Pagan Blog Project – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

This is the last post of 2014 for the Pagan Blog Project and in fact the last post ever as part of this initiative 😦

So the zzzzzzzzz in the title represents sleep mode for the Pagan Blog Project may it rest well and may something great arise from its ashes in 2015.

Whatever it is I will be back blogging whenever I have something to share so hope to see everyone back here in 2015

Pagan Blog Project – Zen and the Art of Zentangles

imageRecently I came across the practice of Mindfulness, Buddhism and Zen being summed up as ten principles:
Mindfulness or being in the moment, Non Judgement, Patience, Awareness, Tolerance, Acceptance, Compassion, Validation, Invitation and Practice.

I know very little about Zen so I hope all those that do will forgive me in this if it is completely wrong but for me it linked closely with the Art of Zentangles which I discovered when searching for information on mandalas.

A Zentangle is an abstract drawing in a 3.5cm square ’tile’ of paper. It should be without orientation and so have no right way up. It should be black ink on white paper and so involve no special tools. Finally Zentangles should be portable so they can be done anywhere, anytime. Creating a Zentangle requires absolute focus and can even be thought of as a form of ceremony.

Zentangles are unplanned, allowing the end result to reveal itself rather than starting with an idea or goal. They are deliberate, yet unexpected with each stroke allowed to find its own form. The creation of a Zentangle is celebratory, like a meditation it is both freeing and healing. They are also timeless and connected to all human endeavour of putting pen to paper.

On discovering Zentangles I cut up paper to make tiles and sat down to produce one. As I did I discovered why the word Zen is part of the name for increasing one I found I was unable to do so without practicing at least some of the principles of Zen.

As I sat with my piece of paper and began to make marks I could only be in the moment as it required me to be still and focus totally on what I was doing. As I worked I became calm and relaxed, completely aware of every mark I was making on the paper, the way the pen moved, the way the mark connected with those around it and determined what came next. I was tolerant of myself and my lack of knowledge for this didn’t matter, not did any drawing ability I may or may not have for this was solely about the process of creating. I found compassion for myself in that space for I could be no way but the way I was and create nothing except that which wished to be created. And above all else it took patience for to rush a Zentangle is to completely miss the point.

When I was much younger it was all the rage to have tiny kits to make Zen gardens. Small spaces that had perhaps one carefully placed stone around which fine sand was moved into pleasing patterns with a tiny rake. The drawing of the rake through the stones produced the same feeling of calmness, of being in the moment as drawing Zentangles can.

There are complicated grids, patterns and rules that I believe can be applied to Zentangles but I have no interest in these. As an aid to mindfulness and to being still though I can highly recommend the art of Zentangles.

Thank You

I feel I should say something here to mark the fact that I’ve just passed the 200th follower of my blog (pause for a small celebration here :)) 200 might not sound much but to me it’s huge.

I began my blog in the depths of February last with no idea if anyone would read it or not. It started as a place for me to ‘talk out loud’ as it were and a place where I could share the connections in the Web of Life to help those working with my book. Then I discovered the Pagan Blog Project which has kept me on the straight and narrow regarding my blog and made sure I posted at least once a week this year. I am beyond grateful for this as without it I am sure at times I would have lapsed.

During this time though I have discovered that I really enjoy writing to you all and am delighted that you all seem to enjoy reading what I write. So as we come to the end of 2014 a big THANK YOU to everyone for reading Solitary Path.

The Pagan Blog Project comes to an end in two weeks so next year will bring something different I hope. I also hope that you will all stay with me and that I will still be ‘chatting’ with you in 2015.

Pagan Blog Project – Xylotherapy

imageFollowing on from last week’s search for something beginning with ‘X’, this week’s endeavour has lead me to discover Xylotherapy.

