Mindful Muse – January – Self Dedication

IMG_2466In the 8-Limbed Path of the classical yogic philosophy, the second limb includes a moral observance (niyama) entitled Ishvara-Pranidhana which translates into devotion to a higher power.  Every year I dedicate myself to a full year of in-depth study of a particular spiritual method, philosophy, or technique.  I invite you to join me throughout the rest of this year; every month I will make ritual suggestions for honoring your definition of the Divine, so this first step of specifying that for yourself will be the central focus of our self-dedication ritual this month.  This month I invite you to start the new year with a self-dedication ceremony.  For the next few days or weeks spend some time in silent reflection and contemplation through meditation and prayer, and specifically define your understanding of Ishvara/Higher Power – God, Goddess, Great Spirit, Highest Self.  Set a date for your self-dedication ceremony below.  Put it on your calendar.  Honor yourSelf.

Self-Dedication Ceremony

(During your prerequisite contemplation of the Devine above, you may burn a white candle during your meditations.)

Supplies:  White candle(s) representing the Divine, one each of a green, yellow, red, and blue candle, altar space or small table or board (a natural wooden cutting board or tray works well), matches or lighter, flower/herb/plant/stone, small bowl of water, feather or favorite incense, small bowl of a natural hot spice, any other items that represent the Divine (picture, book, symbol, jewelry, etc.), paper, pen.

Preparation:  Your altar should preferably be in the north or east direction of your quiet space.  Place the following items in their corresponding directions forming a sacred circle space: north/green candle/plant or stone, east/yellow candle/feather or incense, south/red candle/spice, west/blue candle/water bowl.  If your altar is solid, then the directional candle can be atop the altar if it does not fit behind the altar.  If you have a portable altar, place it just inside the circle in the north.  Decorate the altar with the white candle(s) and any other items you would like to work with that represent the Divine.

Ceremony:  Take a few moments in a seated position in front of your altar inside your circle to ground and center by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.  Once you feel centered and calm, light the green candle in the North inviting the element of earth and foundation, light the yellow candle in the east inviting the element of air and knowledge, light the red candle in the south thanking the element of fire and will, light the blue candle in the west thanking the element of water and emotion, then light the white candle(s) inviting the Divine/Great Spirit.  Prepare yourself once again for meditation in front of the altar and begin to gaze at the white candle flame in front of you.  Once you are fully concentrated on the candle flame, close your eyes and hold the flame at your mind’s eye for a few moments.  Begin to reflect deeply on Ishvara/Divinity on the level of emotion and connection, merging with the aspects of the Divine nature within.  Be with this union for as long as you feel comfortable.  Once you feel your communion is complete mentally count up from 1 to 10 as you bring yourself gently out of meditation, touching the ground with your hands if you need more grounding and centering.  Write your dedication, Word, or symbol on the piece of paper.  Fold the paper once or twice, folding the paper towards yourself.  Place the piece of paper under the white candle and allow the candle to burn all the way down.  If you have to extinguish the candle, continue to burn intermittently for the next 3 days until the candle has burned completely.  Beginning in the west, extinguish the blue candle thanking the element of water, continue to the south extinguishing the red candle thanking the element of fire, extinguish the yellow candle in the east thanking the element of air, and extinguish the green candle in the north thanking the element of earth.  Take 3 deep breaths and thank Spirit.  So be it.

 

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October Moon

moon goddess(photo: gaiaastrology.com)

Autumn has arrived and is in full swing underneath the Blood Moon of October, also known as Harvest Moon, Shedding Moon, and Falling Leaf Moon.  This month is rich with divine goddess imagery and archetypes which can assist us in preparing for the upcoming colder season.  Leading up to All Souls or All Saint’s Day on November 1st, and Dios de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), many cultures take this time to honor their ancestors, teachers, saints, and sages that have come before us, that have now passed through the veil.  All Hallow’s Eve, Halloween, Samhain… these are a few of the labels this sacred time of year holds, and it is important to remember that this is not meant to be an ‘evil’ time of year.  It is a time of shedding, letting go, and non-attachment.  It is said that the veil between the physical world and spiritual world is the thinnest on the eve of November 1st, the evening of the ominous date October 31st, which actually provides a magickal time for deep reflection and communion.  Also, this is season rings in the Hindu New Year and October 16th is the lovely Diwalii Festival of Lights honoring Goddess Lakshmi.

