Saturday, January 11, 2014

Aware

Welcome to week 2 of the Pagan Blog Project! So far I haven't managed to keep to the schedule and post on Fridays, but at least I'm only a day late this week!

As promised, this week "A" is for aware. Since I have a degree in English, I often find it useful to start with a definition:

aware
adjective \ə-ˈwer\
: knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists
: feeling, experiencing, or noticing something (such as a sound, sensation, or emotion)
: knowing and understanding a lot about what is happening in the world or around you

I like that this definition mentions feeling and experiencing as well as knowing and understanding. We can be aware of sensations and emotions even if we have difficulty understanding them or expressing them in words. Emotions and experiences are an important part of my spiritual practice.  It's one thing to learn about Pagan beliefs and practices from a book, but truly becoming Pagan involves trying out those practices and discovering which ones help you connect to spirit. Furthermore, I believe spell work is more effective when I feel a connection to what I am doing, instead of just looking up standard correspondences.

Let's see if I can think of an example to illustrate this better... Let's say I want to do a healing spell, and I'm trying to decide what color candle to burn. By doing a quick online search I found a chart listing yellow as a suggested color to use for a healing spell. But I wasn't aware that yellow was associated with healing. Instead I would probably pick green, since I think of green plants as being healthy and vibrant, and I want a color that will help me focus on healing energy. By choosing something that helps shift my awareness I can increase the effectiveness of my spell.

Of course, my associations may be completely different from another Witch's correspondences. I don't think anyone's way is right or wrong, but I do believe it is important to be aware of why you are doing things a certain way. 

Here's another example... When casting a circle at the beginning of a ritual, I generally begin in the East, because I associate the East with new beginnings (this is where the sun rises after all). I have a friend who prefer to being in the North, which she associates with the Earth - where all things begin and end. I could also see beginning in the South or West, if one of these elements was central to the theme of the ritual and you wanted to place extra emphasis on these qualities.

Again, I don't think anyone's way of doing things is better than anyone else's. By being self-aware we can determine which ways of doing things are more effective for us, and develop a truly meaningful spiritual practice. 

Participating in the Pagan Blog Project is a way for me to increase my awareness of my spiritual practice. And I hope reading my ramblings will help you increase awareness of your practice, whether or not you are Pagan.




Monday, January 6, 2014

Again...

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted on here. So, it's a new year and thought I would try blogging again :)

Also decided to participate in the Pagan Blog Project again. Hoping to make it further in the alphabet this year!

As you may have noticed, today the letter "A" is for Again.

Sometimes I do things again because I didn't like how they turned out the first time. Other times I do things again because I enjoyed them and want to repeat the experience. Repeating things again and again can lead to them becoming a tradition. There can be comfort in doings again because they're familiar. I think the challenge is to keep learning and experimenting, even when doing a familiar activity.

Let me see if I can explain better with a few examples...
I have started keeping a Spell book, in order to keep spells and chants I have written (this is separate from my Book of Shadows, but we'll talk more about that in a future post). Anyway, I have one healing chant I wrote a few years ago that I have used several times when a friend requests some healing energy. Using a familiar chant means I can concentrate more on raising energy than on trying to remember the words. So in this way it can become more powerful each time I use it. The problem would be if I was merely reciting the words without paying attention to what I was saying, or if I continued to use an ineffective spell because I was too lazy to create a new one. To help me stay focused on the intent of the chant, I may place a picture of my friend on the altar or charge a crystal that I can give to her later. I might also light a candle in my friend's favorite color and inscribe it with her name. So even though I'm using the same chant again, the ritual is never exactly the same.

And a more general example...
I recently knit several pairs of fingerless gloves for friends. I don't often knit the same pattern multiple times, and knitting gloves means I'm already knitting the same pattern twice (since most people wear gloves in pairs). If I want a matching pair I can't switch yarn or needles to help keep the project interesting. But, I am more likely to have the pattern memorized, which makes it easier to knit on public transit! And having the pattern memorized also means I can settle into a rhythm, allowing the knitting to become a form of meditation.

To further connect knitting to my spiritual practice, I have found myself using simple chants to help keep track of where I am in a pattern. For example, if a pattern says "knit 3, purl 1" instead of counting the stitches, I may chant "maiden, mother, crone" for each knit stitch, then pause to purl, and so on. I think this is similar to how people use malas or other types of prayer beads.

Are there things you find yourself doing again and again? Do you see these as positive or negative things?

I don't think repetition is inherently good or bad, but I do believe in becoming more aware of the patterns that we are repeating. I think I will stop here for now, as that seems to be another topic. So, stay tuned for next week, when "A" will be for Awareness.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rose City Yarn Crawl Finished!

