Goddessing Self Care

Tailoring Self-Care to Season, Energy and Intuition

I once backed into another car at a drive-thru. Yep, that takes some amount of talent to execute. I was mad that the person in front of me wasn’t budging, so I threw it in reverse in order to maneuver into a better spot to see what was going on. A crunching sound alerted me to the fact that I’d now be stuck right where I was for a while. My need for things to go at my pace outweighed all other considerations. I’m striving now to let my intuition, not my impulsiveness (and lead foot), more fully guide me as I access my necessities and respond to the needs of others.

The particular needs we have for self-care can wax and wane over the course of a year, a moon cycle, or even one day. For many, winter and the new moon are a time to draw in, rest and dedicate ourselves to inner work, whereas the summer and full moon are times to make manifest our inner desires and take action. Many people who practice Pagan religions and Goddess Spirituality track the pattern of the moon or follow the Wheel of the Year for guidance in these rhythms. For women of childbearing ages, you may notice shifts in your energy levels and needs based on your menstrual cycle.

“Night owls” and “early birds” are a real phenomenon, with differing biological patterning. Following your own circadian rhythm can allow you to capitalize on your highest energy points. I’m an early riser but tend to find myself too focused on “doing” in the mornings to be able to do a lot of inner work, so evenings are when I tend to pull in and engage in most of my spiritual work.

Sometimes our inner cycles align with our external environment; sometimes they are mismatched. For instance, the few times I’ve had a bad cold in summer jarred me not just because I felt ill, but also because I needed to pull back from what I was doing and lay around instead of my normal busy summer attitude. Some winter days are filled with sunshine and I find myself wanting to spend all day outside (until the air temperature snaps me back to reality!). Attuning to our changing rhythms not only allows us to better meet our needs but also helps us to integrate into the larger patterning and cadence of the natural world.

Our intuition, our Wise Woman and Goddess In Us, can help us check in with ourselves and get real when we are ignoring needs or failing to prioritize. A nagging anxiety that won’t go away or an illness that forces us to take a day off may be a sign that there is a deeper need going unmet. Sometimes we try to change our external circumstances—thinking that will solve our “off” feeling—when really it is our inner being that needs attention.

At times, our inner wisdom takes the form of others in our lives who gently prod us to make that appointment or call in sick when we aren’t feeling well. I think that is one of the most beautiful gifts we can give each other—permission to take care of ourselves when we ourselves are wrapped up in a guilt or shame message that won’t let us stop, won’t let us rest, won’t let us ask for help. If people are consistently telling you that you seem really busy or have a lot going on, it may be a signal to slow down and reassess how well you are meeting your full range of human essentials.

At the same time, each of us is walking our own path, and sometimes we have to let a sister who insists the thorny briers she’s trying to cut through with a pen knife is the only way struggle till she tires, and then step right up with support and care when she finally realizes the futility of her actions. Many of the mistakes I’ve made serve as signposts for those close to me about which paths are worthy, and which ones are dead ends. Our intuitions, our gut messages, are typically there all along. It can feel so good to say yes to that which serves us and no to that which doesn’t. The scrapes and scars left by our rambles in deep thicket are an excellent reminder that help us to hone in on the surest ways forward.

Surviving & Thriving

Goddessing on a Budget: Deep Connections With Self

What comes to mind when you think about connecting with yourself or another person? What does a healthy relationship entail? A viewpoint that resonates with me from psychology is called attachment theory. It suggests that each of us has a “working model” that we unconsciously forged in childhood. As a result of our relationships with our caregivers, we determined whether or not others would be there for us and whether or not we ourselves are trustworthy.

Many of us with trauma histories struggle to engage in healthy attachment patterns. Several people have told me that I really “know myself,” and I feel that my connection with myself is my strong suit. Experiencing deep connection with others feels at times within my grasp and at other times like it across a huge chasm. Perhaps you feel the same way. Or, your style may be the opposite—apart from your relationships, you aren’t sure who you are. In any case, our spiritual journey is centered in these relationships with self and other, and part of our ramble with Goddess is uncovering the tremendous wealth that can be found in safe and affirming relationships. Today I will begin our exploration by examining our relationship with ourselves.

Body Rhythms

“I hate my body!” How many times in our lives have we given ourselves this message? I recently participated online in Priestess Brandi Auset and Tracy Givens’ free Sacred Sexual Wellness class in the Mystery School of the Goddess. The course had a profound impact on me in that it contained the idea of viewing our bellies as sacred, and promoted nurturing them with practices such as massage. I had never once in my life seen my stomach area as anything other than a part of me that was too large and frequently uncomfortable because of my medical conditions. What does it mean to let myself see it as sacred, worthy in its own right?

