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.

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

 

 

DIY Miracle Grains

Treat Yourself to this DIY for soft, radiant skin

Oh, December! I have never had holiday stress until this year, and it is hitting me HARD. This is the first holiday season I’ve had without my Dad. It’s a huge time for my close, loving family, with Thanksgiving (traditionally a feast at our homestead, prepared by Dad), and Dad’s and my littlest sister’s birthdays book-ending Christmas. This season has deepened my sense of loss and heartache even as I am grateful for my family, friends, and the long nights that provide time for the rest I so badly need. It’s also a time when I have spent loads of money on gifts for others and myself as well as on going out with visiting friends. This year, however, I am especially money-poor. I’ve decided to do a Spending Fast at least for December, meaning I spend money on absolutely nothing that isn’t a need (as defined by me–details in a later post).

What this all means is that I am desperate for rest and rejuvenation, preferably of the spa treatment type, and that I must use the resources I already have and be creative with gifts and everything else this month.

So it is a very good thing that I have a cabinet full of ingredients for DIY skincare! I recently had some ladies over to make our own bath products and tried making and using Miracle Grains for the first time. This weekend, treat yourself to an easy at-home facial using this wonderful DIY beauty product. Miracle Grains has only 6 ingredients, is simple to make, and keeps well. It smells wonderful and feels delightfully different. Whip up a big batch and package it in little jars as gifts for friends–or keep it all for yourself!

Miracle Grains DIY | Whisper & Howl #diybeauty #naturalbeauty #diy #spa #whisperandhowl

This recipe will create a batch of dry “grains” that can be mixed with water, honey and/or rosewater to create a facial scrub/cleanser, or left on for several minutes as a face mask. I’ve used it both ways and love it. I recommend mixing the paste in a small bowl, as it is hard to do it in your hands! For an extra luxurious treatment, paint the mixture on your face and leave it to dry. The brush on your face feels magical. As a mask, this would be lovely to use after a steam facial!

Miracle Grains 

(Recipe from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar)

Ingredients

• 1 cup oats, finely ground
• 2 cups white clay
• 1/4 cup almonds, finely ground
• 1/8 cup lavender flowers, finely ground
• 1/8 cup rose petals, finely ground

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. An electric spice or coffee grinder works well for the oats, lavender and rose petals. I had almond meal on hand from Trader Joe’s. For convenience, store a weeks’ worth of the grains in a container next to the sink, but keep the remainder in the refrigerator or other cool place to preserve their freshness.  A spice jar with a shaker top also works well as a storage container.

2. To use, mix 1–2 teaspoons of the cleansing grains with enough water to make a paste. Gently massage onto your face. Rinse off with warm water after washing, or leave on as a mask until dry and then rinse. Follow up with a toner and face cream or moisturizer for radiant, healthy skin.

I’m going on a mini-silent retreat this weekend while I undertake Advanced Yoga Teacher Training. What are your plans for this first weekend in December?

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.

 

All gunked up

Whisper & Howl

I realized something important about my body last week.

It’s whack.  Wacky.  Out of whack.  Whacked?

The alignment is all off.  There’s no balance.  Not that it has been balanced in years anyway.  I’ve been dealing with poor health for years: low energy, congestion, GI issues, back pain, occasional fatigue…just feeling kind of crappy all of the time.  I’m so, so tired of it.

I remember 2 years ago, my Birthday Resolution was “Health.”  I knew that was pretty broad so I tried to break it up into segments like Spiritual, Mental, Physical, because that makes it so much easier (hahahahaaaahhhhhhhsigh).  After the year was up I certainly didn’t feel that I’d accomplished that goal.  I was in grad school, dealing with a lot of anxiety, stress and loneliness.  I was fatigued and bloated all of the time, and I’d totally let my asana practice go.  But you know, I got by.  I got through that.   I also realized that year that gluten was causing a lot of my fatigue issues, so I cut that out.

Actually, looking back, I did totally start something that year.  I set the intention to improve my health and while I didn’t find the cure and solve all my problems, I started on the path to feeling awesome.  I guess that’s what intentions do.  Ah hah!

