Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Get Involved in the Community

One of the most amazing things about religion is community. Originally Wicca was meant to be a group religion; when it was founded by Gerald Gardner, Wicca was an initiation-only religion. You couldn't even practice without a coven. True, the Wiccan community has grown past British Traditional Witchcraft covens, but that doesn't eliminate the need or the benefits of community.   

There is a great sense of community not just among Wiccans, but among those who identify as Pagans in general. We don't all always get along-- I'm not pretending that Pagans are without conflict. Sometimes you have to look around for the right events or groups before you find kindred spirits. But it can be worth the effort.

There's a lot to be gained by taking part in community. We can learn a lot from each other, raise incredible energy together and inspire each other. Ancient Paganism was always heavily communal, and when most Pagan religions were obliterated or nearly obliterated, and Paganism was almost wiped of the map entirely, we lost that. Now, we are in a better position than ever to find it again!

My Tip for You Today: Get involved in the local Pagan community!

Keep in mind that you ALWAYS must be careful when checking public listings, you can check for events and meetings on:

Know that if you are a minor, you will probably not be admitted without a parent or adult. So plan ahead and find out all you can. If you really cannot get to a Pagan festival or occasional group Esbat, consider at least joining an online community. Reach out to connect, as we were meant to- you are not alone.

Have you reached out to the larger Pagan community?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Honor the Maiden

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but in my area spring is in full bloom. It's such an amazing time of year, and I find myself looking to the Maiden and celebrating Her in all Her glory!

Who is She? She is the Young One
With shining eyes and fearless heart
She brings the dawn
Who is She? She is the Young One
The daring dreamer, She runs alone
She runs alone
- Vibra and Susan Falkenrath Wolf

The springtime of the year belongs to Her. While the Crone helps us in facilitating transitions, the Maiden helps to guide us along as we adjust to the new changes. The Maiden is innocence, She is purity. She fills us with a renewed hope. She teaches us to be playful, curious, and optimistic. For those who are young, She reveals the promise of the future, and for those who are older, She helps us recapture our youth and exuberance. 

My Tip for You Today: Honor the Maiden this Spring!

Perhaps make a small shrine to a Maiden Goddess somewhere in your home, or out in the wild where She loves to run free and play. bringHer offerings, like young Spring buds or milk sweetened with honey. Say a prayer to Her and meditate on Her. Discover what messages She has for you.

Do you feel a connection to a Maiden Goddess?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Think About Ethics Beyond Magic

Yesterday I was talking about intellectual property rights and ethics. It got me thinking, sometimes people think so much about magic and spellcasting, I think it takes a while for young or new Wiccans to realize that ethics are about your normal, mundane life as well. 

The Wiccan Rede, Karma, the Threefold Law-- there are all kinds of ethical codes people talk about when it comes to love spells, or revenge spells, etc. but how often do we think of ethics for other things?

My Advice for You Today: Take your ethics beyond magic... apply them to everything: cheating on your taxes, hurting your mother's feelings when you're angry, sneaking around behind your parents' back, illegal music downloads and a whole host of other sins that the majority of us have been guilty of aat one time or another. 

Don't believe in karma, you say? Fair enough-- but does it matter? Does doing something unethical only count when you fear getting caught, or are you concerned with being an ethical person in general? 

Not to lecture; I'm certainly no Wiccan saint. You might qualify, I don't know you. But it's just a good reminder that being in an ethical religion isn't limited to what kind of spells you do. 

Do you try to think about ethics beyond your magical workings?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Be Fair to Our Fellow Wiccans/Pagans

A lot of Wiccans will copy & paste lists, spells, even whole articles they find on the web. They want to share it with their favorite social media group or post it on their own webpage. Some Wiccans start a website or blog, and think, "I'm going to look for the best of Wicca on the web and present all that information in one neat little place for everyone! That way I'll get tons of followers (and maybe some revenue to boot!"

The problem is that sometimes it's stealing. 

When you write something original, you automatically have 'intellectual property rights' to it. If someone else copies and pastes it without your permission, it's called copyright infringement. If they paste it without crediting you, it's called plagiarism. Both copyright infringement and plagiarism are crimes. Even if the original content is offered on a free website, it's still protected by copyright. 

You might think it's a silly law because it's not hurting anyone-- wrong. Search engines online penalize writers if their work shows up in multiple places. This is called 'duplicate content'... so when you take Whisper WillowTree's great potion from her website and post it on your own, you're making it harder for people to find her website, and if she makes a living off of it you are effectively lowering her income. 

