Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day: An Extra Day to Get Stuff Done?



It's Leap Day! And I say we take this extra day to cram more crap into our already hectic schedules!

...or not.

Every New Year I take the time to write down goals, personal and career-based. Some are attainable, some are reaches…big reaches. Inevitably, like the rest of the world, I begin January gung-ho. I’m crossing stuff off. I’m hitting marks like a champ. I’mmmm working 9-5; what a way to make a living! (Does anyone under the age of 65 listen to Dolly Parton? No? Just me? Okay, then…)

This year I decided to do something different. Every year come June I’ve lost my motivation to read 4 books a week. By November I’m so done with couponing I haven’t touched a newspaper in three months. And inevitably I find myself looking at my growing list of yearly goals, generally written in four different colors of ink because I just kept adding (you know, on those days you had a ton of coffee and are fairly certain you can, in fact, sew a king-size quilt in just under two hours and have dinner on the table by six.), only to feel like I let myself down, like somewhere in the world there is some go-getter with shiny hair and flawless skin carefully marking off her last achievement. Why aren’t I her? What the hell did I do all year?! 

This year I’m setting six goals— three for my personal life, three for my career. To some this may be underachieving, and that’s fine. Those people probably accomplish a lot more than me, and I’m happy for them. But personally, like most people living in 2016, I have a lot of balls in the air. I’m not just a blogger, I’m an author. I’m not just an author, I’m a homemaker. I exercise daily. I’m learning to sew. I’m determined to take a decent photograph before 2020. I’ve always wanted to learn sign language. I never got around to crocheting…despite having all the supplies in my closet for a solid three years.

…I think I lost my point somewhere. Hold on while I dig through my purse. Here it is…

The point, my dear friends, is that when we have a goal list that encumbers three loose leaf pages, front and back, all we see is the aspirations we didn’t check off. We never notice the accomplishments we did complete, maybe even mastered. It’s human nature, an annoying trait but an inconvenient truth, that we tend to focus on the negative. So instead of patting yourself on the back for hitting the gym three days a week, we tell ourselves we should have gone five times. Instead of celebrating our vast improvements in cooking, thereby avoiding chemical-laden takeout, we think about that one hectic day where we gave in and ordered pizza (and by one day I mean, like, twenty-five). We never give ourselves a break. We never celebrate our achievements. 

Well, I say screw it! Instead of setting myself up to fail, instead of bogging down my already hectic schedule (because I’m, you know, alive…) I’m cutting myself some slack! I’m setting reachable, yet important goals. The point is PROGRESS. It’s like that Pinterest pin said, because I find most of my life’s mantras have been made into Pinterest pins: It’s not your speed that matters, it’s that you’re moving forward.


So, you overworked-readers you, what are some of your goals for 2016? Are you simplifying or are you determined to take over the world? Where do you stand in this fabulous, wondrous New Year?

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Full Moon Goddess Blessing Salt


Since a better part of the country is still entangled in the icy throes of winter, I decided to do a simple indoor ritual for February's full moon esbat. 

The great thing about this blessing salt is that you can imbue whatever properties you want depending on what herbs you select. And since it is left overnight in the moonlight, it has the gentle feminine energy of the Goddess as well as the progressive, manifesting properties of a full moon!

Below I will list my suggested mixture for protection as well as some herbal formulations for self-love and health. Blessing salt is an easy and inexpensive way to honor the esbat as well as create something you can use throughout the year!

Basic Ritual:

In a glass jar or bowl, mix 1/2 cup salt with desired herbs. While mixing, focus your mind on your intentions (i.e. protection, health, self-love). Picture your intentions manifesting. Feel the safety and peace rippling through you if your salt is for protection. Imagine your body (or your loved one's) healing if you're manifesting health. Picture that person up and about, running and jumping and feeling amazing! If your blend is for self-love, imagine yourself standing before a mirror, liking what you see. Smile at yourself. Tell yourself you are loved, that you are human and you are doing your best, that your best is enough. That you are worthy of love, especially your own.

Once you can visualize the outcome in your mind's eye, place the jar outside or on a windowsill where it will be exposed to the moonlight all night. In Goddess pose (arms above head like the "Y" in the YMCA dance), thank the Goddess Moon for lending her energies to your spell and take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is a full moon.

Leave the jar on the windowsill until the following morning. Cover it, put it on your magic shelf, and you're done! Now you have a blessing salt you can use to protect your home or vehicle, to circle a table for a healing spell, or to bless a special piece of jewelry or crystal to keep with you to remind yourself that you are worthy of love!

