Monday, March 19, 2018

PODCAST: How to Find Your Best Possible Self

Does imagining your future make you more happy--or more anxious? Our happiness guinea pig looks ahead for inspiration to improve her life now. 

Making Your Home a Magical Tool

by Tess Whitehurst
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
Whether you live in a dorm room, a mansion, a houseboat, a studio apartment, a trailer, or anything else, your home is a potent magical tool. Even small changes in your home can create powerful energetic shifts, setting in motion great waves of positive change on all levels and in all life areas.
How, you ask? Let me explain. Hermes Trismegistus gave us the famous magical maxim, "As above, so below." One way to interpret this is that the realm of form is inextricably connected to the realm of spirit, and that each reflects, interacts with, and defines the other. Quantum science seems to agree, teaching that we dwell in a sea of energy and that everything is connected to everything else, whether it's a thought, a butterfly, an atom, a flower, an emotion, or a brick wall.
And these intricately woven connections are constantly present, literally defining and creating reality in every situation and on every level of our consciousness, including the most everyday settings and occurrences. For example, even the least metaphysically minded among us knows that something as simple as the lighting in a restaurant can mean the difference between a breathtakingly romantic evening and an embarrassingly awkward first date.
How magical, then, are our homes! It is impossible to describe the scope of their power. Whether we realize it or not, they define us by simultaneously reflecting and reinforcing who we are and how we relate to the world. For example, every time your freshly showered feet step onto your gorgeous green bathmat, on some subconscious level you might say to yourself something to the effect of, "I am lucky and I am surrounded in luxury." This belief then becomes reinforced, and begins to shape your reality to match it. It's no wonder then that even things that seem small—like a leaking faucet or a lovely little picture on the bathroom wall—can have a profound effect on our psyche (and therefore every aspect of our existence) when encountered every single day.
And, as if that weren't enough, our homes are the sets for the movies of our lives. If the set of Gladiator looked like a Hawaiian luau, it would have been a different movie altogether. Westerns wouldn't be westerns without a bunch of guns, saloons, and swinging doors, and they would probably be a lot more peaceful. What kind of movie do you want to star in? It really is up to you. Setting the stage in your home for what you want to experience in your life is a powerful magical act. For example, if you live alone and you'd like more romance in your life, make your dining table into a table for two. Lose the extra chairs, or put them in the garage. Place a red candle or two in the center. Now, the stage is set! Every time you happen to notice the table, happily imagine yourself seated at it, having a delightful candlelit dinner with a captivating love interest. Then, it's only a matter of time.
Below are some key concepts that will help you to put these ideas into action, and to interact with your home in ways that will positively affect every area of your life.
Clear your clutter. Remember, "as above, so below”? One thing that means is that physical clutter is never just clutter. It always reflects and holds in place unwanted conditions in our thoughts, emotions, and life experiences. And, when we look around our homes and everything we see is something that lifts our spirits and makes us feel good, our lives are characterized by harmony, joy, and success.
So, let go of the extras. If there's clutter in your home, there's nothing better you could be doing than clearing it. Take your time, knowing that every time you let go of a piece of clutter, your energy field is lightened and clarified, which immediately nourishes and benefits every area of your life.
Raise the vibes. As we sensitive folk know very well, vibes are real things. The vibrations of a space are based on prior conditions and feelings, but they also define the conditions and feelings that will occur in the present and future. So naturally, it's important to raise them to a high and positive level. Luckily, there are a number of very fun ways to do so. Here are a few:
  • Simply cleaning your home in the usual way (provided you use healthy and non-toxic cleaners) can raise the vibrations in a serious way. You can also add aromatherapeutic oils and/or flower or gem essences to your cleaning solutions to fine-tune and intensify the effect.
  • Clap loudly in the corners and around the perimeter of each room and area to utilize sound waves to loosen and dissipate old negative or stagnant energy. You can also use a drum, gong, or tambourine for this purpose. (Please cover food and beverages when you do this, including the food and water of your animal companions, as they can absorb negativity during this process.)
  • Smudge with white sage or frankincense to lift and purify the vibrations.
  • Mist with rose water or smudge with a sweetgrass braid to call in sweetness and positive energy.
Consciously wield the power of imagery. Look around at the imagery on your walls. What is it telling you, and what conditions is it holding in place? For each picture or art piece, even if it's abstract, ask yourself, "What's going on here? What's the story, or the mood of this piece?" I guarantee that—whether you chose the piece or not—the story or mood the piece describes is, in some important way, showing up in your life experience. That's how powerful symbolism and artwork can be.
Even if all your artwork is generally positive, you might ask yourself if it's reinforcing the conditions you'd like to be experiencing. For example, if you'd like to have more time to spend with your partner, and you have a bunch of pictures of people or animals by themselves, you might want to bring in a few pictures of harmonious-looking pairs. This will help you internalize the feeling of togetherness. Your external reality will then begin to come into harmony with your internal reality, which will naturally result in the conditions for which you aspire.
Let your home be an expression of self-love. Self-love is an all-purpose tonic that helps us to magically manifest all the desires of our hearts. And nothing could be a more appropriate vehicle for giving and receiving self-love than our homes. For example, you might show your love for yourself by:
  • Getting new bedding that is luxuriously comfortable and cozy
  • Fixing the broken drawer in the kitchen, or getting it fixed
  • Organizing your closet
  • Creating a meditation altar
  • Burning incense or diffusing essential oils
  • Buying yourself flowers

