Meditation: Getting Started

To follow up on my previous post about why to meditate, here’s some more info how to get started.  Even if you already meditate, I find this a great read to get back to basics and make sure I am being effective!  This is another excerpt from the “Learning to Meditate” course by Madisyn Taylor of DailyOm.

After you read, I’d love for you all to chime in on the questions I’ve listed at the bottom, just write in the comments section!

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The best results of meditation are seen in those who make it a regular practice. As with anything, practicing consistently carves out a behavioral pattern that becomes more established and easier to follow over time. Try not to be hard on yourself as you begin this process. You’re the only one who can take this journey and the best place to start is right where you are. At first you may not be able to sit for more than a few minutes and that’s ok, but soon you’ll be meditating for 10, 20 or 30 minutes with ease. The idea is to get a habit started, so aim for consistency (i.e., meditating 10 minutes a day, every day) over longer sessions (i.e., meditating for a whole half hour, every once in a while).

You generally don’t need to purchase anything to start a meditation routine and no special equipment or clothing is required as long as you’re comfortable. Some people buy what’s known as a meditation cushion, but it’s certainly not necessary. Some also find that lighting a candle or incense signals an official start to their meditation and this can help the mind to focus. (Chimes, singing bowls and bells may also be used for this purpose.)

It is not uncommon for inspiring ideas and solutions to emerge during meditation. I always have a journal with me so I can jot down what comes up and return to my session without fear of losing the idea. You may want to experiment with this as well. It can help your mind return to silence.

Positioning
Let’s explore a few different ways of sitting. You may be familiar with the classic lotus position or half-lotus position in which many long-term meditators are pictured. This position is ideal because it allows for a balanced and unobstructed flow of energy throughout the energy centers of your body. Some people cannot sit this way because they are physically inflexible or having back or knee issues. You may find that over time you gain the flexibility to meditate in the lotus position; or, you may simply decide that an alternate posture works better for you. Please don’t feel that you have to sit in these positions right away, it can take time to build up to it.

The key to remember when selecting your meditation position is that you’ll want to keep your back straight and your palms open or facing upward. There are a few different positions for your hands to take during meditation, but for the purpose of this course we will place our hands open toward the sky and having them rest on your thighs, knees or ankles depending on what is comfortable once you are in position with the rest of your body.

Here are some positions you might try:
Using a Chair: Sit with your feet on the floor, spine straight against the back of the chair, and your shoulders back. If needed, you can add a pillow behind you for lower back support.

On the Floor: Sit crossed legged or in half or full lotus position. You may want to place a pillow under your tailbone for comfort.

On the Floor, against the Wall: If you have trouble getting your back straight, start out sitting against a wall. If necessary, fold up a small towel to tuck under your tailbone. This is usually the easiest position for beginners, with a wall supporting the back. Over time your muscles will get stronger and the support of a wall will likely become unnecessary.

In Your Bed: If sitting up straight is difficult or painful for you, start out lying down. Most of us associate our bed with sleeping and this can be a problem, as it may create the tendency to fall asleep. But turn yourself 90 degrees on the bed if it’s big enough, or turn yourself 180 degrees and do not use pillows—this may trick your mind to stay awake, as your head will be at a different place than it usually is during the night. Once you have more meditation experience under your belt, try to move from the bed. The bed may also be used in a sitting position with your back against your headboard and pillows placed under your hipbones to get a nice straight spine.

Lotus position: Sit upright with your spine straight and crossing your legs, right over left so that both feet are off the ground and nested upon each of your legs.

Half-Lotus position: Sit upright with your spine straight and cross one leg on top of the other while the other leg is resting on the floor or cushion beneath you.

Finding Your Place
Once you’ve determined the most appropriate way of sitting (or lying down), select what will become your regular place for meditation. You’ll want a location where you can spend time every day without interruption. While it doesn’t need to be used solely for meditation, it is helpful to be at the same place for each sitting—especially as you try to create a new routine. The perfect spot may be your favorite living room chair, or in front of an altar if you have one, or maybe your bedroom if that’s the most serene place. It just needs to be somewhere that’s comfortable and as quiet as possible. Try to not get to preoccupied with not having a special room for meditation, few people have this luxury.

