Inspiration Fanatic

Physical Reminders of Inner Worth

Have you ever wanted to spend more time being creative and engaging in self-care? Perhaps you purchased the materials you’d need to do so, and then promptly left them sitting untouched for months. For today’s #InspirationFanatic Friday, I’ll be sharing a practice which has helped me in making time for myself and for imaginative workings. By engaging in this act, I am reminded on a daily basis that it is my privilege and responsibility to care for myself. Doing so helps me believe I am worthy of attention and that I am capable of generating inspiration for myself and others.

I wrote a while back regarding premenstrual symptoms and healing; I chose to make my monthly moon-time the focus of my toolbox. It’s possible to order a subscription box for your period, but I instead created my own self-care focused kit for each month. After purchasing the items I wanted, I dug deeper and was surprised by how well the kit dovetails with my work on my personal vision this year. I made 12 bags in total, one for each month of the year to be opened during my “moon-time.” I keep the kit accessible and in use throughout the entire month as a self-care practice.

The concept of a physical reminder that you are invested in your relationship with yourself does not need to be limited to menstrual cycles. I can see applications to creating supplies for dealing with triggers, celebrating each new moon or welcoming each season. I do think it is important that they be tangible items rather than virtual materials. As the digital age has advanced, many of us find that we’ve lessened our connection to the physical world. I would say that a large aspect of my spiritual life is simply living in the touchable reality which surrounds me. I have found tremendous wisdom and creativity in the connections I make online, but they only penetrate my life to the extent to which I make them real and visible on a regular basis. In this way, the bags I created invite me to pause and connect with not only my body, but also my inner creativity and vitality.

Suggested Contents

Body-Centered Items

  • Treats: I added a small snack which worked great until I got a massive sugar craving and raided all the remaining bags! Next year I plan to include a small gift card for each month, which will at least require me to drive somewhere if I want to “cheat.”
  • Spa Products: I included a bath bomb, candle, face mask, nail polish, emery board and lip gloss for each month. I did not find myself using these as much as I thought I would, I think in part because they didn’t have a “homemade” feel to them and became repetitive. For next year’s kit, I plan to include a personally-crafted candle with essential oils and herbs, handmade bath bombs and perhaps soap or another product that I’ll teach myself to make.

Creativity Supplies

I did not include anything more than a crayon in this year’s bags, but I think there is a limitless number of possibilities here from which I’ll choose in the future. I included one crayon each month but found myself feeling stifled by the lack of choice in colors. If you decide you want a creativity piece to your kit, I would suggest picking one medium per month or one mini project for which you include all the supplies. A few ideas:

  • Drawing/coloring/painting (Perhaps with a specific prompt and tiny canvas for each)
  • Clay (if you can ensure it won’t dry out over the course of the year)
  • Crafting projects such as jewelry or altar items

Inner Work Gear

  • Mini journals with journal prompts
  • Quotes from favorite authors
  • Sentences from your vision statement with intentions for the month
  • Cards with an invitation to develop a specific aspect of your character
  • Stones and crystals that you find healing

Action-Focused Cards

I wrote out a targeted action on which I would like to focus my attention. For instance, this month’s involves reading a chapter in a book. Each of my ideas relates to self-care in a way, but also incorporates other important goals I have such as social engagement, life-long learning and caring for nature.

As I’ve used these kits for several months, I’ve been surprised by the amount of creativity they have generated. For instance, the invitation to focus on a specific character trait has led me to write a poem dedicated to each once a month. For my soon-to-launch Summer Self-Compassion Camp, I will be including a post on painting intuitive self-affirmation cards; I cannot wait to include these in my tools next year. I acknowledge that there was a monetary investment on my part that may not be accessible to everyone; the ironic part of the experience has been that the simple statements, questions and prompts that I wrote out have been the most rewarding and interesting part of the process for me. Even if you have limited funds, taking time to arrange a specific encounter with the Divine and your Inner Wisdom each month is energy well-spent!

If you were to create a series of kits for yourself, what would be the focus? What balance of body-centered, creative and inner work initiatives feels right for you? Where might you place the contents of kit in order to have it serve as a daily touchstone of self-care and connection to Deity?

Inspiration Fanatic

Crafty Coasters for Ritual Use

For today’s #InspirationFanatic Friday, I wanted to provide instructions for a simple and affordable craft you can add to your altar or use during ritual.

Supplies

Beads and embellishments

Needle and thread

Cork coasters

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Ribbon or twine

Instructions

step-1.jpg
1. Sew the beads and embellishments onto the cork coaster.
step 2.JPG
2. Apply hot glue to the back of the coaster and adhere another coaster to it.
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3. Apply hot glue around the edges of the sandwiched coasters, and adhere ribbon or twine to the circumference.
step 4
4. Cover the place where the ribbon or twine meets with an embellishment.
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Step 5: Enjoy your coaster for use during ceremonies and/or as a part of your altar!

 

Inner Work

Pentagram Protection Grid

Grids can be created for any purpose you desire as a touchstone for your spirit. For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I wanted to make a layout that incorporated the pentagram with the intention of protection. I interpret the pentagram as representative of the four elements and spirit. Creating a circle around it evokes a feeling of power and safety.

Supplies You’ll Need

Chant, spell, poem, or other expression of protection. I encourage you to challenge yourself to either create your own or to reinterpret one that you find. If you create your own, you may want to include five specific aspects of protection and safety to represent the pentagram. I intend for this to be an inner working made to assist yourself in staying safe and establishing your boundaries, not something that affects another person’s will in any way.

Apples or another fruit.*

Pomegranate or cranberry.*

Nuts in shells, puffed corn or grain.*

Twigs.

