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Fashioning Ritual

October 22, 2009

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This is my busiest time of year — not that I’m complaining. I usually teach at a conference in mid-October. Often, I’m prepping for Nano (although I’m skipping it this year due to deadlines). And we’re getting close to Samhain, which means ritual and more tarot readings than usual.

I’m doing different rituals with different intents for a variety of clients, as well as creating the ritual for Cerridwen Cottage’s Rituals for Gaia, which will be a posted series of sabbat rituals for the coming year. And, I’m working on my personal rituals for the year, which include the days of Tending the Dead and the Ceremony for the Ancestors. (If you want more information on the way I Tend the Dead, please click here).

It’s a unique challenge to work on different rituals simultaneously. Usually, I have plenty of time to create a ritual, perform it with the client, , rest up, move on to the next. But, this year in particular, I’ve ended up with more ritual bookings around Samhain. Since the individuals are different, the ritual is different.

Each individual’s needs and intents are taken into account, and the unique ritual is fashioned with that in mind. The use of pantheon, guardian, etc. is factored in; the supplies necessary; how many will participate. While seasonal rituals with similar intents can contain similar elements, using too much of a boilerplate dilutes the impact of the ritual. So every ritual has to be fashioned carefully and uniquely.

This year, they have to happen simultaneously.

How does one do that? My way is only one way; I don’t want to pretend it’s “the” way. I take notes when the client and I talk about the ritual. I make sure I know patron, pantheon, comfort level with ritual work, experience with ritual work, and any allergies, which is just as important as need and intent. If you’re using incense or oil in the ritual to which the client is allergic, it’s going to negate the ritual.

Then, I take some time meditating/visualizing the result for which the client hopes, and work from there. Obviously, it’s an intent that harms none and doesn’t interfere with free will, or I wouldn’t agree to do it.

I start with the basic structure: Casting the circle, calling in the directions, the actual work of the ritual, thanks, and closing. Then, I fill it in, according to the specific purpose of the ritual and affinities of the client. Usually, it percolates for a few days, and then suddenly, it’s as though a veil lifted and it becomes very clear. I rush to write it down while it’s still clear, and then put it away and edit it over a few days, much the way I do with any piece of writing. You want it to be succinct and focused. It needs to be something in which the client can participate (because you’re not there to perform For the client, you’ are working WITH the client) without feeling lost and without needing weeks of preparation.

Also, once the ritual is written, go over it and make a list of what each participant needs to bring, and what the client should have on hand (cups, dishes, etc. to hold things) so that you’re not scrambling at the last minute. Try to get the list to everyone four or five days before the ritual, and run through the checklist when you set up the space, and before you cast the circle.

Sometimes, looking at a full calendar can cause anxiety, but once you start to sit down and work on specifics, you feel the internal shift, and you feel it when you’re on the right track.

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Return to the Journey

October 19, 2009

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October 19, 2009
Moon Phase: Waxing
Retrogrades: Neptune and Uranus
Weather: Moving into winter with barely an autumn

I’ve been away from this blog for nearly two years. Sometimes, internal work is so confusing that you can’t discuss it outside a personal journal. Sometimes exterior forces push you and test the limits of your strength, and there’s not enough strength to talk about it with others.

All of these things have contributed to my time away.

And then yesterday, I was blindsided by some news that just proved what my gut told me about the other party, but which sets me back because I cut too much slack and hoped the other side would have the ethics to “do the right thing.” Lesson learned, yet one must be careful not to punish anyone else for a different individual’s choices — always hard. In the long run, it will prove to be the best possible outcome, but the transition will not be pleasant.

On the plus side, I am writing full time. Making my living with my pen, a scribe of sorts. Of many sorts, actually, because I cover a wide range of topics under a wide range of names. I have a daily (and often nightly) yoga practice, and I’ve found a wonderful weekly meditation group.

I enjoy my 2010 calendars from Llewellyn — I am not scheduled in any of the 2011 annuals. After 15 years of writing for their annuals, I feel I need to restock the creative wells. I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot in 15 years, but sometimes, one just needs to be quiet for awhile, as I was quiet here.