When you’ve found a place that feels good, you might choose to make the area special by having a favorite pillow or candle nearby. These things aren’t necessary for meditation; they may simply enhance your experience and help bring you to a daily routine.

Not everybody has complete quiet time. You may have children or pets that need your attention, a noisy neighbor or cars driving by. Try not to let this distract you. Meditation can be done even under the noisiest of circumstances. Please do not feel like you are at a disadvantage or that you won’t get the results you desire. In fact, you may find the opposite is true. Having practiced meditation in a loud or raucous environment, you might soon discover that it’s become natural for you to be at peace, no matter what is going on around you.

Preparation
Take some time out now to plan your meditation schedule for the week ahead. Ideally you’ll be able to sit during a morning hour, and if it can be the same hour each day, that’s even better. Many people find that meditating just after they wake up is a great way to start the day. If you’re not able to practice until later on in the afternoon or evening, or if you must sit at a different time each day, this is fine. It’s far better to meditate anytime, than not at all.

You’ll probably want to block out approximately 15 minutes for your sessions at this point. This will give you a couple minutes on either side of your practice and allow for a sitting time of 10 minutes. With 10 minutes of meditation a day, you’ll be able to see and feel results without putting too much pressure on yourself. Advanced practitioners will meditate 20, 30 or more minutes per day. Pretty soon you’ll understand how 30 minutes can be an easy routine to maintain.

After your sitting time is over, it’s important to make sure that you’re grounded. Sometimes meditating can bring you into higher realms and make it difficult to transition back to everyday reality. You may feel “floaty” and this can be a lovely feeling, but it means that you aren’t securely grounded in your body and that is where you should be in daily life. There are many different techniques for grounding oneself, and you’ll need to do some experimenting to come up with the practice that works best for you. You can try focusing your attention for a few moments on your connection to the earth, as though you have a light beam emitting down the tailbone of your body or roots like a tree that burrow deep into the earth’s center. Another way is to hold your attention on your center of gravity (just below your navel) or at the base of your spine for a couple of minutes. Other things that may work are eating a light snack, drinking water, taking a short walk outside, or even str! etching.

Beginning Your Meditation Practice
Now for your first big step. Over the upcoming week, your job is to faithfully follow the meditation schedule you’ve created. You’ll be sitting in meditation for 10 minutes every day and will undoubtedly have some interesting experiences. Try to pay attention to changes in the way you interpret and interact with the world outside of your meditation sessions. Do you feel calm? Anxious? Happy? Frustrated? There’s no need to judge anything. This is simply an invitation to create greater self-awareness, which can help guide the way your practice evolves.

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on a basic meditation process. This is the method you’ll be using this week, so you may wish to print out this lesson and carry it with you into your sittings.

BASIC MEDITATION GUIDE
Before you begin:

1. Put on some loose, comfortable clothing that will not bind while you are sitting.

2. Turn off phones, TV, radio and anything else that may interrupt your quiet time.

3. Prepare your meditation area (every time) before you sit to meditate. A light dusting or cleaning up of the area will set the intention. It says to the Universe, “I am ready.”

When you are ready:

1. If you have a candle or incense, a bell or singing bowl, use those items now. Light your candle or incense and ring your bell. (Again, these items are not necessary.)

2. Sit (or lie if you need to) in the position that works best for you and begin to relax. Place your hand on your knees or thighs and open them up towards the ceiling, palms heavenward. Take a giant deep breath and let it out. Acknowledge that this is now your meditation time.

3. Now simply sit and breathe. For the entire 10 minutes, just breathe. Make no judgment on what happens during this time. Most people will not be able to quiet their minds, and may drift into thoughts about their to-do lists, what other people should or shouldn’t have done, and even what’s on the menu that day. Your mind may wander and that’s perfectly okay. As soon as you realize your mind has led you somewhere else, release it and breathe deeply. Do this every time your awareness leaves the present moment. If your mind comes up with something you cannot let drift by, write it down so you can get back to your awareness.

4. At the end of your session, take a couple of minutes to ground yourself.

Considering your own meditation preferences…

1. What’s your favorite position in which to meditate?
Mine is typically with crossed/lotus legs, hands open facing up, but with my back against a wall or other object.  It helps me stay straight, but relaxed.

