On Beauty Pt. 2

On Beauty Pt. 2

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this blog should be. Mercury has been in retrograde, which for me is a very powerful time of revisiting and revising ideas and projects, and it this particular project has been swirling around in my mind. Maybe I got caught up in wanting to draw readers in with hooks like numbered lists and expert advice, but that’s not really my style. I’m not an expert on anything, really, just a soul in a body moving through this problematic world, learning what works and doesn’t work for me and my loved ones, hopefully gaining insight that can one day be described as “wisdom.” With that in mind, I thought I would just share some thoughts and feelings I have about beauty and acceptance and being a fucking radical badass woman, which is basically my life goal.

My friend and colleague recently described herself as a “recovering perfectionist.” I love this phrase. It brings to mind addiction and how recovery is actually a lifetime of work and maintenance. I have been talking about this a lot with my friends in terms of chronic anxiety and depression that so many of us deal with, about how depression is a disease which, like diabetes, requires constant attention and care. I am definitely a perfectionist (it goes along with the anxiety and depression, for sure). It’s the “not good enough” thing I’ve mentioned before. It’s the “but my life isn’t bad enough to even feel this way” thing. It’s the whole concept of “enough” and self-worth and living up to standards that are unattainable because they are constructed by society or the poor, fragile ego, to keep us down.

For me, this manifests most obviously as the “not pretty enough” construct. At some point in my life (probably from a very young age–I mean, I had ~75 Barbies!), bought into the unrealistic, oppressive standards of beauty, especially what “men” find “attractive” (using quotes here because I believe that real live men find all kinds of people beautiful, and because I have problems with the word “attractive”). These standards are forced on our culture by an oppressive, restrictive patriarchal system that actually encourages and commodifies our feelings of worthlessness. The system wants us to waste time and energy feeling shitty so that we’ll waste more time and energy and especially money on trying to correct our perceived flaws by primping and exercising and buying diet books and viewing ourselves as projects, not people. Imagine what we women (and men) could accomplish if we accepted ourselves as beautiful, flawed, dynamic creatures and focused our energy and resources on creating a better world, for instance, or upending the status quo!

By buying into this garbage, I have turned myself into a work-in-progress that will never meet accepted American cultural standards of beauty. Most of us won’t. They are unhealthy, unrealistic, and extremely limiting ideals. How much energy have I wasted on feeling ugly and unlovable because I’m bloated or I have a soft and delicate (read: weak) jawline, or I’m breaking out or my jeans are uncomfortably tight? How often do I feel bad about my neck, or get bummed out because I don’t look like all the women on American TV (thin, gorgeous, great damn hair, makeup on even in bed)? How much time have I spent obsessing about my blackheads, imperceptible to anyone but me as I get up really close to the mirror and enter a fugue state wherein I attempt to extract them all with my fingernails (which by the way, not great for either skin or posture)? So. Much. Time.

Another question, then: What could I accomplish if this energy was rerouted into feeling fucking fantastic? Beautiful, powerful, amazing? Helping others? Writing my children’s book? Doing yoga? Think of the possibilities!

Mostly, I’d like to not think about “being pretty” anymore. I’d like to be non-obsessive about my looks. I’d love to stop worrying over whether men find me attractive.

Now, let me unpack my baggage about the word “attractive,” because I have a lot of issues around this word. I am a very verbal person and the meaning of words is important to me. This one totally bums me out. The word “attractive” has become associated (in my mind, at least) with purely visual attraction. It is melded inextricably with the above-stated beauty standards. It brings to mine commodification, an “attractive deal,” a selling-point.  It makes my anxiety bust out full force. Am I attractive? I’m not attractive! No one is attracted to me! Bahhhhhhhh! How can I be more attractive?!?! Well…fuck that.

How about this: I want to be “magnetic.” I want people to be drawn to me because of my spirit, talent, kindness, warmth, personality. If that sounds like a brag, then…I’m okay with that. I think about my incredible coven of women-friends, who are all magical, magnetic humans. I want to be around them all the time because of attributes like those, because they are wise, friendly, positive, gifted, radiant beings. They are all gorgeous to me, and almost none of them fit the typical standard of beauty. I want to be that. I probably am that, since they want to hang out with me, too, but I want to believe that about myself.

