Category Archives: wicca

Little Things

hyacinth are peeking up in my garden

It was a grey and cold and rainy week.  I’ve got a chill that I can’t seem to shake, even when the sun peeks its head out.  I’m doing all the “celebration of spring” things you might expect, but I’m still not feeling it.

This is actually the hardest time of the year for many traditional peoples.  The stores are gone and the new food, spring’s promise, has not actually arrived.  Pulling the sap from the trees was probably originally an act of desperation.  Weather transitions are not easy either, and in Minnesota those transitions can swing very broadly and with little warning.  60 degrees one day and snow the next is not unheard of here.

Ran across this shrine down by the river.

I’m trying to pay attention and really honor the small things.  The little delights and surprises in my days.  I met a friend last week and she said, “Do you want to go out for lunch?”   YES!    I made a lovely venison stew and brought it to share for dinner with another friend.  I threw colored eggs in the river (a magical act that’s part of my Tradition’s practices for the season) and came across a lovely shrine.  I think it’s Hanuman the Hindu God who represents devotion and intellect.   Hmmmmm……..

I also saw a bunny in a knot of wood.   It made me smile, after all it is the season.  I picked up my pastel colored M&M’s the last time I went to the store and I’ve been eyeing the Cadbury eggs.

Bunny in the wood

This morning I went to http://gildasclubtwincities.org for the Euro Cafe Social.  What a treat to have breakfast made for me.  This is an occasional event for members to meet and get to know each other.  The origins of the Euro Cafe were with a member, who most of us knew as Uncle Jack.  He lobbied for more social events and cooked for the first several Euro Cafe’s.

Uncle Jack loved to cook, had a great sense of humor and always had a hug for anyone who needed it.  He was the one who noticed the day I got my diagnosis of endometrial cancer.  He didn’t ask what was going on, just if I needed anything and gave me the hug I asked for unconditionally.  Working at Gilda’s we do lose members to cancer, but Jack’s memory will live on and I’m honored to have known him.

Ryan making crepes for breakfast

That sweet bitter sweet is very much my mood of late.  It’s how I’m feeling about the changing seasons and about the world in general.  Talking to people it seems like it’s a feeling that’s going around.   How are you coping?

Trick or Treat

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Does it count if I wear my ritual gear as a costume?

Does it count if I wear my ritual gear as a costume?

Halloween on a Monday!   It’s been a weekend of ghouls and goblins and I’ve still got a lot to do to be ready for the little ones knocking on the door tonight.  Of all the scary things we’ve done in the last week I think the top one was voting.

 

 

 

This has been an election season wrought with emotional ups and downs, no matter who you prefer.  We have the option of voting early and have found it’s much easier for Orion and me.   It feels like a weight off to have it done, although the election results are still a bit Sword of Damocles.   I’ll say it again next week – the day before the actual election – but if you have the opportunity, please exercise your right to VOTE!

Not quite as scary during the day, but easier to get a photo

Not quite as scary during the day, but easier to get a photo

 

 

Karina threw her first big party in the new house.  Halloween Housewarming.  (Oh, and incidentally her boyfriend’s birthday).  It was a smash.  She entertained kids, visited with relatives, partied with old friends and stayed up until the wee hours with the dependable hold outs.

What more do you need? Coffee, beer, "poison" apples and a birthday pie.

What more do you need? Coffee, beer, “poison” apples and a birthday pie.

 

 

 

I did my part the day before.  We shopped and tidied up decorations and got the food prepared to go.  She still has most of my chairs.  Of course I put in an appearance at the party as well.   It was fun to see all the kids all grown up.

These girls slept over, traded clothes and shared secrets for years. Now one is pregnant, one is engaged and one just moved into a house.

These girls slept over, traded clothes and shared secrets for years. Now one is pregnant, one is engaged and one just moved into a house.

 

 

 

Halloween is a mixed bag because it’s also a high holiday.  The honoring on the ancestors happens all year round, but at this time of year it is done formally.  Sharing remembrances is a little bittersweet, but it can be very heartwarming as well.

Even Orion's Grandpa stopped in to see the new house.

Even Orion’s Grandpa stopped in to see the new house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about Samhein celebrations.

Ancestors and Descendants

Legacy

 

 

Author

resized_20161022_171951It’s been awhile since I’ve really felt like an author.  My first book is out of print.  The last few years I’ve been contributing to anthologies rather than writing on my own themes.  I’ve had a hard time making the space to work on my next book.  Life happens.