2. Favorite place to meditate?
Like a true Gemini, I can’t decide on one favorite.  In front of my altar is nice, but I also like meditating outside, or in big open rooms, or with other people in sacred space. Options!

3. Do you have any items you seem to always use when meditating?  Anything you wear?
I have to just be in comfortable clothing – but I pretty much always use a candle, incense, and some music.  I like crystals sometimes, and I like to feel like I have a balanced elemental representation with me if possible (earth, air, fire, water).

Namaste, people!

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More on Mercury Retrograde

While this isn’t MY content, I thought it was great info from Cafe Astrology – check it here for their page!  It seems a bit long but is all great info, and on the money for my own chart.

Although not quite as popular as Sun sign astrology, “Mercury Retrograde” has certainly become a buzzword – or buzz phrase – these days.

What is Mercury Retrograde? Three, and sometimes four, times a year, the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards in the sky for a period of approximately 3 weeks. “Appears” is the key word here, because, technically speaking, no planet actually moves backwards in their orbits around the Sun. In fact, they don’t even slow down. Retrograde-station-direct cycles are essentially illusions that result from our point of view from Earth, simply because the Earth is also orbiting the Sun at a different speed than the other planets. Mercury turns retrograde more frequently than any other planet. It can never be more than 28 degrees from the Sun, and whenever it reaches its furthest distance from the Sun, it changes direction.

Mercury is retrograde from May 18-June 11, 2015. Mercury’s shadow period begins May 4th and ends June 27th. Note that the shadow period begins before Mercury turns retrograde, when Mercury first passes over the degree that Mercury later returns to in retrograde motion. The shadow period ends when Mercury again passes over the degree at which it first turned retrograde. The shadow period is different than Mercury’s storm period in astrology, which refers to the period when Mercury is moving especially slowly.

Mercury is retrograde approximately three times a year for approximately three weeks each time. As such, retrograde Mercury is a fairly common occurrence (Mercury is retrograde approximately 18% of the time).

As the planet of communication, Mercury retrograde tends to breed a certain level of confusion. Mercury rules our “lower” mind–how we perceive and interpret information that we receive from our environment, and how we relay that information to others. Mercury has rulership over such things as speaking, negotiating, buying and selling, listening, formal contracts, documents, travel, the mail and shipping, and so forth. All of these areas of life are affected when Mercury is functioning in a sluggish state. Decision-making is challenged during Mercury retrograde. Needless to say, it is not advised to sign contracts, engage in important decision-making, or launch a new business. Delays and challenges are more probable with Mercury retrograde. It’s a time when being careless with money, our personal information, or paperwork can be costly.

While Mercury is retrograde, we may be rethinking a previous opinion or idea. Looking to the signs and houses its transits can give clues as to what we may be reconsidering.

There is absolutely a positive side to Mercury Retrograde. This period is best used for re-organizing and reflecting. We look at the world a little differently–through different filters–and can come up with some very important inner revelations. It may be difficult to communicate them under this influence, but not everything needs to be rationalized. Mercury retrograde periods can be times of heightened inner awareness, when meditation, benefiting from keeping a journal, reworking old plans, and reviewing past work are favored. Minor breaks in the mechanical aspects of communication can actually re-connect us to other means of communication, such as when there is an unexpected power outage and we’re forced off the computer and television, finding different and often satisfying ways to entertain ourselves.

It is important to note that there is absolutely no reason to suspend projects or anything of the sort during the Mercury Retrograde cycle. It’s not an ideal time to start new ones or to sign contracts, simply because a change of mind is very possible once Mercury turns direct. However, it’s a fabulous time to do some “outside of the box” thinking. Acting on our ideas, however, might be best left for a Mercury Direct period.

Not everyone feels the stronger effects of Mercury retrograde. Some people born with Mercury retrograde in their natal chart, for example, feel that they don’t experience the effects described above as intensely as others, while others do.

When Mercury is retrograde in the natal chart itself, the thinking processes are generally more acute, and the sense of humor rather quirky. People with Mercury retrograde take in information differently than those with Mercury direct in their natal charts. How many people are born with a retrograde Mercury? Roughly 18%.