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Proudly stand in the sunlight and celebrate your worth!

Goddess spirituality flows from our connection to our bodies. Loving and accepting them just as they are is not just a mental health exercise; I see it now as a sacred act. Consider how much money and time you have put into making your body feel “acceptable.” I know I’ve made quite an investment. What would it mean for each of us to put that energy into a positive connection with our physical being?

As a practice in self-acceptance, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about a part of your body, if any, that you dislike. During your daily ritual, as you connect to Goddess, imagine yourself surrounded by light as you sink into a feeling of warmth. See the light and warmth nourish the part of yourself that you dislike. Your body is sacred! You may want to journal or process through artwork how it would be to truly cherish it.

Spirit and Heart

When was the last time you really sat with yourself and checked in with your spirit? Did you listen to your inner wisdom or did you bark out directions about the tasks you should be doing more often and the ways in which you’ve let yourself down? I’ve spent a bit of time exploring Inner Work in my post on Daily Rituals. Learning to read your own emotional states and to express your hidden spiritual knowledge allows for a healthier relationship with self.

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If you would like some guidance in accessing your inner self, a Mystery School I have found to be helpful is In Her Name. The first realm is called “Realm of Self” and allows for inner spiritual exploration. This particular school is self-paced. There are opportunities for partial scholarships for those who need them.

Listening Mindfully

Inner messages may come to us whether or not we want to hear them. I often find that I’ve traveled a path or made a decision unconsciously before my “thinking mind” catches up to the news. Goddess goes before us. Gain comfort in knowing that you have answers inside yourself for many of the dilemmas you will face, and give yourself trust and faith to believe in your inner wisdom.

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I strongly believe that negative voices or uncomfortable truths in us should not be banished, forgotten, or denied. They are there for a reason and deserve to be heard just like the upbeat, happy parts of self. But, stuck in their own cycle and detached from Goddess, they can be overwhelming at times. Attempting to manage our shadows without support may not always serve to aid in our spiritual journey. If you are finding yourself dealing with these messages, I encourage you to take the time to find a therapist who is not only educated in working with trauma but is also open to helping you incorporate your personal spirituality into your healing process.

Sacred Space for Self

By listening to body, spirit, heart and mind, I think we open the door to sacred synchronicity. Areas of confusion and doubt can be washed away, replaced by confidence and trust, if we treat ourselves as worthy. You deserve love, attention, care and relationship! Hear through the negative messages you’ve internalized to your underlying fear, anger, and sadness. Transform those wounded parts of yourself both through professional assistance if needed as well as your spiritual walk with Goddess.

Surviving & Thriving

Goddessing on a Budget: Trauma-Sensitive Considerations for Daily Rituals

In my first post related to daily rituals, I examined the benefits of personal ceremony and explored suggestions for ritual styles. Today I’ll be focusing more specifically on trauma-sensitive topics related to frugal daily rituals, including how to concentrate your energy during ritual as well as options for short meditations during more challenging situations.

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Staying Present During Daily Ritual Practice

Establishing focus during ritual can be quite a task when external or internal distractions present themselves. Depending on your individual situation, finding a quiet time and space may require sustained effort. Do what you can to manage distractions that are under your control, such as keeping electronic devices away from your sacred space.

For those interruptions that are outside of your control, sinking into Goddess’ presence and reminding yourself of Her grace in all situations may help you concentrate. If you have young children who tend to get most interested in what you are doing the moment you’re busy, try to schedule ritual times when they are asleep or include them in parts of your practice. They will likely enjoy the “music and dancing” time!

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Distractions can “cloud” our intentions during ritual.

Sources of internal interference during ritual may include thoughts of the past or future, as well as physiological issues such as pain or headaches. I like to think of my internal processes as messages. These messages matter and should not be ignored, but they also do not necessarily mean I need to immediately drop everything to “read” them.

If I feel physical discomfort during a ritual, I check in with myself and note whether shifting positions or coming back to the particular part of the ritual a few minutes later might work better. If an issue keeps entering my mind during a ritual, I discern whether or not it is rising from my inner work in the moment or from an anxious part of myself. If I feel like it is based on anxiety and can be handled later, I thank that part of myself who’s letting me know it’s important, and affirm that I will address it at a more appropriate time.

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Minute Meditations for Difficult Times

We all have “one of those days” where everything seems to go wrong or we feel bombarded by stressors. We might find it impossible to settle ourselves for an extended meditative experience and may feel disconnected from Goddess. Instead of engaging in self-blame, give yourself permission to modify your practice in ways that feel comfortable to you. In these moments, I find taking just a minute or two with Spirit often changes my perspective and emotional state. These micro-meditations cost very little and are also a good match for times where you need to release energy after a tough encounter.