Finally finished adding pictures and links! So here is my (overdue) recap of the Rose City Yarn Crawl.

Saturday was my main yarn crawling day. My significant other agreed to drive, and we started out around 10am.

First stop was the Knitting Bee where I had fun looking through more of the One of a Kind Buttons. Decided to bring these ones home with me:



I was tempted by the yarn featured for their lovely shawl pattern but decided to wait. It's not like I have a shortage of sock yarn in the stash!

Next stop was For Yarn's Sake, where I had won a $5 gift card for answering their shop trivia question correctly. I got to show off my Ballerina Shawl to Knitted Wit and picked up this skein of her yarn, along with the Trellis Rose Shawlette pattern.



From there we headed to Northwest Wools and All About Yarn, where I managed not to buy anything. Then on to Wool and Wares where I picked up this skein of Alexandra's Crafts yarn:



It was a special colorway for the shop, so I couldn't resist :) Still looking for pattern ideas though...

Then across the newly reopened Arch Bridge for a stop at Wynona's Studios. They specialize in recycled and local items, so it was fun to look around since I don't spend much time in Oregon City. Ended up with a small braid of fiber, fun skein of sock yarn (any ideas for this one?), and a sparkly shawl pin. They also put purchases in cute handmade bags.



Close up of the shawl pin:

Next stop was Yarnia, where we found the local news interviewing the shop owner: http://www.kgw.com/video/featured-videos/Thousands-show-up-for-4th-annual-Rose-City-Yarn-Crawl-194678271.html

Chatted about the yarn blending process with a few people also waiting to get their passports stamped, and then off to Happy Knits. They have a great selection of yarn, but I managed to resist buying anything since we were only about halfway through the day. Then a stop at Yarn Garden, which had a cool fiber art piece on display. I didn't think to take any pictures, but you can check out more here: http://www.yarngarden.net/se-art-walk/.

Next stop was Gossamer, where I admired the shawl pattern they had designed for the crawl. Decided to get the featured yarn for the pattern, and have been working on it this week. It's a long shawl, so this is probably only like an 1/8 of the finished shawl! It's about the right size for the cat though ;)



Then we stopped at Twisted where I watched Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts spinning silk hankies. She also explained how to peel off the layers of silk and knit them without spinning first. Very cool! Almost bought one, but had already spent more than I had planned. I did pick up a skein of Woobu though, since a couple of my coworkers had asked me to make them cowls. Should be enough yarn for two and they agreed to reimburse me for yarn.



Next was Close Knit, another shop I don't get to very often. We had fun admiring Teresa Ruch's lovely yarns, and learning a little about how they make tencel and bamboo fiber. She also had some great samples, and I was intrigued by the texture of the rayon boucle yarn.

I ended up with 2 skeins with plans to make fickleknitter's rayon boucle shawl.

Our final stop was The Naked Sheep. I picked up a small bottle of Eucalan (can always use more wool wash!) and picked up a copy of their crawl pattern. Also admired the samples from Chrissy Gardiner's Indie Socks book. Definitely need to make some of these! Chatted with a few other people about their handknits - thinking about making the Botanical Cowl out of Yarnia's 5th anniversary Golden Ticket yarn...

Turned in my completed passport - forgot to snap a picture, but here's my tote bag with  all of the shop buttons!



And the SO even got a Naked Sheep sticker for driving :)



Now focusing on knitting through the stash and saving up for next year's crawl!



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Rose City Yarn Crawl (Days 1 & 2)

Last weekend was the Rose City Yarn Crawl. If you haven't experienced the craziness fun before, the goal is to visit 18 yarn shops in the Portland metro area over 4 days.

I started with a quick stop at Knit Purl over my lunch break. Lots of knitters having lunch in their downstairs knitchen! A couple of skeins of ShiBui staccato decided to come home with me (great discount so I couldn't resist!)



After work I took the streetcar down to Angelika's, and bought the suggested yarn for their special yarn crawl pattern. The pattern is for a bag, so I thought this would be a nice, go with everything color:


Then back on the streetcar to head down to Dublin Bay Knitting Company. Always nice to chat with other knitters and hang out on their comfy couches. Refueled with some tea and treats, and couldn't resist a skein of Sweet Georgia sock yarn:
Not sure if this wants to be a pair of socks or a shawl.. any suggestions?


From there I walked to Pearl Fiber Arts. Once in the door I was instantly drawn to the baskets of one-of-a-kind buttons. Couldn't resist an owl and a sun (which come to think of it, are both symbols that relate to past nicknames).


While there I started talking to Kara, a knitter/crocheter who had driven up from Salem. We couldn't resist the Caress wrapped in luxury yarns, and learned how to knit and crochet this bulky yarn on our hands. After about half an hour of giggling and chatting we each ended up with a super long, super cozy scarf!