I have come to an understanding that the path to self-love is through self-acceptance. I am throwing off the burden of being “attractive” and allowing myself to just BE. How radical is that?! I will not conform! I will just BE. A human person with thoughts and feelings and a body that does wonderful things for me, living in this tough, beautiful world, collecting insights that might one day be called wisdom.

That’s all. <3

3 Habits of Highly Successful Witches

Maybe you’re wondering how to be a badass, powerful, healthy, self-loving goddess-witch. Well my friends, here are a few good ways to start.

Goddess painting by Emily Balivet on Etsy

Goddess painting by Emily Balivet on Etsy

Believe in your power

First, know that you already are a Goddess. You are also a God! You are Everything. You are made of star-stuff. You are a tiny piece of this vast universe. You are connected to every other living, breathing being on this planet, created from the same atoms that make up every shining crystal, flowing river, and hunk of land. You are POWERFUL, witch.

Your power is in your connection, in knowing that you are One with the world around you. Your power is your compassion, your voice, your heart. Your power is in your fingertips, creating meals and scarves and websites. Your power is in your hugs, in your laughter, your rage, your tears. Your decisions are powerful, every one of them. They have repercussions far beyond the moment you make them. You speak with your choices. You can change yourself, if you want to. You can love yourself. You need to.

Nourish yourSelf

Eat good food. I mean healthy, organic, whole foods, but also delicious food. Eat food with family and friends. Feed yourself lovingly prepared, healthful foods that make you om nom nom and mmmmmmmm and smile. Drink lots of clean, fresh, room temperature water.

Take nature baths. Go outside and play! Hike, run, walk, roll around in the green grass. Swim! Sleep. Sit. Chill. Dig in the dirt. Gaze at the stars.

Take water baths. Soak in a hot tub with some sea salt and essential oils, rose petals and honey. Wash your face every night (EVERY NIGHT) and follow with a moisturizer or oil. Keep synthetics and petrochemicals out of your skin- and hair-care. Wear sunscreen and hats. Try this DiY Steam Facial for an at-home spa day, or Miracle Grains for a gently exfoliating wash or mask.

Move your body. Practice yoga. Dance around the kitchen in your underwear (everybody does that, right?).

Most of all, gift yourself the time to rest and recharge, however you choose to do it.

Keep a written record

There are many ways to keep records. The best ones are reminders and guides. Here are some that I find useful:

Spellbook: for your best affirmations, recipes and yes, magic spells.

Food Journal: for when you’re feeling crappy and want to figure out why. Alternatively, for when you’re feeling great and want to remember why. Very useful in becoming aware of patterns, making connections, and holding one’s self accountable.

Date Book/ Day Planner: I keep a Bullet Journal for this, but any day planner works. I use mine for daily tasks and to-do lists, but also quotes, ideas, events, appointments, etc. I have been saving my detailed planners for a decade, and I love that I can look back and recall the places I visited on my post-college trip to Ireland, the friends I had dinner with 8 years ago (who were those people? Who was I?) and what I was doing a last September. Keeping a day planner helps keep me organized but it also preserves memories.

Diary: my guides have been pushing me towards a daily journaling practice, and I can see why. Journaling is a very useful psychological tool. Like a food journal, it can lead you to discoveries about your patterns. It can help to reveal deep inner thought processes, the stories we tell ourselves, hidden mysteries and great ideas. My goal is to get back into the habit of writing “morning pages,” a method taught in the mind-blowing, life-changing book The Artist’s Way. Also helpful for writing your future memoirs.

New Moon Birthday Resolution

Going Full Witch, Part 2

Oh hi there! It’s my birthday (okay, it was yesterday)! It’s also time for the New Moon in Virgo. Coincidence? I think not. This is the perfect time to set a Birthday Resolution!