Pay close attention to what you say and communicate in general, particularly around the days of Mercury’s stations (May 18th and June 11th), as well as around retrograde Mercury’s conjunction to the Sun on May 30th (midway between the start and end of the retro period). If you are itching to make a point with someone, especially, or if you are planning on “signing on the dotted line”, try to hold off. It is likely that you will have a change of mind once the station passes, and you can do some damage in the meantime. When a planet stations, its energies are very strong in our lives. When Mercury stations, communications have more impact, so that negative ones could have long-term implications at this time. However, if you are very clear within yourself and about what you are communicating, this can be a positive thing.

Mercury Retrograde

With Mercury retrograde in Gemini: We might look at past decisions and ideas from a new, possibly enlightened perspective. Retrograde Mercury aligns with the Sun on the 30th in the sign of Gemini, bringing illumination to our thoughts. It’s a favorable time for processing recent events and ideas, and for beginning to look at problems or issues from a new perspective and with a new understanding. Significant new ideas can be birthed at this time.

Some people are more sensitive to Mercury retrograde cycles than others. Mercury-ruled Gemini and Virgo natives are likely to be particularly sensitive to the effects of Mercury Retrograde in general. This applies to anyone who has a number of planets in either sign. Also, check to see where Gemini and Virgo are found in your natal chart. If Virgo is on the third house cusp, for example, (which is often the case for Cancer Ascendant natives) communication issues may be especially strong. If either of these signs is on the fifth house, then we can expect some communication problems with people associated with the fifth house–lovers and children, for example.

Aries and Aries Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications in general and job or health-related communications because Mercury rules these areas of your life in your solar chart. There can be delays or rethinking with these matters. You can benefit from doing important editing work on projects in progress. Occurring in your solar third house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to composing letters, emails, making phone calls, and with communications in general. There may be the need to revisit old, nagging issues with siblings or neighbors, errands could go wrong, you might have trouble getting from point A to point B (example, transportation problems), emails or letters get lost, and so forth. Idle chit- chatting during this period may have repercussions! People might be misunderstanding your words. You may be forgetful during this cycle, and it makes sense to allow yourself extra time to get to appointments, if they are not cancelled in the first place! It would also be wise to double-check your work and communications before sending them off.

Taurus and Taurus Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications with lovers or children, and regarding financial affairs, because Mercury rules these areas of your life in your solar chart. Your judgment with regards to personal finances (Gemini-ruled for you) as well as romantic partners and creative endeavors may not be up to par just now, so do avoid “signing on the dotted line”. Speculation is not advised during this cycle. Occurring in your solar second house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to new financial initiatives. There may be the need to revisit old, nagging issues regarding personal finances. Take this time to re-budget instead of making premature purchases. Hold off on major decision-making regarding money. Instead, take the time to re-think your sources of income and how you spend your cash during this period, but put off finalizing anything important for the time being. In fact, some money-making ideas or ventures may be put on hold due to circumstances beyond your control. This is an excellent period for review, however.

Gemini and Gemini Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of your personal presentation or image to others and communications with family because Mercury rules these areas of your life. Because Mercury is your sign’s ruler, all of the common Mercury Retrograde issues may apply. Put off making important decisions with regards to family and domestic matters (Virgo-ruled for you) just now, and take care when it comes to communicating with family members. Look at domestic matters from a different angle – review and reflect. Occurring in your sign and your solar first house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to your body language. Others may misinterpret your body language, and you should be aware of a tendency to give off mixed signals. People in your life may complain that you seem emotionally distant. You may appear uncommunicative and hard to reach, or what you say comes out wrong. This is a time to review the manner in which you come across to others–not so much whether it truly reflects your nature, but more in terms of whether it is working for or against you. Don’t worry too much if others aren’t quite “getting” you for the time being. Things will change once Mercury turns direct, so you might decide to try to keep status quo for the time being. You might spend more time than usual when it comes to making decisions now, and this is natural. Rushed decisions may be regretted when you change your mind later on.

Cancer and Cancer Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of personal communications in general as well as communications about the past because Mercury rules these areas of your life. Your intuition usually serves you very well, but may not be up to par for the time being. Take care when it comes to presenting ideas, writing letters, and any detail work. You may not be seeing the whole picture. Occurring in your solar twelfth house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to privacy matters. You may find that you are less able to rely on your intuition. Perhaps you’re picking up the wrong cues or reading too much into situations. Whatever the case may be, for the time being, you may not feel that your intuition is serving you well. Be as non-judgmental as you can, but do keep an eye out for deceptiveness and falseness in others. You might unwittingly reveal something that you’d prefer to keep private. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating about your inner world now; or take this time to re-examine issues rather than communicating about them prematurely.