Since then, I have put a lot of energy into healing my digestive system.  Again, as a sign of my natural impatience, I was focusing on immediate results and not thinking about the long-term effects that this would have.  Focusing on the immediate made it easier to slip up and eat things that cause a reaction.  For instance, it’s really hard to not eat cheese.

Cheese is like, the best thing.  It’s delicious, fatty and salty and interesting, and it’s packed full of chemicals that make us feel amazing.  When I’m in situations where I’m literally touching it, like cutting pizza for kids or slicing a chunk of Jarslberg for a gallery opening, it is almost impossible for me not to put it in my mouth.  Lots of it.  Even though it upsets my tummy.  Even though I’ll wake up with a sinus headache that could definitely turn into a sinus infection.  Even though I am basically one big snot monster.  It’s just SO GOOD.

What I didn’t realize before is that I have done a pretty good job of healing my gut, and that has allowed me to see other problems that still exist.   I have connected some dots and now know that I’ve got a lot of inflammation in my body, which is causing congestion and back pain.  Now that my gut is better and that’s not the focus of all of my healing energy, I can move on to a new phase of healing.

My impression is that I need to cleanse now, to get the leftover junk, the junk that’s built up in my body for all the years when I was eating the wrong foods or whatever caused all these things, to flush all that shit out.  We’re in Cancer Sun time, a time for healing, and Capricorn Moon time, a time for setting routines and putting systems into place. Perfect timing, right?!It’s like Phase 2!  (Or really, like Phase One Zillion.) I have to maintain my diet.  I have to FIGHT THE CHEESE (or as my acupuncturist said, “Don’t feed the monster”).  I can’t put gunk in my body if I want to get gunk OUT of it!

You won’t see my on a juice cleanse–first because I think it’s super unhealthy and second, because I think it’s stupid and I don’t want to, harumph–or any other fad detox diets.  Here are some things I am going to do, and I’m putting them here on the internet to officially set my intention and challenge myself to commit:

  1. SMOOTHIE CHALLENGE!!!  I’ve been really bad about having a daily smoothie and I feel better when I do have them.  They increase my fruit and veggie intake and are easy to digest, good for an irritated gut.  I have already started and will continue to have 1 Smoothie each day in July and hopefully will keep doing it in future months.
  2. Acupuncture and treatments: I started acupuncture on Tuesday and have made appointments for the next month, every other week.  I’m also doing what my specialist tells me to do, which at the moment is Castor Oil Packs over my liver each evening and Wet Sock Treatment for 3 nights in a row.  Yes, it’s weird, and yes, I love it.
  3. Sticking to my diet: Absolutely, 100%, no excuses, doing this.  I WILL DO THIS!!!  THIS IS HAPPENING!
  4. Immune-boosting, dosha-balancing, cleansing foods and herbs: Turmeric and ginger in my smoothies.  Hot water and lemon. Apple cider vinegar.  Triphala and Neem.  Bitter, pungent, fresh, spicy foods.  Immune-boosting soup.  Fresh fruits and veggies.  You get the idea.

And the MOST IMPORTANT THING:

Have PATIENCE.  Oh this is so hard for me!  Once I have identified a problem, I feel like I should be able to fix it immediately and when I don’t see results right away, I get frustrated.  I have to let go of my Virgoan perfectionism, breathe deeply, drink my smoothie and remember that good things take time.  Monsters can be tamed.  Small steps.

If you are dealing with something similar, or have gone through this and come out the other side, monster-free, I’ll take any tips you’ve got!

On Faith and the Blahs

Ask and you shall receive.

Jump, and the net will appear.

But how does one know what to ask for?  How do we know which way to jump?

Jump Off Cliff by Flickr user Steven | Alan

Photo by Flickr user Steven | Alan

Lately I feel like I’m being drawn down a really positive, dynamic path, moving in the direction of my dreams, but also it’s SLOW.  There are roadblocks.  There is unhappiness.  I am not a patient person.

