Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mastering Your Grimoire: Introduction

Mastering Your Grimoire: Introduction

This has been a long time coming, and I am glad to finally get it off the ground. Mastering Your Grimoire is a blog series designed to help witches from beginners to advanced create a grimoire they can be proud of, one full of information, techniques, correspondences, spells, and recipes that can be passed down through the generations. Today, many witches have a Book of Shadows (BOS), not realizing they may need to keep a grimoire as well.

What is the difference between a Book of Shadows and a grimoire, you might ask? I actually wrote a pretty detailed post about it a while back that you can read here. However, I will share the main passage comparing the two here:
"A BOS is a witch's personal book of magic; a diary of magic if you will. It includes records of all magical workings, dreams and their meanings, rituals, etc. If the witch does not also keep a Grimoire, it can also include spells and other magical information needed to perform magic. Its always a good idea to keep records of your magical workings. This will not only help you progress as a witch by seeing your power grow, but will also allow you to see what works and what does not work for you.

A Grimoire is like a BOS, but not as personal. It holds information about rituals, spells, potions, and how to prepare magical tools. It also contains lists of correspondences and magical properties of herbs, gemstones, food, colors, etc. Basically, it contains all your magical research. It does not contain personal information or records of magical workings."
Personally, I keep two separate books. While I don't plan on having children of my own, I would still like to pass my book on, but not with any of my personal information. Its personal for a reason. A grimoire allows me to catalog all of my knowledge in one place for such occasions as sharing.

Mastering Your Grimoire is designed to aid you in the creation of your own grimoire. I will be following along in the series as well, showing you how my new grimoire is progressing. One of my goals this year is to complete 12 pages. I know that doesn't seem like many, but when you see what I have been up to, you'll understand why this a perfect number for me. Most posts will have a call to action, something you need to work on over the next couple of weeks/months. The first few posts should come out each week on the weekend. As we progress, however, I will begin tapering the posts. The call to actions will be more intensive, requiring you to read and research or design lengthy pages/sections.

I hope you will join me as I embark on this journey to mastering my grimoire.

Mastering Your Grimoire Series Posts:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Resolutions 2017

I have been thinking long and hard about my resolutions this year. Unlike last year, I made a much smaller list, focusing mostly on improving myself and various aspects of my life. I did not focus on doing things to my home nor did I take on a bunch of tasks for 2017. While I love having a nice list of things I want to accomplish, we aren't in a financial place right now to take such things on.

Unlike last year, I would like to put all my resolutions into a single post. I really liked Witchy Words' idea of using the pentacle to plan out her goals, so I modified it a bit to suit my needs. I don't agree with her layout, nor her decision to make health goals associated with Earth and home and hearth goals with Water. Earth is associated with abundance, wealth, strength, and wisdom. While strength and wisdom go along with some of my health goals, Earth is better suited for my home and hearth goals which focus on money. To me, my home and hearth are deeply rooted in the Earth element, as is my craft, making it better suited for these goals. Water, however, corresponds with healing, expression, peace, and compassion, all things I am trying to do to and show myself through my health goals.

My central goal or theme this year is self improvement. I am focusing on myself and attempting to improve my well-being and situation. I have found that I often neglect my well-being in an attempt to put on a face to impress others. I am tired of doing this. It is physically and mentally draining. I just want to go back to being me.

Element Water: Health Goals

My health goals are much as they have always been, except this year I took things a step further and created a blog to document my journey. Maybe with being held accountable via blog posts, I can meet my goals this year.

There are 4 goals in my health category:
     1. Maintain a health BMI
     2. Drop to 15% body fat
     3. Take care of my mental health
     4. Read 24 books

Most people pick to lose weight, exercise more, and eat better as New Years resolutions. These are great goals to have, but usually aren't measurable making them extremely difficult to track. Furthermore, losing weight isn't always a great goal to have because your weight fluctuates constantly, and while you may begin to lose a bunch of fat, you can gain weight due to the accumulation of muscle. I, instead, focused on maintaining a healthy BMI and reducing the amount of fat I have. I am currently between 20 and 25% body fat, maybe a little higher. I really want to lose the excess fat around my thighs and midsection. In order to help me with this goal I created another blog, The Fit Witch, to track my progress, meals, and fitness routines in an attempt to help me stay on track. I tend to do pretty well throughout the year, but the moment something comes up, an injury, sickness, etc, I fall off and end up in a spiral of depression which makes things worse.

Apart from my physical health, I want to take care of my mental health this year as well. I've watched it get worse, and I am tired of feeling this way. I know the quality of my life can improve significantly if I seek help. I plan to do that this year.

Finally, I want to read more this year. Last year my goal was originally 12 books. Halfway through the year I increased it to 24 because I had already reached my goal. 20 minutes to midnight I completed my goal of 24 books! I would like to do that again this year. That is roughly 2 books a month and with having some time off this summer, I am sure I can smash 24 easily!

