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Tuesday, February 25

How Buddhism might save your Teenager

I almost never consider Buddhism to be a religion.  The original core tenants of Buddhism come across as more of a philosophy-of-life to me.  I often blend Buddhist philosophy  with my Pagan practice because of this.

I was watching a short video by Waylon Lewis, from ElephantJournal (a subscription website chock full of awesome - 4 articles per day are FREE).  In it, he offers up some of the best non-spiritual Buddhist practices that can help us remove negativity from our daily lives.  Listening to this after spending yesterday hanging with a teenaged neighbor, it struck me how these four Buddhist teachings could improve the emotional lives of teenaged children.

First, here's the video:



The techniques he covers are Posture, Clothing, Tidiness, and Downtime.  I remember being a teenaged girl and have listened to plenty of stories of teenaged boyhood from Papa J.  We have agreed that those budding years are ROUGH.  There's pressure everywhere and from everyone.  Teachers, parents, peers... on top of those complete strangers at the mall that you were pretty sure were laughing at your haircut from across the food court.

How can our children use these 4 Buddhist techniques to push that negativity out of their lives?


1. Have good posture.  Sit up, don't let those bodies sag.  Good posture can prevent soreness and muscle fatigue.  It also keeps you more alert, but did you know that it boosts positive emotions and confidence?

Studies have shown that posture can effect our minds in a sort of 'fake it till you make it' method.  If your children stand up straight, walk with shoulders back, and put a smile on their faces, their body will respond with better breathing, better digestion and circulation.   

Don't have time for yoga with the kids?  Just have them stand up straighter. Really.  Good posture is recognized by the brain as a 'power stance' and can instantly fill a person with confidence, even a  fretful 8th grader.

Img Source [Pinnacle Physical Therapy, AZ]

2. How we dress.  Dress nice.  Mama Stacey is very guilty of hiding behind baggy clothing.  Buddhism suggests that wearing well-fitted clothing forces honesty and openness.  In my experience, this works.  When I want to have a successful day or stick to a plan/schedule, I force myself to change out of my yoga pants and sweatshirts and into 'real' clothes.  I put a bra on, I put a nice blouse on, I wear a good pair of button pants... even socks.  I even go so far as to put slippers on over my socks so that it feels like I'm wearing shoes.  I find that I get more work done on a day like this than I ever would sitting on the couch in my sweatpants.

Studies show that there is a link between wearing loose-sloppy clothing and feeling depressed.  The occasional Sunday-afternoon-pajama-day isn't to be shunned, but when your teen's normal daily attire is stretchy pants and baggy t-shirts, they probably aren't happy confident kids.  Do your best to make sure your teen has a healthy collection of 'nice' or 'fitted' clothing to wear to school.   I'm not talking about shirts that cause a girl's bust to hang out or pants that are tight on a boy's rear like MTV would suggest.  I'm saying that perhaps a 13 year old girl will feel better about herself wearing a nice pair of glam-jeans, a fitted tank, a pretty top and some clean flats than she would wearing Fruit of the Loom sweats, a baggy cat t-shirt and clunky sneakers.



3. Keep your environment tidy.  Your environment is an extension of your inner-self and when it is a shambles, your insides become cluttered too.  Have your teen get those clothes off their bedroom floor and into the hamper. Help them to empty their backpack of papers every night.  Encourage them to make their bed in the morning and empty the wastebasket every weekend.  15 minutes of tidying every day can keep their environment fresh and clean, which can brighten their mood, give them confidence when friends come to visit, and keep at bay "that smell" that teenaged boys accumulate so easily. 

Honestly, this works in Mama Stacey's house.  Homework is done lightening fast at a clean and clear table by the window (natural light, yay!) with a glass or fresh water or orange juice within reach, than it ever was done at a cluttered bedroom desk, in dim light, with music blaring and a can of soda pop in hand.

Our neighbor is struggling with depression and so her house is rather unfit lately.  Her teen comes over to do homework beside Doodle Bug at our dining room table.  Her comprehension is up and she's getting her work done in half the time.  



4. Doing nothing.  Allow their minds to rest.  Allow their consciousness to catch up.  Allow their breathing to fall back in sync with their bodies.  Busy does NOT equal 'successful' or 'engaged'. Multitasking does NOT equal 'smart' or 'capable'.  Over-stimulation causes stress and can lead to burn out.

If your teen fills every moment of their day with reading, writing, moving, driving, television, laptops, cellphones, gossip... encourage them to give their brains a break.  The art of nothing is incredibly difficult, but even the occasional 5-10 minutes of quiet will help.

Yoga.  Deep breathing.  Soaking in the tub.  Waiting at the bus stop without their cell phone or headphones.  Watching the sunset.  Calming and centering just a little everyday helps.

Check out Zen Habits for more 'do nothing' ideas.

Img source [NazReigN]






Thursday, February 13

Imbolc Rite of Healing Waters



My original inspiration was from The Druid's Garden.  They have a ritual called "The Healing Waters of Renewal".  It was a bit more wordy and drawn out than I'm used to, so I read through it and then changed what didn't work for me.  If I didn't have time or supplies for what was listed, I changed it.