Full Moon: personal power, self-confidence, empowerment

Crescent Moon:  happiness, health, good luck, success, prosperity, love

Dark Moon:  comfort, help, nurturing, protection, defense, fighting spirit

 

October Moon Correspondences

Herbs:  angelica, burdock, calendula, mandrake, pennyroyal, thyme, wormwood

Incense:  appleblossom, cherry, copal, myrrh

Trees:  acacia, cypress, yew

Animals:  crow, raven, scorpion, stag

Deities:  Astarte, Durga, Erishkigal, Hathor, Hecate, Ishtar, Lakshmi, Morrighan

Stones: jet, opal, tourmaline

Colors: black, brown, orange, red, dark blue-green

Action/Concentration: letting go, cleansing, karma, reincarnation, remembering your ancestors, roots

 

hOMe Purification

Items Needed:  pine tree branch with pine needles attached or other tree branch with small leaves/flowers, bowl of salt water (optional:  add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil)

Working:  Dipping the branch in the salt water, starting at your front door, walk around your hOMe clockwise, lightly sprinkling the water on the floor and around windows and doors, envisioning any negative or disrupting entities being washed away as light, helpfulness, balance and blessings infuse your abode.  As you are circling your hOMe, incorporate a mantra, affirmation or your favorite prayer as you are ‘working’.

Variation 1:  Make this protective circle around your home both indoors and outside.

Variation 2:  Substitute the salt water for incense or ring a bell… or make three rounds using each cleansing item in turn!

 

Seva

Remember – this is a great time to shed those unused coats by donating them to your local shelter or coat drive so that others may have the comfort of warmth in the season just around the corner.

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September Moon

lughnasadhThe Harvest Moon of September rings in the Autumn Equinox around the 21st of the month. This year we celebrate the Equinox on September 23rd at 4:20am. The September moon is also known as Wine Moon and Singing Moon, among others. As we enter into this second of the three harvest festivals, the fruit harvest, this month’s wheel of the year season is that of Mabon (Celtic) or Michaelmas (Christian). Some earth-based traditions celebrate a form of Thanksgiving at this time, choosing vegetarian and vegan options in lieu of the traditional Thanksgiving turkey spread. This month is marked by such Goddesses including, but not limited to, Durga, Demeter, Astarte, Innana, Isis, Freyja, Kore, and Hathor, as well as the Dark Goddess and representations of the Lady of the Forest.

As we enter this time of equal light and dark, this time of year is about balance. This sacred time just before the darker, cooler, winter months settle in to allow the earth to rest. In order to help create balance in your life, begin to incorporate some of the following correspondences and activities this month to help yourself naturally and easily go with the flow of the seasons.

Full Moon: protection, consecration, cleansing

Crescent Moon:  blessing of new life (child, animal, plant, etc.)

Dark Moon:  losing programmed fear, karma, self-discipline

 

September Moon Correspondences

Herbs:  copal, fennel, milkweed, rye, sage, skullcap, valerian

Incense:  copal, sage, storax

Trees:  bay, dogwood, hazel

Animals:  ibis, stag, salmon, snake, sparrow

Deities:  Demeter/Ceres, Frejya, Hathor, Innana/Tammuz, Isis, Kore-Persephone/Prosperpina, Mabon/Modron, Ma’at, Nephthys, Rhiannon,

Stones: citrine, peridot, rose quartz

Colors: orange, red, green, black, purple, gold, bronze, brown, yellow-green

Action/Concentration: meditation

 

Friendship Branch

Items Needed: tree branch with twigs on it, small fresh flower blossoms (pink if you can find them), small ornaments

A meaningful, personalized gift for family or friends. Attach items onto the branch, or place items in small mesh or silk bags to hang from branch. These ornaments and charms can be used by the recipient at a later time to attach to a bracelet, used in ritual, or placed on a home altar. Some ideas for ornaments: fish symbols, evil eye glass bead, small dolls, dice, charms of any type, mesh bags of herbs, etc.

 

 

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August Moon

ganesh moon (photo: svayambhu.blogspot.com)

The Corn Moon of August represents the first harvest season.  The first harvest season being that of grain, then fruit and lastly meat.  The August Moon is also known as the Barley (grain!) Moon and Harvest Moon, all though September is more commonly known as the Harvest Moon.  Lammas, or Loaf Mass, is another label for this time of year in honor of the nurturing sustenance of grain and the miracle of bread.  This is a great time of year to start helping out or donating to local food banks, giving those less fortunate a chance to break bread together.