Leo and Leo Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of personal finances, as well as communications with friends or groups, because Mercury rules these areas of your solar chart. Major financial initiatives should be avoided. Remember that friends don’t mean what they say and don’t say what they mean, and take what you hear with a grain of salt. Group meetings may be delayed or cancelled. Occurring in your solar eleventh house this time, extra care should be used when communicating with friends. You may find that communications with friends or with groups can too easily become tricky or confusing during this cycle. Group meetings may be postponed or cancelled, and friends may be uncommunicative or giving off mixed signals. On the other hand, old acquaintances may appear during this cycle, or you could be thinking about contacting an old friend. This may be a good time to do so if this involves unfinished business. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with friends and associates during this cycle; or, better yet, take this time to rethink concerns and grievances before talking about them prematurely.

Virgo and Virgo Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of your own body language and personal manner (you may feel that others misunderstand you), as well as communications involving the career or public, because Mercury rules these areas of your solar chart. You are ruled by Mercury, so the likelihood of being misunderstood, in general, is high. Put off career decisions as well, as career matters are Gemini-ruled for you. Occurring in your solar tenth house this time, extra care should be exercised when communicating with the public, superiors, and co-workers. You may find that communications with bosses and co-workers, and concerning professional matters in general, can be tricky during this cycle. Strive to be as clear as possible so that you are not misunderstood when dealing with the public. Put off making definite career decisions as much as possible for the time being. You may be re-thinking matters regarding your life path, which is a good idea, but it’s best to think rather than act for now, as your judgment may be compromised, or you don’t have all the information you need just yet. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with authority figures during this cycle; or, better yet, take this time to rethink concerns and grievances before talking about them prematurely.

Libra and Libra Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications involving legal affairs, travel, and education, as well as communications about the past, because Mercury rules these areas of your life. With Virgo ruling your twelfth house sector, somebody might be deceiving you or working against you, or nagging issues from the past may crop up and demand attention. Put off making solid travel plans if possible. Occurring in your solar ninth house this time, extra care should be exercised regarding travel or education plans. Delays or complications are very possible in these areas. Go over applications carefully before submitting them and make sure you understand instructions clearly. Expressing your opinions now might come across in entirely the wrong way. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with professors and lawyers as well; or take this time to re-examine issues rather than communicating about them prematurely.

Scorpio and Scorpio Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications with friends or groups, as well as intimate communications and shared financial resources, because Mercury rules these areas of your life. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to financial transactions and personal communications with friends, or, better yet, take this time to re-budget or rethink your plans instead of taking premature action. Group meetings may be postponed or cancelled, and friends may seem distant or confused. Occurring in your solar eighth house this time, extra care should be exercised regarding any financial initiatives that involve shared resources. Delays are very possible when it comes to receiving support, loans, and taxes. It may be better to side-step arguments with loved ones that revolve around intimacy and sexuality just for now, or approach these matters with more sensitivity if they can’t be left for a better time. Investments made now may not go the way you want them to, particularly those involving joint finances. It may be hard to rely on the input of your partner now, and money you were counting on may not be forthcoming. It’s best to budget rather than spend/borrow during this period, and in fact it’s an excellent period for review. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with financial officials and intimate partners; or take this time to re- examine issues rather than communicating about them prematurely.

Sagittarius and Sagittarius Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications with bosses or in your career in general, as well as communications with a close partner, because Mercury rules these areas of your life. An argument over joint finances can also get you into hot water. Hold back. Because Virgo and Gemini are on the angles of your chart, you may be especially sensitive to all of the common Mercury Retrograde issues. Occurring in your solar seventh house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to negotiations and one-on-one communications. Be as non-judgmental as you can with a partner. There may be the need to revisit old issues in a partnership, or there could be some communication problems with a partner. An ex-partner may resurface during this cycle. Misunderstandings with a significant other now can do some damage if you (or they) focus on the choice of words instead of the meanings behind the words. If you need to talk through problems, try not to over-react to what your partner has to say. Mixed messages coming from others, or a disappointment, could occur now. You may not be as adept at mediating disputes for the time being, but it’s a good cycle in which to reflect upon your negotiation skills with the goal of improving them. Re-thinking a partnership arrangement is possible now, but you should avoid jumping to any premature decisions. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with others; or take this time to re-examine issues rather than communicating about them prematurely.

