could be called religious discrimination. This post was first published on WitchVox.com and I’ve had lots of people emailing me with their experiences. One fellow Pagan told me a rather shocking tale of his experiences in NYC and asked me to publish it to make other Wiccans and Pagans aware and so this is his story.
“Hi Louisa! Wonderful to get a response from a Witchvox user. I hope all is well with you.
Since I have found out about the situation at the Waterford Connecticut mall [ED: Pete is referring to the fact that a Christian minister took over the shopping mall and removed all Wiccan pendants that were on sale These pendants are now being sold there again Pete has since told me] I have appointed myself unofficial “Investigator of Religious Intolerance” (sort of) I regularly go to Barnes & Nobles in Manhattan at Union Square. I like to talk to New Age people and see what new ideas are emerging as well as help an occasional young wiccan to choose the right book for them. I have worked at a Wiccan book store in the past, so I pretty much know all the books.
I have spoken to several wiccans about discrimination against members of the craft and unfortunately it seems to be increasing. I have had wiccans tell me that they are fearful to wear their pentagram in public, afraid that some crazy person will target them. Several people have told me that individuals have approached them and made hateful comments and in one case a young woman was spat upon. I didn’t want believe this was happening at first, so I decided I would look into this.
I began to “lecture” about wicca in Barnes and Nobles to any who would listen to me. I would talk about the principles and values of wicca. If anyone asked me about what books were good I would give them a “talk” about how wicca is an awesome religion. Well, let me tell you, I have had many bizarre and frightening incidents occur to me since I began this. One day, I was speaking to an older gentleman in his 60’s who seemed to be appreciating my Goddess-centered spin on history when he suddenly stopped talking and stared at me strangely. He said “If we find out you know anything specific we will kill you.” I was stunned, I wanted to say: “Who’s we?” Instead I said “You have a good night Sir.” I thought that he was just an isolated case of a lunatic, so I waited a month and went back. I was not there fifteen minutes when a group of people approached me and crowded around me too closely.
They were asking me: What books do you recommend?’ and “What practises do you do?” Their manner was threatening. I realized what they were doing and I began to turn it around on them. I asked one of them, a woman in her twenties, “What do YOU do?” and “Why not share with me some of YOUR practises?” They looked at me with silent contempt and left. This type of incident happened a number of times. It did not stop me however. I needed to know who is harassing wiccans. Since those incidents, I have been followed by these same people around the city. These are just a small sample of what I have encountered. Some of the events are too frightening and it would be inappropriate to relate.
In one instance, I met a young woman whom I had spoken to a few times before that was interested in wicca. She has a pure heart and is a good person. I began to talk to her about wiccan spellcrafting. There were some old guys in the New Age section browsing and one younger guy that I know to be well, evil. I had spoken to this guy before and I know that he is completely amoral. He hates witches. He thinks that witches are in his words “stupid.” He interrupted our conversation and asked her why she would ever want to be wiccan. She asked him what he meant. He said to her that she should study something with more “strength”. She asked “Like what?” He deliberately tried to be vague and wouldn’t answer. She tried to talk to me but he kept on interrupting. I got the impression that he was deliberately trying to interfere. The young woman got agitated and left. He looked at me with a pleased expression.
I spoke to a magician friend of mine about all this and he said that you have to be careful because there are christian and other types of occult groups here in NYC that are “going after” wiccans and other magical folk. I asked him what he meant and he told me that several of his longtime friends have had to move out of NYC because of the harassment. I know that he is telling me the truth. I can only hope that this is a temporary development and that these are just foolish people doing stupid things.
I also dearly hope that this isn’t the beginning of a fascist culture!!! I’ll keep trying to protect those of the craft. Please remember, Witches heal, protect and serve. Please feel free to post this in your blog and on witchvox. The people of the craft should know. Blessed Be Pete.”
Thanks for sharing that with us Pete. This is a very shocking story but at least by spreading awareness we may be able to improve the situation.
If anyone has any stories (good or bad!) that they would like to share please do so!
