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

 

 

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?

A Week in Witchiness (or, One Witchy Week): 9/9-9/15

I’ve been a good little witch this last week.  With the New Moon in Virgo on Sunday night, my earth-loving, purifying, refining nature has been out in full force. Here are some of the things I’ve done:

5 ways I’ve been witchy since wednesday

Handpainted eyeball gel manicure | Whisper & Howl

Number 1

 I painted eyeballs on my fingernails.  I am obsessed.  When the paint inevitably peels off, I will be so, so sad.

Number 2

I undertook an Ayurvedic cleanse.  I’ve been taking herbs for a while and they seem to be helping, so I decided to do a Fall Cleanse right as the weather decided to drop 20 degrees!  Unexpected bonus: I’ve lost 3 lbs.

NUMBER 3

Because of the cleanse and its morning practices, I’ve been getting up much earlier than usual and am loving it!  I do some cleansing practices, make breakfast, shower and do yoga all before work.  It’s giving me more time in the evening, since my sadhana is already done, and has jolted me straight into a beautiful morning routine.  I’m getting a little closer to becoming a morning person every day.

Eclipse Healer by Mystic Mamma

Number 4

I taught 4 yoga classes last week, including the New Moon and Solar Eclipse in Virgo class on Sunday.  I love teaching the moon classes.  I get to learn all about what’s going on astrologically and impart it to others along with lots of my favorite poses (chandra namaskar or moon salutations is my favorite sequence).

Number 5

I got a book on Shakti mantras and am excited to dive in!  I’m headed to the beach tomorrow afternoon and expect to be reading lots of yoga texts and doing lots of chanting–along with playing cards and board games and watching horror movies with my Mom and sisters.  I’ll be sure and collect some nice shells for my altar while I’m there.

Bonus

This one isn’t witch-related, but I did get my Autumn Capsule Wardrobe figured out and have started transitioning some pieces in.  More info on my process and results will be coming soon.

What have you done to feel like a wild, weird, witchy goddess this week?

31st Birthday Resolution

After much consideration for the past few months, my 31st Birthday Resolution presented itself to me in July.

For the 31st year of my life, I am GOING FULL WITCH. 

What does this mean, you might ask?  Let me explain.

Three Fates, painting by Emily Balivet

Three Fates, painting by Emily Balivet

GOING FULL WITCH

This doesn’t mean Halloween witch, or Wiccan witch, or Goth witch (although I fully embrace deep, dark lipstick on a regular basis).  I love those things but this is something…different.

This is me being totally open to exploring all the earthy, natural, divine, strange, left-handed, taboo, mushy, divine aspects of womanhood.   Another way to name this would be “Exploring the Divine Feminine,” or “Going Full Goddess,” but witch sounds better.  It reminds me of the many ways that women have been persecuted and disempowered throughout history for daring to practice natural medicine, midwifery, and spirituality based on the sacred feminine.

“Witch” also lends that wild and weird quality that is, semantically at least, empowering me to get a little freaky without reservation and without worrying about being judged.  I’m buying crystals, guys.  I’m chanting, burning incense, signing up for Full Moon Goddess teleconferences, reading all kinds of cards, communing with my spirit guides, setting intentions.  I am absolutely wearing dark lipstick, and I might wear a giant flower crown out in public for no reason at all! (What?!  That’s crazy!)

The point is, I’ve been doing these things for a little while and I keep adding practices and researching different ways of being, and I’m just going for it.  I’m allowing myself to do whatever is interesting in the name of sacred womanhood.  There’s not a religious sect I align with (although I am a yogi and leaning towards the tantric and bhakti paths).  I’m not following any gurus.  I’m going to do what I want, learn, and teach.  If you’re interested in what I’m doing, follow along.  I’ll share anything that I stumble on, fascinating and probably also mundane.

Blessed be, y’all.

 

 

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