I’m way into birthdays, especially my own. I love getting together with my loved ones, throwing parties, and presents. I think of my birthday each year as a time to clear out the old and set intentions for the next year of my life. Rather than setting really specific, action-oriented goals like I might do with a New Year’s Resolution, I like to choose a theme that can motivate and guide me through the year. I usually spend several months thinking and feeling into what this theme will be. This year, though, I feel that the best choice is to extend my theme from last year, developing it into specific areas.

So for my 33rd year on this earth, here’s what I’m thinking.

Resolution Theme: Full Witch, Pt. 2

Purpose

To continue what I started last year by furthering my exploration of all things feminist, witchy, wild, and divine

To strengthen my commitment to ritual and practice

To deepen my understanding and knowledge of astrology, healing modalities, tarot and yoga

To share what I am learning 

How

Develop rituals for special times, especially New and Full Moons.

Asana and chanting every day! (My astrologer recently told me I have a lot of power with chanting and ritual, so I’m going to take advantage of that and build some serious magic.)

Spend more time studying, specifically about astrology, healing and tarot, and put my knowledge into action.

Continue to write about this process, and explore spiritual communities for motivation and support.

New Moon Birthday Resolutions on Whisper & Howl

Now, since tonight is the New Moon in Virgo, I’m going to take advantage of this special time by performing a ritual to establish my goals. I’ve been reading several works by astrologer Jan Spiller, including one called New Moon Astrology. Spiller posits that one can use the energy of each New Moon to make “wishes” to assist you on the transformative journey of this life. It’s an interesting book filled with sample wishes based on your North Node (a hugely important astrological concept that signifies your dharma, basically laying out what you will be working on in this life) and particular New Moons. There’s also a section that lists common themes such as relationships and health, with many examples.

The idea is that you make a list of carefully crafted “wishes” within 8 hours of the exact time of the New Moon, and revisit them each day until they come true. I mean, it can’t hurt, right? At the very least, it will help to clarify your goals and establish them in your mind. In the spirit of Going Full Witch, here are a few of my New Moon Birthday Wishes:

  • “I want to easily find myself joyfully practicing asana each day.”
  • “I want to easily find myself joyfully chanting each day.”
  • “I want to attract the people who will be my guides, mentors and spiritual companions.”

I have more wishes, of course. They’re more personal, but I’m sure I’ll share them in time. For now, though, I’m excited to start this new year of witchery. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Love,

Jillian

 

 

 

How To Ease Money Stress

How to Ease Money Stress | Whisper & Howl

OMG have I been stressing out about money. Some unexpected expenses have come up this month on top of my new car payment. Long story short, always file your state taxes or they will take a major chunk out of your ass in oh, 6 years time. Like a surprise $1000 chunk out of your ass. Like, your entire savings. It might also happen on the day that the security deposit is due on the house you want to rent. I’m just saying, it could turn out that way. That would probably be pretty stressful. If that happened to you, you might find yourself spiraling into anxieties about having no Emergency Fund where mere days ago there was a nice $1000 balance, or how you were definitely going to have enough money saved to not use your credit card for the big trip you have planned for the fall, or how it might take years to pay off your credit debt. Your brain might jump ahead to next year, when the landlord of your new house will probably raise the rent because they “don’t do” 2-year leases, and you’ll have to move again or spend even more money on rent, money that won’t be saved up for a down payment on a house, and you won’t be able to afford to live anywhere you want anyway because gentrification. Also, you might hate all your clothes and want to buy new ones and also be thinking about needing new furniture and why didn’t you include moving expenses in your very optimistic savings plan in the first place?!

If this happens to you, there is one tactic I know of that can calm the financial fear monster. No, it’s not budgeting, because planning in this scenario sometimes leads to severely overthinking, nay, obsessing (although yes, you should be budgeting).

I’m talking about gratitude.

There’s something about making lists of things for which I am grateful that is very soothing. Maybe it’s the list-making. Maybe it’s the realization that I have everything I need at this moment, that I’m safe and comfortable and free and surrounded by good things. Maybe it’s the reassurance of the Law of Abundance, that the universe provides, that all will be well. Maybe it’s just a distraction.

I don’t know. It just works.