Not a great way to show gratitude for a person who's work you enjoy, huh?

Same goes for photos, and music-- we should be supporting our Pagan artists who serve our community, not kicking them in the backside when we like their work.

My Tip for You Today: Be mindful and be fair to our Pagan artists, be they writers, photographers, musicians, etc.

If you want to repost something, ask permission. That is the respectful thing to do. 

If you get permission, give them proper credit. 

If you can't get permission (either can't contact them or they say 'no'), then just post a title and a link to where they originally published the work if you want to share it. 

The internet has made it very easy to exchange information-- too easy maybe, because it's made it easy to steal intellectual property. Just because we can do it doesn't mean we should. We are still Wiccans; we have ethics, and stealing (even when it's easy and there's little chance of repercussion) is still wrong.

Let's play fair.


Have you been guilty of copyright infringement in the past?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Hear Your Intuition

Have you ever heard people say, 'trust your intuition'? Well, I totally agree-- however, some of us need help learning to hear our intuition before we can really listen to it.

Inside of our minds can be like a symphony of voices or thoughts sometimes. The voice of experience that reminds us of the past; the voice of our mothers (for good or for bane), or some other person who played an important role in our lives. There's the voices that recite the things we've studied and learned. Our emotions alone can be a chorus of emotions-- fear speaks up, desire has to throw its 2 cents in. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

If you don't 'hear' thoughts but perhaps see images, it's still the same thing-- it's like watching one of those TVs that let you see all the stations at the same time in little boxes.

Intuition is in there somewhere, but sometimes it can be hard to sort out all that's going on and find it.

My Tip for You Today: Learn to hear your intuition.

What does your intuition sound like? Start paying attention and figure out the difference between knee-jerk reactions due to emotions or pre-conceived notions, and the voices of your past that might drown it out. 

Everyone has intuition; the first step in really developing it to make the most of it is in learning to recognize it when you hear it. 

Can you hear your intuition?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Have a Cup of Tea

Do you want to experience a miracle? I mean, something really glorious? Then have some tea!

Those of you who drink tea are now nodding. Those of you who don't drink tea, do not understand. You don't have to take our word for it: 

“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?” 

― Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog

“There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” ― Lin Yutang, The Importance Of Living

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;if you are too heated, it will cool you;If you are depressed, it will cheer you;If you are excited, it will calm you.” ― William Ewart Gladstone

“As far as her mom was concerned, tea fixed everything. Have a cold? Have some tea. Broken bones? There's a tea for that too. Somewhere in her mother's pantry, Laurel suspected, was a box of tea that said, 'In case of Armageddon, steep three to five minutes'.” ― Aprilynne Pike, Illusions

“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” ― Okakura Kakuz┼Ź, The Book of Tea

“Arthur blinked at the screens and felt he was missing something important. Suddenly he realized what it was."Is there any tea on this spaceship?" he asked.” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my tearoom I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting the bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?” ― D.T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture

My Tip for You Today: Throw some herbs into hot water and enjoy the pleasure of a luxurious cup of tea. 

Those of you who don't particularly care for tea might be wondering, "What the heck does tea have to do with Wicca?!!"

Think for a second: the water and herbs, the power in them. The mindful moment you spend when you're steeping tea-- the way the sensory experience just anchors you to the moment: the scent, the warmth, the taste. 

If you're not a fan of tea, don't give up. Try different blends and herbs. Learn to steep it for the right amount of time. Give your tastebuds time to adapt to it (which can take 10 or 20 times). You will not regret it. 

What's your favorite type of tea?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Going Within

Until tomorrow morning, the moon is void-of-course. Contrary to some misconceptions, it's not 'bad'. The moon goes void of course several times per month, sometimes for just a few minutes and other times up to a day or two. 

What does it mean, though? Well, you know how the moon revolves around the Earth every 28 1/4 days? As it does this, it passes through all 12 signs of the Zodiac. Moon void-of-course is simply when the moon is in-between the signs. 

When the moon is void-of-course, it's not a good idea to start any new projects. It's not a good time at all to do spells or magic, as things that start while the moon is VOC have a way of kind of fizzling out or falling apart. You shouldn't get worked up over bad news, or arguments-- usually, when you let things go for a few hours, these things will sort themselves out. Think of it as just a big cosmic pause.

What is the VOC a good time for? For going within. 

