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Crafting

PART_1413213481581_20141013_101451Last week was time again for the Women and Spirituality Conference at Mankato State University in Minnesota.  I’ve done quite a few blogs on this conference and my experiences at it.  (There’s a list of links at the end of this post.)  I don’t see any reason this year should be different.

I didn’t take pictures this year.  I thought about it.  I know the mantra of public speakers is “document, document, document” and still I couldn’t bring myself to dig out my cell phone and snap a reasonable shot.   Maybe it was because the fall colors were somewhat muted this year.  It’s still a beautiful drive especially along the Minnesota River valley, but it wasn’t “vibrant”.   Maybe it’s was because this years conference seemed slightly under-populated.  There just didn’t seem to be as many attendees, merchants or even energy as there has been in previous years.  Maybe (and this is the story I’m telling myself) I just wanted  to be in the moment.

For all of the underwhelming impression, it was a really good conference this year.  The keynote speaker, Layli Maparyan, was very dynamic.   She packed an impressive amount of information and hopefulness into her presentation.  She definitely set the conference off to a great start.

The prayer beads that start the workshop "Daily Practice Sucks"

The prayer beads that start the workshop “Daily Practice Sucks”

An event like this provides the universe an opportunity to send me messages, and this year was no exception.  I gave my workshop Daily Practice Sucks twice, and in both sessions I was asked if I ever did workshops on making prayer beads.  This is something I’ve been kicking around, but it was nice to learn that there is a desire out there.  In fact I keep getting the “ping” that I need to be doing more with crafting and creative projects.

I am so very resistant to arts and crafts that this is a real challenge for me.  There is a phrase that suggests “leaning in” to those things that challenge you.  Apparently I’m looking at a year of leaning in.  One of the workshop proposals I sent to Pantheacon involved a long term art project.  I took a handmade card making class at Gilda’s Club where I volunteer.  Last week my GOM girls had me playing with clay.  Just in case I missed the point, as I was packing for the weekend my prayer beads broke and I had to restring them.

Genesha

Genesha

Perhaps I can attribute that “dullness” I experienced as simply my resistance to what the universe is offering me.  I can choose to lean in and stretch my own boundaries or I can live in a “toned down” vision of what’s possible.  I’ll even admit that there is some appeal to calm, predictable, and low-key but I know in my heart there is only one choice I can make.    I guess I’ll roll up my sleeves and try my hand at some crafts.

 

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/grandmothers/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/conference/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/pain/

https://lisaspiral.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/daily-practice/

 

 

Whimsy

winter feast

winter feast

My blogging friend Kathy at Lake Superior Spirit occasionally delights us with whimsical photography.  She’s been taking photos of things like Santas and Snowmen.  She says I could do it to.  All it takes is finding something colorful or that will stand out against the white at going for it.  So I indulged myself in a day of whimsy.

Whimsy is important for spiritual work.  It’s so easy to get to taking ourselves too seriously.  The silly and absurd help snap us out of that in the most gentle and joyful way.

plates and shadows

plates and shadows

I found it really interesting to note that most of the things in my house that are colorful are textiles, which I hesitate to drag out into the snow.  I also noticed that my fall back for almost anything is my kitchen.

Hippo in the pond

Hippo in the pond

There is something magical about the whimsical.  It not only kicks us out of our seriousness, but also opens us up to the possible.

Pink Hippopotamus

Pink Hippopotamus

If Kathy’s Santas and Snowmen can march through the north woods,  If a pink hippopotamus can frolic in a frozen pond, then what other magical sights await us?

When you take a close look at the prayer on my prayer beads you’ll see that one of the repeating lines is I find joy and awe in the world around me.  Followed on the next bead by I am amazed.

lighting the tracks

lighting the tracks

 I need the reminder to look for the amazing, the wondrous and the whimsical.  When I do look I find it all around me.

Blessed Be.

Magical Stuff

"medicine bag"

Along with putting away all of the holiday decorations I found myself sorting through my magical “stuff”.   I’ve had several occasions to pull out my spiritual tools.  You know, those symbols, the nick-knacks that for whatever reason have a spiritual connection.  Theoretically I have “stuff” to redecorate the house every 6 weeks (Samhein, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon).   I have plenty of “stuff.”

The “stuff” in the photo, an altar  I set up for myself, is a collection of things that fit into my little medicine bag.  They are pieces I’ve picked up over the years that mark particular points in my spiritual journey.  And they are also convenient to carry when I’m traveling.

This “stuff” is important to me.  It carries meaning both in symbology and also from the history where I picked up the trinkets along the way.  Some of it carries a very potent charge making it easy to return to the feelings I had when I got it.  Some of it carries it’s own symbology, like the rune or the chinese birth year tag, or even the particular stones.  But most of this “stuff” only comes out on special occasions.  When I’m taking a retreat or doing very deep personal work.

A lot of my “stuff” only gets pulled out when I’m looking to make a point in a public setting.  I brought some of that with me when I did my workshop in October.  I set up a little altar and decorated it with symbols that might be recognizable or meaningful to the people who attended.  It’s all “stuff” I like.  It’s all “stuff” I’ve used for various purposes, some more than others.  Some of it carries fond emotional memories.  Some of it I choose for particular attributes and associations.  But it’s not my every day “stuff.”

I continue to acquire “stuff”.  Anytime I go to an event there is usually some “stuff” to bring home.  Either a special name badge or a token from a ritual or a magical marker to help sort the crowd into smaller groups.  Sometimes I think I’d like to keep this “stuff” as a memory or a tool to reconnect to the energies of the event.  Sometimes I think this “stuff” is just clutter and needs to be disposed of appropriately.

Cupboard of Magical "Stuff"

That’s really the problem with all this “stuff”.  When things carry a special charge, magical or meaningful, it makes it very difficult to just throw them in the trash.  Candles can be burned or remade, as can many of the crafted items (like my vision board from 10 years ago).  Some things break (chalices, bowls, lamps) and can then be disposed of as household items.  But what do I do with a magical blade that I no longer use?  What do I do with the rattles? What do I do with the chalices, bowls and lamps that are still perfectly useful?

This issue becomes even trickier for a teacher.  I have several “collections of stuff” that I pull out for specific classes.  The variety allows students to compare and contrast a variety of tools that could be used for the same purpose.  I have specific items that only come out in particular rituals, rites of passage that don’t come up on an annual basis.

It’s definitely time to clean out my “stuff”.  I am hoping some of it will be useful enough to donate to either the programs supporting servicemen practicing their religions on foreign soil or to prison programs supporting Pagan prisoners.

What is your favorite or most useful spiritual “stuff”?

A few magical tools

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