This past weekend, though, has been a writers week for me.   On Friday I attended Women of Words.   I’ve been a member of this amazingly supportive writers group for over a year, but I’ve had to miss meetings the last few months.  It’s great to feel “back on track.”

Then, as my regular readers know, I went to the Minnesota State University, Mankato Women and Spirituality Conference.  I spent most of the weekend vending my books (and the anthologies) and being “seen” as a writer.  I also gave a well attended workshop on Daily Practice (the next book).

my view for most of the weekend

my view for most of the weekend

There were some gems that dropped into my ears over the course of the weekend.   Some of them were immediately useful.  Others I’m still digesting.  I’ll share.

One of the Women of Words said that when you go to sell your books you need to have the expectation that they will sell.   Now that seems self evident, but I know I have set up vending with “Maybe I’ll sell a few books” in my head.  Not this time, and it made a significant difference in my sales.

The conference keynote speaker, Daisy Hernandez, talked about the power of memoir.  How when we share those personal stories we often find they are much bigger than we are.  In telling our own stories we tell a human story, a culture story, and there are at least elements of that story that belong in other people’s stories as well.  It’s hard for me to share those personal stories, but I know when I do my books are better for it.

My table was across from the artist who drew the cards in the Spirit of Archetypes divination deck.  I drew the Martyr card.   These cards carry “illuminated” and “shadow” meanings.  The shadow of the martyr is exactly what you think.  The illuminated archetype is about conviction and commitment to a purpose.   Like being an author and owning it.

Speaking about Daily Practice

Speaking about Daily Practice

When I speak about Daily Practice, and especially when I speak to women I have to address the issue of “How do I put myself first?”.  This comes across in a lot of ways.  It can be about time.  It can be about priorities.  It can be about reluctance to do self care.  It’s a very prevalent theme when I converse with people about their issues with Daily Practice and it’s certainly been one of my issues as well.

One of the suggestions I give to people who can’t seem to “do it for ourselves” is to dedicate the practice to the Divine.  Make your practice devotional, take a sacred vow to do the practice, add a gratitude component.  Essentially I recommend heightening the perceived value of the practice beyond just something we do for ourselves.

So… it finally occurs to me on the drive home to LISTEN to some of the things that come out of my own mouth.  What if marketing and promotion (the necessary and my least favorite parts of this job) were sacred service?  What if all marketing and promoting was about opening a channel for the Divine to inspire more people?   This one I’m still chewing on, but it tastes a whole lot better with this kind of seasoning.

Samhein/Halloween is New Year for Wiccans.  I’m feeling well packed for a new start.

Happy Imbolc

20160201_105835I’ve written several posts on this Sabbat in the past (links at the bottom).  It’s the time of year when we notice the days are getting longer.  Back before artificial light cows and hens stopped producing in the dark time of the year so it is a time to celebrate the return of eggs and milk.  Many animals are at the “birthing” time in their cycle.  It’s a good time to start things.

For many people who make New Years Resolutions it’s the time to recognize failure.   This is why I don’t do New Years Resolutions any more. Who needs to beat themselves up?  Not me!  But it is a good time for me to recognize where I need to get “back on track”.20160201_110101

Sunshine and winter thaw is a good motivator.   But I’ve got an even better one.  My copies of Pagan Leadership Anthology: An Exploration of Leadership and Community in Paganism and Polytheism  came in the mail!

This anthology, edited by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood and published by Immanion Press, includes a piece I wrote.   That’s where I need to get “back on track”.   I’ve kept up with the blog, but have been actively avoiding other writing – for no good reason.

Getting the books in the mail reminds me “I am a writer!”   I have authored 2 books  (Manifest Divinity and When Gods Come Knocking) and have published works in 3 anthologies (Pagan Leadership, Bringing Race to the Table, and Rooted in the Body Seeking the Soul).   Writers Write!book_when_gods_come_knocking_small-1 Manifest Divinity Front Cover hi res

The season marks the time to get back into the daily practice of writing.  For me, I find that it helps to set aside a particular amount of time I MUST write each day (with an eye to when I might squeeze that in).   The amount of time can be minuscule.  10 min, 20 min, an hour, how much doesn’t matter.   I need to sit down and do it.  Once I start I’ll write until I’m done, sometimes all day.  It’s the getting started where I need help.bringing race to the tableRooted in the Body

This time of year is the “housekeeping” time of year.   What have you been avoiding that really needs to be done?   Just do it.   Think of it as preparing the way for spring.