While looking around on Pinterest (my only addiction that rivals Facebook!), I saw images of healing crystal grids.  I looked into them and decided it would be appropriate for our circle.

***

This is the ritual used by Mama Stacey for Imbolc 2014.

IMBOLC RITUAL OF HEALING WATERS
- to inspire healing of the self and the Earth -


 


Items needed we used:

Sage Bundle 
Feather
Red Candle
Lighter
Small Ceramic Bowl 
Spring Water
Mortar & Pestle
Sea Salt
White Votives
Elemental Candle Holders (4)
Elemental Decorations (sea shells, feathers, plants, etc.)

Crystal Grid (made by drawing a geometric pattern on posterboard with some crayons)
Green Stemware (2)
Blue Stemware (2)
Small Blue Glass Bowl
Quartz Crystals in various sizes and shapes
Selenite Sphere
Fluorite (2) (placed in the north)
Jasper (2) (placed in the south)
Unakite (2) (placed in the west)
Amethyst (2) (placed in the east)
Jar of Melted Snow 
Cotton Balls

Singing Bowl
Deity Candles (2)
Athame
Besom
Large Chalice
Plate of homemade sugar cookies
Shot glasses
Bottle of Wine (we also put some pink lemonade out)
Altar Decorations related to Imbolc and Healing (we had gorgeous beads, spirals, Earth images, etc.)


CIRCLE CASTING

We began with everyone gathering around the altar.  Everyone took a brief moment to describe what in their lives needed healing, whether it be emotional, physical, or what-have-you.  Then we dried some tears and began.

One deep, cleansing breath.  Slowly, in and out.
“As you breathe out, feel your feet root into the Earth.  Let Her support you.”

Second deep, cleansing breath.  Slowly, in and out.
“Let all the tension inside of you drain out through your feet.  Let Her take it away.”

Third deep, cleansing breath.  Slowly, in and out.
“Let the love and light from the heavens pour down you.  Let Him rinse you clean, from the crown of your head to the roots of your feet.  Let it flow.”

Walk the circle with a broom, clockwise.  (Mama Stacey begins in the East.)
“I cast this circle once around, all within by magick bound.
A sacred space, a healing place, safe from harm by Spirit’s grace.”

The elemental candles are lit by whoever is closest.  Afterwards, representations are held up.  Sage bundle and feather in the East.  Red candle and lighter in the South.  Bowl of fresh water and sprig of rosemary in the West.  Bowl of coarse sea salt and mortar and pestle in the North. 
A nugget of salt is placed in the mortar and ground.  The powdered salt is sprinkled into the bowl of fresh water and stirred.  The circle is walked clockwise, using the rosemary sprig as an aspergillum.
“We trace a path with earth and water, a boundary line of gods and man.”

The red candle is lit and the sage bundle ignited.  The circle is walked clockwise, using the feather to waft the sage smoke around.
“We conjure thee by air and fire, a circle now around us stands.”

Light the Goddess candle.
“In the name of She who watches.”

Light the God candle.
“In the name of He who stands.”

Point the athame upwards, above center of altar and then touch it to the ground at your feet.
“As above, from crown of heaven, now below it is revealed.”

Walk the circle with the athame, clockwise.
This circle bright is bound around, while Spirit works its mighty plan.  Blessed Be!”


RITUAL
  
“We gather today to invoke the healing powers of Imbolc.  We work to heal ourselves and the Earth.  Healing belongs to the element of water.  During this time of Imbolc, the waters once again begin to flow as the first stirrings of spring occur.  

To perform our healing, we bring forward waters from the first snow that fell this season.  It has been filtered and charged under the light of the moon.  We also bring forward crystal and gemstones from our homes.”

Take the pitcher of water and hold it high in the North.
This water represents the need for purification of body.  In the course of life, we build up many toxins, disease, and illness.  As you bathe your wrists, allow your sickness, illness, or toxins in your body to be purified in the spirit of the water.”

Pour a little water into the north vessel. Pass it around the circle clockwise.  All participants dip their fingers into it and spread water onto their wrists.
“With this water, my body is purified.”(This can be said after each participant, at each quarter, or when the vessel has made its way all the way around the circle.)

The vessel is placed in the north on the crystal grid.  The Northern stones are placed at its base.  The singing bowl is rung.

Take the pitcher of water and hold it high in the East.
“This water represents the need for purifying the mind.  In the course of daily living, we build up painful memories, stress, hatred, and other things we have difficulty in letting go. As you bathe your forehead, let these painful memories, stress, and negative emotions be washed away.”

Pour a little water into the east vessel. Pass it around the circle clockwise.  All participants dip their fingers into it and spread water onto their foreheads (third eye).
“With this water, my mind is purified.”(This can be said after each participant, at each quarter, or when the vessel has made its way all the way around the circle.)