In the Hindu and yogic traditions, Lord Ganesha is honored during the August festival called Chauti.  He is a well-loved symbol of protection and is the remover of obstacles, and also rules over wisdom, good luck, literature, prosperity, and peace.

Be joyous, for this is the time of Ganesha!

The Lord of Obstacles comes riding to his festival,

With his help, all success shall be mine.

I greet you, Ganesha.

All obstacles in my life are removed.

I rejoice in your presence, Ganesha.

Good luck and new beginnings flow down upon me.

I praise you, Ganesha.

I rejoice!  For good luck and changes come.

-Conway

Full Moon: opportunity, prosperity, fertility

Crescent Moon:  creativity, spiritual growth

Dark Moon:  banishing (ridding ones self of what no longer serves), removal of obstacles

 

August Moon Correspondences

Herbs:  angelica, calenduala, chamomile, fennel, goldenrod, St. John’s wort, rue; grains: corn, barley, hops, rye, wheat

Incense:  amber, copal, frankincense, heliotrope

Trees:  alder, cedar, hazel

Animals:  dragon, lion, phoenix, sphinx; birds of all types especially eagle and falcon

Deities:  Aphrodite/Adonis, Arianhrod, Diana, Cerridwen, Ganesha, Hathor, Hecate, Innana/Tammuz, Lugh, Taliesin

Stones: amber, cat’s eye, carnelian, fire agate, jasper

Colors: black, gold, green, grey, yellow

 

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

8oz raw pumpkin seeds

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven 400*.  Boil 2 cups of water, add salt.  Pour salted water over seeds to soak overnight.  Drain seeds.  Coat bottom of thick baking sheet or roasting pan with olive oil.  Toss seeds in oil on pan and spread out evenly.  Bake 5-15 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds.  You may stir occasionally .  Toast until lightly brown, don’t over toast.  Let cool and enjoy.  Other flavorings such as garlic and chili, hot pepper, and soy sauce may be used.

hOMework

Bake or purchase a loaf of fresh bread – my favorite is sprouted grain spelt bread.  Share at a table our outside with family and friends.  Don’t forget to leave a few extra crumbs as an offering to other special outdoor critters.

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July Moon & Goddess Celebrations

Crescent-Moon-Goddess

The Full Moon of July is known by many names, most popular are Hay Moon, Thunder Moon, and Blessing Moon.  Named after Julius Caesar, this month was originally known as Quintilis.  July marks the month to celebrate the marriage of Isis and Osiris in the Egyptian lineage, and to celebrate Neptunalia for placating the god of the seas, Neptune, in the Roman mythos.  Maat is the Egyptian goddess of judgement and truth, also daughter of Ra and wife of Thoth, and whose workings are celebrated at the crescent moon.  Buddhabodhiprabhavasita is the Buddhist goddess who controls the awareness of Buddha and is a mediator and teacher of universal truths.  My personal patron Goddess and Saint is the blessed Mary Magdalene whose feast day is celebrated on July 22nd.  More Goddess representations are listed below.  This month direct your awareness towards personal growth and improvements by increasing your knowledge, creating, make efforts for prosperity, as well as remembering to take the time to nurture and enjoy yourself.

We strive toward Spirit again and again,

With faltering steps, unsure of the way.

Open the gates of enlightenment.

Make for us a new day

Of karmic purpose and goal,

A path to a new Earth soul.

-Conway

 

Full Moon: protection, balance, decision making

Crescent Moon:  justice, equality, truth

Dark Moon:  beauty, karma, reincarnation

 

July Moon Correspondences

Herbs:  agrimony, honeysuckle, hyssop, lemon balm

Incense:  frankincense, gardenia, jasmine

Trees:  ash, oak

Animals:  crab, dolphin, ibis, swallow, turtle, whale

Deities:  Athena, Cerridwen, Hel, Holda, Khepera, Nephthys, Venus

Stones: moonstone, pearl, ruby, white agate

Colors: bluish gray, silver

 

Floral Sachet

1/2 oz dried roses

1/2 oz sweet-smelling dried flower(s)

1/2 oz dried lavender

1 Tablespoon orris powder

5 drops geranium oil

small sachet bag

Gently mix together all dried flowers.  Lightly toss in orris powder and geranium oil.  Spoon mixture into sachet bag and enjoy!

 

hOMework

Imbue your day with Goddess Athena’s attributes of leadership, protection and bravery by adding olives to your diet, or put a small oak leaf into your shoe to promote a strong heart.

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