Capricorn and Capricorn Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications regarding travels, legal matters, or opinions, as well as communications on the job and with co-workers, because Mercury rules these areas of your life. It’s best not to sign on the dotted line for the time being, especially when it comes to making travel plans or any legal contracts. There could be irritating mess-ups on the job. You might be inclined to miss important details in your paperwork, or might experience frustrating delays that result from co-workers’ errors. Travel plans may go awry, or you may have a change of heart. Occurring in your solar sixth house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to work, health matters, and daily routines. Be as non-judgmental, clear, and precise as you can with co-workers and/or employees. Re-thinking the suitability of your job or certain work projects is possible now, but you should avoid jumping to any premature decisions. Work-related mess-ups can frustrate you, or you might need to redo work that you thought was complete. However, you might find that the refinements you make now will be very valuable later. Double- check your work before submitting it. It’s a fine time for researching health and nutrition programs, as well as job skills and opportunities, but perhaps not the best time for beginning all-new programs. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with co-workers and health professionals; or take this time to re-examine issues rather than communicating about them prematurely.

Aquarius and Aquarius Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications regarding intimate and financial matters, as well as communications with children or romantic partners, because Mercury rules these areas of your life. It’s not a good time to file your taxes or apply for a loan. Instead, take the time to re-think your sources of income and how you spend your cash during this period, but put off finalizing anything for the time being. Speculation and gambling are not advised right now either. Occurring in your solar fifth house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to matters surrounding romance, children, and creativity. Be as non-judgmental as you can with romantic partners and your children, if applicable. Re-thinking the suitability of your romantic relationships is possible now, but you should avoid jumping to any premature decisions. There may be the need to revisit old issues with your children or lover, or there could be some communication problems with the same. Arguments with a lover may be blown out of proportion far too easily. Both you and your lover should avoid harping on the words used and try to get to the meaning behind the words instead. Or, a romance may not be moving forward in obvious ways. It might seem like stagnation, but it’s actually a period of review and rest. Other possibilities include calls that are not returned, a lover is late for a date, or dates get cancelled. Speculation and gambling are not advised right now. It’s probably not the best time to launch a new creative project, but it’s a good time for reworking an existing one. Same goes for romance! Things will change after Mercury turns direct, so you might decide to try to keep status quo for the time being. It would be wise to be especially clear when it comes to communicating with romantic partners, and children; or take this time to re-examine issues rather than communicating about them prematurely.

Pisces and Pisces Ascendant: All Mercury retrograde cycles particularly affect you in terms of communications with a partner or about partnerships, as well as communications with or about family and home, because Mercury rules these areas of your life. It will be important to avoid signing any contracts or making important partnership or family/home decisions during this cycle. Occurring in your solar fourth house this time, extra care should be exercised when it comes to family relations, real estate matters, and domestic issues. Be as non-judgmental as you can with family members. It may be challenging to keep a healthy perspective regarding deeply personal matters and family. Family members may be on edge, or appear to be. Home repairs may not turn out as expected. Try to put off major decision- making with regards to home improvement, moving, and family matters for the time being. New initiatives surrounding home and property are best left for a better time, but reworking and reorganizing your home can be especially fruitful now.


Being a Strong Container: Grounding Ourselves

By Madisyn Taylor, from DailyOm

barefoot-grounding

As a human being living on earth, it is important to learn to ground yourself in relation to your earth mother.

We often hear people telling us to ground ourselves, but we may not be sure what that means and how we might do it. Grounding ourselves is a way of bringing ourselves literally back to earth. Some of us are more prone than others to essentially leaving our bodies and not being firmly rooted in our bodies. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, but while we are living on the earth plane it is best to stay grounded in the body.

One of the easiest ways to ground ourselves is to bring our attention to our breath as it enters and leaves our bodies. After about 10 breaths, we will probably find that we feel much more connected to our physical selves. We might then bring our awareness to the sensations in our bodies, moving from our head down to our feet, exploring and inquiring. Just a few minutes of this can bring us home to bodies and to the earth, and this is what it means to ground ourselves.