This makes me moody.  I’m often grouchy during the day, when my energy is expended on activities that don’t fulfill me, in a space that drains me.  I want to focus on positive messaging: mantras, “thinking the opposite,” finding something nice to say about everyone.  I try to stay busy so I don’t fall into a hole of discontent.  This week I find myself with little work to do, feeling tired and grumpy, hot and unhappy.  I’m bummed.  I have major unexpected expenses but no increase in income. I have groceries but no time to cook.  I have homework but no time to read.  I have rituals of self-care but no energy to perform them.

I want answers.  I want to know with absolute certainty that another  opportunity is on its way, that the money to fix my car will fall into my lap, that my insurance will cancel my waiting period so I can get medically necessary dental care!  I want to know that through my pursuit of yoga, my creative explorations, the numberless incredible and uplifting conversations I have with friends and fellow yogis, that by actively pursuing a fulfilling and spiritual life my day-to-day will improve.  Sometimes I know what to do.  This week, I do not.

Yesterday when I started this post, I was feeling really distressed by the way my mood has changed regarding the situation I’m in.  The week before last I was strongly moved by a righteous anger, the slap-in-the-face realization that something must change IMMEDIATELY.  I got through that with positivity, a sense of gratefulness and hope and faith that as I create space for change, it has to happen.  Last week, I carried that feeling over to a sense of general well-being, taking good care of myself, with enough work to do that I could stay busy.

But this week, I am BUMMED.  I can’t get in touch with my guides.  I have a major case of the blahs and possibly a head-cold or a touch of the chronic respiratory symptoms I’ve developed since starting this job.  I’ve had very low energy.  I can’t seem to focus on anything, including affirmations, guidance, mantra.  I don’t know what to do.  All I can think is, I don’t know what to do.  And yet…

As I write this I am thinking about faith.  Can faith be enough?  Can the belief that all I have to do is keep walking and the road will rise up to meet me, be enough?  Even when I don’t know exactly where I’m headed?  Is it enough to have faith that I’m choosing the right path, or that the right path has chosen me, or that I’m being led down the best path regardless of whether I falter?  I hope so.

I wanted this post to be about requesting clarification when seeking guidance.  I have so many things to talk about that it’s difficult to choose a topic.  I’m new here.  I’ve decided it’s best to just sit down and write, and let the words shape themselves into a post.  I trust that they will find a path and flow from beginning to end on the best possible course to completion.

Can I believe that of myself?  Can that be enough?

the blahs

the blahs

Private Hikes

I’ve been thinking a lot about energy balance lately.  It’s definitely the focus of my life right now, and I’m making it my Birthday Resolution for 2015.  The thing that has really brought this up for me is being in a situation I find really draining, but that I can’t leave right now.  I started searching for ways to feel better when I’m not in the thick of it, which happens to make me feel better when I am.

I have been walking to and from work, which gives me time to let my body get used to the idea of being there, and to unwind a bit on the way home, so that when I get here I can make choices that will make me feel good.  I have been selecting my Most Important Things, which helps me to focus on what is, well, the most important thing each day. I try to choose 3 and they may include chores, always include my sadhana, and something else that is pleasant.  I have to recharge with positive, affirming, joyful activities.  Sometimes that does mean I lie in bed and watch Supernatural!  Sometimes it means going on a konmari binge and getting rid of things that no longer serve me, keeping only things that spark joy.  Sometimes it means snuggling Devo, or going swimming, writing a letter, or painting!  Last weekend, I took myself on a solo hike to the top of a (small) mountain, where I sat and meditated/soaked up the sun, listened to nature, enjoyed the breeze and tuned in to my inner voice.   I got some Vitamin D and some insights into life and happiness…but that’s a tale for another time.