These herbs can be added in any amount. Generally I listen to instinct and see what the herb is saying to me (so to speak. I don't hear herbal voices, but how cool would that be?!) If you find yourself drawn to one more than another, either by scent or smell or pure instinct, follow your gut! Magick is all about instinct. The best spells you will ever cast are the ones where you followed your intuition. 

Protection Blend
Dill 
Cedar
Clove
Sage
Lavender

Healing Blend
Cinnamon
Lavender
Pine 
Rosemary
Sandalwood

Self-Love Blend
Chamomile
Lavender
Rose
Jasmine

Blessed Full Moon, Everyone!

Enjoy this spell? Why not stock up with a whole YEAR of full moon spells?! Check out By the Light of the Moon: 13 Simple & Affordable Pagan Spells & Rituals for a Year of Full Moon Celebrations!



Do you have a special blend you use for blessing salt? What is your favorite use for blessing salt?

By using this site, you agree you have read the full DISCLAIMER

Monday, February 15, 2016

Morning Grounding Ritual


If you don't already know, I currently live in the Southwest. My husband's job has had us here in this dusty, brown part of the country for the past twelve years and we have another two and a half to go, at which point we are piling into an RV and flooring it to anywhere that is green.


In other words, I'm not a fan of living in the Southwest.

Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful for the experience. And above all, I'm grateful to have a roof over my head and money to keep my family fed. But my soul is happy in the rich, green landscapes of the east coast. Growing up, I didn't realize New England was such a unique area. I thought everyone was lucky enough to live a mile from the ocean, to keep gardens that didn't require much watering, to spend a lazy Sunday at the park lying in the grass and staring at the clouds.

This was NOT my husband's childhood experience. Not once but TWICE he found himself ass first in a barrel cactus, which if you're not familiar with these pretty-but-vicious plants they very much fall into the category of look-but-don't-touch. 

Courtesy of Keyseeker
He didn't spend his springs rolling down hills of lush grass or sledding on a thick blanket of snow come winter. He spent the first thirteen years of his life in shorts 365 days of the year, which is heaven to some but not to this farm-craving girl. And after spending some time in Texas, he returned to Arizona. I came into the picture a few years later, and now we live in New Mexico.


Sonoran Desert
My point, dear readers, is despite the daily mantras that there is a lesson to be learned here, that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, that there is a reason for everything, I don't find peace in the constant (and often brutal) sunshine. Nature is what centers me. Dew-soaked grass soothes my soul when I'm distressed; crimson autumn leaves heal the mind when I need respite from the frenetic pace of life. And while I loved the arid beauty that is the Sonoran desert, filled with towering saguaro cacti and orange-flowering octillo, this is the Chihuahuan desert, and it's a sparse, desolate comparison to what I grew to love (and deeply miss) in Arizona. 

No matter how hard I try to see the bright side, there are days when my heart—nay, my soul!— long for the life that thrives in a green environment, After all, isn't there something to be said about a thriving environment? When the earth is fertile and bountiful, doesn't your spirit seem to flourish with it? If that's true, then what does a stagnant, barren, harsh landscape produce?

Crankiness. I can tell you from experience this rain-loving, tree-hugging, grass-beneath-her-toes girl gets mighty cranky when she feels disconnected from the loving, peaceful energy that the earth provides.

And therein lies my lesson.

We absorb that earth's energy any time we are connected to it. Our hands when we're gardening. Our feet when we're walking on the warm sands of a beach. Our backsides when we're.... just joking. Though I imagine sex in the woods is probably a great energy boost in numerous ways. *wink wink nudge nudge*

In order to keep myself balanced, I ground myself every morning in my backyard and any time I feel disconnected or unsettled spiritually. This can also be helpful if you've witnessed something traumatic, like an accident, or had a confrontation that leaves you rattled. I do this in conjunction with smudging, which I will also describe.

How to Ground Yourself

The great thing about grounding is that it only takes a couple of minutes and is really easy to do.

1. Take your shoes off and get your feet in some dirt or grass. If you live in the city and can't get to a park (or don't want to do this in front of the hot dog vendor) you can always use a small pan of dirt or even a small patch of sod if you're super motivated. Personally, I feel most connected when the arches of my feet are in direct contact with the soil, so I really like to work those bad boys in there.