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/hope-2/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/stir-crazy/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/bonus-blog/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/light/

 

Bad Example

My Dad has been home from the hospital for over a week now and they are starting to find their routine.  I on the other hand am struggling to get back to my regularly scheduled life.

Anyone who’s ever been through a trauma knows some surprise at finding that, although for you time seemed to stop, the rest of the world didn’t.   It’s not that I’ve had my head in the sand.  I’ve done some grocery shopping, some reading, some cleaning, some laundry.  Orion is going to his day program bathed, dressed for the weather, and with a packed lunch.

I’ve kept up with my blog.  I’ve officiated at the coven’s Lammas circle.  I baked a pie.  What I haven’t done is pay the bills, return library books before they’ve become overdue, and turn in the end of the month time cards.  The lawn really needs mowing.  Weeding is not even on the list!

Daily practice for me is often my cue to pay attention to my choices.  It’s an opportunity for me to accept the responsibilities I’d rather avoid and reframe them as part of my spiritual practice.

Paying the bills may not seem like a particularly spiritual pursuit.  However, “a witch’s power is her word” so if I’ve incurred a debt that obligation is tied to my personal power.  I also recognize money as a form of energy, it ebbs and flows.  As I send it out I hope it will return three-fold (in value anyway).

Maintaining good financial practices does pay back.  I got a call from one of my creditors.  I’ve had a long-term relationship and always paid my bills on time.  They didn’t get a payment and wondered what happened.  I’m pretty sure I sent it, but maybe not.  In any case it’s taken care of now, and because of the history I wasn’t charged extra.

So I’d best get on my ritual gear.  I should pull out my magic wand (pen) and get writing.  Visa isn’t going to wait!

Hope

The thaw sometimes confuses the plants

The thaw sometimes confuses the plants

It is that time of year when it becomes really apparent that the days are getting longer, light is returning.  Groundhog’s day may be a big deal in some places, but here we are pretty well guaranteed another 6 weeks of winter.   Usually we see a “midwinter thaw” around this time of year.  With climate change it seems that thaw is coming earlier.  Much of our snow cover melted a few weeks ago with temps in the 40’s.  Now it’s cold again.

I’ve written blogs in previous years about the light and about seasonal celebrations.   I’ve written about our long winters and how easy it is to get cabin fever.  What I haven’t written much about, at least not here, is hope.

This is a time of year when hope is in short supply.  Historically, stores are starting to deplete and some household rationing sets in.  In the natural world food is scarce.  It is not uncommon to see herd die off in this late winter season, before the new shoots sprout.  Likewise, in a harsh year predators will struggle to find enough calories to continue to hunt.

Hens start laying again with the return of the light.  Some of us think of this as the dairy fat, fish and smoked meat sabbat.

Hens start laying again with the return of the light. Some of us think of this as the dairy fat, fish and smoked meat sabbat.

In the British Isles and in the Southern and Eastern United States this marks the time of year when there are signs that spring will come again.  Siberian squill, crocus, magnolia – the early bloomers are sprouting.   None of these first blossoms are food plants.  They are precursors.  Signs of hope.

In an interfaith analogy I liken our northern climate Imbolc to the story of the rainbow after the flood.   There was no land in sight, but there is a promise of hope in the light.  It is a time to prepare, a time to invite hope in.  The cleaning that goes along with this time of year is a little like Field of Dreams.   “If you clean it, spring will come.”

There is a metaphor that circulates in the Sufi and the Buddhist communities about hearts breaking open.  The notion is that it takes experiencing true heartbreak to be open to compassion, to shared human experience.  If you’ve never felt it, you are not fully human.  Those breaks, those scars, become the windows in your heart and soul that allow the light of the sacred to shine through you.    By allowing the pain, and not resisting, you also allow the opening.

Spring will come again

Spring will come again

The midwinter thaw is like that for me.  The days are so dark and so cold and everything is frozen into ice.  And then the ice breaks, and the light seeps in and the warmth can begin to reach the waters.  It is a moment.  The ice will come again, just like heartbreak will come again.  But it is also an opening to hope, that after the ice there will also be spring.