We can go further by imagining that we have roots growing out of the bottoms of our feet, connecting us to the earth. The roots flow with us so we can we always move, but at the same time they keep us grounded. We receive powerful energy from the earth just as we do from the forms of energy we associate with the sky, and our body is a tool that brings these two energies together in a sacred union. When we are grounded, we essentially become a strong container in which our spirits can safely and productively dwell. This is why grounding ourselves every day, especially at the beginning of the day, is such a beneficial practice.

Fortunately, it’s as simple as bringing our conscious awareness to our bodies and the earth on which we walk.

5 Minute Morning Magick

In my recent chalice circle gathering, the ladies and I discussed how valuable it can be to take a few minutes each morning – before getting out of bed – to get centered,grateful, and generally into a good space before tackling the day.

morning-coffee

Today, I stumbled on this from Self.com – while I would personally add some affirmations or other meditative bits, this breathing piece is nice.

“While it might be routine to jump out of bed and immediately check email as you also start brushing your teeth and making breakfast, resist the urge to get up and go.  If you get up and race out the gate, you’ll constantly be racing after the whole day.

Instead, start your morning with a quick meditation like the one below and you’ll fell better equipped to handle whatever your day has in store. And if you’re already reading this at your desk don’t fret, you can still reap the benefits—set aside five minutes right now to do this mini meditation. The emails can wait.

Your 5-Minute Morning Meditation

Set a timer for five-minutes. Continue to move through the sequence below until your hear the alarm buzz.

  1. While lying in bed (or sitting in a chair), close your eyes and let your arms rest naturally by your sides, or however feels comfortable to you. Begin breathing slowly in and out through your nostrils and draw your focus to this sensation. Take 5 deep breaths.
  2. Continue this breathing pattern but shift your focus to the space between your eyebrows—your third eye. Take another 5 breaths.
  3. Now place your hands on your chest. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Concentrate on the rising and falling of your chest and take 5 controlled breaths.
  4. Rest your hands by your side and continue this breathing pattern, but shift your attention back to your third eye. Take 5 slow breaths.
  5. Place your hands on your stomach while continuing to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth and concentrate on the rising and falling of your stomach. Take 5 deep breaths.
  6. Rest your hands by your side and continue this breathing pattern, but shift your attention back to your third eye. Take another 5 deep breaths.”

Sounds nice, right?  I’d say some time with each chakra would be ideal instead of only naval, heart, and third eye- but we all get the idea!

Flower Power: Honeysuckle

I grew up surrounded by gorgeous honeysuckle vines that bloomed every spring, perfuming the air with their lovely scent – to this day, it’s one of my favorite outdoor smells!  As I learned a bit about magickal uses for the plant this week, I thought I would share.

Honeysuckle is all about:
Love
Passion and sexuality
Strengthening intuition
Attracting blessings

honeysuckle

“Honeysuckle’s energetic signature has to do with activating, unsticking, and getting things moving. This includes releasing things that no longer serve to enhance our life flow.

Her heady, sensual scent can help us get out of our minds and into our bodies and to release fears and limiting beliefs about our sexuality. For this purpose, try simply inhaling the scent and spending time in quiet contemplation with a blossoming plant. You might also place a muslin charm bag with fresh blossoms near your bed.

To release blocks to intuition, charge water in the light of the full moon and then use a honeysuckle blossom to anoint your belly, heart, and third eye with the water.”

Honeysuckle is said to have the power to represent ties between lovers, symbolizing the lovers’ embrace with its climbing growing pattern.

Sources: Llewellyn’s Witches Datebook 2015, occult100.com, and for more detailed info, check out Herbal Riot

What Can You Learn From A Tree?

Element

Granpa's Willow

Hello Everyone, Welcome Back!:)

I have a thing about trees. I absolutely love them!! I think one of my previous lives was as a Celt. Trees were sacred to them. I feel the same. I have dozens and dozens of pictures around my house. There was this ancient Oak north of town that was absolutely gorgeous. I would make special trips up to sit with her. Her canopy was 150ft across and she was so wonderful. As I was taking pictures of her one day (I took a lot of pictures of her) The Deva of the tree let me take her picture! I felt so honored.

