Thursday, October 18, 2018

3 Ways to Honor Your Ancestors at Samhain

3 Ways to Honor Your Ancestors at Samhain

The veil is thinning; can you feel it, witches? If you haven't already, this is a great time to hedge ride for any reason whatsoever and is the easiest time to cross the veil as the veil is already thin. So if you haven't tried it yet, go ahead and give it a shot. My complete guide to hedge riding can be found here.

With the thinning of the veil, spirits are able to easily pass into our realm, which means your ancestors will likely show up to visit come Samhain. It is during Samhain that many witches honor those who have since passed on. I currently have my Ancestral Tree set up in my living room, and I'm looking forward to honoring those who have crossed the veil this Samhain. How exactly do I plan to do that? Well, there are three simple ways you can honor your loved ones this Samhain!

1. Set up an ancestral altar. This is kind of an obvious one, but a great idea nonetheless. Your ancestral altar can be as simple or as ornate as you wish. The purpose, however, is to guide your ancestors home during Samhain and honor their passing. In the Mexican tradition, this altar is called an ofrenda, which is Spanish for "offering." Ofrendas are generally ornate, having multiple levels to honor the saints, deceased relatives, and to offer food and drink to the departed souls coming to visit. A candle for each loved one is placed on the ofrenda to guide them home. The same can be done for your ancestral altar, but on a smaller scale. Feel free to place pictures, candles, flowers, food & drink, or even favorite possessions of your loved ones on your ancestral altar.

2. Hold a Dumb Supper. Okay, the name sounds sketchy and totally disrespectful to your ancestors, but it is quite the opposite. The "dumb" in this case refers to silence. While the history of the Dumb Supper is highly debated, I believe its a fantastic tradition and a great way to celebrate your ancestors. During a Dumb Supper, no guest is to speak. The area should be cleansed and a circle cast if you so please. At least one chair should be set aside for the spiritual guests. Be sure to have a plate of food at each spirit chair for your ancestors to enjoy. Since it isn't feasible to have a chair for every ancestor or loved one you wish to honor, a tea light candle for each one can be used to honor them. As guests enter, they should stop at the spirit chair and offer a silent prayer. Guests may wish to bring a private note on which their message to their loved ones is written. Once the meal is complete, guests should find the candle associated with their loved one, silently pray on the message they wish to send, then burn the message in the flames. As guest silently leave, they should silently say goodbye to the spirit chair. Once the ritual is complete, talking may commence once more. Most witches tend to serve seasonal food items such as squash, pumpkin treats, apples, and hearty soups during the dinner, but any type of food is fine. You may wish to cook an ancestors favorite meal!

3. Write them letters and bury them. This is a great way to magically connect with your ancestors in a nontraditional way. This simple ritual can be performed on Samhain or the days prior. Simply light a small candle for each ancestor you wish to contact, ask them to join you if they can, and begin writing your letters. Anything you wish to write is perfectly fine. You may also wish to include your own intentions for your life in the future and ask your ancestors for aid in fulfilling these intentions. Once you are done, bury the letter someplace important to you, your ancestor, or your intentions. I realize not everyone can easily access a favorite place visited by their ancestor, but an important place to you is just as powerful.

For more information, you may wish to check out these other resources.
Ancestral Altars and Rituals, Sarah Anne Lawless 
The Day of the Dead Ofrenda, May Herz
A Feast with the Dead, ThoughtCo.
Five Ways to Honor Your Ancestors, Daniel Foor
The Importance of Honoring the Ancestors, Obara Meji

Friday, October 5, 2018

Crystals for Surgery Recovery

Crystals for Surgery Recovery

On Monday I underwent an outpatient surgery for endometriosis. I've never had a "real" surgery before with the closest thing being having my wisdom teeth removed when I was in high school. Needless to say, I was frightened and extremely anxious. I have had multiple anxiety attacks over the past couple of weeks leading up to the surgery and my biggest fear was that the doctor would cut me open to find nothing was wrong with me, that the pain I have been experiencing since I was 14 was all in my head. Thankfully that wasn't the case. In fact, he found a lot more than he expected, including significant scarring around my colon and intestines. The scar tissue was so bad that my intestines had fused to the wall of my abdominal cavity and the mass was unmoving, meaning regular function was inhibited. He approached my mom before removing it, asking if she was sure I had never had another abdominal surgery. She assured him I had not, that this was the first. He said the next possible source of the scarring was an infection, so he went looking for what he thought was the source: my appendix. Thankfully that little organ is perfectly healthy, but we aren't sure exactly what caused the issue. I have a feeling I know what caused it, and I plan to discuss it with my doctor next week at my post-op appointment.