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1. Sensory Activation

Using our senses connects us both to Spirit and to ourselves:

  • Smell—keep a variety of scents nearby to bring yourself back to reality when you feel stressed. A few I use to help me ground are lemon, clove, sandalwood and sage.
  • Touch—use self or partner massage on tense areas like your shoulders. A weighted or soft blanket may feel soothing. A ritual bath for your hands or feet can incorporate many of your senses, including touch. Petting an animal releases the “cuddle” hormone oxytocin.
  • Vision—gaze at your personal altar to reconnect yourself to the Sacred. Spend some time in nature, noticing as many individual plants, animals and natural formations as you can. Participate in a Goddess meditation.
  • Hearing—listen to your favorite music. Chants can help to release some energy, whereas instrumental music may help to calm the body’s rhythms. Read poetry aloud.
  • Taste—I will be sharing a blog in a few weeks about taste with a particular emphasis on cooking as a medium for sacred practice. Taking a moment to savor a favorite flavor mindfully may recharge your soul.

2. Centering Chant

A centering chant can be sung aloud or in your head to help you return to self and ground. You can create your own chant or use one of many Goddess-focused chants. Chants typically include simple lyrics and repetitive sound, giving them a mantra-like quality.

As someone who incorporates Buddhist and Hindu thought into my practice, I also enjoy humming the cadence of the chakra that I needing the most alignment in a particular moment. Meditative Mind has published free versions of many chakra activation chants on Youtube. Each chakra has a different corresponding sound:

  • Root—Lam
  • Sacral—Vam
  • Solar Plexus—Ram
  • Heart—Yam
  • Throat—Ham
  • Third Eye—Om
  • Crown—Ah

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3. Counting the Breath

I’ll never forget the moment I was feeling highly anxious and the person I was with stared me down, stating “take a deep breath.” I’m pretty sure I held my breath just out of spite! Deep breathing can engage the relaxation response, but it can also increase anxiety if it is used at the wrong moment or as a way to try to stifle emotion.

I have found counting breaths to be more useful. A meditation teacher of mine remarked on finding the space between the out-breath and the in-breath. I tended to breathe so quickly I couldn’t follow her logic. Years later, I downloaded a free app called Prana Breath that specifies a set number of seconds for the breath in, pausing, breath out, and then waiting before starting again. I finally found the pause!

4. One-Card Tarot or Oracle

Meditating on a tarot card or oracle can allow your mind to see a situation in a new light. A few questions you might ask Goddess before intuitively choosing a card include:

  • What do I need right now?
  • What am I missing in my current view of this situation?
  • What strength in myself could help me cope?

Most cards include gorgeous imagery along with words or descriptions. Take time to really explore the image and see what arises in your heart as you do so. I am often amazed at how many uplifting details artists are able to incorporate when I really study their work!

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My Inner Tree Oracle deck from GabyGCreations.

Intuitive cards are a commodity where I can get into splurging. I now invest in one deck at a time, purchased from Esty artists. This allows me to really take my time to get to know each card and evaluate how I respond to it in my inner work. Being able to communicate with the person who created the deck is an extra perk.

Goddessing Through Daily Ritual Takes Practice

On the whole, the personalization for which daily rituals allow means that they can be modified to provide a safe place for individuals who have a trauma history. Accessing simple, structured meditations when we are too overwhelmed for a full ritual gives us security in Goddess’ presence moment to moment. Pacing ourselves through obstacles that might hinder our practice emboldens our experience of positive spiritual progress and direction. Next week I will expand our palate of Goddessing on a Budget by digging into the ways in which deep connections nourish us on our spiritual journey.

Inner Work

Goddessing on a Budget: Practical Tips for Daily Rituals

This is the first of two blogs on how to goddess on a budget using daily rituals. We’ll be exploring the positive effects of daily rituals, as well as different forms of ritual. In this post, I’m restricting my focus regarding ritual to those experiences that can be undertaken as part of a solitary practice on a regular basis. I think this is a safe place to start for many trauma survivors and offers the added advantage of allowing for personal tailoring to suit your style.

Benefits of Daily Rituals

Rituals, even simple ones, can have powerful effects. Whether or not you ascribe to a magical viewpoint that hones in on the shift in energy they can bring, taking time each day for ritual sets you up for positive emotions and experiences. There is limited research suggesting partaking in rituals can be healing for individuals with PTSD.

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A note of caution—any ritual you are conducting related to your trauma history should be developed in collaboration with a mental health practitioner and a spiritual guide, and you need to be supported in processing your experience. The focus here is on daily rituals anyone can do to maintain their spiritual practice, not on rituals specifically related to healing from trauma.