In order to try keep the planet healthy and sustainable, it’s important that we consider being environmentally friendly in as many aspects of our life as is possible.
While Paganism is known as an earth religion, something I noticed when studying the Pagan community is that this love for the earth frequently does not translate into a green approach to living our lives, which when you think about it seems kind of odd, given the condition of the earth at the moment.
So with that in mind I plan to write more about environmental concerns (in a non preachy way!) and here to kick this off is Phill from Late Late Gifts who has written an excellent guest post on how you can integrate this way of thinking and doing into your gift giving.
Top Tips to Stay ‘Green’ When Gift-Giving
Guest Post by Phill from Late Late Gifts US.
When it comes to gift giving, incorporating your green living practices can be a little confusing. There are many ways however, to give your loved ones beautiful gifts while still remaining environmentally friendly. There is no need to break the bank or go out of your way- many of the best holiday ideas can be found right in your own home! Here are some of the top tips for green gifts for your winter festivities!
Have you received a gift that you didn’t much enjoy, or couldn’t find a use for? We all have, and for some strange reason seem to hang onto these unused items. These make perfect gifts for friends and family! You may know someone who could really use that present you didn’t have need for, it doesn’t cost a thing, and it’s a great way to recycle a great gift. Just make sure you don’t re-gift it to the original sender!
Make it at Home
There is nothing more heart felt than a gift made by your own hands. Homemade presents are especially suitable for Winter Solstice. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and crafting something yourself gives you the opportunity to put loads of loving energy into the item!
Think simple, and it’ll be even easier. When doing homemade, you even have the option to combine recycling! For example, mittens can easily be made from an old sweater, or a dream pillow from an old sheet or t-shirt you no longer use. The ideas are endless! This is a perfect creative outlet that guarantees you have a unique gift to give someone, all while remaining green!
Mind the Paper
Possibly one of the biggest negative environmental impacts during the holiday season is the massive amount of paper used in wrapping. Tons of paper are used to wrap gifts, and then promptly thrown away. This year, save a few trees by avoiding wrapping paper altogether.
Other options for pretty presentations include using newspaper. Recycle that news you were throwing away. If you want it to be more festive, it’s very easy to paint the paper in any kind of color or design you want.
An even better alternative is to use something less disposable. Consider decorating a wooden box that not only houses the present, but will be usable later too. You can also incorporate the wrapping material into the present itself. For example, you give DIY sachet or dream pillow kits with instructions on how to put them together. Use the fabric that makes up the sachet or pillow as the wrapping paper.
The options for green gift giving during the Solstice and other holidays are endless. All it takes is a little imagination and creativity!
About the Author
This article was written by Phill from Late Late Gifts US.
Recently I was looking for an SEO (search engine optimization) service to help promote a blog post I had written about Wiccan tools and supplies. I found a freelancer, who advertised the service I was looking for and submitted my article to him.
Shortly afterwards, I got a very polite message back from him explaining that he couldn’t help me, because he was a Christian and his faith did not allow him to recognize or promote anything to do with Wicca or the occult. Here is the message:
“My dear friend , i am really sorry …but i cannot market your site.
Please do not be offended. But my faith refuses for me to promote or recognize anything that is related or has to do with the occult, witchcraft or wicca.
I myself am a studying theologian and Christian Minister in training.
Please accept my apology and consider a submission to this link below link that offers the exact same service as mine.
I will request you a refund ASAP
(name removed – let’s just call him ‘B’)
Was I offended? Not really, the email was so polite and apologetic that it would have been hard for me to be offended. ‘B’ wasn’t censuring me as such, since he was even recommending someone else to help me, he was simply stating that he felt bound by his religion not to work with me.
So what did I feel? Saddened a bit, but not surprised at this Christian take on Wicca and the occult, but mainly thoughtful. His email raised several questions for me.