Put the “Om” Back Into Your Home

by Tisha Morris
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
Holistic living is becoming more mainstream as nutrition, preventive and alternative medicine, and conscious living are simply a way of life. Holistic implies being whole or taking into account the whole picture—our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. As eastern practices meet western medicine, the "wholistic" pie is starting to take shape with the mind, body, and spirit being equally taken into account.
One healing modality that has been overlooked—and that is literally right under our nose—is our home. Our home is a reflection of ourselves, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And as we make changes to our home, we make changes to our selves and our lives. There is an energetic relationship with the mind, body, and home. It is no wonder that the ancient art of feng shui has been practiced for thousands of years.
Our home is second only to our body as our physical dwelling on Earth. It is so closely related to our mind and body that the two have oftentimes throughout history been used interchangeably in religions, architecture, and in dream analysis.
The energy patterns within our self, from belief systems to preferences to disease, are also present within our home. Have you ever had a great massage or bodywork where you left feeling great? And upon returning home, you fell right back into your old patterns; maybe your shoulders started to slump forward again or your breathing returned to being labored.
If the energy flow in your home is "off," then the energy flow in your body will be as well. Energy flow in your home can be affected by a number of things, including the land on which you live, the floor plan, arrangement of furniture, disrepair, accessories, clutter, and even previous owners.
It's hard to believe that simply by moving a couch, adding a nightstand, clearing out out-of-style clothes, or repositioning your desk chair can change your life. I have seen major shifts take place time and time again with my clients when they make simple changes in their home. And the best thing about it is that you can make these changes today with little, if any, cost. Consider it acupuncture for your home.
Here are a few things to consider in making your home part of your holistic lifestyle.
    1. Furniture blocks: For the best feng shui, you want the energy to "meander" through a space. So imagine yourself as energy (because you are) coming through your space. Do you bump into any furniture? Do you hit corners sticking out? Are there tight places that feel constraining? Too much furniture can be major blocks of energy. And if they're in your house, then those blocks are also in your life.
    1. Emotional Clutter: Clutter is stagnant energy. So if you feel stagnant in any area of your life, then there's probably clutter lurking somewhere in your life that has taken form. If it's your love life that's stagnant, clear out nostalgic items from past relationships. If it's your career that's stagnant, clear out your desk drawers. If it's your body that's cluttered, then clean out your cupboards and fridge. If you're having an identity crisis, then clean out your clothing closet.
    1. Inventory Your Accessories: Like a great outfit, accessories are essential. They can make an outfit; but, if overdone, they can ruin an outfit. So is the case with accessories in your home. Take inventory of the accessories in your home. You should love every one of them. Don't use accessories to distract. I find that people who use too many accessories in an outfit are subconsciously trying to distract the attention away from them personally and to their clothing instead. Don't let your accessories distract you. Love everything in your home.
  1. Clear the Energy: No one likes to sit at a table in the restaurant before it's been cleared by the people who sat there before. And no one certainly wants to live among the energy of the previous owners of their home. You don't want to be subjected to the energy patterns of those before you. If you have never cleared the energy in your home, now is the time! It's quite simple and effective. Sage smudging is the most common method, whereby you light the end of a sage bundle and waft it around your house. Add your intention for you and your space to the mix as well.
As you become more conscious of your diet, exercise, spirituality, and so forth, become conscious of your home as well. As you love your home, you will love yourself.