My Tip for You Today: Go within.

It's a good morning for doing some introspection. Do some meditation. Think about the things you've been working on, where you're at with them, and where you plan to go. Review in your mind the things you've completed; how are you feeling about them? Are you ready to move on?

As for the rest of the day, try to have a go with the flow attitude. Things might break down. Plans might not work out well. Crap might happen. Don't let it get you worked up; expect it. It'll be over soon. 

What are your plans for the Void-of-Course moon?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Think about Your Correspondences

Riddle me this: you're in a house, and it has four walls. in each wall, there is a window, so it has four windows. All of the windows are facing South. Where are you? (answer below)

I get questions sometimes about Elemental correspondences because in my trad, Air goes in the North and Earth goes in the East. In many Pagan/Wiccan books, it's the opposite. 

"Which one is right?" people want to know. Well, both are right. Much would depend on your whereabouts and what makes sense to your local area. 

In my local area, Air is North because the further North you travel, the colder it gets. East is Earth, because the greatest expanse of land is to the East. South is Fire, because it gets warmer as you travel South. And West is Water because there is a major body of water to our West. 

What about where you live? Let's say you live on the Atlantic coast-- why would you turn West to honor water? If you live in Australia, northern exposure would be warmest and going north would mean warmer weather-- so why would you put Fire in the South, where it's colder? 

The elemental correspondences are not fixed; they are relative to where you are at any given moment. 

Answer to the riddle: You are at the North Pole. As you can see, location location location-- it's all relative. 

My Tip for You Today: Instead of blindly following the correspondences that a book set out for you, start thinking about your own Elemental correspondences. What makes the most sense. 

Where do you find the greatest pull to each one? Sit quietly and meditate on one Element and think about that. What direction do you feel it calling from. What is in that direction that makes sense? 

You might just find your correspondences back where you started, or it might surprise you-- they might move. That's okay; it's not wrong, it's about feeling the energy. Open yourself to it, rather than going "by the book". This is your path, after all-- you might be in a different place than everyone else. 

What are your correspondences?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Ask Your Deity

If you frequent religious message boards -- of any religion -- you will find one type of question constantly pops up in various forms. Here are some:

Will God punish me for practicing magic?
Will God be mad at me for changing religions?
Will the Goddess be angry with me because I did something wrong?
Will God & Goddess be offended if I didn't do something I should have?

Yadda yadda yadda... you get the idea. Basically people are asking if:

  •  a deity (YHWH, Aphrodite, Odin, et. al) 
  • will react negatively (be angry, send you to hell, punish you, abandon you, etc.) 
  • for your behavior (what you do, what you don't do; what you believe, what you don't believe
Have you ever asked a question like this? If so, I have one question for you: what are you asking us for?

My Tip for You Today: Ask Your Own God/dess for Yourself

I'm assuming if you actually believe in your God(s) -- and you must, if you fear they will have a reaction -- then you should probably consider going to the source. 

After all, people all over the world have different opinions on religion, right? The very same beliefs or doctrines can be interpreted in multiple ways. Just look at how many denominations of Christianity there are, how many trads of Wicca, etc.-- and we all have formulated different ideas based on the same information. 

Maybe the Gods want different things for each of us-- life is not one-size-fits-all. or maybe that it's different Gods who want/expect different things. Or maybe it's just a superstitious belief that some mook made up hundreds of years ago. Who knows?

Not one of us can say better than the other-- sure, we can discuss and debate, but it's not like any of us have absolute, objective proof. 

So, when you want to know what your God/dess(es) thinks of something, I urge you to pray first. Yes, you can talk, get opinions, research, etc.-- but it's best to just go to the source as well, isn't it?

Do you usually go to your Gods with your spiritual problems, or other people?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Plan Your Ostara Sabbat

Tomorrow is Ostara, one of the eight sabbats on the Wiccan wheel of the year. If you need to know more about Ostara, please read this article:

Wiccan Holidays: What is Ostara?

Observing the Sabbats not only helps attune us to the cycles of nature, but also helps deepen our connection with and understanding of Wicca. This is what Wicca is about-- these rhythms of the Earth, of our life cycle, of the divine. 

My Advice for You Today: Celebrate Ostara tomorrow! Or at some point this weekend!

By all means, if you have tools and an altar, or are part of a group, go and enjoy a full-blown ritual! That is always an awesome way to celebration.