My recommendation, should you find yourself in this situation, is to find a quiet moment in a cozy place. Take deep breaths. Light a candle. Make it a ritual. Focus your energy on gratitude. Give thanks to the goddess, the universe, God, light, the source, your own wits and talents and strength–whatever makes you happy. Grab a beautiful journal if you’d like. I write on scraps of paper and stash the lists in my God box (a great idea from Tosha Silver).

Sometimes it’s a stretch. I start with easy things and move on from there. Sometimes they are simple things, sometimes complex. Often, they’re related to things I’m stressed about. I remember all that I have and forget all that I don’t have, or can’t see that I have; the things I think will make me happy, the things for which I’m grasping; the things I’m afraid of losing or am afraid I will never have. I keep listing things until I feel better. That’s it. It’s not a cure, but it helps.

  • I am grateful for my family.
  • I am grateful for Devo!
  • I am grateful that my hair is finally long, even though it was kind of greasy today. High ponytails make a great swish when I jog.
  • I’m grateful for the park where I jog. Or, let’s be honest, speed-walk. I’m grateful I can speed-walk.
  • I’m grateful for kombucha and to the friend who brought me SCOBYs from his restaurant even though he was studying and has a small child. That was extra generous.
  • I’m grateful that I have a job that I LOVE.
  • I’m grateful for my cute little car that doesn’t feel as though it will break down at any minute. Driving is fun again!
  • I’m grateful for the Maximum Fun podcast network, especially Jordan, Jesse, Go, which makes me laugh my ass off.
  • I am grateful that the manager at the GAP let me exchange those jeans with the broken zipper for a new pair, even though I bought them a year ago, and to the customer service person who emailed me back and told me to bring them in. The new ones are better than the old ones.
  • I am grateful for the bugs making sweet music outside my apartment.
  • I’m grateful for my teachers, even the ones who make shit really hard, like Saturn.
  • I’m grateful for this really fun book, The Name of the Wind, that I’m totally enjoying (and for the friends who lent it to me).
  • I am grateful that I am incredibly wealthy in love, friendship, and support.

See? Not so hard. I feel better already.

3 Ways to Ring in Spring!

Happy Spring Equinox!

I’m 6 months into my Full Witch year, and it is going great. I’ve deepened my understanding and love of yoga and have discovered tantra and bhakti, gone wild for chanting, and finally found a translation of the Bhagavad Gita that I totally get. I’ve been learning more about astrology, which is also a huge part of the yogic tradition, and getting in touch with cycles, seasons, nature and the weather.

I’m learning more about rituals and celebrations in other pagan traditions, too, and while I’m still not into any organized religions, it is lovely to mark the changing of seasons knowing that across the world others are doing the same thing. Nature is something that unifies us all and reminds us that we are part of something greater and more powerful than all of the little moving pieces in our lives lead us to falsely believe.

So, to remind us of our inter-connectedness with each other and the world around and inside of us–call it the Universe, Goddess, God, Ostara, Nature, Spirit, whatever you feel–here are 3 simple things you can do to remember the end of Winter and beginning of SPRING!!!

Prepare Your Garden

It’s been unseasonably warm in North Carolina the past couple of weeks but with a hard frost this weekend, I’ve been holding off on starting my garden. Of course, this is about more than just prepping a garden bed. Spring Equinox holidays celebrate rebirth and renewal! As you prepare the soil, consider that you are making a bed in which seeds will sprout and grow, providing beauty, food, scent, color and joy for months to come. If you are ready to plant, say a little prayer to bless each seed. Garden with intention! Consider planting medicinal herbs and flowers such as lavender, calendula and chamomile.

PREPARE YOUR GARDEN, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

 

Make Pickles

All Winter long we roast and stew our vegetables until they are soft (and delicious). Are you ready for a little crunch? Try making refrigerator pickles! You can really pickle almost anything, with daring blends of herbs and spices. The color and bite will wake up your mouth, revitalizing your senses. Here are 4 recipes to try (links below the pictures):

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

  • Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles from The Kitchn

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

Pickle Recipe Roundup, 3 Ways to Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

 

Dance Naked

Dance Naked, 3 Ways To Ring in Spring on Whisper & Howl

Right?!