2. Close your eyes, take a few deep, cleansing breaths and focus your mind.

3. Picture roots growing out of the soles of your feet into the dirt. Imagine those roots branching off, burrowing deeper into the nutrient-rich soil, feel your body connecting with the energies of nature. You should feel a sense of peace and calm come over you. Take as much or as little time as you want. Spirituality is all personal preference. I usually take about 2-3 minutes. Some days I feel so disconnected I pull up a chair and read a book. It's what feels best for you.

Balancing Option

If I'm a good girl and got out of bed on time, I like doing a balancing blessing in conjunction with the sunrise. It just feels appropriate, a fresh approach to a new day. On those days, or really any time I feel I need an extra boost, I do the following:

After grounding and picturing my roots, I stand with my arms outstretched over my head in Goddess pose and say: Sky above me

Then I lower my arms so my palms are facing the earth (still standing) and say: Earth below me

Then I cross my arms over my chest, hands on shoulders (God pose) and say: Balance within me!

I feel this helps connect not only my feminine and masculine energies (because there is a little of God and Goddess in all of us) but I also feel this helps symbolically balance the heaviness of reality with the airiness of dreaming. Because, despite what society says, you never want to be too serious. Always nurture that inner dreamer!

Smudging

If you're looking to smudge, this couldn't get any easier. I like to do this immediately after grounding while my feet are still in the dirt.You can purchase smudging sticks that are pre-made. (I'm working on a post on how to make your own, so stay tuned!) I like these. Or you can cut a few twigs of rosemary off a plant, give it a week or so to dry, and use that. You can even use some dried evergreen. Really anything that is fragrant, natural, and dried will work. 

Once you light the smudging stick, give it a moment to burn out and smolder. If it doesn't, blow it out. But you want it to continue to smolder and give off smoke (the way a cigarette does).

Then, once the risk of lighting your hair on fire has passed, slowly circle your head with the stick, keeping peaceful thoughts and calm mind. Work your way down your body in slow, rhythmic circles. Pay attention to how you feel. It's hard to describe, but you can experience a "stuck" feeling while you're smudging, like you can't get that area to relax. That means that area needs more work. Just be patient with yourself and take the time you need to cleanse. Additionally, I like to take a bit of extra time at my feet, really grounding my energy to earth.

And you're done! You can even smudge your pets if they've been ill or extra grumpy, but mine don't tolerate this at all. Then again, my dog is petrified of spoons and blowing curtains, so it may just be my furry children.

What is your morning ritual? Do you have a certain something-something you like to do to prepare for the day?


By using this site, you agreed you have read the full DISCLAIMER. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a product through the above links I make a small percentage that helps keep this blog running (but does not affect your cost). Thank you for your support!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Natural Oral Hygiene Care



When I moved from New England to the Southwest (not exactly willingly, but because my husband’s job brought us here), I began having a lot of dizziness and equilibrium issues. It’s a long story, but years later I discovered it was caused by severe environmental allergies aggravated by wheat. During said time I would get so dizzy I literally couldn’t walk straight. Obviously this meant I couldn’t drive, which wasn’t good because I was in college and working. 

I ended up relying heavily on decongestants (clearly I hadn’t found my holistic side yet) and ended up, for the first time in my life, facing numerous cavities due to the overall drying effect of decongestants. This was actually brought to my attention by my own dentist, who is anything but holistic, so even traditional medicine recognizes this terrible side effect.

Fast forward a few years later, after cultivating a healthy and ingrained fear of the dentist, I no longer use decongestants or traditional toothpaste yet haven’t suffered a cavity in years. I have no bleeding when I floss. No swollen or receding gums. (I actually reversed this with an herb and I’ll tell you how in a moment.) My teeth aren’t yellow as corn, nor do I have breath like an alcoholic who went on a two week bender. I use natural alternatives, and they are probably products you already have in your house.

Tea Tree Oil
First off, let me say I don’tconsume essential oils. This is a new trend, and I find it disturbing. By nature, essential oils draw out the more caustic aspects of an herb. This means it can be hard on your system if taken internally, especially your liver. The effects are accumulative, meaning you won’t see potential problems until further down the road. Everyone needs to make their own decision about this, but I can tell you from my own research and from herbalists I’ve worked with that essential oils should not be taken internally, no matter the grade or what the manufacturer is telling you.

BUT brushing or flossing with tea tree followed by a good rinse and spit makes for healthy gums. I’ve done this for years without issue, so I’m willing to stand behind that.