But some people aren't able to do that. Some people have to work, or live with others who are less than understanding. That's okay too! You don't need to hold formal ceremonial rites to celebrate the season!

Some simple ideas:

  • go for a nature walk
  • go have a picnic
  • do some Spring cleaning, then cleanse/bless your home or room
  • work in the garden
  • if you don't have a garden, plant some herb seeds in a pot on the windowsill
  • make something for lunch or dinner in the spirit of the season
  • sit outside at night and toast to the Gods and the season
  • meditate
  • perform some minor works of magic
  • do some divination
If you're looking for more Ostara ideas, you can check out some of my Hubs for more details on celebrating. Just go to my page:

Scroll down to Ostara and have a look at whatever catches your fancy. 

And if you like anything, please share the links on your social media so others who might be looking for inspiration can find them. 

My favorite equinox cookies

What are your plans for the Ostara Sabbat this weekend?  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Have Some Corned Beef and Green Beer

Today is St. Patrick's Day, and guess what-- I'm celebrating. Well, I'm not like going out partying but I am having some corned beef & cabbage with the family and plan to watch Darby O'Gill and the Little People later on. 

I know a lot of Pagans have strong feelings about St. Patrick's Day. Some, I've even heard, wear black. Others celebrate 'All Snakes Day'. 

See, there's a story that goes around saying that 'snakes' are not what St. Patrick drove out of Ireland-- Ireland is too cold, snakes never lived there. They say the 'snakes' Patty chased out were actually the Pagans. And a lot of modern-day Pagans hate him for it, pining over 'what if' ancient Paganism survived.

But the fact of the matter is, Patrick didn't just show up in Ireland one day. He was kidnapped by the Pagans. He escaped, and went back to evangelize. No guns, no wars, no armies-- just to spread the word about his Christian religion. And the people, they were just ripe for it somehow. It spread like wild fire-- quickly, and peacefully. Yes, really-- peacefully. There was no bloody holocaust. 

And since I believe people have a right to choose their religion, I respect that they did choose Christianity back then. If not, I'd be a hypocrite to say it's okay that Paganism is resurging now and that it's good that Christians are converting to Paganism.

So basically, I bear no grudges. And besides, in America at least, the focus of the celebration isn't Patty, or religion. The focus is celebrating your Irish heritage. I think is a really great thing to be part of that. I know it's a tradition in my family to have that Irish-American meal of corned beef and potatoes (neither of which are native to Ireland, either, lol). I don't drink green beer because I don't like having green poo for a week, but I will raise a Guinness toast to my fellow Irish-Americans (in part or in whole), and try not to get too politically worked up about Patrick and the history of Paganism.

My Advice to You Today: Celebrate St. Patrick's Day if you want, or if you always have. Don't let your Pagan beliefs get in the way of your family traditions that you might enjoy,  or of having a fun night on the town with friends. 

And if it's not your thing, that's fine too. Live & let live, right? 

Are you or have you ever been conflicted about Celebrating St. Patrick's Day?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Be More Like Arlie

I found this story very touching: Read here. 

Basically for those who want the nutshell version, a man with terminally ill received a lovely gift. Customers at the store where he works as a greeter chipped in to send he and his wife on a vacation. 

The thing about Arlie is that he's got something few people have: a really good attitude. I did more research on this guy and his story, and I have found that he's one of those rare individuals who truly treasures life. He's always smiling, always expressing gratitude and compassion and kindness. He has touched many people's lives just doing his job as a simple greeter and receipt checker.

And it's not because he has it so easy or anything-- not only does Arlie have cancer, but he's also long had MS. But according to Arlie, instead of griping about getting dealt a raw deal in life, he says he's got no right to take life for granted. It's such a rare attitude in this day and age. 

My Tip for You Today: Try to be more like Arlie, or people like him. Everyone can find happiness-- it's found within, it's found in your attitude. It doesn't come from stuff, it doesn't come from things going right, it doesn't come from a perfect or near-perfect life, and it doesn't come from others. It comes from within, in learning to have a good attitude. 

We get so wound up in our own pain, we don't think about others. We inflict our misery on others. Imagine if we stopped thinking about our own pain, and started thinking about spreading happiness to others? If there's anything to the law of attraction, imagine what we'd get back. 

Do you feel happiness is possible?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Create an Inner Sanctuary

Did you ever wish you could just create an ideal sanctuary? Somewhere that is spiritual, beautiful, totally inspiring. Do you imagine that it would be a simple altar in a temple made of stained-glass windows, or perhaps a spiral garden with an altar at the center, or maybe a cliff perched right over the ocean.