Votive candles.

Flowers.

*These were used to connect my work with the harvest season and Mabon. I would suggest changing the items you incorporate based on the time of year and seasonal produce in your area. Apples are great any time for this particular ritual because of the pentagram pattern inside of them.

Basic Pattern

Lay out the twigs in the shape of a star, and place the votive candles at each outer corner. Arrange the rest of the materials to your preference.

Ritual

Step 1: Cast a circle, calling in the elements and Deity as you see fit.

Step 2: Use the materials to create a pentagram pattern. Respond intuitively to each object as you include it, and decide where it would best fit in or if it should be saved for another purpose.

Step 3: Center yourself after you finish your grid, and finalize the intention you have for your protection grid. You may want to write it down to mark it.

Step 4: Read or sing your protection chant.

Step 4: As you read your chant, visualize protective energy being welcomed into your space. See it infusing each object in your grid. Notice the colors, tones and textures of the energy as it flows through your created work.

Step 5: Make a statement of blessing and gratitude for the protection offered through your inner work.

Step 6: Close the circle, thanking all Deities and elements who were present. Keep your grid laid out for as long as you see fit; cleanse the objects of their protective energy in some way before reusing for another purpose. Several of the items can spoil, so consider how you can use them creatively. I have plenty of wildlife in my area who were more than happy to share in my work!

Inspiration Fanatic

Art Celebration and Critique

One blessing of the digital age is a world of creativity at our fingertips. Some famous museums allow you to peruse their collections without having to leave your armchair. I am fascinated by creative work, but I haven’t developed the framework needed to contextualize much of what I see. I wanted to spend time on this #InspirationFanatic Friday to discuss ways we can connect with artistic inspiration in order to meet some of our spiritual needs. We can also challenge our perceptions and complacency by critically evaluating the meaning of various forms of artwork. My ideas here are those of a novice in the art world, so I welcome your input and insights. My focus is limited to the visual arts such as pottery, paintings, drawings, sculpture, mixed media and photography.

Studied Reflection

In the museums to which I’ve been, there are at least a few kinds of art lovers. There are those who stare at a piece in silent contemplation, those who speak in hushed whispers to those with them, and those who walk into the room loudly proclaiming “now which one are we looking at?” As a meditative practice, spending time alone taking in a piece of art can be a powerful way to connect with the inherent meaning in the work as well to glimpse the soul of its creator.

You can study artwork in a multitude of ways. One option is to center in yourself and attend to the thoughts and feelings that the work evokes in you. I don’t think there is any right or wrong here; art can serve as a medium to access our innermost desires and fears. Perhaps you can journal or sketch your own response to what you are seeing. Pay attention to any pattern in the type of art that you find most evocative; there is actually at least one study linking our preferences to our personality types.

An entirely different approach is to concentrate on the creative process. Study the piece in terms of the physical labor and mental effort it took to produce it. Focus on the technique, such as the layers and edges of the artist’s method. See what they reveal to you about the creative process. From which distance and perspective did the creator work? How much of the content is a produce of the inner world of the mind, and how much of it springs from the outer world around us? How are light and shadow, texture and form used? What shapes and shades of color are most apparent?

Background Research

Contextualization helps to center a work of art in time, place and circumstance. When we take the time to investigate, we often find there is “more to the story.” This research can be done ahead of time, but I like to let creative work speak to me on its own, tracing the lines it leaves as in impression on me, before contextualizing it. The contrast is sometimes a bit of a let-down; I think that this alone is a useful experience. We may construct a narrative of why the piece was made and for whom it was intended, only to find out the truth is entirely different.

You’ll need to record the name, artist, date and other information available at the time you are viewing the artwork if it’s in a public space, and you can then examine its place in history. In which culture was it made? Was it a representation of the culture, or a pushback against the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of the time? What is known of the artist? What did the artist wish to convey? Depending on the provenance of the work, you may discover wildly different explanations as to how it came to be and why it was created.

In light of the debate regarding statues of the Confederacy in the Southern U.S., another layer to consider is the social effect of the creation, if it is known. What was the social position of the individual or group who created it? To which audience(s) was it directed, and what message was it intended to broadcast? Has its impact changed with time? Could an act of allegiance to the piece lead to an inference of complicity in oppression? Art is not necessarily neutral; it can be used as a tool for propaganda, intimidation, subservience, rebellion and to many other ends. There is a reason that many authoritarian leaders have targeted artists in their purges. The artifacts that remain often speak to the prevailing force.

Proper Patronage

After responding with both intuition and information to a piece of artwork, we can then ascertain its meaning for our own lives. Some pieces may sum up in one creative moment what it feels it would take days or weeks to convey in words, and should likely make their way in some form into our daily physical surroundings. Other pieces may push against our sensibilities and reshape our viewpoint on a particular issue or topic. There may be some we refuse to support or protect because of our moral and social beliefs. Art is powerful!

If the artist who created an item that spoke to us is still alive, it can be very meaningful to be able to tour their exhibition and learn more about their process. Financial support in the form of respecting copyrights and buying directly from an artist demonstrates that we are more than mere consumers; we are keeping alive the creative process. Attending fine art fairs, craft shows and the like are a great way to lend a hand to new artists.

Despite historical efforts at suppression, Goddess figurines have been found in many cultures. My house has started to have a trace of Her in nearly every room. The prohibition of my religion of birth against “graven images” has been thwarted; I now understand the power of an image of She. I intend to concentrate some of my artistic interests in finding local artists who celebrate Her form and working to understand their intention and purpose in the images they create. I hope you’ll share the types of art that speak to you, and how you connect with artistic creativity.