I found it an interesting concept that an SEO person would refuse to promote various sites on what could be called moral grounds – given the variety of subjects and products on the Internet, and this led me to my first question:
1. What other topics would ‘B’ refuse to promote and how far does he go to ensure that sites do not conflict with his beliefs or personal morals? Would he promote a Jewish website, or a Muslim one? What about a gay site, or even, say, a celebrity one that talked about sex before marriage and perhaps promoted behavior that goes against what the church proscribes. I posted a brief note about this on twitter and a Pagan tweeter told me that a friend of theirs worked for a Christian company and said that they regularly turned away the ‘wrong’ sort of people.
This line of questioning brought me to my second question:
2. What did ‘B’ mean by saying that his faith disallowed him from ‘recognizing anything that is related with the occult, Witchcraft or Wicca.’ By refusing to recognize Wicca – does this mean he is saying that he does not believe in it, and therefore won’t promote it because he believes it to be misleading? Would he feel the same about other religions – i.e. that they are simply misguided versions of the truth.
Or does he/Christianity in fact think (as many Christians do) that Wicca is related to devil worship? (We know, of course, that it isn’t – and the irony is that not only do we not we believe in the devil but in fact this figure actually comes from Christianity not Paganism) … And if B’s religion tells him that it is unethical to promote my site – either because in Christianity’s view it is ‘bad’ or simply because it is ‘incorrect’ – does he apply this same system of judgment to other sites?
I wondered if ‘B’ looked into sites that promote a certain product and if he looked to see if the product was ethical, something he believed in, and something that his faith allowed him to promote. What if someone was promoting a health cure that was in fact a scam? How would he know without researching it, and if he did research it, did he really have time to do this for all the sites he promoted? What if someone was promoting say, a book, that was not a scam but perhaps badly written and a waste of money?
And this made me ask…
3. If I were offering SEO services – what, if anything, would I refuse to promote? After thinking about it I decided that in his position I would refuse to promote any site that was designed to incite hatred or violence of any kind. I would promote a Christian site, as long as it didn’t fall under those categories. On the other hand I wouldn’t promote something like scientology. Why? Because it seems to me to be a cult, that uses pseudo science and other techniques to con people into handing over their money.
At this point I had to recognize that I too would make judgments on the validity of other’s beliefs, and link that into my business practices. I know there is a big difference between Wicca and scientology, but perhaps ‘B’ doesn’t. On the other hand I have had some personal experience with scientology and Christianity, but I suspect that ‘B’ does not have knowledge or experience of Paganism.
(Scientology – I got roped into watching a ridiculous video about ‘dianetics’ – the theory that science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard came up with before scientology. They then gave me a totally inaccurate personality test designed to ensnare the sad and lonely, telling me I was depressed, angry and violent when I actually felt really happy and am rarely angry and never ever violent – then tried to sell me books at £30 a go.)
(Christianity – I was brought up a Catholic, went to a Catholic School and felt devoutly Catholic till about the age of 12 when I began to question many of what I see as the hypocrisies of Christianity, becoming atheist until I discovered Paganism at 14.)
Furthermore, unlike ‘B’, my judgment about Scientology was made based on my personal moral code, rather than dictated to me by my religion and this led me to my final question:
4. Should we blindly follow a religious code, or any other code that doesn’t come from our own sense of right and wrong? This is an ethical and philosophical question that has baffled people throughout the ages. Many have felt that if we all obey our own moral codes then people will end up doing what they like, and that a religious code can keep us all on the same path. But thinkers like philosopher Jean Paul Sartre rebelled against this, proposing existentialism, part of which explains that since every situation and person is unique, there is no ‘one size fits all’ morality, and that we need to use our minds and hearts to make the best decision for each case.
For me, this is clearly the best answer, and the one that I live my life by, and I would say that the majority of Pagans would do the same. Being an unorthodox religion (i.e. there is no formal written doctrine) there aren’t really any rules, although I think that most if not all Pagans would agree that there is an implicit understanding that you should try to be a good person, expressed by one of few written down ethical codes in Paganism ‘an’ it harm none, do what ye will’.
Wikipedia paraphrases Judy Harrow nicely ‘This is usually interpreted as a declaration of the freedom to act, along with the necessity of taking responsibility for what follows from one’s actions and minimizing harm to oneself and others.’