Well, the truth is, you can—create an ‘astral temple’, or ‘inner sanctuary’.

My advice for you today: create an inner sanctuary.

Sometimes we just don’t live in the perfect environment, but as long as you can visualize you should never do without the perfect sanctuary. Close your eyes and build that perfect place. Give attention to all the details, make it truly yours.

Go there in meditation, when you want to commune with your deities or any spirit guides. Go there when you can’t hold a ritual, and visualize the entire ritual right there. Go there whenever you need to go there to recharge your batteries or calm down. It's yours to use-- 24/7.

What is your ideal sanctuary?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Put off Getting Stuff for a Month

Stuff, stuff, stuff. 

I’ve been doing my Spring cleaning (as I always do between Imbolc and Ostara), organizing the closets and drawers, and I am awestruck by the sheer amount of stuff that can pile up. I’m not even a clutter bug; I try to keep things fairly minimal. Still, with myself, a husband, 3 kids and a dog, the stuff just keeps piling up. Everyone has hobbies, interests. Everyone finds bargains and lugs stuff home. Birthdays, holidays, they come and go, and always bring more stuff into our lives.

I think Wiccans are especially guilty of this— (sheepishly raising hand) I know I am. We do love our stuff, don’t we? We’re very ritualistic. We’re ever-collecting tools, herbs, images, figures, altar clothes, little trinkets, jewelry, etc.—much of which we don’t need, but can’t resist, because we're drawn to the beauty, the power, the meaning of these things. 

I’ve talked about de-cluttering your space on this blog before, but what good does that do us when stuff just keeps pouring in? If you looked at your checking card statement, would you find multiple daily deductions for stuff? Approximately what percentage of it did you actually need?

My advice for you: go on a ‘stuff’ fast for 30 days.

You’ve heard of a food fast; in a ‘stuff’ fast you abstain from buying anything unnecessary. “Unnecessary” being the key word here—no one is suggesting you go a month without tampons or your blood pressure medication. But let’s face it— a lot of us buy stuff that is totally unnecessary on a regular basis.

Going on a stuff fast is a great way to teach us to start thinking about what we want vs. what we need. It helps us become more aware of our habits, thus putting us in a better position to take control of our impulses. It’s an exercise in mindfulness and will power.

Plus, your checkbook will thank you for it.

Are you an impulse buyer? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Give People the Benefit of the Doubt

This is hard for me to write, but this is a matter that's been percolating for a while in my mind.

If you've been reading anything that I've been posting on for a while, you'll might have heard me mention sarcoidosis-- it's an auto immune disease that I have. These sum it up nicely:

Okay... hopefully you get the picture of what it's like living with sarcoid. 

So, here is the story that started this line of thinking: my family had this big Disney World trip planned for about a year-- and literally 2 weeks before we went I got out of the hospital after a 10 day stay due to sarcoid complications and getting surgery.

Well, the only way the doctors said I could go is if I brought my wheel chair because I couldn't walk more than 5 minutes without my oxygen dropping, which would bring on hearth arrhythmia, yadda yadda yadda. There's nothing wrong with my legs, though, so nothing stops me from transferring to rides-- it's actually nice to get out and stretch a bit. And I always fold up the wheelchair for the buses because it takes up less room. 

So I'm at Disney World, and people are getting snarky with me. Like they wheel me in the back entrance of Splash Mountain, and I get out to transfer to the ride, and some couple across the platform who had to wait are muttering about how people shouldn't use a wheel chair if they don't need one. And some people even complained to the bus driver in the WDW transportation system for letting me on first, as per federal regulation.  

Well, way to dampen my day, everyone. I just worked a year and scrimped and saved to take a nice vacation and looked forward to getting my mind off my freaking disease, and people just go and ruin it. Thanks. 

Guess what? I do need a wheelchair, for my lungs and heart. Just because my legs work don't mean I don't need one. You don't get a wheelchair just because you're lazy, and believe me, those of us in a wheel chair would give anything to change places with people who can walk, because ya'll are always tumbling over us to get past us, and cutting in front of us to make us have to stop short-- okay? And don't even get me started when I'm sitting there watching some show going on, and you walk in front of me and stand there because there was 3 inches of space in front of me for you to squeeze in. 