The past couple of days have been extremely rough. I am allergic to opiates which means I am stuck with tramadol, a synthetic opiate to treat mild pain, and Advil. However, I have been using some magical means to speed up the healing process as well: crystals. Here are three crystals I have been relying on this week to speed up the healing process.

Crystals for Surgery Recovery: Bloodstone

1. Bloodstone: Bloodstone, so named after the red flecks of "blood" throughout it, purifies the blood and stimulates the immune system, thus aiding in a speedy recovery, especially after surgery. It can ward off flu, colds, infections, inflammation, and helps revitalize the body after an injury. Furthermore, bloodstone is known for its grounding and cleansing properties, helping to ward off negativity and anxiety while your body recovers. Simply place this stone near the incision site to benefit from its healing vibrations. Do not place the crystal directly on the wound(s). This can cause more harm than good.

Crystals for Surgery Recovery: Lapis lazuli

2. Lapis lazuli: This brilliant blue crystal is known for easing pain, boosting the immune system, and purifying the blood. It is also known for lowering blood pressure and easing inflammation, making it the perfect crystal to use after a surgery. Lapis lazuli also encourages you to take charge of your life and helps to focus the mind, allowing you to focus on healing and living your best life in the future. Like bloodstone, lapis lazuli can be placed near the incision site to aid in the recovery process.

Crystals for Surgery Recovery: Amethyst

3. Amethyst: Amethyst is believed to ease inflammation and boost the immune system as well, thus helping to aid in recovery. Furthermore, amethyst is known to help skin conditions, meaning it can be used to reduce scarring and aid in the healing of open wounds and incisions after surgery. This purple variety of quartz is also calming, allowing the user to relax during the healing process and sleep if need be as it wards off insomnia. Amethyst can be placed near the wound, on your forehead, or next to your bed to aid in recovery.

I have been using these three crystals the majority of the week, and they have brought a comfort nothing else has been able to provide. I hope that none of you ever have to have surgery, but if you do, know these crystals will work with your body to heal quickly.

Please note that crystals and magical healing methods SHOULD NOT replace any treatment your doctor has prescribed. You should follow your post-op care instructions to the letter. I do NOT suggest using herbs to aid in the recovery process as many of them can and do interfere with prescribed medications. If your symptoms worsen, you begin to run a fever, or the pain becomes worse, call your doctor immediately. Magical methods can be used to enhance your recovery process, but should not replace them.

What crystals do you turn to in your time of need?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Hedge Riding Series: Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides

Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides

After you have successfully traveled to the Otherworld, the next step is to seek your animal guides. These are the beings in animal form that will help guide you in your travels and aid in your healing and growth as a hedgewitch. Some hedgewitches consider their animal guides to be their familiars. This is a perfectly acceptable viewpoint, especially if you do not have a familiar within our realm like myself. I have three beautiful cats, but none of them are familiars, at least not yet. The verdict is still out on little Charlie as he is still a kitten and hasn't reached maturity yet. But I digress.

Animal guides sometimes referred to as a power animal or totem, come in many shapes and forms and can change over the lifetime of the witch. They can be birds, fish, insects, or mammals, but in general, they are wild animals, not a domesticated pet. However, it is not unheard of for a hedgewitch to have a dog or cat as their animal guide, but it is uncommon. Furthermore, it not unheard of for a mythical creature to be your animal guide, but again, this is rare because you animal guide will often appear within our realm to guide and assist you, and mythical creatures have a hard time passing successfully into our world.

Some say you choose the animal guide, but I have found that 99.99% of the time, the animal guide chooses you. Furthermore, an affinity toward an animal does not necessarily mean that particular animal is your animal guide. For example, my favorite animal is the maned wolf, but I haven't seen it show up as an animal guide, at least not yet. You may think your animal guide is a bear, wolf, or eagle (which most people tend to think because they associate animal guides with Native American culture), but your guide or guides may very well be a turtle, clownfish, ox, or rabbit.

What is an Animal Guide?

So what is the role of an animal guide?