 

**Fun Fact: Did you know that the Vernal (Spring) Equinox marks the time when the Earth’s equator is at a 90 degree angle to the Sun, not when day and night are equal? I didn’t! That event occurs a few days before the Equinox (The Equinox Isn’t What You Think It Is).  The 2016 Spring Equinox is on Sunday, March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere.**

Happy Vernal Equinox, everyone!

 

 

Full Witch Reading List

Books to blow your Beautiful minds

Full Witch Reading List | Whisper & Howl #readinglist #fullwitch #whisper&howl #self-care #greenbeauty #sacredfeminine #tarot #astrology

Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of poignant, insightful, lovely and enlightening books that have led me down the Full Witch path. I’ve created a list of some of the best books on topics from sacred feminism to green beauty. I am linking to them on Goodreads rather than Amazon, to encourage you to seek them out in small, local new and used bookstores or your public library. I will continue to update this list as my mind is blown by new reads.

The Sacred Feminine

And of course, sacred feminism.

YOGA and Other Wisdom

Astrology

Self-Care

This is a category that would be called Self-Help if that particular heading didn’t hold strange and sad connotations. These books are manuals for self-love, empowerment, compassion and power. Most follow a format I find incredibly useful: personal stories, examples from clients/friends, tactics and techniques. All have changed my life in a powerful, positive way.

Green Beauty and Natural Health

Tarot and Other Oracles

 

 

Unpacking Embodiment

Unpacking Embodiment | thoughts on body issues at Whisper & Howl #whisperandhowl #bodyissues #fullwitch #tarot

I did a Tarot spread last night with these questions:

  1. What is coming forth now?
  2. What is trying to come forth?
  3. How can I get out of my own way (so it can come forth)?

I was surprised by the cards I got, which were:

  1. Judgement
  2. 5 of Cups
  3. Knight of Swords

Roughly, this means that ideas/feelings/issues/etc from the past, possibly that have already been “dealt with” are coming forth; that I will feel disappointed and there will be a need for self-forgiveness; and that the energy will be swift, or perhaps that I should just deal with it swiftly.

I had no idea when I went to bed what this meant, but in my dreams (which I can’t really remember), there was something about “unpacking” and I woke up thinking “I need to unpack this,” and then when I really really woke up I thought: BODY ISSUES.

This is me, unpacking.

I’ve said recently I don’t have “body issues,” and that is mostly true (inasmuch as anyone can not have them). Mostly, I just decided that I don’t have time for that shit. I see pictures of myself from times in my life when I actively did not appreciate or like my body or the way I looked, and I always looked fine–or even great!–and I decided that I am not going to waste time or energy feeling shitty because of the way I think that I might appear to others.

Because that’s it, really, isn’t it? It’s not about how we look to ourselves. Generally, outside of badly lit photos, I think I look beautiful. I am more comfortable in my body than ever. I like and feel good in my wardrobe, I don’t much care about sizes, and I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time. I am more in tune with my body and what it feels and needs than ever before. And yet…

I’ve been feeling lonely lately. When I feel lonely, I think about why I am alone. Now, I truly know in my soul that:

  1. I am not alone. There are many people who love and support me, and who think I am wonderful. I am filled with love for my friends and family and with the love they show me.
  2. There is someone out there for me…we just haven’t met yet. And might not for years. But I know he’s there.
  3. I sincerely don’t have the energy to get involved with anyone right now, even though I would enjoy some flirting and attention and all that comes along with that. I don’t think I’ve kissed anyone in at least a year.

Of course, that is just a disclaimer, because I certainly find myself doing the WHY ME?! What is wrong with ME?! Thing. Mostly I just remember that my astrologer told me I have a “strong relational path,” remind myself that I haven’t met the right person, and go about my lovely life. But I always have the underlying, miserable, nagging thought that I’m just not pretty enough. Or not thin enough. There are other things I can spiral into but this one is just so easy. It’s my go-to self-loathing statement.

