goddess spirituality, pagan, life

Rites of Death: Requiem for a Squirrel

Content warning—description of animal death

For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I wanted to share the ritual I enacted after witnessing a violent squirrel death. This is the second dead animal I’ve come across in the last month; I also found a robin outside of my door which had likely passed from West Nile virus. Just as I try to drastically reduce my consumption of animal products, my access to their suffering has increased.

Witnessing Wildness

As I walked with my dog, I hear a ruckus in a neighbor’s tree. My pup and I stopped to see what was causing all the commotion. Unexpectedly, three squirrels came hurdling at least ten feet from a nest in the tree and plopped on the ground. One landed with a smacking sound. My brain tried to sanitize what I’d just seen by telling me it was like a mother bird pushing her offspring out of the nest, even as I stood there covering my mouth with my hand, eyes bugging out. A single squirrel that remained in the tree squawked in victory.

I kept walking, believing everything was alright. As I passed the house on my way back, two neighbors came out, staring at the tree. I went over and explained what I’d seen. One of the men remarked that a squirrel, the one that landed with a thud, seemed like it might be dead. Before I could react, the other man started kicking and stomping on it. He kicked it into the bush where I could now see it. Its body laid there, still and silent. I felt sickened to my core and helpless. I was confused by the ambiguity of his actions—unsure if he was trying to “put it out of its misery” or if it was merely stunned and could have recovered. I left the scene but what I’d observed bothered me the rest of the day.

Words of Mourning

I decided to hold a small ritual to mourn the squirrel. Its manner of death was so abrupt and violent that I intuited on a visceral level the fear people have of ghosts and spirits who linger, unable to move on to their next destination. I’ve always conceptualized funerals as events designed to help the living grieve, but now I’m not so certain that they are the only ones in attendance. I burned some palo santo, lit a candle, and recited the following chant:

May Earth cradle.

May Air free.

May Fire guide.

May Water heal.

May your essence, emanating from Source, spiral its home in the cosmic web.

I also lit a candle outdoors the next day to finalize my actions. It flickered on and off like a heartbeat. Each time I thought it had been blown out by the wind, its flame started anew.

When I walked by the place of passing, the squirrel was gone.That is, its body had been removed or resurrected; I didn’t have a strong sense of its spirit either, but the tree, now empty, felt closed-in and shadowed to me.

We pass every day near places where violence has occurred, often on a much grander scale than what I saw. We can do all we are able to stop these types of events. When they do happen, how do we integrate them into our experience? How do we heal them and ourselves of our participation in them? How do we remember and honor those who have passed?

goddess spirituality, pagan

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!

goddess spirituality, inspiration

Mini-Ritual for Medical Procedures

Many trauma survivors have difficulty with medical procedures. These may be triggering for many reasons—they often include physical discomfort or pain, there is a power difference between the doctor and patient, and they include significant financial stressors and decision-making demands. I’m a proponent of working with a therapist to help to heal from trauma for many reasons, including the fact that mental health symptoms may make following through on medical care difficult or impossible.

I’m currently in the middle of having a root canal redone. As in, I had it done a few years ago, and now have to have the previous work removed and replaced. I was so triggered by the first experience I avoided dentists for a while, and have now found myself being verbally combative in response to those who are supposed to be helping me. Unfortunately, finding a medical professional who is sensitive to the needs of people with PTSD and trauma histories can be very hit or miss and I haven’t had a lot of success. For today’s #InnerWork Wednesday, I wanted to develop a ritual to help me transform my feelings of helplessness in order to focus my intention, my voice and my energy before undergoing additional procedures.*

Instructions

Gather the following items in your sacred space:

A candle (intuitively choose the color)

A piece of polymer clay

An oracle or tarot deck

Step 1: Cast a circle or center yourself using meditation, yoga, whatever you use to ground.

Step 2: Spend some time using your inner eye to create an image of a tree covered in leaves. Use all of your senses to draw out each element of how it would look, feel, smell and sound. Spend some time mentally relaxing under its branches.

Step 3: Ask Deity or your inner Wisdom to show you the specific question you need to ask in order to ground yourself before your medical procedure. For example, perhaps there is an attitude or strength you can cultivate for assistance, or a character trait that will be strengthened by engaging in self-care and following through on your doctor’s advice.