It’s a good time to have that reminder of hope in the world.

Gifting

An extra blog!  Reposting because I found a wonderful site about gifts to give your favorite author (and ME!) for the holidays.  Since Yule is this weekend – Enjoy that longest night! – I figured I’d better get this out there just in case you’d forgotten to add me to your gift list.  🙂

Here’s the link to the original

Along with the post – and my commentary

Decorated-Christmas-gifts-2

1. Mention their name/book when someone asks “What are you reading?”   (Or anytime you talk with someone about Spirituality!)

2. Add their book(s) to Goodreads groups and lists.  (Yes please)

3. Buy and give their books as gifts to people on your Christmas list.  (What a great idea!  I have some if you need them – I’d even sign them for you.)

4. Request your local library get their books.  (Hey!  I have friends who are librarians.  They have limited budgets.  Books that are requested get higher priority.)

5. If children/youth books, tell your child’s teacher/librarian/PTA about the books.  (Well,  I think maybe your churches, circles, women’s groups, specialty bookstores, and the folks in all those classes you’ve been taking.)

6. Suggest the author/book for your book group. (There’s plenty in my books to talk about!)

7. Follow author on Twitter and retweet.  (Maybe GET me on Twitter – but the same is true with Facebook or linked-in and my blog.  The more you “like”, comment, and especially share the more people see it.)

8. Like their author Facebook page and comment occasionally so author knows someone is out there.  (I do have an author page on Facebook Lisa Spiral)

9. Write an email to author.  (I always love to hear from folks about what they got out of my books or how they are using them.)

10. Leave a review on Amazon or other site of your choice.  (Even better!  Amazon, Goodreads, or even those small newsletters that bookstores and religious communities put out.  Hey – The Edge occasionally prints book reviews too.)

Seriously, these things mean a lot. Thanks for reading!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!   (AND A JOYOUS YULE FROM ME!)

S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed SaversVisit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

Corn Mother

0804131756aThis is my fourth posting about this time of year.  You might think I’ve “said it all”.    I call my page Spiral Visions for a reason.  It seems every time I come around I am never quite in the same place.  There is a shift in perspective.  Sometimes there are new things to see.  Some things take on more importance and others fade into the background.  The beginning of August marks First harvest, the Wiccan holiday Lammas and for me always Corn on the Cob.

Because of my surgery I don’t get local corn this year.   I did “cheat” and have a couple of cobs shipped up from Georgia right before I started my liquid diet.   I ate it reverently and with a nod towards this time of year.  It was a feast meal, for me, in advance.   It didn’t get me off the hook though.  I still had to do something to acknowledge coming around the wheel of the year again.  So I meditated for a vision.0804131758

I saw a cornfield.  Flying high above the corn was the Thunderbird.  The Corn Mother walked out from rows and I asked her for rain.

She said, “What you are looking for is balance.  Three weeks of rain and three weeks of sun is even, but it is not balance.  It is balance the crops need to grow, balance the people need to thrive.  You have no sense of balance.  You delude yourselves with notions of “fair” and “equal”.   You believe that balance is static, stable.  You are only fooling yourselves.  Balance is like standing on the water.  It is always shifting, but the movements are small.  Large shifts will dump you into the deep.  You need to climb out of the deep you find yourselves in and learn again to stand in balance upon the earth.”

100_4576She reached her arms up and corn silk streamed down from her sleeves like wings.  She reached for the Thunderbird, and he swooped lower.  She did not fly and he did not land.  That night, there was no rain.

It is balance I am reaching for, yet again.  Specifically a balanced relationship with food and nutrition.   More globally it is a balance about making heathy and sustainable choices.

Enjoy your first harvests.

Blessed Be.

 

Happy Spring!

The only way I could see daffodils springing up out of the snow.

The only way I could see daffodils springing up out of the snow.

Last week was the vernal equinox, the official start of spring.  Dare I mention that we had snow flurries this morning?

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A friend dyed these for Orion and me.

A friend dyed these for Orion and me.

Dying eggs is a big deal this time of year.  Whether you dye them for Easter or Ostara or just because it’s fun I have to wonder if part of the reason for dying eggs is just to put some color into the landscape.