Element Fire: Relationship Goals

My husband and I have had a couple rough patches over the years and while things are getting better, we still have some things to overcome. While I can't make goals for him, I can make personal goals to help better our marriage.

I only have 2 goals in this category:
     1. Open communication
     2. At least 1 date per month

I want to be completely open and honest about my feelings this year and hope my openness will encourage him to be open. Both of us tend to bottle more than we should, him more so than me, and it is important in ALL aspects of our marriage that we keep communication open and civil.

As for the date night, we are often so busy, we forget to spend quality time together. Let's be honest, sitting on a couch watching an episode of whatever for an hour isn't quality time. I want to put away the phones and spend time doing something other than sitting on the couch once a month.

Element Earth: Home and Hearth Goals

Apart from health goals, this is my favorite goal category. I had to stop myself from adding a bunch of home improvement projects this year, knowing we needed to focus on our financial goals instead. A couple of days ago we got a glimpse at what my student loan payments will look like when I am out of school and let's just say, it's bad. With our current situation, we could not afford the payments, even with an income driven plan.

To prepare for this onslaught of payments that will begin at the end of 2017, there are 3 major financial goals:
     1. Budget, budget, budget!
     2. Pay off both credit cards and my car.
     3. Build our emergency fund.

On January 1st, I finally got my husband to sit down and write a long-form budget. He was shocked at how much we had going out and how little was really left over at the end of the month. This is something I have been trying to get him to see for a while now; I hope I got through to him. Furthermore, with a glimpse at the future loan payments, he has come to realize we need to stick to that budget and pinch and save every possible penny we can and throw it at our current debt so we will be able to make the student loan payments in the future. We also need to build up a small emergency fund to cover excess costs like car repairs, dental emergencies (I have these fairly often even with insurance), and house repairs. If we push really hard and buckle down, we can easily pay off both the credit cards and my car payment by October, at least that is my hope. If I have to get a second job this summer, so be it.

If we are able to, I would also like to put in a front garden this year. I do not have my hopes up, but I going to try to put $20 away here and there to do this. I really hate our front yard and having a beautiful garden will improve my mental well-being. As a hedgewitch, being outside in a garden or with nature is extremely important, and as it is, I don't like to spend much time in our yard. I am hoping our budget will allow us to make some changes this year. If not, I can at least begin tearing things out and repairing the soil!

Element Air: Career Goals

These goals are pretty darn simple and are things I have to complete this year. As many of you know, I am in school getting a Master's degree in education. Last year I did find a job as a teacher, and began teaching high school biology in August. It's fun (most days), but incredibly difficult. Teaching is the hardest thing I have ever done.

I have 3 goals in this category:
     1. Finish my Master's
     2. Complete edTPA
     3. Rewrite my curriculum

I will graduate with my Master's in May if all goes well. I have no doubt that it will. Second, I want to complete edTPA and make mostly 4's on it. edTPA is a portfolio exam required to become a certified teacher. It is extremely time consuming and difficult. Making mostly 4's would be awesome (highest is 5).

The third goal is probably the most time consuming goal of them all. Georgia is introducing new standards in biology next year, standards I will have modify my curriculum in order to meet. Furthermore, after a year of teaching under my belt, there are several things I want to change about how I handle things in my classroom. It has been a learning process for sure, and I would like to rework my lesson plans to better educate and support my students in the 17-18 school year.

If time permits, I would like to take my Etsy ideas and turn them into an actual store. Last year my goal was to research ideas, prices, etc. I think I know exactly what I want my store to be, but I am not sure if this is the year I will have time to start it or not. I know I do not want to be a teacher for the next 30 years, at least not if I can help it. Do I like teaching? Hell yes I do! It's a fun yet trying job. The benefits are great, but the pay could be better; we all know teachers aren't paid enough for their work. If possible, it would be great to make decent money blogging and crafting. I enjoy these things and generally don't think of them as work.

Element Spirit: Spiritual Goals

This is an area of my life that often gets neglected. Between my job, family, and other general responsibilities, my spiritual path is usually pushed onto the back burner. I don't want to do that any more. While 2016 was an overall good year spiritually, I know I can do better. I read several great books, posted regularly here, and even started compiling my new grimoire, a project I am really enjoying. However, there were many goals I did not attain last year, such as finding an altar; I would like to remedy this fairly quickly this year.

There are 3 goals in this category:
     1. Find an altar
     2. Write 4 posts/per month
     3. Complete 12+ grimoire pages.