Spring! Digging in the Dirt

by Dorothy Morrison
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
I always look forward to Spring; in fact, it never arrives quickly enough to suit me. After the long, cold Winter, I can hardly wait to throw open the windows, breathe fresh air, and feel the sunshine on my face. Just the thought of it makes me want to laugh and play and act like a child again. And...okay, I'll admit it: It makes me want to dig in the dirt.
As silly as that may sound coming from a grown woman, there's something both magical and therapeutic about plunging your hands into the soil. First of all, it reaffirms your link with the Earth and increases your capacity for walking between the worlds equally. It also provides a link to the collective consciousness of everyone who has ever tread that piece of ground. Just as important, though, it stabilizes the psyche and allows you to see everything in a new light—a brighter light—a light in which solutions are found, problems are solved, and fresh starts abound. And after the dormancy of Winter, that's something we can all use.
But what if you simply can't stand to get dirt under your fingernails? What then? Does that mean you'll have to forego all those wonderful Springtime benefits?
Of course not. Use gardening gloves if you have to, or try the meditation ritual below.
Earth Connection Meditation
Take a fertilizer stick or a few pennies to an outdoor area where there's plant-life, even if it's only a few blades of green grass. Sit on the ground in a comfortable position, and really look at the plants growing within your reach. Stroke their leaves, caress their stems, and let their fragrance fill the air. Then close your eyes, put your palms flat on the ground, kick back, and relax. Take a deep breath and inhale the fresh, green energy of the plant world and the fertile Earth. Hold your breath for a count of ten, and then exhale the metallic red energy of worries, stress, and aggravation. Let it sink into the Earth. Continue to inhale green and exhale red until you’re totally relaxed.
Eyes still closed, visualize your body changing. Watch as your legs sprout roots and sink into the ground. See them dig deeper and deeper into the safety of the moist, rich Earth. See your torso change, too, into a sturdy, well-developed plant stem. Finally, allow your arms, shoulders, neck, and head to transform, and watch them bud, sprout, leaf, and blossom beneath the warmth of the Sun.
Take a few moments to get used to your new form and life. Feel the breeze play through your leaves. Feel the sunshine warm your spirit. Let your roots travel through the Earth in search of water and nutrition. Bask in your new surroundings. Enjoy being a plant.
When you're comfortable with your new form, just "be" for a few minutes and feel the balance of the elements within you. Listen carefully to any messages that are channeled your way, and make a concerted effort to remember the information for future use.
When you’re ready to come back to the physical realm, thank the spirits of the Earth and plant world for sharing their time and knowledge. Then stretch your arms, roll your neck, and shake off your leaves and blossoms. Twist your stem from side to side, and feel it become a torso again. Let your roots travel up through the ground until they reach the surface and dissolve into your feet. Wiggle your toes. Flex the muscles in your legs. Give yourself a good shake. Once your body feels normal again, bury the fertilizer stick or pennies as an offering, then stand up and walk away.
While the meditation above will certainly attune you to the energies of the Earth and its benefits, I like the hands-on approach—the one where you dig right in and work the soil with your fingers—much better. But that's probably because it gives me an excuse to plant something.
Herbs are good candidates for this. Why? The reason is two-fold. To begin with, herbs are common weeds. This means that they don't care about the condition of the soil. They don't care if you bother to talk to them or not. And since they handle the elements very well and get most of what they need from the Earth itself, they're not likely to keel over if you forget to water them once in a while. For the most part, they're self-sufficient little critters that grow strong and lush with or without our help—and that makes them the perfect choice for busy people.
The other reason is that we often use herbs in our magical practices. And there's just no sense in planting something unless we're going to enjoy it and put it to good use.
Whether you plant seeds, seedlings, or actual plants, or opt to garden indoors or out, is largely dependent upon weather and personal space. If it's still too chilly in your area to put something in the ground, you might want to start seeds indoors to transplant later. And regardless of the purpose for which you're sowing them—magical, culinary, or otherwise—blessing them first gives them a good start.
There's no need for an elaborate ritual in this case. Just place the seed packets in front of a green candle, place your hands over them and say something like:
Stretch and wake up, little ones
Feel the warmth of Shining Sun
Stir and shake off winter's cold
Sprout and thrive - grow tall and bold
Leave the seeds in front of the candle until the flame extinguishes itself. Then collect some peat pots, seed flats, and potting soil, and get on with the business of planting them.
If the danger of frost has passed and you're lucky enough to have a garden area or flower bed, then take some time to set out your seedlings or plants. Once you've handled the initial preparations with the trowel and garden claw, refine and aerate the soil by working it with your fingers. Crumble it in your hands and remove extraneous weed roots and debris. Inhale the rich aroma of fertility, invite it into your life, and thank the Earth for its gifts. Then scoop out enough soil to plant the seedlings.
At this point, you have a couple of options. You might use the planting, itself, as a simple ritual to embrace certain qualities that would provide you with a fresh start. If you lack patience, for example, you might bless one seedling with that attribute by planting it as you say:
I name you patience - grow in me
As you grow here. So mote it be.
Then plant the rest of the seedlings—imbuing each with a different characteristic—and know that as they grow under your care, so will those qualities grow within you.
If this ritual doesn't appeal to you, then just bestow a general blessing upon each plant as you place it in the ground. Something simple like the following works very well:
Grow, my friend, so very small
Grow until you're lush and tall.
One last thing: I highly recommend that you leave a small area of your garden spot untended and unplanted for the fey. (If you garden in pots, you may even want to fill a container with potting soil and water it occasionally.) While they'll certainly appreciate having their own space to plant as they please, the reason for this recommendation goes much deeper. It's been my experience that there's nothing worse than bored fey—left to their own devices, they often cause both personal and financial angst and aggravation—and this gives them something to do so they don't have time to meddle in human affairs. And meddle, they will, unless they're occupied.
While I won't bore you with my personal fey-related horror stories, suffice it to say that I now not only provide them with their own garden space, but take it one step further: I seal the deal by actually paying them to stay out of my business. Since the fey love shiny things, I just scatter a handful of dimes across the untended area. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind—and for the extra help I get in tending my own garden.