1. They are our trusted friends. Your animal guides are there for you to lean on whenever you need them. They are there to help you answer questions, aid in magical workings, give you confidence, and stand by your side, no matter what you do because that's what friends are for.

2. They are our guides, NOT our controllers. You animal guide will never intervene unless your life is in danger or you ask for assistance. They are not self-seeking. Their role is that of a mentor; to advise and suggest based on their lifetime of experience.

3. They are our escorts in the Otherworld. Your animal guide acts as a travel guide through the Otherworld, keeping you safe in the process.

4. They are conduits; they help aid and direct our energies and channel the energies of the Otherworld so we may effectively see them. When you finally travel to the Upper Realm, your guides will help bring this realm into focus for you. Those beings operate on a much higher frequency so your animal guide will act as a mediator or translator to bring the picture into view for you.

5. They are our bodyguards. This is probably the most important role outside of being a mentor. Your animal guides will protect you, both in and out of our realm, from harm as much as they possibly can. There are hidden dangers in the Otherworld and it is imperative you not travel alone. However, that doesn't mean your animal guides won't allow you to suffer hardship; quite the contrary. Your guides will ensure your experience hardship, but only is it has something to teach us.

6. They are our caretakers, working to heal us, cleanse us of negativity, and even help to heal physical ailments. For personal experience, there is nothing that makes me feel better after suffering a bought of anxiety or depression quite like visiting my animal guides.

7. They are our instructors. Your guides are there to act as a teacher, not just a mentor offering advice. They will provide you with opportunities to grow as a hedgewitch and person, in a semi-controlled fashion. They will share knowledge and wisdom with you freely, although sometimes cryptic. If they do not know the answer, they will tell you so, but guide you down the right path to find the answers you seek.

Your animal guide is NOT:
  • a dictator
  • a slave or servant
  • a genie
  • a god
  • evil, self-seeking, or otherwise harmful to you
Our relationships with our animal guides should be treasured and nurtured, just like friendships within our realm.

Meeting Your Animal Guides

Meeting your animal guides for the first time can be quite simple, however, there will be times animal guides appear to you when you are not actively seeking them. Your animal guides reside in the Lower Realm, so this is where you will have to travel. If you happen to meet an animal outside of the Lower Realm, be cautious. They are likely not an animal guide, but on some off chance they are, they will appear to you in the Lower Realm another time. To meet your animal guides for the first time, set your intention for your journey as follows: "I will journey to the Lower World to meet my animal guide. I ask that may animal guide be waiting for me when I arrive at the Lower World."

The first time you do this, you may not meet your guides. It could take a couple tries to get their attention, especially if you are new to hedge riding. You may notice that your animal guides change with you. That's okay. The animal guides you have today may not be the guides you need in 10 years. You will also likely have more than one, each to teach you a different lesson. Be open and accepting of what they have to teach you.

My Animal Guides

I have briefly mentioned my animal guides before, but I figured I would give a more detailed description of them in this post, with their blessings of course. I have two guides: a female red fox named Meka, and a male raven named Rocar.

Meka is by far the guide that shows up the most. She is kind, loving, playful, and wise beyond her years. She is very motherly and extremely patient with me. Meka is often my transportation through the realms and has accompanied me on soul retrievals, chord cuttings, and general journies. Whenever I meet her, she greets me like a playful puppy, bouncing around as if its the first time she has seen me. It's a wonderful feeling to be with her; just thinking about her calms my anxiety and fills my heart with love. My favorite thing to do is lie with her in my Garden within the Middle Realm and stare up at the clouds. It's the most peaceful thing imaginable.

Rocar, on the other hand, is a completely different beast. He is loud, rude, obnoxious, and extremely sarcastic. He likes to pick at my hair and face and completely lacks the patience and grace of Meka. He likes to pick on Meka too, often diving down to peck her while we are together, then flying off laughing in a way only a raven can. But Rocar is a wonderful teacher and a reflection of myself. I too am loud, rude, obnoxious, and extremely sarcastic. Whenever I wonder what I am doing wrong, Rocar is there to be blunt and matter-of-fact. His lessons are hard-hitting but valuable. While Meka likes to avoid hurting me, Rocar knows that sometimes pain is the greatest teacher and he isn't afraid to use it on me.