Xylotherapy I discovered is defined as:

1. The use of certain kinds of wood in the cure of disease
2. Medical treatment by the application of certain woods to the body
3. Certain kinds of wood applied to the skin to regain sensibility to otherwise non sensitive (non feeling) skin

Search as I might though I could find little about how to practice Xylotherapy other than that the practice was to lay circles of the appropriate wood on the person and that any beneficial effects were considered to be in the mind.

Thinking about it though it is perfectly possible to understand how wood might have been, and can still be considered a tool for healing. For instance if we look at the properties of a few common woods we can find that many of them have healing properties associated with them.

Apple for example is associated with fertility and is thought to be helpful for nausea, toothache, fluid retention and digestive disorders.

Ash is said to help digestion and weight loss.

Beech is used for stomach problems, healing wounds and for sores and ulcers.

Elder is thought to help asthma, fevers and the healing of fractures.

Eucalyptus may ease coughs, colds and sinus problems

Oak, kidney stones, bleeding, circulation and fevers

And Pine may be used for chest, throat and lung infections, circulations and fevers.

Whereas in Xylotherapy wood may have been laid on the body, today we are more likely to use essential oils made from woods such as pine and eucalyptus for example. In some cultures and forms of healing, poultices may also be made from the bark of woods, or the sap of the tree used. So although we may not call it Xylotherapy healing with wood is still practiced today.

Pagan Blog Project – Xylomancy

imageI know that is was not necessary to find a blog post for ‘X’ but I love discovering new terminology so decided to take the letter X as a challenge and in doing so I discovered Xylomancy.

Xylomancy it seems is the art of divination using wood. Now divination is a subject close to my heart as it plays a large role in shamanism. There are of course many ways of divining such as through the use of cards, stones, cloud formations, runes, shamanic journeying and so on, the list is long. Wood though is a new one on me.

Derived from the Greek words xylo, meaning wood and manteia, meaning divination, Xylomancy is divination of past, present or future, using twigs, pieces of wood or the fallen branches of trees.

Like in all forms of divination where artifacts are used, in Xylomancy attention is paid to the location, overall formation and patterns made by the wood, as well as the size, shape and colour of each piece.

In ancient times attention was paid to the formation and patterns of pieces or wood found in a persons path, these were then interpreted by seers and soothsayers.

Later on the practice evolved so that pieces of naturally fallen wood were stripped of half of their bark and then scattered on the ground. The formations of those pieces which fell stripped side uppermost were then interpreted by those able to do so.

Another form of Xylomancy is to interpret the appearance of wood when it is burning.

Like all forms of divination, the secret it seems is to be able to interpret what is being shown to you.

Pagan Blog Project – Walking Through Webs

imageA few years ago, when working with Hummingbird, it showed me the threads of the web in which we are interwoven, interconnected, all part of the whole. On this occasion, and at times since then, these were shown to me as fine fibres of green light, like lasers and it was explained that to connect to anything and any time within the web all I had to do is to reach out my hand and touch the right connection. Hummingbird also explained how we walk through these threads every minute of every day without being aware of them.

Now just for a moment imagine yourself early in the morning, overnight the spiders have been busy spinning and weaving, the garden, the path you walk down, the doorway you step through, are full of stunning, intricate webs. Take your time to have a good look at them wondering at the creativity of those who wove them. Now imagine yourself walking through these webs. Even when if you fail to notice these wonders of nature they will let you know they are there, clinging to you, sticking in your hair, against your skin or your clothes so you cannot fail to notice what you have done.

If only the web of life, the web that connects each and every one of us, to everything that exists, the web of which we are an intricate part, could do the same. If only as we moved through life we could see the myriad of connections we brush against, walk through, pass by every minute of every day. If only these threads clung to us and made us pay attention in the way that the spider’s web does. What would we be aware of, what would we learn if it was so.

Perhaps we would be fully aware of the resonance of the actions of anything, including ourselves, within the web. Perhaps we would have a greater respect for the way in which different aspects of the web impact on us, sometimes supporting or helping us, sometimes showing us the way and of course of how we impact on the world around us. Perhaps we would know the ability we have to tap into the universal consciousness or speak with anything or anyone at any time. Perhaps we would also tread more lightly and with greater awareness as we moved through our lives.