5 Components to Build Your Daily Ritual Style

As you peruse the list below, I suggest thinking of the spiritual activities you both enjoy and that you realistically can make time for consistently. Next, determine the time of day when you tend to be both calm and alert. Take into consideration creative cost-saving adaptations to your plans. Lastly, make sure that you are tapping into multiple senses in your daily rituals to increase their impact.

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For me, I finally began to follow through practicing personal ceremony when I let go of any predefined ways of how it was supposed to look and when it was to occur. I found it easier to start with an evening ritual and eventually built in a morning version. You get to decide where, when and what you want to do!

1. Personal Altar

There is definitely such a thing as spiritual bling! Once you make the decision to have a personal altar, it is very easy to get carried away and perhaps overload both your table and your budget.

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“It’s not hoarding if it’s crystals!”

I change my main altar four times a year, with each solstice and equinox. Instead of encouraging impulse buys, this pattern gives me permission to purchase a few new items every few months.

If you ascribe to a particular religious or Pagan tradition, there may be a pre-determined altar layout system that you can choose to follow. Because I am a Solitary Practitioner of eclectic Goddess spirituality, my altar reflects some traditional elements and a lot of my own preferences.  An inexpensive purchase that has yielded a lot of possibilities for me has been to buy tiny bottles.  I filled them with ash, dirt, water and a feather to represent the four elements, placing them around the main Goddess figurine on my altar.

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Goddess figurine is from brigidsgrove.com

Contemplate including only those items which feel “safe” and uplifting on your altar. Some of the Tarot cards and even stones I’ve bought are challenging to me. I work with them, but I keep my main altar as a sacred place to which I can return no matter my current emotional state.

Survivors may find themselves in an environment that rejects visual displays of faith. In this situation, items like pocket altars or nature “decorations” might provide a touchstone. Perhaps a mini altar in your car or office drawer could bring Goddess into your life in a safe way.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation involves present-moment awareness. It can be a sitting meditation or it can include ordinary tasks like eating and walking. Mindfulness has the potential to be a double-edged sword for individuals with trauma. It can be incredibly healing as it contradicts dissociation, but it has the potential to escalate anxiety and other issues if used without support or in situations where those leading the practice are not sensitive to survivors’ needs.

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If you are new to mindfulness, exercise caution and work with your mental health professional as you explore various teachers, traditions and exercises. Personally, I enjoy many of Tara Brach’s teachings and meditations. If and when you find a mindful meditation technique that fits you, consider incorporating it into your daily ritual either before divination/inner work to center yourself, or as a way to return to your surroundings after your intuitive time.

3. Yoga

Yoga comes with many of the same caveats as mindfulness. It can be an amazing way to connect with Goddess through your body and through movement, and it can also activate traumatic memories. Some yoga teachers take extra classes on trauma-sensitive methods, so think about asking whether or not your potential instructor has done this if you are joining a new class. I think it is worth investing in at least a few classes if you have never tried it in order to get feedback on your poses, but it can also be done at home. I sometimes include Mountain and Tree Pose as a grounding part of my daily ritual.

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Tree Pose can be very grounding.

4. Inner Work

Inner work is typically incorporated in the middle of a daily ritual. It might include:

  • Reading Tarot, oracle cards or runes
  • Journaling
  • Moon intentions and workings
  • Artistic endeavors
  • Conversing with Goddess (speaking and/or listening)
  • Creating crystal grids
  • Fashioning flower mandalas
  • Balancing chakras
  • Reiki
  • Conducting formal ritual to celebrate a holiday or occasion.

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A personal outcome may directly evident as a result of your day’s inner work, or, more likely, it may take time for the messages and intentions to manifest. Give yourself permission to find the inner working methods which speak to you the most. Inner work might benefit from a few supplies, but you can also save money with projects like drawing runes on stones or branches or creating chakra charts to learn more about your personal energy.

5. Movement and Music

Goddess Spirituality can include raising energy as a key part of daily ritual. You get to be loud! For me, this is an area of both opportunity and challenge, and one where I like being a Solitary Practitioner. I do not care to subject others to my dancing and singing! The joy and playfulness that movement set to music offers are free and add dimension to your experiences. Find or create your own instruments and songs. I’ve turned casting my circle into a rhythm that I sing every time I start and end my ritual.

Goddessing Each Moment

Today I’ve shared about some motivational reasons to engage in daily rituals, as well as several tips for finding your own way of goddessing. I believe a huge part of healing work is learning to give ourselves grace and freedom to tailor at least our space and personal time to our own preferences. In this way, daily rituals can become a celebration if you open yourself up to learning about those things that affirm and speak to you on an individual level.

My next post will be aimed more directly at the trauma-related issues that can arise during personal rituals, and will provide suggestions for handling these issues.