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, pagan

Developing A Personal Spiritual Philosophy of the World

As part of my own spiritual evolution, I decided to create and then answer a series of questions in order to help me further articulate my faith journey. My goal here on this #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday is to promote individual self-exploration, not to proselytize. I’m quite nervous to share my take on things, in part because I want to ensure the environment I create on my blog is welcoming, inclusive and diverse; statements of faith can quickly steer things into a more divisive and charged space. At the same time, I felt a sense of reclaiming my spirituality as my own when I articulated the specifics of it, knowing full well 99.9% of what I’ve written would be rejected by the religion of my youth.

I would love to see your responses to the questions I’ve proposed; feel free to select a few questions that most deeply resonate with you and respond in the comments, or create your own post by tagging this post and then describing your own spiritual philosophy by answering each question in response.

The Big Questions

What is the purpose of life? Why are we here in this time and place? I don’t have inner clarity over whether life has a purpose or not, but, if it does, I think it has something to do with our lives unfolding as an expression of love to ourselves and others.

What happens after death? I felt certain for years that death was the end and there was no afterlife. Through theories like quantum physics, I’m willing to speculate that there may be more after we die in some sense. I do not believe in karma or heaven and hell, but I’m can wrap my head around reincarnation on some level.

To what extent do humans have free will? I think we have varying degrees of free will, depending on the extent to which our frontal lobe functions properly as adults. I think there are many, many factors that influence the effects of our will.

Are humans basically good/bad/something else? I do not believe humans are inherently good or bad. I think we have varying degrees of healthy or unhealthy behaviors and characteristics. I think many of our behaviors are the result of our natural tendencies. This is contradictory to what I just wrote, but I do think some people are at least very close to being evil as I’ve been on the receiving end of behaviors I can’t classify any other way. I hope I develop a more nuanced view in these instances as I grow and heal.

What are the implications for those who view the world differently than you do? I think it is none of my business how others choose to conceptualize the world, with one exception. I believe in certain absolute human rights, and I think we need to do all we can to change beliefs that undercut basic freedoms all humans should have.

Can people control their circumstances (such as will something to happen or not happen) through mental intention? I do not believe we can directly control our circumstances through willpower, although I think we can subtly influence our own unconscious mind in ways that may lead to different outcomes than would have otherwise occurred. I have experienced a few moments of coincidence that really made me think magic is possible.

What is the nature of justice, and what is the role each of us plays in ensuring it occurs? I’ve blogged about my thoughts on this. I do not think the world is just and I’m not convinced true justice exists. I think we can each hold each other accountable if we are in close relationship, but I also think there is a place for letting go and accepting the unfairness life holds.

If you conceptualize Deity…

What is your conceptualization of Deity? Who is Deity? I believe in Goddess as a reflection of my Inner Wisdom and the collective human unconsciousness. I think we are all intricately connected through Her. I celebrate Deity in Her feminine form, but I also see avenues beyond this. I do not rule out masculine divinity, but I also do not give energy towards it at this time. I also envision gender-fluid or gender-less spiritual practice at some point in my future.

I do not adhere to a particular viewpoint on Goddess but am eclectic in my approach. I see nature as a direct reflection of Goddess and do not see an inherent difference between the inner and outer worlds or the natural and spiritual worlds.

To what extent is Deity involved in humans’ individual lives? I think Goddess pervades all of human experience but allows us to make our own choices. She provides guidance to the extent to which we are open to receive it.

How can you communicate with Deity? I believe each of us can approach and communicate with Goddess without an initiation or training. At the same time, I think we can learn from each other the ritual and practice that most easily and deeply connects us with her.

What affects your relationship with Deity? I think my relationship with Goddess is affected by my relationship with self and others. I will experience alienation from Goddess to the extent to which I experience alienation from myself and those around me. I also think that carelessness towards the Earth and natural resources will disconnect me from Source.

Can your Deity directly change your circumstances (miracles, etc.)? I feel ambivalent towards this idea. If it occurs, I think it is a highly unusual and rare experience and does not occur for personal gain.