Prickly Ash Bark Powder
Used by Native Americans, this stuff is the shi….It’s awesome. During said dental struggles, I was told I had gum pocketing that was irreversible and unusual for my age. This was when I was a newbie to natural medicine, so I went to my local health food store and studied some products on the shelf. I selected a powder that contained prickly ash bark (that I later learned was stellar for gums) and guess what happened six months later? No pocketing! That’s right, the gums I was told would never heal had healed per my dentist. I now brush with this daily in a homemade blend of herbs that I will share with you in a moment.

Word of caution: avoid when pregnant, on blood thinners, or have GI inflammation.

Peppermint Powder
There’s a reason toothpaste is peppermint flavored, and that’s because it makes your mouth worthy of kissing. But peppermint (and other plants in the mint family) also help prevent gingivitis. So I brush with this daily as well. Conversely, you could use peppermint essential oil as well. Just make sure to rinse and spit!

Oil Pulling
This is a method, not an herb. You can find more extensive information on oil pulling here and here. But basically it is an ancient Ayurvedic method for drawing toxics from the mouth by gently swishing a tablespoon of oil (I use coconut) around your mouth for up to twenty minutes. Even five minutes is better than nothing, and you don’t need to swish like you’re in a mouthwash commercial. Just gently push the oil through your teeth and around your mouth periodically. I’m doing mine right now, and as you can see there’s no oil on this blog post, so ralphing has been avoided. I personally do this twice a week, although I’ve seen recommendations as often as daily. It’s supposed to whiten your teeth as well, but I like to use…

Activated Charcoal
This is not the stuff you use in your barbeque, so please don’t run out to your garage. I use this brand. Activated charcoal is burned plant material, usually coconut fiber. It’s a great toxic binder, meaning it actually binds to toxins and helps the body eliminate them without having to process them. It’s used in traditional medicine for overdoses and toxic ingestions (Ahhhh how I don’t miss my vet tech days where I had to force feed this to numerous animals. Fun, messy times.)

One capsule easily gets me through three whitenings, so a bottle will go a long way. Some people brush this onto their teeth, but I find that makes a mess I just don’t care to tango with. I dump the contents of a capsule into a spare contact lens case (don’t you always have about 93 of these things laying around?). Then I wet my finger, dunk it into the charcoal, and wipe it onto my front teeth. I leave it on for about three minutes, trying to smile the whole time because otherwise it gets into the creases of your lips. Inevitably my best friend gets a strange looking selfie during this waiting period. I firmly believe it is integral to the whitening effect.

When the timer dings I swish with warm water (I find this helps rinse it better) and carefully aim for the drain when spitting. After, I brush with warm water to help remove the more stubborn bits of charcoal. Admittedly this can get messy, but just be careful and keep some tissues around for clean-up.

And learn from my mistake!!! Charcoal stains. Don’t use your best hand towels to wipe down the sink.

Tooth Powder
During an episode of The Office, Jim makes a joke about Dwight brushing his teeth with clay. Dwight, at some point, possibly in another episode, says he brushes with tooth powder. This is supposed to reinforce his role as the weirdo backwoods character, but instead it made me realize how I’m slowly transforming into Dwight. And while I will never own a beet farm (yuck!) or sport his stylin’ haircut, I’m okay with becoming a little extra woodsy because I know I’m taking care of my body. 

If you want to purchase tooth powder, I used to use this brand. But if you want to make it and save some cash, here's my formula.

Equal parts prickly ash bark powder and peppermint powder

Easy peasey, right? Some people like using baking soda, but I’m concerned it may be too abrasive. I’m quite possibly overthinking this, but either way I use the straight herbs. If you’re not used to tree-hugging dental methods and currently use toothpaste, powder takes some time to get used to. Some people find it totally unpalatable. This is why, if you’re a person who is picky about mouth texture, I recommend starting with tea tree or peppermint oil and moving on to the powder. Or stick with the oil if that’s what you prefer. Everyone is different, and everyone’s approach is different. 

BUT, the chemicals in traditional toothpaste are horrible, including foaming agents, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, and fluoride, which until the late 50’s was used to treat overactive thyroid. This isn’t something I learned from a holistic book. This is something I was taught as part of veterinary medicine!!! This was actually prescribed to slow a hyperactive thyroid before other chemical treatments were created. Now it’s in everything from your toothpaste, to the food we eat, to the water we drink. Think about what this does to a healthy thyroid while I get off my soap box…

There are countless approaches to natural dental health, but these are the handful I use. If you’re looking for more information, here is agreat article about treating and preventing cavities naturally.

What natural alternatives do you use to brush your chompers? I’d love to hear from you!