These are all fairly simple. The biggest one is finding the altar. I did figure out exactly where I want to set up my spiritual space last year. Since this house is rather small and we are currently using every room, I decided my bedroom would be the best place for my altar. It is my personal space to begin with, and I know I can shut my door and be left alone. Yes, my husband and I have separate rooms. We do not often sleep together. Second, I know I want to move my dresser into my closet and place my altar where my dresser currently is. In fact, I even know what I want to use as an altar, it is just finding one at the right price. I would like to use an old antique wooden desk, one you can sometimes find for $25 at Goodwill. I am going to paint the base and stain the wood on top dark. I decided I wanted a place where I could sit and work on spells, rituals, and my grimoire, as well as a place that had storage for my craft items. A desk is perfect for this.

Last year I did really well posting 4 times per month on the blog. While some months I posted fewer or not at all  (cough cough November cough cough), I am pretty content with how this goal went last year so I would like to keep it going. Also posting regularly has grown my audience significantly, and I am proud to say I will soon be able to cash out my first check for $20 from Adsense!

And finally, completing 12+ grimoire pages. Having a private place to work on this will help me complete this goal. As it stands, I have semi-completed 3 title pages and began rough drafting some content pages. Those 3 semi-complete pages are not quite finished because I have decided to go over them with some paint and make them perfect. I think, from here on out, I will use mostly paint to decorate the pages. I believe the book is heavy enough to flatten out the pages so they will be nice and crisp. While the markers are nice, I am a much better painter. I will be starting a series this year on creating and completing your own grimoire or book of shadows, so keep an eye out for those posts!

***

2017 is going to be a good year, at least I am going to try and make it a good year for me. I am not going to lie, I am scared in regards to the political state of this country. I am worried for millions of Americans who are going to lose health insurance (like my parents); I am worried about how this new leadership is going to treat people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community; I am worried about the recession that is likely to come and the wars that may begin. I cannot control these things, but what I can control is how I handle things in my own life. I can at least take care of my well being for once in my life, and I am going to. A healthy me is more equip to help others.

So, have you sat down and thought about your goals for 2017?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Box of Shadows Review: December

Box of Shadows Review: December

Oh dearest me. This post is, of course, late again. I seriously need to get a grip on this whole blogging once a week again. Haha! Anyway, without further ado, let me review December's Box Of Shadows.

Box of Shadows Review: December

Honestly, I love opening these boxes. It is a little present each month. I am going to miss them as I canceled the subscription and am on the lookout for another monthly pagan box to review. I think I found one, but I likely won't be purchasing it until February. The first thing I noticed when I opened this box, however, was the heavenly smell. It smells AMAZING!

Box of Shadows Review: December

Of course I had to figure out what was causing the heavenly scent. I quickly realized it was the wishing spell ritual bath salts. I cannot wait to try these out. In fact, even after storing the box away, since I still don't have a damn altar space in this house, the smell lingered in the office. Mmmmm....


Box of Shadows Review: December

Next up I noticed a candle similar to the one I received in October for Samhain. This one, however, it for Yule. It too smells nice, and I look forward to using it next year in my Yule ritual. Hopefully next year I will have a damn altar!

Box of Shadows Review: December

Next up was a box of frankincense incense WITH a holder, which also smell pretty awesome. Frankincense is the most Yule incense you could possibly own. Heck, even the Christians recognize its significance at Christmas. Frankincense, however, is not just for Yule. It is also used for healing, relaxation, increasing your connection with the Spirit, and aiding in the elevation of the mind during meditation and visualizations. It is also a great incense to use during hedge riding. I'll be using these soon!

Box of Shadows Review: December

I then noticed I had received both the monthly crystal and monthly herb, a very pleasant surprise indeed because normally you receive one or the other. This month's herb was rosemary, used for protection, purification, healing, and love, and the gemstone was bloodstone, used for health, protection, good luck, success, and courage. This is a must have stone coming into the new year!

Of course I also received some sage and some candles in red, green, white, black, and gray.

Box of Shadows Review: December

Overall I was very pleased with this box! I cannot wait to sign up for a new subscription service, but I have a feeling I will likely be returning to this one one day. Just depends on what I review in the future!

***

Since it has been three months, I would like to give you a complete break down of my overall thoughts on this box.

Pros:

  • The box is consistent. It always comes with candles, sage, crystal/herb, and some other themed items centered around the sabbats or full moon.
  • The item quality is great. I felt that I got my money's worth.
  • I LOVED that this subscription box offers subscription tiers, making it more affordable than other subscription boxes.

Cons:

  • While I loved the consistency, this is not something I need every month. I was quickly overwhelmed with candles and sage.
  • This box sells out quickly, so you have to be on alter to sign up and secure a spot. The waiting list, however, is not very long. It opens up month to month.
  • The information sheet was not very informative. There is no mention as to where the items came from, what to use them for, or why they were included. I would like to know what businesses I am supporting and the purpose of each item, especially because this is supposed to be for beginners. Even though I have been practicing half of my life, I don't know everything and I love learning new things.
OVERALL: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Interested in purchasing this box? Check out Cratejoy. They have a large selection of subscription boxes that cover just about everything.