If you do not conceptualize Deity…

              What elevates your beliefs and practices to the level of the Sacred?

What are some areas of areas of your spirituality over which you have less clarity? How can you go about growing in these areas? I do not have a lot of exposure to some of the more traditional pagan viewpoints, such as Wicca. I have a general conceptualization of Maiden-Mother-Crone, but when I’ve attempted to write about it, it falls flat. I am going to be doing more reading and seeking Goddess on an experiential level to deepen my understanding in this area.

Another area of disconnect happens when I read the original mythology of a Goddess; it is a struggle at times for me to see Her through a contemporary lens. I want to sink into the stories in Her presence more fully so that I can emerge with a richer understanding of Her journey.

Personal Values

What labels, if any, do you give to your faith journey? Why? I consider myself to be a practitioner of Earth-based Goddess Spirituality. I consider myself part of the community of Pagans. I am currently a Solitary Practitioner but I am exploring the role of Priestess in my life. These labels help me to identify others with whom I share common beliefs.

What are the spiritual values that you espouse? The core spiritual value I strive to uphold in my life is to do whatever I can in my life to become the best version of myself, with the knowledge that this will then lead me to relate in the healthiest possible ways with those with whom I come into contact. My best self is loving, kind, graceful, patient, bold, wise and balanced.

Articles of Faith

How do you show your affiliation with your Deity, and with the community of like-minded individuals? What are the implications of these behaviors for those who think differently from you? I am starting to both wear and surround myself with symbols of Goddess. I think the more important identification is the way in which I present myself and my participation in Pagan/Goddess events. I try at all times to speak about my experiences in a way that makes clear I do not see my path as the only path, while also honoring the deep impact it has had on me.

What rituals and rites do you celebrate to mark important holidays and moments of transition? I celebrate the Pagan Wheel of the Year. I also want to become involved in celebrating certain aspects of womanhood such as pregnancy, birth, and menopause.

What sites are sacred, and how do you show them reverence? There are some places I would love to visit such as the White Spring at Glastonbury. My practice is to see every place as potentially sacred, especially in natural settings. I think ritual to honor Goddess, as well as a simple mindfulness practice in a sacred site, are acts of reverence.

Relationship Implications

How do you share your views with others? What is the purpose of sharing your views? I share my views here on this blog as well as with those I trust in person. My main reason for doing so is to create a conversation, because I know that I have much work to do to reclaim my faith as my own, and I need to bounce ideas off others and hear their perspectives to grow.

How should you treat others? How should you expect to be treated? I would tend to follow the Wiccan Rede here: “An it harm none, do what ye will.” I believe I should respect others’ ability to make decisions for themselves as well as support them, and I hope for the same from others. I do not believe in sacrificing who I am or what I stand for in order to maintain a relationship.

What is your responsibility to nature? How can you uphold it? I have a long way to go here. I want to respect nature and conserve natural resources. I’m trying to take small concrete actions and make incremental changes that reflect my beliefs in this area.

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?

goddess spirituality, pagan

Natural Communication

Did you know that the trees are talking to each other via fungi “email?” Dr. Suzanne Simard uncovered a network of communication that trees use not only to let each other know how they are doing, but also to release and share some of their excess nutrients. In addition, they seem to be able to tell which of the other trees near them are related to them! The oldest trees in the forest have many connections through their roots to surrounding trees and appear to give an extra boost to their own seedlings.

Many practitioners of Earth-based spirituality incorporate communication with the natural world into their sacred work. This can include communicating with plants and wild animals. I’ve left pets out of this conversation because I think they deserve their own post! If we are going to engage in communication with wild beings, I think it’s best for it to be in a way that honors the Earth’s diversity and resources.

Plant Ears

Part of my inspiration for this blog came from The Goddess Attainable’s post about talking to trees. In her writing, she describes her relationship with a particular tree. I hope I can meet a tree companion with whom I develop a long-standing friendship!