Why do I feel this way? I want to say that I am a perfectly average, well-dressed, pretty woman, but that doesn’t matter at all. Everyone deserves love! It is out there for everyone. Saying those things about myself inherently implies that I deserve love because I do fit into a standard of beauty, albeit not the super model standard, or the manic pixie dreamgirl standard, or the bookish hipster standard (all of whom, incidentally, are thin and beautiful and have perfect bangs and work out a lot or don’t need to work out and can eat anything they want and are genetically blessed). I want to say, there are plenty of unattractive people who are happily loved!–but that, too, acknowledges this standard and somehow defends its existence by naming it.

My point, I think, is that I still equate deserving love with fitting a patriarchal standard of beauty and womanhood (or girlhood, if I’m honest. There’s not a lot of room for women in patriarchy.). Even if I know the standard is bullshit. Even if I want to crush the patriarchy. Even if I sincerely believe that every single human on this earth deserves love regardless of any physical factors. Even if I do think I’m pretty swell and look beautiful most of the time and even if I don’t really give a shit what other people think about what I look like because I do have some confidence in my own looks. When the loneliness hits, it needs justification, and “not pretty enough” is it. Also “not thin enough.”

There’s a lot I want to say here about the Divine Feminine and Shakti and embodiment. I don’t know if I can get it all out. I am starting to feel embodied. I don’t think most of us do. I think we have bodies-as-containers, bodies that allow us to get through our days and hold our minds. I don’t think most of us truly inhabit our bodies, these wonderfully creative, active, sensual, loving, feeling vessels for our souls. Instead, we objectify ourselves. We view our bodies as status symbols. Like having a fancy car, important job, expensive clothes, and diamond rings, we use our bodies to fit into a hierarchy. We fulfill the standards of beauty to signify our worth.

Bodies are messy. They get dirty. They are beautiful and magical and challenging and perfect. They are loaded with all of our emotional past, our karma, our shaktis, muscle memory, energetic memory. They hurt because we hurt. I want to be more embodied. I want to truly live, breathe, love, move, create, and BE in my body, with my body. I don’t want to think, “I’m not enough.” I want to know deep in my soul that I am exactly enough, that I always have been and always will be. I’ll meet someone one day who agrees and we can be enough together.

Crush the patriarchy.

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: November 20-22

We’re experiencing unseasonably warm weather in the Ol’ North State, with highs yesterday in the 70s and today in the 60s. There’s nothing unusual about this but it does make dressing complicated. I remember Thanksgivings past playing touch football in shorts and tshirts, or shivering in wool sweaters and coats. It’s always a toss-up. So, while I won’t put this in my official list below, as that would be redundant, I do want to suggest that you spend lots of time outdoors while this warm spell lasts. Soak up that Vitamin D before it’s too late! It’s a good weekend for raking leaves, hiking, running around with the dogs, throwing a Frisbee, or anything that gets you outside and sweating. Or sitting and reading. Whatever. Just go outside!

Here are a few other things you can do to have a solid weekend:

Follow the Stars | Have a Full Witch Weekend with Whisper & Howl #whisper&howl #weekend #fullwitch #weekend #astrology #stars

Follow the Stars

Dive into astrology this weekend (or dip in a toe) and make a decision based on the stars! The current cosmology is as good a reason as any to set a deadline or start date for a new project, make a date for a solitary ritual or gathering of friends, begin a journey or end a trial. I do this sometimes when I just need a nudge towards creating a deadline or getting a start, or if I need to hold off on making a decision. Sometimes not doing anything is the best decision. My point is, if you need to do or not do something but are having trouble, use the stars as a guide. Many cultures use astrology to determine auspicious dates and schedule around them. Give it a try! I’m not saying you have to make huge life decisions this way, but one little thing. Trust me. It’s fun.

Here are some of my favorite astrology sites:

Chani Nicholas

The Astrotwins

The New Paradigm Astrology Cooperative

 

Support Local Farmers

Is there a Farmers Market in your town? If not, you should probably move. If so, grace it with your presence! The Farmers Market is a great place to connect with the people who tend the earth and provide you and yours with sustenance, energy, beauty and flavor. I usually bring $20-40 in cash and spend it all. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of veggies on my list so I get to buy some flowers, tea, jam, coffee, or plants. I like to walk around and check out the options before I settle on any particular vendor.