And guess what? I'm not in a wheelchair to cut lines. I've lived near Disney a long time and have had Florida resident passes. I'd never taken an actual vacation there, staying at a hotel, but I know all the ins and outs of it. I know how to plan my itinerary to avoid long lines, how to make the most of the Fast Pass system, and I could do it long before I ever had a wheelchair. 

Contrary to popular beliefs due to sensationalized reporting, people in wheel chairs or mobility issues do not get to walk right on rides at Disney World... sometimes they make us wait elsewhere. Sometimes we have to wait even longer than the regular line, because we have to wait for accessibility. 
The vast majority of rides do not have special secret entrances for people on wheels. I wasn't getting any special treatment-- and frankly if I could walk like I used to be able to walk around, I'd get on twice as many rides if I didn't have to wheel from place to place.

And, finally: newsflash to people. I did not rent a wheel chair just to be able to board the bus first. In fact, most of the time when lines got long, I would have to wait with my family, watching 2 and 3 buses pass, waiting for one that had enough space for me.

Yes, it hurt-- I was there to have fun and not doing anything wrong, but people assumed I was just lazy and trying to scam the system. I really tried not to let it bother me, but it was one recurring incident after another. It was frustrating.  

So what is my point in all this, and how does it relate to Wicca?

Okay, so my point is this. It sucks when people jump to conclusions about you, and your character, and make assumptions. And it was a real lesson that hit me over the head because I've done that myself to people in different situations. I try not to judge, and I've certainly gotten better about it over the years since Wicca taught me to be more relaxed and open minded. But sometimes it's just a knee-jerk reaction, and I realize I can still be guilty of it.

So whether this was karma or what, I don't know... it certainly was something that I chose to turn into a lesson. It made me want to be more aware of how I reacted to other people, or how I might make assumptions about their meetings or motives. I remind myself that we're all coming from different places. So I try to give people the benefit of the doubt more now. 

I realized that I shouldn't even be angry with the people who made me feel bad... because they were misinformed. They are probably lucky enough to be healthy; at least healthy enough for it not to occur to them that there are other afflictions besides paraplegia or broken legs that could put someone in a wheel chair. They probably read some of those nasty BS hype articles about some underground Disney World smuggling ring where people in wheelchairs accept thousands of dollars under the table to get wealthy people on all the rides without waiting for a single line.

I learned something a long time ago, from someone who was very wise and taught me a lot: you can't change other people, but you can change how you react to them.

So, finally, My Tip for You Today:  Give someone the benefit of the doubt. 

Don't assume the guy cut you off in traffic because he's an unfeeling SOB... maybe he's racing home to his pregnant wife who called him to tell him she felt sick. Don't assume the person who might have stepped in front of you in line was trying to cut-- maybe they got distracted and really didn't see you. Don't assume the lady who yelled at you at work is just a horrible person-- she might have treated you horribly, but maybe she's under tremendous pressure and she's just trying to hang on to the frayed end of her ropes. 

A lot of people will say they don't trust others, too many people have let them down, treated them like crap, etc.; but do we ever stop to wonder how much of that was maybe what we read into the situation, but making presumptions about other people's intentions or feelings? 

The fact is, we want people to give us the benefit of the doubt, don't we? We don't want other people making assumptions about us, or the people we care about. We all have those moments when we want to say, "Wait, let me explain my side," or "you caught me at a bad time, this is not what I'm usually like."  But many of us, we're quick to do it to others without much of a thought. 

Here's something to try: whenever someone annoys you, pisses you off, does something rude, or is in the religion/political party/social group/etc. that you usually can't stand to hear about, stop and think. Just think for a moment, could perhaps this person be a good person who's just making a mistake? Or wrapped up in his own stuff to not realize how he's affecting you? Or perhaps, the person is just not what he/she seems to be? 

It's funny when you try to turn it around like that, look at it from a different perspective, a different possibility... a place of compassion... to have a positive reaction rather than a negative reaction, it can really help you. You'll feel better, even if the person who pissed you off was really being an idiot. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Make an Offering Pouch

It’s springtime, and there’s no better way to enjoy the season in my opinion than to go on a little nature walk. As I hit the hiking trail in a local nature preserve, it just struck me that there were so many things to be thankful for. Life is amazing, nature is amazing, the cycles of the planet and the seasons—I am in awe of it all.
I wanted to make an offering, and all I had on me was my bottled water, so I made a small libation and offered a prayer of thanks.