I continue to work with the Tarot and let it teach me, and I’m spending the next several months going deeper into the Runes, which should be an interesting journey. My European heritage is tied to Runic cultures, so it’s time I paid attention to the ancestors.

This is also the busy time of year for me, with Samhain approaching, not just for myself, but creating and performing rituals for house blessings, ancestors, the coming year, and, of course, a plethora of tarot readings.

Interestingly enough, the last post was about baking bread. And, yesterday, I baked bread. Well, Hestia is one of my patrons!

Not a circle in this case, but a spiral.

I look forward to picking up the journey here. I hope we can take it together and learn from each other.

Cerridwen Iris Shea

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Sacred Baking

December 17, 2007

We’ve moved into the dark half of the year, now. The nights are long and cold, the days short and brittle. The harvest happened months ago, and we live off it.

One of the most comforting things to do during the cold days and nights is to bake. The smell of bread, cookies, or cakes scents a home and makes it feel warm and cozy like few other things. That’s why companies even peddle candles that claim to smell like “Christmas cookies”!

Why not add an extra layer to your baking, and bake with sacred intent? The more intent you put into the food, the more nourishing it is when you eat it. If you bake cookies and cakes to give as gifts during the season, bless the ingredients and the batter, as you stir, with intentions of love, health, and abundance for the coming cycle. Visualize the foods you bake filled with loving nurturance.

Bless each ingredient before adding it. While I often bless the ingredients as soon as I buy them, before storing them in the cupboard, re-igniting the blessing as it’s added to the mix never hurts.

Stir clockwise (in the Northern Hemisphere) to grow abundance and nurturance. Count your strokes, using multiples of 9 or 13. Add a blessing before placing the dough into the oven.

You’ll experience the well-being in your entire home as you prepare the food, and those receiving it will experience the blessings upon eating it.

What better way to spread peace and joy over the holidays?

–Cerridwen Iris Shea

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Herbal Studies

February 8, 2007

 

I didn’t progress very far in my studies over the past week and change.  I stared at the stack of books.  I wondered what to do next.

 

It seems to be, as I previously mentioned, that I need to add some botany texts to my books.  I’m in the process of researching those texts to find something that will work well in tandem with the books I use.

 

I also decided that yes, I do need to keep a separate notebook with dangerous herbs and their antidotes.

 

Which means as I research and learn, I must take the tangent of antidotes.

 

What’s interesting is how the process is not a linear study, the way it would be if it was a university course.  It spirals, grows, and moves like the living plants I study.

 

I find that as interesting as the information on the individual plants.

 

Moon:  3rd quarter in Libra

Retrograde:  Saturn

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Tarot Q & A

February 5, 2007

Once a month-ish (heavy on the “ish”), I’ll answer questions people have about the tarot. They do need to be legitimate, respectful questions, but one doesn’t need a deep-seated knowledge of tarot to ask them. Ask a question you’re genuinely interested in having answered, and send the questions here.

I won’t reveal the identity of the questioner; don’t worry.

Question: I had a tarot reading, and the reader told me I had a big black spirit hovering around me. She suggested that I pay her $20 a candle to light candles for me every day for three months, and she’d need to use six candles at a time. If I didn’t do so, something terrible would happen to me. What do I do?

Answer: The short answer is to file a police report. This person is not a legitimate tarot consultant; this person is a charlatan out to get as much money as possible from you. Many tarot readers charge a reasonable fee for the time, space, and energy it takes for a reading. If they try to extort money beyond the reading, especially with threats, check the fortune-telling laws in your area and contact the fraud squad of the police department.

If a legitimate reader intuits trouble or danger or even an actual negative spirit hovering around you, the reader can give YOU advice on the steps YOU need to take to change the energy around you. Sometimes, it means performing a simple ritual. Sometimes it means seeking the help of a psychological, medical, or law enforcement professional, depending upon your situation. But tarot is about showing you OPTIONS in your life, giving you the information you need to make an educated choice, not tying you to the reader for a series of rituals for which you’re charged large fees. There are plenty who do so; avoid them.

Many readers will disagree, but I will only read the same person once every six months. A good reading takes anywhere from two weeks to six months to manifest. You need to give the possibilities time to take root. People can get addicted to readings the same way they can get addicted to smoking, exercise, or self-help gurus. I think it’s counter-productive to get readings too frequently.