The next day I had to go to work, but managed a trip out to Kathy's Knit Korner in Forest Grove. There I met up with Kara again for more chatting and yarn fondling. My significant other picked out this skein of yarn so I can make him a hat:
 
Have to pick out a pattern, but I told him he'll have to wear the hat on next year's yarn crawl ;)

Will update on the final day of yarn crawling later!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snow Moon Chant

Life has gotten busy and I've gotten behind in the Pagan Blog Project. I was working on another post for the letter C, but wasn't happy with it. So I figured I'd do a short post just to get back in the habit of blogging and attempt to catch up.

Yesterday was the February Full Moon, often called the Snow Moon. I found the full moon inspiring, and this is the chant I made up on the way home yesterday. Hope you enjoy it :)

Snow Moon Chant

Mother Moon guide me home
no matter where I roam
welcome me with open arms
and keep me safe from harm

So mote it be

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Creating Connections (Pagan Blog Project Week 5)

When I made the decision to combine my craft blog with an earth-based spiritual blog I figured there would be some overlap between my craft and Craft posts. As I continue to participate in the Pagan Blog Project the more I notice similar themes emerging.

This week I've been thinking about connections, specifically about connecting to others in order to form communities. I belong to Ravelry, an online community for knitters and crocheters. I also belong to a coven and participate in sabbat celebrations with the larger Portland Pagan community. There will probably be more posts about these various communities in the future.

One of the specific groups I belong to on Ravelry is for Pagan Crafters. Last fall someone in the group suggested starting a Wheel of the Year swap. The concept is simple: one of the organizers matched up the people who wanted to participate, and we are sending a small package to our partner for each of the 8 Pagan holidays. The packages can include pretty much anything we think relates to the holiday, especially things that are local to our area or homemade. Since Samhain (October 31st) is usually considered the Witches' New Year, this was our first swap.


The package I received for Samhain is on the left, while the picture on the right shows the package I received at Yule.


Although I have not met my swap partner in person, we are starting to form a connection through our packages. We have also been sending handwritten cards with each package.

So far I am enjoying this opportunity to connect more to the Wheel of the Year, and connecting more to my home by looking for local products I can send to my swap partner. For our recent Imbolc swap I included some Pacific Northwest Blackberry honey as well as a couple of scrapbook pages I had made:
In return I received a cute hat that my partner had crocheted and some herbal teas from her local tea shop.  I also received a specially charged candle. You can read the lovely blog post she wrote about charging the candle here: http://nature.pagannewswirecollective.com/2013/01/24/the-magic-of-here/
 By reading her post I felt connected to the process. And when I unwrapped the candle she had blessed for me I felt the energy and intention she had placed in it.





This picture shows the candle burning on the hearth in my home.

Maybe I was imagining that I could feel this energy, but even so, I felt connected to the idea that this woman 1,800 miles away was thinking of me when she held this same candle. This woman set the intention that this candle would carry with it the magick of her home, and I burned this candle with the intention of accepting this energy. In this way I think our homes are connected now.

I also sent her a candle that my coven sisters helped me charge during our last full moon circle. I hope that she will feel the good thoughts and energy when she burns her candle.

I started participating in this swap thinking it would be fun to spend more time reflecting on each of the sabbats. I realize I am enjoying having a pen pal more than I expected, and am continuing to expand my community. Sharing on this blog is another way I seek connections. So, if you've read this far, I hope you'll take a moment to post a comment to say "hi" and continue expanding the circle.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Herbal Potions and Notions

Last weekend I went to The Herb Shoppe with a friend for a medicinal oils and healing salves class. The class was taught by the owner, who is also a naturopath. It was a nice balance of learning about herbs and having a chance to make a few things.

The class started with everyone choosing a tea to enjoy. With so many choices this was a difficult decision, but I finally decided on a lemon blend. Then we spent some time talking about herbs to use for different ailments and deciding on our personal blends. As I was talking to the instructor, she also suggested that I drink peppermint tea for half the month and chamomile tea for the other half to help regulate cycles. I like both of these teas, and realized that I had recently been craving chamomile tea. It seemed my body was intuitively telling me that I should switch from my usual peppermint tea to chamomile. Since I have been trying to focus more on being in my body it was nice to have my intuition confirmed in this way :)

After the class we stopped at the Hawthorne Market Stand where I picked up some kale and potatoes to make soup. I've been experimenting more with soups lately - rainy winter weather seems like the perfect time to warm up with a bowl of soup, and there's just something about adding a bunch of random things to a big cooking pot...

Overall the day seemed like a good balance of body, mind, and spirit. And the soup was yummy :)