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Running water in Minnehaha Creek

Running water in Minnehaha Creek

In warmer climates there are native breeds of chickens that lay eggs of different colors.  If you think about the climates in places  like the Ukraine, famous for their egg dying techniques, winters are longer and springs can be pretty grey.

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Ice lace tunnel

Ice lace tunnel

There are signs that spring may indeed show up after this very hard winter.

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We have had quite a lot of melt (honest).  There was running water in the creek and I even saw a minnow swim by in the icy water.

Melting sheets of ice in the river give new meaning to "ice dams".

Melting sheets of ice in the river give new meaning to “ice dams”.

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This year we blessed our eggs for the strength to hold on through the thaw.  It may still be awhile, but it’s coming.

Grateful

paganiconLast week was an uphill week.  The time change kicked me in the ass.  Monday I missed yoga because the clock I was looking at was the one I hadn’t remembered to change over.  Tuesday  I was so tired I could barely get Orion out the door.  I slept through my Dr. appointment. (Literally, I went back to bed.) Wednesday the alarm didn’t go off.  I woke up spontaneously at 730 am, which would have been great the week before when it would have been right on time at 630!  By Thursday I realized the week was almost gone and I hadn’t done anything to prepare for Paganicon.  Friday started the convention, which of course threw what was left of my sleep schedule entirely out the window.

In the course of my sleep deprived daze I heard someone say, “What if instead of being angry at the weather I was grateful instead.”  I actually think they said it to me weeks before when it was so cold but it finally sunk in.   My women’s group is working with Hanuman this month.  He helps us with our lessons by sending both good and bad energy.  Then I saw Peg-o-leg’s blog about her struggle with her own pity party.  When the universe sends the same message three times I start to pay attention.

I spent the weekend working at being grateful for everything that came across my path, good and bad.  I’m trying to be grateful for all the time I’m spending in health care hell.  I’m considering gratitude towards my physical limitations.  Instead of grumbling about how many extra things I have to do making arrangements for Orion this week, I’m grateful his Dad is taking him so I can go to Paganicon unaccompanied.

The attitude adjustment made all the difference in the world.  I still hurt, couldn’t do as much as I wanted, and didn’t get anywhere near enough sleep but it didn’t matter the same way.    I got to spend time with my publisher Taylor Ellwood and his wife.   When we were told there was a 40 minute wait for a table at dinner we took the opportunity to sneak over to the hotel and get them checked in.  When we got back we were at the top of the list.  My workshop was scheduled first thing Saturday morning.  That meant only the people who really wanted to be there showed up, and it was a good-sized group.  For a first time presentation it went really well and much of the feedback I got was that even after 90 min. at 9am they could have stayed and talked another hour or two.

Thrilled with the cover of the new book!

Thrilled with the cover of the new book!

I had a book signing with Taylor scheduled in the afternoon.  My new book When Gods Come Knocking: An Exploration of Mysticism from a Deity-Based Perspective was released in time for the event!  Because I was with Taylor I was introduced to a few other Immanion Press authors.   The friend who came to help me was miserable with allergies, but her presence also brought folks over to say hi who may not have noticed us otherwise.  I was debating going home for dinner when my friends hosting the Standing Stones hospitality suite realized they didn’t have trays to put cheese and crackers on.  I volunteered to dash home for trays (this con is VERY close to my house) and came back just in time to get an invitation to dinner with my students.

I had a great time at Paganicon and felt really good about the marketing and presentation that I did.  I was grateful to have the time with friends, old and new, to really sit and talk.  I always enjoy the opportunity to learn new things and was delighted by the art featured in the Sacred Gallery space.  I really do understand that sometimes the bad things really are a lot better than they look.

Signing books at Paganicon

Signing books at Paganicon

All that “understanding” doesn’t make it easy or automatic.  I find pushing at gratitude an exercise in futility.  Gratitude is something that requires opening up and accepting unconditionally.  It is making room for the bounty of life to fill that open space.  When facing frustration, practicing gratitude is a step back, taking time to breathe, letting go and allowing.  When I achieve gratitude I know that anything is possible and that I will have all the support I need for whatever dreams may come.

So I continue to remind myself to be grateful, for everything.  I remind myself to be grateful for the irritants, the frustrations, the stumbling blocks.  I remind myself to be grateful for the pain and the heartache.  I remind myself to be open to the possibility that it’s all for the best.

Maybe with enough practice I’ll be better at gratitude.

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