I did have an interesting experience with a dying ash tree in my local park. I’d walked by it for years, and for some reason felt it calling out to me earlier this year. I started sitting underneath it most day reading with my dog. My intention was one of mourning as I sensed its time was short, and I wanted to honor it by being at least one human who paid attention to it. Within a few weeks, the local Parks Department cut it down. I feel a sense of loss and emptiness going by the space where it was and have started trying to get my town to replant a new one.

Throughout human history, various groups of people have believed that humans can communicate with plants in a way that benefits their growth. I’m not aware of a scientific explanation for the sense of being able to communicate with plants, but, like the fungus tree root network, it’s possible it’s something we just haven’t yet uncovered. I have come across theories that if we engage in activities like singing to plants on a regular basis, we are releasing carbon dioxide which they can turn into oxygen, and we are subjecting them to small vibrations which could affect their growth patterns. Although I think my singing would cause most plants to curl up in fright!

Animal Friends

When you happen upon a group of social wild animals, the squawking or chattering you hear might be much more than “Danger! Danger!” Research on prairie dogs suggests they can characterize us by features such as how tall we are, what colors we have on and how fast we are moving. Animals engage in complex communication with each other. Even wild animals are able to let us know what they are thinking.

Birds are one animal that has meaningful interactions with humans. I walked by one of my bushes in my yard and had a robin nearly barrel into me. This happened a few times before I investigated and discovered she’d made a nest with a little brightly colored egg right inside the bush. I tried to reassure her I wasn’t going to mess with it. She then made a habit for a little while of greeting me as I took my dog out first thing in the morning, giving me the side eye and coming up near me, so I think she got the message.

Not all wild animals are cute and cuddly. I met a coyote strolling by my house who was eying my Yorkie like a prized steak. I firmly told it that it wasn’t welcome to him. I was shocked when it stared right back at me and took its sweet time meandering down the sidewalk. We’ve encroached on animal habitat to the point where they look at us like “eh, yeah, you don’t scare me anymore.” The boldness in communication from the animals belies a stark reality of the negative impact of humans failing to recognize our impact on the environment.

Reciprocal Communication

To me, if we are going to spend time in communication with plants and animals, it’s best for it to be a two-way street, meaning we spend at least as much time or even more listening than we do speaking. We can check in with certain plant life and creatures on a regular basis, noting how the seasons and weather affect them. We can ask them what they want to share with us and practice gratitude for their presence. We can also honor their existence by engaging in sustainable, environmentally-friendly behaviors, and advocating for better treatment of our natural resources.

One aspect of this practice of speaking and listening with nature in which I want to grow my ability is to appreciate the richness of the biodiversity around me. For instance, my “talking” with insects is often to threaten to kill them. I don’t intend to start letting the mosquitos treat me like a banquet, but I do want to notice some of the bugs and vines that I might otherwise overlook.

When we tune into the natural world, it can be amazing to discover how much life the small patch of earth we call home contains. I find myself sometimes overwhelmed by where to start, so I’ve decided to choose a specific tree and a type of animal that I will be consistently observing for the next year in order to watch for patterns and changes. I think journaling each day regarding what I see is going to be quite revealing! I would love to hear about your experiences and observations.

goddess spirituality, inspiration

Four Signs of Unmet Spiritual Needs

I recently identified nine spiritual needs that I think relate to our spiritual development and growth. I’m calling this #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday; I originally was going to make it specific to spiritual needs but I love studying human development and I think there will be more to say on this broader topic. When we neglect our spiritual needs, they have lots of ways of making themselves known. This can include feeling out of touch with a deeper meaning to life, rejecting others’ spiritual pursuits, engaging in unhealthy decision-making, and spending unnecessary amounts of money.

1. Lack of Meaning and Purpose

A few years ago, I began to feel that I was putting in time instead of enjoying my life. Even though I wasn’t objectively overwhelmed by obligations, it felt like each day was filled only with adult responsibility and no time for fun and play. I see now that I wasn’t addressing very many of my spiritual needs, leaving me drained and uninspired.