I suppose this is what is meant by self-care.  I have spent a lot of time trying to determine what that means to me, and this is helping me to get there.  Instead of focusing on the negative or draining things in my life, I concentrate on the things that bring me joy and make me feel energized.  For the past week, I’ve been doing these things in the evening or even throughout the day, but I would like to have more time in the morning to start my day off with an important thing, or even setting the things for the the day.  Right now, I set those things the night before, or when I get to work, or as I’m brushing my teeth, but I’d like to be more intentional about it.  Other than my sadhana (my practice, which involves at least 7 minutes of vinyasa yoga, 7 minutes of study and 7 minutes of another practice, which for me generally means meditation or doing a Tarot reading), my most important things are choices.  In the midst of a truly exhausting and unhappy situation that takes up half my waking hours, I am choosing toward love, light and life.  I am choosing to stay as positive as possible.  That requires a lot of energy, but this kind of energy is regenerative.  If like breeds like, I want my efforts at joy and harmony to create joy and harmony.

In the meantime, I definitely need more nature walks in my life.

Do you have any daily practices that help you recharge?

 

I am not a morning person…yet.

This is not my life.

This is not my life…but it could be.

I just bought an expensive, fancy-pants natural light alarm clock.  It was kind of an impulse purchase and I’m on a tight budget, but I have no regrets.

You see, I am not a morning person…but I want to be.  Oh, do I want to be.  The thought of getting up as the sun rises, enjoying a steamy cup of coffee, which I lovingly made with fresh-ground beans and steeped to perfection in my French press; sitting on the front porch listening to the world waking up; letting Devo out to play as I write my Morning Pages; returning to my room, which I have plenty of time to keep clean, to practice yoga and meditation before I shower, leisurely put on my face and dry my hair, make my smoothie with care and do the dishes so I can return home to a neat and clean space….This is the stuff of my dreams.

The problem is, I have spent my whole life avoiding mornings.  I snooze for hours.  I take a shower and go back to bed for a “quick nap.”  I set my alarm as late as is feasible for getting to work on time, and I am rarely on time.  Whenever I get the chance to sleep late, I will stay in bed all morning.  For most of my life, the idea of getting up before 8 has made me cringe.  And yet…

I’ve changed.

Last year, my big Birthday Resolution was to become fiscally responsible, something that I’m still working on (and will be working on forever).  This year, I am focusing on balance.  In the past this has meant time-management, balancing work and play, how to get everything done and still stay sane.  However, I’m realizing that time-management is hardly possible in this day and age.  We are constantly plugged in, absorbing information, processing and working every minute of every day.  What has become important isn’t time, it’s energy. How do I balance my energy?  How do I choose where my focus goes, ignoring things that are not important, and maintaining mental and physical health?  How do I get through a day of work at an emotionally draining job and still have the energy, at the end of the day, to be a well-balanced, social person with interests and responsibilities (and part-time jobs) outside of my 9-5?

I believe becoming a morning person is a crucial step.  Having those extra hours in the morning to exist in my own personal space, to greet the day with joy and to set my intentions (and priorities) will add some calm and beauty to my life and increase my energy.  Snoozing, oversleeping and sleeping poorly are energy-suckers and can be bad for overall health.

I started this quest in December as I began The Artist’s Way, which demands that you spend 30 minutes each morning writing 3 pages.  I did this for the required 90 days and then I slid back into my old habits (for several reasons including health issues and my job, but that’s a story for another time).  Then I began researching tactics for arising early, sleeping better, and morning routines.  I invested in an ingenious sleep app that, sadly, has lots of glitches so I won’t recommend it here.  It helped me calculate the amount of time I needed to sleep and to adjust my bedtime accordingly, which was useful.  I got up early for about 2 weeks, and then started bringing my phone/alarm into bed with me…bad idea.  And so I have resolved to buy an alarm clock, a fancy-pants alarm that will wake me gradually so I can become the morning person I am meant to be!

I’ll be posting a lot on energy balance, my person quests and resolutions, and the practices I encounter and learn along the way–and I’ll let you know how this alarm works out.  If you have any advice, tips or tactics that work for you, please feel free to share!

Follow-up: This alarm clock is dope. It has definitely made waking up less of a jarring and traumatic experience and more of a natural, pleasant part of life. The sunset feature is also very relaxing and helps me as a “go to bed” timer.