The Farmers Market is also a great place to get clean meat. If you’re a meat-eater, you should strongly consider getting as much meat as possible from local, organic farmers who give their animals lots of space and healthy feed. If the beef you eat has eaten corn or soy, you are eating corn or soy. You want to consume meat from animals who have been treated well, in the most natural environment possible. Or, don’t eat meat!

Whatever you do, take some time to talk to the farmers and those who are tending the stalls. Learn about what they do and thank them.

 

Sleep In

I know I will.

Doing anything special this weekend? Anything Thanksgiving-y? 

 

 

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: Sweater Weather

I realized that all of the weekend posts I am going to make from now on could be summed up as “Put on a sweater. Do something cozy.” I’ll try and be more specific, but honestly if that’s all you do this weekend (and every weekend until Spring), you’ll probably be pretty happy.

Here are a few things to try this weekend that don’t require, but should include, sweaters:

Read a Book | Have a Full Witch Weekend: Sweater Weather, at Whisper & Howl #weekend #fullwitch #books

Read a book

The whole thing.

When is the last time you curled up with a blanket and a cup of hot something, ideally wearing your favorite sweater, and spent an entire day with a book? If your answer is yesterday or last week or even last month then congratulations. We are probably soul mates. What kind of sweater were you wearing? I hope it was cashmere, for optimal snuggling with our books. You should do it again this weekend. I’m available.

If your answer is not so recent, then take the opportunity afforded by this foggy early November weather and grab a book and get to it. Find a comfy chair at home or in your favorite coffee shop, the one that looks like your weird grandpa’s living room, the one that has mismatched comfy chairs and stacks of eccentric magazines and knick knacks and is attached to a record store (I’m talking about you, Soma), and curl up in it. The coziness is almost as important as the book–maybe more important, if you’re going to commit to a whole day of getting in touch with your literary side. Do you have a cable knit blanket? Maybe you should get one. Consider it an investment in your happiness.

What book should you read? That one that’s been sitting on your shelf, looking at you imploringly, for a year. That book that you’ve been meaning to start but you know that once you do, you will fall into a rabbit hole of words from which you won’t emerge for hours. That is the one. Don’t have a book on hand? Try the library. Try any of the 99 books that author Anthony Burgess insists you absolutely must read. Ask your friends. Ask Goodreads.

Devote yourself to the magic of words. Get swept away. Don’t come up for air until you’re done and your life has been forever altered by the power of a good book.

 

Perform a Random Act of Kindness

Make your roommate a cup of tea before she asks. Leave a love note in your sweetheart’s (sweater) pocket. Ask your coworker how he’s doing. Send a postcard to a friend who lives in another state. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Buy someone lunch. Make a donation.

Be sweet, because you can.

 

Spend time with an animal

Animals are basically sentient sweaters, right? If you have one, give him some extra love this weekend. Get those belly rubs you both adore. Bake some fancy dog/cat treats. Gaze at your fish, sing to your birds. Spend an extra hour in bed with your little love. If you don’t have one, find one! Visit a friend and play with her new kitten. Volunteer at a shelter or animal-centric nonprofit. Connect with your (domesticated) animal nature this weekend.

It’s good for both of you.

 

Bundle up, snuggle up, and have a beautiful, foggy November weekend!

What’s your favorite thing about sweater weather?

 

 

 

Have a Full Witch Weekend: All Hallow’s Eve Edition

Have a Full Witch Weekend: All Hallow's Eve Edition, at Whisper & Howl #halloween #fullwitch #weekend

Happy Halloweeeeeeeeen!

I’ve always loved Halloween. I sported some fantastic homemade costumes as a kid: Statue of Liberty, gypsy, prairie girl (complete with bonnets). As a young adult, my hits included Velma from Scooby Doo (a group effort), an excellent (if I do say so myself) babydoll, and a very conceptual tornado. As I’ve gotten older, though, the holiday has lost some of its buzz for me. I don’t love binge-drinking. I don’t have a gang to do group costumes with. I try to avoid sugar. I hate the traffic to and from parties and the clusterfuckery of bars on Halloween. I want something better, something more…wholesome?

