The power of scent

A rather full mortar of offerings being mixed for the Kindreds
A rather full mortar of offerings being mixed for the Kindreds

Have you ever had the experience where a scent wafts by and you are instantly transported back to an experience that you had when you were younger? The scent of mangoes brings me back to time on the beach, eating thin-skinned mangoes and having the juice drip down my arms – it’s a time of peace and presence for me. Sweet cigar tobacoo reminds me of sitting with my Grandfather watching TV or talking.

We can use these associations in our every day lives. Sage, frankensinse, dragonsblood, myrrh – all these scents bring back the experience of sacred space. So I can use them by carrying around a bit of perfume, hydrosol or oil to smell to put me back in the sacred mindset. Are there scents that are paritcularly calming for you? Carry those around to help you keep an even keel in times of stress.

Little bits of magic that you can bring into your lives every day.

Experiencing Energy

You can feel the energy coming off of these Redwood Trees
You can feel the energy coming off of these Redwood Trees

You’ll often find people describing the way they “see” energy. There are the aura photos that are supposed to show the energy around someone, and I do know some individuals who describe energy in visual terms.

Not me though. I feel it. I know that there are at least some other people who experience energy through non-visual senses, but I don’t know how many. Certainly, the common descriptives are visual. When I was first learning what it was that I was experiencing, I found it odd that I didn’t use visual cues for energy because I tend to be very visual in trance work.

I feel energy, I don’t see it. The space that the energy is in may feel dense, or light, or spiky or like it’s pushing back on me. It could feel warm or cold, dry or wet, hard or soft or springy. And sometimes it just gives me goosebumps. Over the years, I’ve learned to pay attention to these feelings and have personal translations for how to describe that energy to other people. I can “see” it if I focus now – but it’s more about being able to interpret the sensations that I’m actually getting into a visual mode (although it’s more about “energy here” than any definition of the energy by sight). I think that it’s more that I can visualize the sensations that I’m feeling rather than something that I actually see.

If you don’t see energy visually, the first step is to understand what you are sensing. Is it a smell? Or a taste? Or a touch? Or just a feeling that you have? Understand how those sensations make you feel. For example, there’s a range of temperatures of energy that feel “normal” to me, but too cold or too hot, and I know that something is wrong. Experiment, learn the sensations and come to understand them. If you have people to talk with about energy work, use the vocabulary for the sensations that you’re getting – don’t try to map it onto the visual cues yet. See how other people describe their sensations from different types of energy.

Experiment, experience, and see what you can come up with.

Pagan Hotel-ing

Many times, my job requires me to travel, and that means hotels.  I currently do a (mostly) daily practice, and this becomes a lot more challenging when I’m in a hotel. I don’t have access to my altar, or my stash of offerings, or my space. I usually can’t light a candle or incense and am limited by the considerations of whatever space the hotel has.

Portable Altar
Portable Altar

I have a traveling altar that I bring with me – it’s small enough to be stored in a Korean rice bowl that has a lid. I usually put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and leave it there for the whole time – unless I’m there for more than a week and then I’d like clean sheets and towels – so I don’t have to worry about maids disturbing my altar.

My offerings and practice change too. Instead of making physical offerings, I will usually brew a cup of tea and share it with the Kindreds.  Sometimes I bring tea bags with me, and sometimes I will use the tea that is in the hotel. Because I don’t leverage the maid service, I usually end up having to buy some tea if I didn’t bring some. My choice of tea is because I’m not a fan of coffee.  Feel free to use your beverage of choice!

So, I brew a cup of tea and share it between 2 cups or mugs – whatever the hotel provides. The Kindreds’ cup gets placed next to my little portable altar as I say “Hail to the Kindreds” or something similar. I take my cup and stand by the window and connect with the city or space I’m in. I try to be present in the moment, feeling the energy of the city and of the hotel. I’ll usually also say a prayer, sometimes it’s pre-scripted, but often it’s ad-hoc.

If for some reason you can’t have an altar out – you’re sharing a room with someone who wouldn’t understand, you can still spend some time in the mornings in quiet contemplation of the world around you as you enjoy your cup of tea.

So if you’re ever stuck away from home, maybe this little ritual can help you stay connected.

Counting up, or how I build habits

PianoI’ve been re-learning how to play the piano since November. I previously stopped playing when I was 12 or so, and it’s fascinating how much I remember. As part of learning a musical instrument, practice is involved.

For a few months, I would set a timer for a certain amount of time and try to practice that much. I found that I would begin to resent that timer and would avoid practice because I didn’t want to deal with the timer counting down. Recently, I started counting up. I started using a stopwatch app instead of the timer.

Now, instead of struggling to practice for enough time, I find that I’m happy to practice and see how much time it takes. Each individual practice isn’t as long, but I practice much more often, and I enjoy the practice more.

This made me think about how I build other habits. Maybe, if instead of going for devotional work 5 times a week, I see how many times I can do devotional work … don’t aim for a number, see how high the number can get. Maybe it’ll start a streak!

Wizarding up your world

Recently, I journeyed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter series since the first book came out. We’ve read all the books and watched all the movies – more than a few times!

It was a lot of fun. We got wands, tried out a few of the spells, consumed much frozen butterbeer, and generally enjoyed immersing ourselves in a fantasy world for a couple of days. I got a break from the world of work, and instead just had fun for a few days.

Aside from giving me a break from the stress of work, the immersing me in an alternate world of magic and mystery. The time away helped to bring back my sense of wonder.

We so often get tied down in the mundane realities of work that we forget to stop and look around .. to really connect to the world. We forget that there is magic in life. Not the fireball and lightning bolt type of magic, but the subtle, shifting modern magic. This is the magic that we can tap into, the magic of connection and creation.

This is the relationship that is critical that we retain, and work to maintain. This relationship to connection, to creation, to each other, and the world at large.

If you are lost in the minutia of daily living, take some time to read a book, immerse yourself in a bit of fantasy, and remember that magic is alive!

It’s about the challenge

So it looks like I’m done with work travel for a little bit .. at least for the insane amounts of travel that I’ve been doing lately (4 weeks of travel in the last 6 weeks).

To celebrate the “Yay I’m home” I’m going to attempt a couple of challenges.  I noticed these challenges this weekend and they happen to go along with what I was planning on doing *anyway* so hopefully these challenges will help me to get a bit of motivation 🙂

Back to School Pagan Reading Challenge

I’ve got a bunch of books that are on my “list of stuff to read!” so I’m going to use this challenge to help out with that. I’m not sure I can get through more than one book as we do have a “big thing” going on at work this week, but I’m going to try to finish one book! My book of choice is The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton

Fall into Fitness Challenge

After all the travel and not paying attention to what I’m eating, I’m at my highest weight in a long time .. so time to do something about that! In the Fall into Fitness Challenge, we are challenged to have goals for each of the elements.
My goals are:

  • Earth: Lose weight!  Get back down to my usual weight (not going to mention it here =P )
  • Air: Breathe!  Find a way through exercise or medicine to make my sinuses behave better
  • Fire: Exercise, move!  Do something significant for exercise (more than just strolling down the street) at least twice a week!
  • Water: Drink more water!  At least 3 of my 24oz water bottles a day
  • Spirit: Daily practice!  Do a least one round of sun salutations during my daily practice 5x a week