Saturday, February 20, 2010


I have to admit that while the topic for this post has been clear for a while, I am at a loss on how to approach it. How do you try to faciliate the mystical experience of oneness with the universe? It is a rare experience for me, but one that has been very precious.
I know no clever pathworking or exercise, or anything, to promote oneness with everything. You see, we all are already one with the universe, a part of infinity. We just have to become aware of it.

So this week's practise: Make sure you are not goint to be disturbed for about half an hour. Choose a position that is comfortable for you, either sitting or lying on your back. Relax, and let go of everything. Let go of stress, anxiety, work, people, everything. Let go of your thoughts. Just relax. Be open. Be receptive. Just be.

If you are truly able to let go of your self-consciousness, it can be difficult to judge time. Therefore, make sure beforehand that something will tell you that it is time to get back, either y having someone there who can call you, or by setting a clock.

So that's it – probably the most simple exercise in description, but a lot more difficult to do.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Getting in Touch with the Gods

All to often, we have an inspiring meeting with the Divine, with the Gods, in ritual, on a special day, and get smashed out of it during the grey, dull days of everyday work that follow. One antidote to that is to spend a short, special moment every day where we can meet with our Gods. That can be quite informal and spontaneous, but what I propose today is to create a five-minute ritual that is easy to perform every day. It should be a ritual that is easy to perform and that is fitting for you and your Gods. In the following paragraphs, I will give you an idea for potential elements for such a ritual.

- Preparation: Do something to prepare yourself for the fact that you are entering into a sacred moment. One possibility would be to wash your hands and face, symbolically washing away your daily stress. Another possibility would be to change into special clothes, remove your shoes or wear a special item like a scarf or a piece of jewellery. Just do not make it too complex.
In addition to all the above: take some deep, calm breaths and let your mind come to rest.
- Offering: Give an offering to your Gods. The nature of that offering can very greatly, from libations to incense to food to dancing for them, or singing, or a lot of other things. It will also depend, of course, on the nature of the Gods the offering is meant for, so it would be a good idea to do some research.
- Sing a chant, or a song that helps you to feel a connection to the deities. There are a number of well-known chants, and you can find a lot of them on the net, for example here or here. Of course, you can also write your own. Whatever you choose, sing it yourself, do not just play it back.
- Think up a ritual gesture of blessing. An elaborate example of what I mean is the fivefold kiss. Create something simple that can be used as a self-blessing.
- Talk to your Gods. Speak of the things you want to speak about, but listen for their comments and answers.
- Meditate on a symbol of your Gods. That can be either a stature or picture of the God, or a symbol, such as a cat for Bastet, or lightning for Zeus.
- Calm yourself and listen. After some deep breaths, just calm your mind and let your thoughts go. Pay them no attention. Just... listen.
- Completion: A final part is necessary to close the ritual. One possibility is to stand up an thank the Gods for their presence. What works best for me is if there is a connection to the opening part of the ritual, so that the two parts frame the whole ritual. So if you started by putting on special clothing, end by removing it. If you started with lighting a candle, snuff it now.

Do not make your ritual overly complex, or include too many elements. Instead, keep it short and simple. You want to be able to do it every day.

Now, here is an example of what I often do:
For preparation, I sit down cross-legged in front of my altar and calm my mind by taking some deep breaths. Then, I light a short stick of incense. I give the incense to the Gods as an offering, drawing a spiral with it and speaking: “Lord and Lady, thanks for your presence. I offer this incense for your pleasure.” before placing it in a bowl of sand.
The next part varies. Most of the time, I do a short meditation, either on a symbol, or just trying to be calm and listen, or a chant. For closure, I stand up and use a gesture Dianne Sylvan described in (I think) “The Circle Within”: tracing a pentagram over yourself, linking the edges to the elements and the Gods.

The possibilities for such a ritual are huge. Experiment with it, and try different ideas, until you find something that works for you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meeting your Selves

This is the last exercise about getting into contact with the divine self, and it is about meeting our different selves.
We all have different aspects in our personality. Perhaps I should say that I know I have them, and so I presume you also have them. Some of them are very dominant, and can be seen in everyday life. Others may be hidden and known only to ourself, or even suppressed and unknown to us. They are not different persons, just different parts of us. There can be an inner child, a mother, a business person, an artist, a scientist, a party person, a thousand different possibilities, and they might be completely different for everyone.
The idea of this exercise is to have a look at what aspects make up our personality, and what those aspects have to say to us. Take enough time for this exercise, as it can be pretty intense. It is a good idea to provide a signal for you to come back, so use an alarm clock or some music that starts after about 15 minutes or something similar. When you hear the signal, you know that it is time to return.