Trees are beautiful, They are strong. They are wise. They are eternal, and they provide us the air we breathe.

I love how if you leave them alone they take the shape of the leaf they produce. Did you know that conifers do…

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Spider Medicine & Goddess Oracle: Ix Chel

This week in Witch Camp, we’re learning some animal medicine and working with Spider energy.  I’ve never been particularly afraid of spiders, but I’ve also never felt drawn to them.  This week’s lesson gave me some new perspective I thought I’d share:

“All animal wisdom (or Medicine) is derived from the traits of the animal itself. So while you can go to a guidebook or check out an online site for info about a particular animal’s Medicine, you can also simply look up the animal’s habits and lifestyle and extrapolate from there.

Here’s the deal with spiders:

  • Like humans, spiders are builders. They are the only animal besides us that builds a trap for its prey.
  • Like snakes and snails, spiders must shed their outer shell in order to grow bigger.
  • Spiders are good mamas, raising their young and, in some extreme cases, allowing their young to feed on their bodies.
  • They are weavers. The silk with which they make their webs is created within them.

So, this translates to symbolism:

  • Spider (like snake) is seen as symbolizing both life and death, creation and destruction.
  • Spider sits on its web, which looks much like the Sacred Wheel. The spider itself has 8 legs. From a Celtic point of view, this can be seen as the 8 celebrations on the Wheel of the Year. From a Native American point of view, it is the 4 directions and the 4 winds. Spider’s body is in two parts and looks like an hour glass, the number 8, an infinity sign: so Spider represents the wheel of the year going round indefinitely.
  • Spider’s web is near invisible unless wet, so it confers invisibility.
  • Spider web was used as spiritual protection against arrows because the arrow would have to get through the web (empaths: try working with a little Spider energy!).”

I found that all super interesting.  I read this today, and then in our chalice circle, I pulled a Goddess Oracle card – and of course, it was the Mayan goddess Ix Chel, complete with her weaving of spider webs in the card imagery, and a focus on creativity.  She also represents having children, birthing and healing…themes for me to rest with during this moon cycle.

ixchel2

Star Stuff: Venus in Cancer

Venus is in home & family oriented Cancer through June 5.
How can we recognize and flow with this energy?

venus

-We value family, home, loved ones, emotional safety right now.  May find ourselves focused on partnering and nesting.
-We may not be feeling super social, and may prefer intimacy and home.
-Be gentle with others, especially your partner.
-Talk openly and kindly about feelings.
-Generally, this is a time to be safe and cautious with finances.

Star Stuff: Mercury in Gemini, Mercury Retrograde

Notes on what’s happening astrologically right now:

Mercury is in curious, quick-witted Gemini to July 8th.
How can we tap into and flow well with this energy?

mercury_in_gemini

-The pace of life picks up a bit.  Thoughts and communication are flowing quickly and sometimes, non-stop.  Slightly feeling ADD?  Normal for this time.
-Mental exchanges will have priority for the next few weeks – a time of study, learning, mental challenge, curiosity, social and intellectual growth.  Absorb what others are saying, and add to the discussion.
-Be open to social time with new, diverse people – you can learn a lot.
-Just be careful not to exhaust yourself with all of this study, learning, social time.

As it moves through Gemini, Mercury is going retrograde May 19th to June 11th.
During this time:
-We can actually enhance communication if we seek honest exchanges vs. surface platitudes.
-Honesty is called for – even the risky kind. Whatever we try to deny now will be doubly felt in a month’s time – it’s far better to deal with it now.
-Thoughts and feelings shared now are laying the groundwork for deeper intimacy in due course.
-How we proceed from here rests on how well we embrace the current challenge to be honest in all that we do.

Also happening now:
Saturn is still retrograde to August 2nd.

Modern Witchcraft

Found a quote that I love, and I think it’s accurate.

“Modern witchcraft is a form of spirituality that seeks harmony with nature. Usually celebrating eight seasonal festivals, witches honor nature – both within their bodies, which are seen as sacred, and the wider environment. Combining a positive view of women and an ecological awareness, this form of religion seeks a holistic way of experiencing and understanding the world.”

“…we worship the natural forces inherent in nature, sometimes personified as various gods and goddesses.”