Pagan Blog Project – Why I Don’t Do Spell Work

imageAs a child I was fascinated with the idea of spells but I have always avoided them for for reasons that completely escaped me. Sure, in my work there are aspects that could be described by some as magic, but actual spell work….No!

Why I always avoided spell work in any form puzzled me until I read ‘Wicked Business’ by Janet Evanovich. Whilst not a particularly good book I loved it because as I read it, slowly but surely, I began to understand why spells and I do not mix under any circumstances.

In the book a young female character, called Glo, visits a local shop and if I remember correctly, returns with a book of spells. Needless to say that nothing goes right, Glo is not a witch, she does not have any experience in any way nor anyone to teach her. As she experiments, ingredients are improvised through lack of the exact one specified in the book, things go wrong and this was where it hit me….

When I cook I usually begin with a recipe. My tried and tested method is to choose what to cook by looking through cook books, or online, to find something that sounds or looks nice. I then look through the ingredients and if I don’t have exactly what it says I decide what to substitute or to miss out completely. When asked what’s for tea the most common answer is….

‘It started off as this, but I didn’t have any x, y, z so now it’s this but I don’t know what it’s called’

And this is exactly what would happen if I did spell work. I wouldn’t have the right herb, colour candle, colour ribbon, incense or whatever was needed so I would use what I thought was ‘near enough’ or I would leave it our completely. In other words I would experiment and see what happened. Whilst I realise that there is a degree of flexibility in spell work, I also realise that experimenting to the extent that I do, would not really be safe.

So there you have it….in order not to do harm or blow anything up, I do not do spell work 🙂

Be very glad that it was shamanism that became my path and not Wicca. For that the world is a much, much safer place.

Pagan Blog Project – Yearning

imageI have spent most of my life feeling that I was born in the wrong time and wrong place, yearning as it were for the life I felt I should have had as opposed to the one I was in. It has taken me until quite recently to understand this and to let it go, to stop yearning for the life I imagined should have been mine.

As a child I also hated school and spent a lot of my time yearning to be ‘grown up’ so I didn’t need to be at school anymore. At home as a child I’d yearn to be somewhere else, on holiday, usually somewhere I deemed to be ‘boring’, I yearned to be home or on holiday in a different place with different people.

As an adult, in my career I’d yearn for promotion, a different job, more money, less stress and so on and so forth.

Now in so many ways I’ve learnt to let go of the yearning to some extent. I’ve learnt that if something is right for me, if it is within my path and for my good then it will happen. Yearning will not make this so.

I think this is why I never try to manifest anything, for to me that always feels like yearning, which in turn feels like being dissatisfied with what I have. This to me is the opposite to being grateful or showing gratitude. For me now it is more important to try and remember to appreciate what I have and enjoy it in the moment rather than yearn for what isn’t there.

Pagan Blog Project – Vices

imageI’m not at all sure about vices, after all what I might consider a vice might be the thing that gives someone else the greatest guilt free pleasure.

According to Wikipedia:
‘a vice is a practice, behaviour or habit, considered immoral, sinful, depraved or degrading in the associated society’ It also goes on to explain how a minor vice might be a fault, unhealthy habit, negative character trait, a defect or an infirmity, which covers a lot of bases.

In Christianity vices are considered to be blasphemy, apostasy and hatred although we are more likely to have heard of ‘the seven deadly sins’ which both the bible and the poet Dante list as; pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust. The Q’ran while also having seven vices, lists them as worldliness, ire, envy, slander, obscenity, intoxicants and instruments of power. Buddhism however has 108 defilements or vices.

I am now wondering what would be on my own list of vices, were I to draw one up that is.

Some of what would be there would relate to present day society and my personal dislikes whereas others would no doubt reflect my beliefs. Just for fun I decided to make a start..