Create a comfortable atmosphere and take some moments to relax. Take some deep breaths and let go of your everyday stress, anxiety and anger. Go to your safe place. Take a few moments to relax, here, where you are completely safe.
Then, have a look around: There is a door somewhere that you may not have seen before. A picture of you is pinned to it. You walk over, and as you do so, you can see that the picture changes, showing you with different faces, in different moods and situations. This is a door leading deep into yourself.
Open the door. There is a corridor beyond. How it looks like is probably different for everyone. Mine is twisted, a maze of smaller corridors and doors intersecting with the main corridor. Just stay on the main corridor and walk along. Before long, it will lead into a room, or a flight of rooms. Here, you meet the different aspects of yourself, your selves. Look around. There is probably a child somewhere, perhaps playing happily, perhaps sitting in a corner, alone and frightened. There is probably a self that represents your work persona or an aspect of that. There might be a lover, a religious aspect, a writer, a dreamer, … The possibilities are endless. Try to avoid preconceived notions. Be open towards the parts of you that want to meet you. Walk around the room, greet your selves, and talk to them. What message do they have? How do they feel? Do they ask you for something?
Take you time, and interact with some of your selves – you do not have to talk to all of them. Listen to what they have to say to you.
Then, thank them for their message and say goodbye. Leave through the corridor that has brought you here, and go back through the door into your safe place. From there, return to your body. Count from ten to one. You are back.

Write down the messages you got, everything you remember. Then, after you have written everything down, take your time to think about everything. The Gods have seen fit to equip us with a mind of our own, so use yours and think about the messages and requests. Do not follow such a message blindly. However, be careful that you are not just rationalizing away uncomfortable truths.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

February Eve

The sun has turned at winter solstice, and yet it has been difficult to recognize the change. From now on, the return of the light is more noticeable even though it is still winter, and nature is still sleeping quietly.
This day is also known as the festival of Brigid, an Irish Goddess and Saint. In the cycle of the God, this is the time when He grows, from child to adolescent. At spring equinox, He will be a young man, but today He is still a child.

Pathworking February Eve

Make yourself comfortable. Take some deep breaths and relax. Let go of stress, anger, anxiety.
Close your eyes and go to your safe place. Turn around and look for the door. It is there, quite unobtrusive, with an eight spoked wheel engraved.
Open the door. It is dawn on the other side, with a rosy haze, filtering through the huge trees of the forest. Before you, there is a path through the winter forest. There is snow on it, but it looks like it was used by animals regularly. You can see the tracks on the ground.
Follow the path. It leads you through the forest, among huge trees. Everything is quiet and peaceful.
The area is hilly, and your path leads you downwards, getting steeper...

You reach the bottom of the descent, and the trees give way to a wide open meadow. The snow there is covered with tracks, too, but they are mostly the tracks of human beings.
You hear laughter from the woods, and a girl emerges, chased by a boy with golden hair. They are obviously playing a game of chase.
The young God and Goddess start building snow figures. You can simply watch them as they enjoy themselves, or you can join them, if you want. They accept you at their playground immediately. In either case, take a careful look ath the figure they are building. ...

Gradually, it grows colder. You decide it is time to go and say goodbye to the God and Goddess. They bid you farewell and run towards the cave entrance, chasing each other again. You turn towards the path that has lead you here and return, up that hill and through the forest, until you stand before the door again. You open the door and return to your safe place. ...
From here, return to your body. Take some breaths to return and readjust. Count from 10 to 1. Open your eyes. Welcome back.

What figure did the young Gods build? If you feel like it and have enough snow outside, try to build it yourself. What could that figure mean for you?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Book recommendations

I started this blog with the intention of writing a one year course on getting into contact with the divine daily. The year is almost over by now, and this course draws to a close. I have four more posts planned: one for Imbolc next week, and one final meditation for each of the three aspects of the divine in February. Today, there will be no exercise but a list of book recommendations for everyone who wants to look elsewhere for inspiration. Most of these books have inspired me for this blog.

Meditation – the Complete Guide by Patricia Monaghan and Eleanor G. Diereck
This book deals with meditation throughout all cultures and religions, covering topics as diverse as gardening, pilgrimage, creative meditations, tai chi, sufi dancing, yoga and shamanic journeying. If you want to get an overview over the different aspects of meditation or some inspiration every now and again, this book is a good choice.

Meditation Made Easy by Lorin Roche
This book treats meditation without any reference to tradition and history. It is a collection of shorter and longer innovative meditation techniques. If you want to approach meditation without a specific world view attached, this is an interesting book.