I’ve seen Hocus Pocus at least 23 times. I have always wanted that New England Halloween thing where all the houses are decked out and there are local tales of evil witches and the cemetary has a crypt. Now that I’m older, I want that party where all the adults wear elaborate costumes and dance (all night, because they are cursed, of course) and there’s an awesome bluesy band and presumably good booze.

I also want to do all the kid stuff. I can’t do that, of course, but I want to borrow a kid for the season at least. I want to go to pumpkin patches and costume parades and trick-or-treating and school Fall Festivals and all the family-friendly events that you really can’t do if you don’t have a kid.

Anyway. I want something new for Halloween. I don’t know exactly what that is, but this year it involves the road trip I advocated last weekend. I’m heading to Asheville to have a spook out with my witchy friend Kara. Plans include a burlesque, a Sleepy Hollow puppet show, and possible a seance. Here are some suggestions for things to bring some witch to your weekend:

Honor Your Ancestors

This is really pertinent to me right now, since I lost my Dad to cancer a little over a month ago. I want to emphasize that I am neither Pagan nor Catholic and do not want to diminish the religious holidays of Samhain, Dio de los Muertos, or All Saint’s Day. I do really love the idea, though, of taking time out to honor those who have passed with celebration and remembrance. I am also interested in experiencing a Samhain ritual as part of my full witch explorations. Here are some suggestions of simple activities you can do this weekend to honor those who have gone before us (borrowed from the lovely website Circle Sanctuary):

  • Ancestors Altar. Gather photographs, heirlooms, and other mementos of deceased family, friends, and companion creatures. Arrange them on a table, dresser, or other surface, along with several votive candles. Kindle the candles in their memory as you call out their names and express well wishes. Thank them for being part of your life. Sit quietly and pay attention to what you experience. Note any messages you receive in your journal. (Read Creating an Altar for more ideas.)
  • Feast of the Dead. Prepare a Samhain dinner. Include a place setting at your table or at a nearby altar for the Dead. Add an offering of a bit of each beverage being consumed to the cup at that place setting, and to the plate, add a bit of each food served. Invite your ancestors and other deceased loved ones to come and dine with you. To have this as a Samhain Dumb Supper experience, dine in silence. After the feast, place the contents of the plate and cup for the Dead outdoors in a natural location as an offering for the Dead.
  • Ancestor Stories. Learn about family history. Contact one or more older relatives and ask them to share memories of family members now dead. Record them in some way and later write accounts of what they share. Give thanks. Share what you learned and have written with another family member or friend. Add names of those you learned about and wish to honor to your Ancestors Altar.
  • Cemetery Visit. Visit and tend the gravesite of a loved one at a cemetery. Call to mind memories and consider ways the loved one continues to live on within you. Place an offering there such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, or a libation of water.

 

Walk in the Woods | Have a Full Witch Halloween Weekend with Whisper & Howl #fullwitch #weekend #halloween

Walk in the Woods

This weekend marks the end of summer (that’s what the word “samhain” means) and the beginning of the colder weather. Make a point to spend some time in the great outdoors this weekend and enjoy the harvest season. Throw on some plaid flannel, wooly socks, boots and a knit cap. Recreate all those wonderful photos of hip young adults in sweaters, walking through the woods. Take a hike. Sit on your porch with a pumpkin chai. Rake leaves, or gather them to make a wreath. Build a bonfire. Celebrate the season and connect with nature.

Go outside and stay there.

 

Listen to Halloween Music

Like, nonstop. You’ve got like 48 hours so make it count!  I’ve had Werewolf Bar Mitzvah stuck in my head for months and now I can play it on repeat without feeling unseasonable.

Here’s a Spotify playlist I made last year for my occasional radio show, The Friday Night Mixtape on WCOM FM. There are a lot of spooky instrumental songs mixed in there to add a really creepy ambiance to your car or home. Honestly, I’ve been listening to this since September.

 

Do you have any Halloween traditions or rituals of your own?