Inspirational Quote – March 19, 2018

“Those who dance….are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”

This reminds me of the reaction I occasionally still get when I tell people I am a professional Tarot and Angel Card Reader. The roll of the eyes, the backing away ever so slightly, the “hmmm, really?” . Some even look prepared to make the sign of the cross while backing away! They just don’t “get” or hear the “music” that I do when I am working with my beautiful cards. I realize I am very fortunate in being able to use my cards in order to bring answers, guidance or resolution for people in who come to me and, as such, being “tuned in” to the music of the Universe. Such a pity we’re not all able to be “tuned” into the same channel don’t you think?

A Winter Walk: An Excerpt

Henry David Thoreau sings praises of winter, "the wonderful purity of nature ...(when) the dead leaves of autumn, are concealed by a clean napkin of snow... A cold and searching wind drives away all contagion, and nothing can withstand it but what has a virtue in it." In spite of the cold we recognize in this early springtime that "There is a slumbering subterranean fire in nature which never goes out, and which no cold can chill." Delve into his essay on nature in winter and feel the hope of spring. 


The wonderful purity of nature at this season is a most pleasing fact. Every decayed stump and moss-grown stone and rail, and the dead leaves of autumn, are concealed by a clean napkin of snow. In the bare fields and tinkling woods, see what virtue survives. In the coldest and bleakest places, the warmest charities still maintain a foothold. A cold and searching wind drives away all contagion, and nothing can withstand it but what has a virtue in it; and accordingly, whatever we meet with in cold and bleak places, as the tops of mountains, we respect for a sort of sturdy innocence, a Puritan toughness. All things beside seem to be called in for shelter, and what stays out must be part of the original frame of the universe, and of such valor as God himself. It is invigorating to breathe the cleansed air. Its greater fineness and purity are visible to the eye, and we would fain stay out long and late, that the-gales may sigh through us, too, as through the leafless trees, and fit us for the winter:--as if we hoped so to borrow some pure and steadfast virtue, which will stead us in all seasons.
There is a slumbering subterranean fire in nature which never goes out, and which no cold can chill. It finally melts the great snow, and in January or July is only buried under a thicker or thinner covering. In the coldest day it flows somewhere, and the snow melts around every tree. This field of winter rye, which sprouted late in the fall, and now speedily dissolves the snow, is where the fire is very thinly covered. We feel warmed by it. In the winter, warmth stands for all virtue, and we resort in thought to a trickling rill, with its bare stones shining in the sun, and to warm springs in the woods, with as much eagerness as rabbits and robins. The steam which rises from swamps and pools, is as dear and domestic as that of our own kettle. What fire could ever equal the sunshine of a winter's day, when the meadow mice come out by the wallsides, and the chicadee lisps in the defiles of the wood? The warmth comes directly from the sun, and is not radiated from the earth, as in summer; and when we feel his beams on our backs as we are treading some snowy dell, we are grateful as for a special kindness, and bless the sun which has followed us into that by-place.
This subterranean fire has its altar in each man's breast, for in the coldest day, and on the bleakest hill, the traveller cherishes a warmer fire within the folds of his cloak than is kindled on any hearth. A healthy man, indeed, is the complement of the seasons, and in winter, summer is in his heart. There is the south. Thither have all birds and insects migrated, and around the warm springs in his breast are gathered the robin and the lark.