While this lack of formal ethics may worry some non Pagans, I would respond that Pagans do not need a religious prescription of ethics to make them be a good person, nor do they need the fear of going to hell or the hanging carrot of heaven to make them act conscionably. We all know what is right and wrong (even if at times we have differing opinions) and it is our responsibility to live as good people, regardless of what our religion tells us. If we fail to think for ourselves, and simply do what we are told, there is a danger that a great many wrongs will be committed – a scenario has that has played itself out over millennia through the many wars started in ‘God’s’ name.
Sticking to principles or religious discrimination? – Conclusion: After consideration, I don’t feel that B’s act was religious discrimination, perhaps due to the polite and apologetic way that he expressed his inability to work with me. I think that he was sticking to his principles – i.e. that of following his religious code, but I do feel that acting in this way is a worrying and potentially dangerous thing – particularly for a religious minister, and that ethically whilst we can use the principles of our religions and beliefs for guiding us, ultimately we should all think for ourselves, and act in a way that satisfies our conscience.
This article was first published by me on Witchvox.com and I’ve had loads of you email me to tell me your thoughts and experiences with discrimination. Interestingly many people who mailed me practice a kind of syncretic religion including both Christianity and Paganism. I’ve also had some worrying stories of discrimination in NYC and will be posting another post shortly at the request of a fellow Pagan.
Was religious discrimination or not? Comment and let me know your thoughts, and please do share your experiences of discrimination, whatever the cause so that we can fight it by raising awareness and (by hopefully) helping to create solidarity!
Symbolic jewellery has long been worn, both in the days when it meant everything to the wearer, a protective charm or a pendant that would ward off evil spirits and nowadays when pendants are often worn with little understanding of the long history and mythology that surrounds the item. Everything from crosses to Pagan symbols and foreign letters are used to adorn wearers often with comic results if the wearer accidentally meets someone who does understand the meaning.
There are those who still wear jewellery with a full understanding of what it means though and especially with the use of the internet, research possibilities have extended allowing those with an interest in the topic to follow it and meet other enthusiasts online. Nowadays a new market for symbolic jewellery has re-emerged demonstrating a passion for all sorts on Pagan imagery.
The Egyptians have long had some of the world`s most beautiful jewellery, ever since Cleopatra would swathe herself out in the jewels of a kingdom before meeting her people or guests. The vast array of costly and elaborate Egyptian jewellery that she is documented to have worn is testament to the fact that the culture has made some of the most beautiful pieces in the world.
There are various symbols that are iconic to Egyptian culture, both symbolising the culture itself in representations of the sphinx and pyramids and reflecting the ancient mythology with images of gods, symbols of power and ancient stories.
The Nordic culture is perhaps one of the most misunderstood in history but modern day Viking symbols do a great deal to reflect the diverse culture as well as the fierce warriors that came out of this land. Often overshadowed by the image of the fierce Viking warrior thirsty for his enemy`s blood, the Nordic culture was one that celebrated many things as well as warfare.
There is a vast amount of symbolism in the culture and the range of jewellery being developed with this symbolism in mind is reflecting this. There are various stories that go with every symbol and pendant, from the tale of Thor`s hammer to that of the serpent that grew so big it could surround the entire sea. Both of these stories result in an attractive and symbolic pendant that echoes of a long past and mythology.
Dragon jewellery is likewise becoming incredibly popular, primarily developing out of Eastern cultures and tales, this nevertheless is a creature whose mythology and history has been influenced by a vast number of cultures and stories. The Welsh flag itself has an image of a dragon on it and ancient British culture is strongly influenced by tales of dragons and dragon hunts.
Dragon pendants and symbols are supposed to invest the wearer with many of the attributes of the dragon itself so power, strength, protection, courage, long life and luck are amongst the many benefits bestowed by the symbolism. Added to this of course the jewellery is highly attractive and can make for beautifully elaborate ornaments. Dragon pendants are a particularly good gift to buy friends for Christmas and Winter Solstice, especially when you explain all these benefits and since we are already buying Christmas cards it is probably about time to start thinking about gifts too.