NOTE: As with any recommendation found on this blog, consult your doctor or naturopath before use. By using this site, you agreed you have read the full DISCLAIMER
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a product through the above links I make a small percentage that helps keep this blog running (but does not affect your cost). Thank you for your support!


Monday, February 1, 2016

House Cleansing and Blessing



Have you ever moved into a new home or rental property and spent the first hour cleaning an already clean house just because you feel like you're living in someone else's grime?

No? Just me?

Well, even if your cleaning doesn't boarder on obsessive, I'm betting you've cleaned sometime in the past couple of weeks. It's just routine maintenance. Crumbs make their way onto counters. Dust finds itself on shelves. Pet hair gathers...everywhere.

How come we don't clean the energy? Have you ever walked into a room just after someone had a fight? Like, the faces are still scowling, the hands are still fisted, and you can can cut the tension with an athame? (Tee hee, see what I did there?) Energy is an undeniable force. We use it to power our computers. We see it if we're hooked up to an EKG. And sometimes, we need to clean out the bad stuff. 

Below you will find my personal cleansing and protection ritual that I perform on any house I move into. This will not only cleanse your home of any lingering energy from previous owners or troublesome times in your house, but it will also protect you from outside influences and people who wish you harm, whether that be in the form of robbery, jealousy, or anger. I wouldn't stop locking your doors at night, and it's probably not a good idea to start flicking off that annoying neighbor, but I've found this to be very effective in my own life. I hope you find it just as helpful in yours!

House Cleansing and Protection from Negative Intentions

Supplies:

Smudging stick or loose smudging herbs (Sage, Rosemary, or Evergreen needles)
Bells of any kind

Protection Blend
Salt
Cinnamon
Clove 
Dragon's Blood
Garlic 

Above is my personal blend used for home protection spells. If you don't have an ingredient listed, don't worry! You can either supplement it with something you do have or simply use salt! Salt is a wonderful element for protection. 

To Cleanse the Home:

When I'm smudging a house, I like to begin in a room where the energy feels most stagnant or hostile. The idea is to move clockwise through the room as furniture will allow (no need to climb over a dinner table!). After lighting your smudging stick or loose herbs (in a bowl, of course) waft the smoke using a feather or your hand. Start in the doorway and move clockwise (left) around the room. Make sure to raise and lower your smudging stick as you go, so floor and ceiling are being addressed. Also hit the corners, as those are areas where energy collects. I like to keep a string of bells looped around my wrist so the energy of the ringing bells can dispel any negative energy. If you don't have a strand of bells you can either have someone follow behind you with a bell or vigorously ring the bell three times as you enter and exit the room. 

While smudging say: I banish all evil and negativity from this home. Only good shall prosper here!

Continue throughout the house, including the garage or any attached buildings. While I do believe there should be a certain amount of structure, some people are very strict about rituals and magick. Spirituality is personal. I don't believe feeling stressed and nervous during any ritual is beneficial to anyone involved. Trust your instinct and do what feels right to you. If you go in the wrong direction, correct it. If you get tongue twisted, take a breath and start over. The universe WANTS you to prosper. It's not waiting for you to fumble so it can pounce. Anyone who says otherwise a wholly wrong. 

Protection Spell

Once your home is oh-so-squeaky clean, you are ready to protect it! Mix the above herbs in your desired ratio. I use salt as the base and a good pinch of everything else. If one feels more appropriate to you or has a more specific meaning, go ahead and add it. Do what feels right to you! Since you're using a small amount, about 1/4 cup total is all you need.

This part takes place outside the home. I prefer to do it in the middle of the day because that's when my neighborhood is quiet. You can do it at night or early morning if you don't want the neighbors watching. 

Optimally you would sprinkle this in a circle around your home and property. I live in a duplex, and I don't think my neighbors want me hopping the fence, so I sprinkled it in a line beneath all my doors and windows and then did the perimeter of my yard. If you're in an upstairs apartment and can't really work outside, you can sprinkle a very small amount inside. I recommend using straight salt for interior use (especially if you have pets!).

While sprinkling repeat: This home is protected; this home is secure. Evil may do no harm here!

On your last chant end with So Mote it Be!


Now doesn't your home feel cleaner?! And you didn't even have to break out the Windex.

Do you have a special spell or charm you use to protect your home? Do you have a particular ritual you use for housewarmings? 


This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a product through the above links I make a small percentage that helps keep this blog running (but does not affect your cost). Thank you for your support!