At this point in my life, these are the guides I desperately need. Between my feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness, my divorce last year, and the financial and health struggles I have endured, I need someone to love me unconditionally and someone to smack some sense in me at the same time. You will find that your animal guides are there to meet your needs right now, in this phase of your life. Sometimes they are not the guide we want, but the guide we need. It is my greatest hope for you as a hedgewitch that you connect with your animal guides in a way that transforms your life. I cannot express enough how important your animal guides are to your growth and success and I sincerely hope that your experience is as magical as mine.

Interest in the rest of the series? Make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming posts!

Hedge Riding Series

Seeking Your Animal Guides + My Animal Guides
Developing a Relationship With Your Spirit Companions
After You Hedge Ride: Coming Back to Earth
My Hedge Riding Experiences

Looking for more information on hedge witches? Check out my posts on the topic:

Monday, September 24, 2018

Mabon Altar 2018

Mabon Altar 2018

Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is the second of the harvest festivals, and while it doesn't feel like fall yet here in Georgia, I have noticed the days getting shorter and the Earth shifting towards winter. For this year's Mabon altar I decided to go with reds, browns, and greens to represent the bountiful harvest, the Sun, and our great Mother Earth.

Mabon Altar 2018

1. Leaf Candle Holder & Green Candle - The leaf candle holders with the green candles represent fertility (green) and the changing seasons. At Mabon, Mother Earth is providing us with bountiful crops, but there are marked shifts in the weather as fall begins, especially for those up north. Furthermore, the candles represent the Sun who helps to ripen the fruits of the second harvest. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $3 ($1 for a set of 3 candles, and $1 each for the holders)

2. Ivy and Red Berries- The ivy draped around the entire altar represent abundance and fertility during the harvest while the red berries represent fruits of the harvest. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost $2 ($1 each))

3. Green Candles- The green candles flanking the altar represent fertility, prosperity, and abundance, but more importantly they represent our great Mother Earth who provides us with the fruits of the season. Without the Earth, our food would not be able to grow and ripen so they may be stored away during the winter months. (Where did I get it: September House of Rituals Box 2018; Cost: Estimated $4)

Mabon Altar 2018

4. Grapes- The grapes found flanking the altar represent fertility and abundance. In some places, grapes are still being harvested at this time along with apples and pears. Furthermore, with Mabon being a harvest festival, it is important to have as many representations of fertility and abundance as possible to continue to provoke a bountiful harvest season so there is food to survive the winter. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $1)

Mabon Altar 2018

5. Silk Sunflowers, berries, and wheat- The flower arrangement found in the center arrangement represent the fruits of the harvest, fertility, abundance, and prosperity in hopes that the growing season will be successful. The red colors represent the masculine Sun who is waning during the time, but still strong enough to ripen the fruits growing in the fields and orchards. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2017; Cost: $3 ($1 each))

6. Corn Dolly- The corn dolly represents the spirit of grain, who will be later reborn in the spring grains at Yule. While I will not be sacrificing my corn dolly, the significance of this effigy is an important idol that should be on any harvest altar during this time. Corn is still being harvested in some places at this time, but the crops are beginning to wane, especially here in Georgia.  (Where did I get it: August House of Rituals Box 2018; Cost: Estimated $5)

Mabon Altar 2018

7. Pumpkin- The pumpkin is a prominent figure this time of year, especially during Mabon and Samhain. For this altar, the pumpkin represents abundance, as fall squash is being harvested in great abundance at this time. It also represents fertility and protection in hopes that the winter months will not be too harsh. (Where did I get it: Dollar Tree 2018; Cost $1)

8. Crystals Spiral- On this altar, there is moss agate for growth and fertility, especially for crops, as well as to represent the Mother Earth, and carnelian for strength and to represent the Sun who is beginning to wane but still remains strong enough to ripen the remaining crops. The spiral pattern represents the wheel of the year and the changing of seasons. (Where did I get it: Purchased from metaphysical stores or received in subscription boxes; Cost: Unknown)

Mabon Altar 2018

TOTAL COST: ~$20-22

Mabon Altar 2018

Like my other altars, most of the items I use are found or purchased for around $1, although this altar is slightly more expensive due to items being received in subscription boxes this year. The crystals are the only items that I have acquired from various sources and cannot give an exact value for. I hope you find this sort of break down helpful, especially those of you looking to create Instagram perfect altars on a budget!

How did you celebrate Mabon this year?