Talking on a mobile phone in restaurants
Posting selfies online
Swamping the Internet with ‘bad’ news and/or violence
Being glued to a mobile or tablet when in company
Not saying ‘thank you’ when someone holds a door open for you
Pushing in front of others in queues
Valuing the material over the spiritual
Showing lack of respect for the plant and animal kingdoms
Failure to think about the effects of your actions on others
Failure to think about the effects of your actions on the world around you
Not being the best you can be

I am sure I could go on…and on…and on…..and this is without even starting on my own vices which if I am completely honest would include:

Anger ( less than when I was young but still there more often than I’d like)
Impatience (mainly towards myself)
Sloth (or laziness)
Not being the best I can be (goes with the laziness)
Forgetting to be grateful (even though I do try)

In fact when I look at this list I can see how much my personal vices reflect my shadow side. A side I am not always proud of but which are part of me, which make me who I am. Without them I would be different, not necessarily better but different.

Having given this some thought in the writing of this blog I am beginning to think that anything at all can become a vice if it is something which is done to excess. If it is something controlled, while not being a virtue, may just be what makes you, you…..unless it hurts or damages others or the world around you….then in my book that really does make it a vice.

Pagan Blog Project – Vizard

imageWhen looking for a subject for my Pagan Blog Project post for the letter V it was, perhaps unsurprisingly, difficult to find a subject to write about. Searching through V words on Google brought me a word that I didn’t know, that of Vizard, meaning mask or disguise. This then got me thinking……

In shamanism we often speak about Shapeshifting which can be taken to mean changing shape within a journey and becoming like as an animal, or changing form in some way, i.e to take on a disguise. Like a lot of fantasy writers, Terry Pratchett uses examples of shapeshifting in his work, more specifically in his witches books where Nanny Ogg is proud of her ability to ‘borrow’ the minds of animals. Mythology and folklore are also full of Shapeshifting through divine intervention, magic or spells and early works such as the Iliad and the Epic of Gilgamesh also feature shapeshifting as do children’s fairy tales such as Puss in Boots, where the ogre is tricked into becoming a mouse so he can be eaten. The very popular series of both Twilight and Harry Potter books also feature shapeshifting.

Literature is full of examples of characters who put on a vizad in order to deceive, to secure freedom or to fit in. Shakespeare frequently used this as a plot device e.g. in Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night and Midsummer Nights Dream. Homer used it in the Odyssey as did Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre, Charles Dickens in Edwin Drood and Agatha Christie in many of her novels.

Vizads or masks are also used by shaman to take on the energy and power of animals. Tribal shaman are often depicted as wearing masks. One of the ways of connecting with a power animal is in fact to make a mask that represents them. Some shaman also use a vizad in the form of robes and elaborate headdresses as a form of disguise to protect them as they journey in otherworld.

If we think about it we take on vizads frequently in our own lives. Maybe we don’t construct a vizad physically but there are many other ways that we do this. Perhaps we feel we cannot fully be ourselves in our work place so we put on a vizad and play the role we create for ourselves there. If we live in a community where we feel our beliefs would not be appreciated then again we use a vizad so we can be accepted or fit in. If we try and fit into a role that others expect of us then this too is a form of vizad as we use it to hide our real self.

Sometimes even the clothes we choose to wear are a form of vizad. The suit we wear in the office when we really feel ourselves in jeans and Tshirt, the beige outfit that hides us so that we don’t stand out, the red dress or shirt that makes us look confident and outgoing when we feel anything but. All of these hide our true nature or feelings.

There is nothing wrong with doing this at all. Sometimes we need to do so in order to protect ourselves or be part of something, it is often a form of self preservation. At other times putting on a vizad may give us a way to try something on for size, to see if it fits us and if we feel comfortable there.

The stronger we are though in who we are, in what we believe and what we stand for, the less we need to wear a vizad and the more we can show our true self and not hide behind any kind of disguise or mask.