Step 4: After deciding upon the question, draw a Tarot or oracle card and meditate on what it reveals to you.

Step 5: Decide how you wish to use the clay. You can either shape it into the body part related to your medical procedure, or you can shape it into a representation of what the card revealed to you. Or both!

Step 6: Place your clay creation in front of the candle. Light the candle, and, if it fits your practice to do so, ask your Deity or Inner Wisdom to be present with you during the procedure and to guide you in developing the traits you need to undergo it successfully.

Step 7: Imagine the tree again, and imagine yourself underneath of it being filled with strength, voice, intention and energy. Spend as much time as you need to draw in the rootedness the tree offers. Listen for any healing messages, and thank the tree for its blessings.

Step 8: Thank your Deity or Inner Wisdom for guidance, and close the circle.

Consider taking something with you to your appointment that you can touch in order to ground yourself. The polymer clay could be baked and turned into an amulet for protection or talisman for blessing for this purpose. I created a witch jar filled with hearts to represent lovingkindness, and I wear a bracelet with chakra stones that also has an evil eye to ward off any negative energies.

*Please note that I am primarily focused in this post on routine types of medical care here; if you are having major surgery or testing that could be life-altering, I definitely encourage you to seek out additional resources and consult your support system as there could be an element of grief or direct trauma involved in those situations.

If you decide to use any of this ritual in your own practice, be sure to adapt it to your own preferences and needs. It may be worth doing at least parts of it more than once to solidify your mental imagery and connection to Source before your procedure. I welcome any links to other practices you have found helpful!

 

 

 

 

goddess spirituality, pagan

Self-Growth and Exploration Through Oracle Cards

The first oracle cards are thought to have been created by Madame Lenormand in the 1800’s in France. Oracle decks contain fewer cards than Tarot decks. The artwork and images are often the central focus of the card. I like using them because I find them easy to interpret and because there are certain decks that I think are very positive and uplifting.

My intention here for #InnerWork Wednesday is to describe a few ways in which you can use oracle cards, as well as some topics to consider at a reading and specific layouts you can use. I am not a professional card reader, so please view this as informational only.

Styles of Use

Oracle cards can be used as a part of inner work, during a formal ritual, or as a source of daily inspiration. The layouts I’ve included would work best during inner work, but the “questions to ponder” section could be relevant during a daily card pull as well. If you are developing a formal ritual, you can incorporate a specific focus into your reading and record the results so that you can process them over time.

Questions to Ponder

Some questions you can ask yourself as you create your sacred space in which you will draw your cards:

  • What do I want to gain from today’s inner work?
  • Which spiritual need do I have right now that I’d like to address?
  • What’s my intuition telling me to consider?
  • How am I showing up in my life, and how can my inner work right now impact that?

Card Layouts for Hope and Inspiration

I encourage you to research different card layouts that you can use for specific purposes. Be sure the oracle cards you are using make sense with these types of questions; some decks are more conducive to this type of work than others.

Hope for Healing From Trauma Card Layout

The process of healing from past traumas is often non-linear, with continued layers of self-discovery and change. The card layout here is a spin on the classic past-present-future reading. If you are working with mental health professionals or spiritual coaches, consider sharing any insights you gain with them.

Draw three cards and place them on top of each other. Uncover one at a time, and line up from left to right.

 

Inkedoracle_LI
Soulful Woman Guidance Cards by Shushann Movsessian and Gemma Summers.

 

Card 1: What is the wisdom that have you gained from your past experiences that can function as your gift to the world?

Card 2: Which resource can you access in the present moment in order to assist you in your healing process?

Card 3: Which area of growth remains for you to discover or access in the future?

 Creative Endeavors Layout

This layout is intended to represent guidance when you are either considering a new creative endeavor or feeling stuck in your process in terms of inspiration. Pull cards and lay out in the following arrangement:

inkedoracle 2

Card 1: What do you need to cultivate in your life in order to drive your creative enterprise?

Card 2: On what trait or behavior may you be focusing too heavily, so much so that it may get in the way of your ability to be creative?

Card 3: Other people often serve as a wellspring of our own creativity. Which trait or behavior could you seek in others in order to boost your endeavor?

Card 4: What trait or behavior do the products of your creativity inspire in others?

Card 5: Which resource do you have that serves as a foundation for your creativity?