It made me remember that I have gotten out of the habit of carrying around an offering pouch. Due to an auto-immune disease attacking my lungs, I was partially wheelchair bound for a little over a year and really couldn't go walking anymore. So I guess it just fell out of my mind.

An offering pouch might contain herb, seeds and other such natural items – all non-toxic and biodegradable, of course – in a little sealed bag. As you go about your day, when the mood strikes you, you simply open your pouch and take a pinch to make an offering.

This is a habit I plan to get back into very soon, especially since I am healing and able to take walks again-- I have a lot to be thankful for. 

My advice for you today: make your own offering pouch.

Whether you use a zip-lock bag, or hand-sew your own drawstring pouch adorned with symbols and runes is up to you. The important thing is to create a mixture to fill it with, and carry it around. The kinds of things that might go into it include dried herbs, roasted seeds, cornmeal, flower petals and other such items.

Don’t include salt, which can be harmful to some plants. Also, don’t include live seeds that might take root, especially if they’re of an invasive species.

Carry it with you, and whenever you feel thankful or grateful to nature, offer a prayer of thanks and make an offering. This helps us keep spiritual-minded and fosters the attitude of gratitude.

How often do you find yourself thankful? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Have a Good Laugh

Yesterday, I talked about the emotional benefits of crying. It got me thinking about the emotional benefits of laughing.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine?” It’s pretty amazing what a good, heart-felt belly laugh can do to you. Laughter is another emotional pressure release. It decreases stress hormones and releases endorphins, those chemicals that help you feel good and relieve pain.

Another major benefit of laughing is that it helps improve your immunity-- it builds immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies.
So if it’s been a while since you’ve let go and crack up—then it’s high time you have a good laugh.

My advice for you today: Find something to make you laugh-- every day.

Whether it’s joking around with friends, a funny movie, watching kittens play or reading Moliere, go to it. Spend a few minutes every day just letting yourself laugh your head off.

Turn it into an experiment: for the next few days, write down your mood on a scale of 1 to 100. The worse your mood (anger, depression, boredom, etc.), the lower the number. The better your mood (happy, playful, joyful, peaceful, etc.), the higher the number. Do this periodically throughout the day (every four hours, for example).

After a few days, begin introducing more laughter into your life by doing things or looking at things that really make you laugh. Continue rating your mood at intervals throughout the day and see if there is any changes in the overall mood scores after a month.

You might be surprised at the results if you are not used to laughing a lot. If you do laugh a lot anyway, they probably won’t change.

What makes you laugh? Please share!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Have a Good Cry

Crying is underrated! It gets such a bad rap with people. People treat it as a sign of weakness, or being overly-emotional. Men in particular are rarely afforded the luxury of tears. How many times have you just held back the tears, and held them back, and held them back again, letting that emotional storm rage inside of you as you tried to stifle it?

The truth is, tears are part of nature and have their place in our lives. Tears brought forth by emotion actually have a purpose: to help you with your body's emotional response. Emotion-caused tears release the stress-causing hormones prolactin and corticotropin. They also contain leucine enkephalin, a natural pain killer.  

Think of tears as an emotional pressure valve—sometimes, you need to release.

My advice for you today: Have a good cry.

If something’s been bothering you, stop holding back your emotions. Let them flow, cry it out, then pick yourself up to move on.

Can’t cry? Have trouble with letting yourself let go like that? Dig out a movie or song that might make it happen for you. It doesn't matter if the thing reminds you of your actual problem or not— just use it to get the tears flowing.

When is the last time you had a good cry?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tips for Living Wicca: Learn Some Chants

Chanting is a powerful tool for spiritual endeavors. It is a form of affirmation, which continuously helps you reinforce your convictions to yourself. It is a form of neurolinguistic programming, which fosters spiritual self-awareness. Chanting can be a mantra, an aid to meditation and mindfulness which you can use to anchor yourself to any spiritual moment, or to keep focus during ritual and prayers. Chanting helps you with magical workings, to raise and direct energy to a particular goal or cause.

My Tip for You Today: Learn some chants. Write them down in your Book of Shadows. If you already know some, begin using them on a daily basis.

Choose a chant for the beginning of the day that will get you started off on the right foot. Use a chant when you are cooking to imbue your food with health and vitality. Use chanting when you’re angry to help calm yourself down and remind yourself not to let your emotions get the better of you. Memorize your chant for power-raising during ritual. 

See if having some chants on hand helps make a difference. 

What is your favorite chant? Share with Us!