Question: I had a reading eight months ago, and the reader told me I’d meet my soul mate in six months. Why hasn’t it happened? Did I just pick a sucky reader?

Answer: What steps did you take to manifest that reading in the six months after it? Tarot is about showing you the options that your subconscious already knows exit, and bringing them to the surface so that you CAN TAKE ACTION. The actions you take from the moment of the reading can manifest the possibilities or the actions can change the possibilities. It is your CHOICE. If you do nothing, the options may float right past and you don’t even notice. For instance, if you did nothing but sit home and wait for your soul mate to ring the bell, your soul mate could have been in the neighborhood, but, because you did NOTHING to manifest the meeting, you were merely ships that passed in the night.

While there’s always the possibility that you weren’t with the right reader from you, it’s more likely that the possibility didn’t manifest because you did nothing to make it happen. The cards show possibilities, not definites.

Question: I had this reading, right? And what the tarot reader told me had, like, nothing to do with what I asked. What up with that?

Answer: Just because you ask a question doesn’t mean that’s what you most need to know. The tarot will give you the most important information, which isn’t always the same as the information you feel is the most important in the moment. Look back on your notes from the reading (you took notes, didn’t you? Or recorded the session? Often there’s too much information to simply remember). What resonates with you, relative to a different situation?

The other way answers grow incomprehensible is if the question is muddled. Did you ask a clear, concise question to which you genuinely wanted the answer? Or did you ask one thing while really wanting to know something else? Sometimes querents are embarrassed to ask what they really want to; their mouths form the question they think they SHOULD ask, while their hearts ask something else, and it gets muddled.

When asking a question, use simple, direct sentences. No complex or compound sentences. No “and”, “but”, “however” or any qualitative phrasing. If the question gets long and complicated, break it down into separate questions.

That’s all for this time. Again, if you’ve got questions, send them here, and I’ll answer some more next month!

Cerridwen Iris Shea

For more information on tarot, meditation, and home and hearth magic, visit my website, Cerridwen’s Cottage.

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Imbolc

February 1, 2007

Tomorrow is the celebration of Imbolc, also known as Candlemass. It’s the time when things begin to stir beneath the surface, the seeds start to get restless, although they’re not ready to push through the ground yet.

It’s natural to start feeling as though you’ve been static and turned inward enough, and you want to do . . .something . . .but you aren’t quite sure yet what it is.

Imbolc is sacred to Bridget, the goddess of poetry, healing, smithcraft, and fire. Rituals done on Imbolc are for things that are going to stick during the next cycle. It’s not for short-term, quick results. It’s for long-term life changes.

Plant seeds tomorrow, signifying specific changes you want to grow in your life. As the plants emerge, nurture them the way you nurture the positive changes you make in your life. Let the plants symbolize the change, so something tangible represents what is still intangible.

Moon Phase: Almost Full in Cancer
Retrogrades: Saturn

Note: Tomorrow is the last day to send tarot questions for this month. I will answer several of them on Monday. Please send your questions here.

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Working with The Celtic Oracle

January 29, 2007

The past week’s Oracle work was slow – these cards needed more time to connect, especially since I was overtired, stressed out, and in flux. Oracle work under exhaustion or stress isn’t the best way to learn a new deck. However, once you’re fluent in the language of your particular deck, you will be able to discern what information coming through is genuine and what is simply a product of your stress. After all, we tend to turn to oracles for advice when we’re under pressure.

I worked with The Keeper of Letters, The First Circle, the Second Circle, The Third Circle, and The Mound of Wonders (the latter moving into the element cards).

Being a writer, The Keeper of Letters was the card to which I connected the most strongly. It also reminds me, in addition to the other skills I’m studying these months, that I need to add Ogham back into it. I’ve done a little work with the Ogham, but not nearly enough to be fluent in it, and that’s what I need.

However, there are limited hours in the day, so I need to pick and chose a few things to study in depth, and in turn, or I won’t retain any of it.

If you have tarot questions, please send them here by Friday, and I’ll answer some of them next week.

On Thursday, I hope you will join me to celebrate Imbolc.

Kiuney!