Wiccan Meditations – The Witch's Way to Personal Transformation by Laura Wildman
If I had to restrict my recommendations to one book, it would be this one. The first third of the book is dedicated to techniques for relaxing, getting into trance and getting out again. In the rest of the book, meditations for learning and transformation, for the cycles of the year and for coven work are given. A significant part of the book is dedicated to group work, but it is still a valuable resource for a solitary Wiccan.

All one Wicca, by Kaatryn MacMorgan-Douglas
This is the basic textbook of my tradition, Universal Eclectic Wicca. All one Wicca is a good place to get started when you want to learn about Wicca, and it is also interesting for more advanced students.

Sacred Time and the Search for Meaning by Gary Eberle
I found this book in a second hand bookstore, and it proved to be a gem. The book is neither about Wicca nor about meditation, but it examines our relationship with ordinary and sacred time.

The Artist's Way – A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron
This book is not about meditation, or Wicca, but about finding your personal creativity. There are many enlightening insights to be found. I started writing my Daily Pages after I reading it. If you are interested in art – drawing, writing, creating – but feeling unsure, have a look at this book.

The Earth Path by Starhawk
This book is about rediscovering and connecting to nature as well as how to build a sustainable relationship with the earth. If you want to get into contact with the divine universe in the aspect of the divine earth, Starhawk provides a wealth of exercises and meditations.

The Goddess Companion, by Patricia Monaghan
Patricia Monaghan has collected 366 Goddesses from all over the world. For each, she gives a prayer, hymn, or poem, and a short explanation. If you want to get into contact with the Gods, this book is invaluable.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The beauty of a snowflake

Winter has finally arrived in Munich. There are loads of snow out there, and when I first thought about this meditation, it was still snowing. All too often, we walk through our lives, head down, without risking a glance to the sides. This is an exercise about recognising the beauty that surrounds us every day.

Do the exercise on a day when it is snowing, or at least when you have some snow lying around. Dress warm and comfortable. Then: leave your house and go outside. Walk through the snow and watch the beauty that enfolds around you: The snowflakes whirling through the air, the snow covered landscape, the branches of trees, loaded with snow or covered in ice, glittering in the light. Take your time and simply adore the beauty of winter.
Try to catch a snowflake with your sleeve or glove, or scoop up a bit of snow. Look at the snowflakes: can you see the sixfold symmetry, the intricate design, the beauty of it? I always find that snow is something to be admired.
Watch the snowflakes melting as the warmth from your body reaches them. Beauty is fleeting, sometimes. But look around you: there is so much of it, in the next snowflakes, in the snow covered landscape, in the trees, everywhere: beauty is pervasive.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Goal Setting

One of the last exercises was retrospection, and originally, I planned to include some parts about exploring yourself next. Due to the unexpected hiatus, I will skip these, and today's topic is about planning and setting goals.

Traditionally, New Year is the time for setting goals that are forgotten by the end of January – the classical New year resolutions. Obviously, these are useless and a source for frustration, and that is not what I have in mind.
However, I believe that it is important to reorient yourself in your life every now and again, and the change of the year is one possible time for that. Reorientation requires you to look back as a first step – what has happened, what have you achieved? Where are you standing now? The exercise in retrospection is one possibility for that. This week's exercise is the second step: looking into your future.

Take something to write and go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Light a candle and some incense, if you want to. Then, think about important topics or areas of your life. Restrict yourself to three or four areas if possible. For me, they would be something like family and friends, religion, work and writing.
For each of these categories, look into the future. If everything continues the way it is now, where will you be? What will happen, in the next months, the next year, the next five or ten years? Is that what you want to happen? If yes, then fine: just move on to the next topic.
If not, imagine your future as you want it to be, in five or ten years. Imagine it vividly. Then, think: what can you do to move your life in that direction? What should happen over the next year? What steps can you take now to make it happen? Do not start with good intentions. Start with a vision of your future – then make plans that lead to that future.
Go through all the important areas of your life, and develop a vision for each of them. It might be that you want to change your life everywhere – just be aware that you do not have to change everything at once and that it might be easier to focus on one thing at a time.
If you are familiar with a divination system such as tarot cards, it might be helpful to support this exercise with some divination.
Write your visions and your plans down. Place them on your altar, if you have one. If you want to, create a picture of some kind – a drawing, a collage or whatever you like. Keep your visions and plans in sight, so you will have your future in sight.

I am speaking of a plan in a very general sense here. It can be as simple as “Exercise more” or as detailed as “Getting a gym membership for the winter months, running during the summer month, check with friends who might join me, set up a calender for documenting my training”. If you are interested in more detailed and thorough planning,there are a number of possibilities. Dianne Sylvan has described an interesting concept of several nested circles – daily, weekly, monthly and yearlong actions to achieve your goals - that sounds interesting to me. Use a planning system as simple or detailed as you need. But know where you want to go!