If you find yourself struggling with feeling like your life is meaningless and has no purpose, untended spiritual needs are one possibility. This attitude could also be a sign of depression. The interesting thing is that seeking out experiences of gratitude, compassion and other spiritual needs can be part of working on mental health concerns as well as spirituality.

2. Eye-Rolling at All Things Spiritual

This is straight out of Sigmund Freud’s playbook, which is one from which I don’t normally read! But I am on board to an extent with his idea of projection. Projection involves seeing in others the things we feel shame about in ourselves. I’ve been there with this where I found my mind immediately rejecting what others had to say when they shared their spiritual ideas and practices. I didn’t want to listen or take in their experiences.

If this happens to you, it’s certainly possible that their spiritual walk is so different from yours that relating to it is challenging. It is also possible that they are tapping into a spiritual necessity that is unfulfilled in you, and it’s unconsciously pressing on you. This could make your mind dismiss their experiences without really fully considering them.

I sometimes suspect this for myself when I just can’t let go of something another person shared that has no immediate impact on me; I find myself arguing against it again and again in my head. I want to highlight this doesn’t mean it’s wise to go jump on the bandwagon of whatever the other person’s belief system is. Instead, consider what the unmet need you have might be from within your own spiritual focus.

3. Indecision or Impulsiveness

When we are disconnected from Source, we tend to struggle with decision-making. Some of us, myself included, strike out in every direction at once, attempting to solve our issues by moving through them without much consideration. When I was renting an apartment, the furnace went out one cold winter day. I spent about $500 buying space heaters because I decided that a bit of chill would immediately lead to every pipe in my house freezing and bursting, and that there was no way my landlords would take me seriously or respond in time. Let’s just say I do have some issues with anxiety! I felt chagrined when the problem was fixed in a timely manner and I was left with way more heating power than I knew what to do with.

At other times, a lack of attunement to our spiritual needs may leave us feeling unable to render life decisions. We may delay our dreams because we don’t trust ourselves enough to step out in boldness. I believe that listening to what we need on a spiritual level, and taking time to make sure we get it can allow a groundswell of creativity, inspiration and energy to burst forth. In the times where I’ve nurtured myself spiritually, I feel a sense of inner groundedness from which I can elevate my intentionality and sense of purpose.

4. Increased Consumerism

As weird as it may seem, this for me has been a sign that I’m getting warmer. I suddenly must go to every hippie/witchy/metaphysical store in the area and buy all the pretties. I also went through a short spate of buying about 40 books on Goddess Spirituality! Owning a lot of spiritual items or taking seven online courses at once does not a spiritual person make. There can be a lot of mockery of people who engage in these behaviors, but I actually see it as a hopeful sign that spiritual needs are activated and are, like a little kid in a candy store, trying to find their nourishment.

When this occurs for me, I eventually settle myself down and take a hard look at what I’m really trying to accomplish. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’ve made more of an improvement in my budget since I began this blog than pretty much any other period of time in my life. I knew there was something waiting to be birthed in me, now that it finally gestated, I am spending much more time in genuine spiritual practice and having a lot more fulfillment in my needs, leaving my wallet to the side.

Getting a Handle on Unmet Needs

I will likely have more to say on this topic in the future, but I want to share a few places to start if you found yourself relating to several of the items I listed. First, check out resources from within your faith tradition that delineate what our spiritual needs might be. As I mentioned previously, I have a list I developed for Goddess Spirituality. Second, take time in your inner work to listen to yourself and to Deity to explore what your unmet needs might be. You can also seek the counsel of trusted spiritual companions. Lastly, if you are able to identify some needs, pace yourself in how you respond to them. For instance, if you find you’ve been neglecting your need for awe and wonder, you don’t necessarily need to sell your house and spend the next decade RVing in order to fulfill this desire. Start small through acts of self-care and moments of showing grace to others, building on your budding sense of fulfillment to continue to go deeper with the needs you may find you have.