At length, having reached the edge of the woods, and shut out the gadding town, we enter within their covert as we go under the roof of a cottage, and cross its threshold, all ceiled and banked up with snow. They are glad and warm still, and as genial and cheery in winter as in summer. As we stand in the midst of the pines, in the nickering and checkered light which straggles but little way into their maze, we wonder if the towns have ever heard their simple story.
It seems to us that no traveller has ever explored them, and notwithstanding the wonders which science is elsewhere revealing every day, who would not like to hear their annals? Our humble villages in the plain are their contribution. We borrow from the forest the boards which shelter, and the sticks which warm us. How important is their evergreen to the winter, that portion of the summer which does not fade, the permanent year, the unwithered grass. Thus simply, and with little expense of altitude, is the surface of the earth diversified. What would human life be without forests, those natural cities? From the tops of mountains they appear like smooth shaven lawns, yet whither shall we walk but in this taller grass?
In this glade covered with bushes of a year's growth, see how the silvery dust lies on every seared leaf and twig, deposited in such infinite and luxurious forms as by their very variety atone for the absence of color. Observe the tiny tracks of mice around every stem, and the triangular tracks of the rabbit. A pure elastic heaven hangs over all, as if the impurities of the summer sky, refined and shrunk by the chaste winter's cold, had been winnowed from the heavens upon the earth.
Nature confounds her summer distinctions at this season. The heavens seem to be nearer the earth. The elements are less reserved and distinct. Water turns to ice, rain to snow. The day is but a Scandinavian night. The winter is an arctic summer.
How much more living is the life that is in nature, the furred life which still survives the stinging nights, and, from amidst fields and woods covered with frost and snow, sees the sun rise.
"The foodless wilds
Pour forth their brown inhabitants.". 
The gray squirrel and rabbit are brisk and playful in the remote glens, even on the morning of the cold Friday. Here is our Lapland and Labrador, and for our Esquimaux and Knistenaux, Dog-ribbed Indians, Novazemblaites, and Spitzbergeners, are there not the ice-cutter and wood-chopper, the fox, musk-rat, and mink?
Still, in the midst of the arctic day, we may trace the summer to its retreats, and sympathize with some contemporary life. Stretched over the brooks, in the midst of the frost-bound meadows, we may observe the submarine cottages of the caddice-worms, the larvae of the Plicipennes. Their small cylindrical cases built around themselves, composed of flags, sticks, grass, and withered leaves, shells, and pebbles, in form and color like the wrecks which strew the bottom,--now drifting along over the pebbly bottom, now whirling in tiny eddies and dashing down steep falls, or sweeping rapidly along with the current, or else swaying to and fro at the end of some grass-blade or root. Anon they will leave their sunken habitations, and, crawling up the stems of plants, or to the surface, like gnats, as perfect insects henceforth, flutter over the surface of the water, or sacrifice their short lives in the flame of our candles at evening. Down yonder little glen the shrubs are drooping under their burden, and the red alder-berries contrast with the white ground. Here are the marks of a myriad feet which have already been abroad. The sun rises as proudly over such a glen, as over the valley of the Seine or the Tiber, and it seems the residence of a pure and self-subsistent valor, such as they never witnessed; which never knew defeat nor fear. Here reign the simplicity and purity of a primitive age, and a health and hope far remote from towns and cities.