The vessel is placed in the east on the crystal grid.  The Eastern stones are placed at its base.  The singing bowl is rung.

Take the pitcher of water and hold it high in the South.
This water represents the need for purifying the heart.  The passions and goals we keep in our hearts can become tainted by stress, hatred and grudges.  When we align our hearts with these things, we poison hearts and anything we pour them into.  As you spread water on your chest, free your heart of hatred, negativity and vendettas.”

Pour a little water into the south vessel. Pass it around the circle, clockwise.  All participants dip their fingers into it and rub a little water onto their chest (heart).
“With this water, my heart is purified.”(This can be said after each participant, at each quarter, or when the vessel has made its way all the way around the circle.)

The vessel is placed in the south on the crystal grid.  The Southern stones are placed at its base.  The singing bowl is rung.

Take the pitcher of water and hold it high in the West.
This water represents the need for purification of soul.  In the course of life, our souls become tarnished by toxic relationships, crushed dreams, and traumatic events.   As you bathe your eyes, the windows to the soul, let the stains be washed away.  Let your soul break free from the dead weights of heartache and disease in the spirit of the water.”

Pour a little water into the western vessel. Pass it around the circle, clockwise. 
All participants dip a cotton ball into it and wipe over their eyes. 
“With this water, my soul is purified.”(This can be said after each participant, at each quarter, or when the vessel has made its way all the way around the circle.)

The vessel is placed in the west on the crystal grid.  The Western stones are placed at its base.  The singing bowl is rung.

Takes the pitcher of water and hold it over the Center of the altar. 
This water represents the need for purification of the Earth.  Gaia has been a victim of greed and corruption.  Raped of her resources and poisoned by toxins.  She has been abused and gutted and mutated.  Today, we pray for renewal.  We bathe this sphere to wash away the ugly and bring about healing.  With this water we honor the earth and all of her blessings. May this healing water wash over 1000 fold on all of the life on Earth.”

Pour a little water over the crystal in the central vessel.
“With this water, the land is healing.”

The singing bowl is rung three times.

SIMPLE FEAST

Use the athame to draw an air pentacle over the ‘cakes’.
Lord of the harvest, bless this food that we may never hunger.”

Use the athame to draw an air pentacle over the ‘ale’.
“Lady of abundance, bless this drink that we may never thirst.”


Participants ate & drank but reserved a bit for offering by tipping some of their wine into the large chalice and dropping in a corner of their cookie. (Poured underneath of a tree after the ritual.)


CIRCLE CLOSING

Walk the circle with the athame, counter-clockwise.
“We part this circle, all is done, magick forged by Moon and Sun.”

Extinguish the deity candles.
"Go in peace, fair Maiden. 
Go in peace, young Lord.”

Extinguish elemental candles.
“All who joined us, thanks to thee.
Go in peace and Blessed Be.”

Participants hold hands, raised.
“The circle is open, but never broken.
Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again.”

***

If you have any questions, I'd be glad to answer them.  

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 12

An Infant Cape

As we are planning Baby E's blessing ceremony, our Pagan neighbor brought us a gift.

A pure white, hooded cape for a tiny girl.






Wednesday, February 5

Baby E Explores Sage

While Mama Stacey was getting her supplies gathered for ritual last weekend, Baby E was dabbling...

She found a cluster of White Sage.


White Sage is yucky.



Monday, February 3

I drew Imbolc this Year

Our small community often gathers for sabbat ritual and celebrations.  When there are no volunteers, we draw names.  I was hesitant when my name came up for something so early in the year.  Having an infant strains my ability to even keep up with household chores let alone write a ritual, plan a menu, organize a craft and get invitations out.

The past year has not been kind to my heart.  There have been some really deep wounds and set backs.  My mental state isn't up to par and my sleep is if-y.  I'm one of those people who decides that when she can't control the outside world, she starts to micromanage the inside world.  You know Mama Stacey is stressed if she moves furniture or messes with her hair.

Blue haired Mama Stacey, 2014
I've moved the couch twice and dyed my hair blue.  :(

My other anxiety came about from the vagueness of the February 2nd sabbat.  Brigid is always an option, but as our other holidays are not centered on a single deity, I don't like using Her as a go-to every February.  There are Norse traditions, Roman traditions, Greek traditions and others... but I never feel a strong connection to them.  I read about a dozen fire rituals online and in the cold,wet dark night, those didn't seem to vibe with what was actually happening in our little corner of the world.  There was snow and ice and rain and rushes of water along the curbs... and it hit me.  I decided to base the ritual on water. And where there is water, there is space for healing.

I am a water sign and the more I played around with the idea, the more it just worked.  During my research into the needs of the ritual, I came across the concept of healing crystal grids and decided to do my own take on that too.

Doodle Bug preparing for ritual, 2014

Doodle Bug helped me draw and color a large geometric pattern on some foam core from the Dollar Tree.  Baby E screamed and ate crayons, as you do.

The healing theme transferred into just about everything we did for the sabbat.  Our ritual was saturated with blues and greens.  We served herbal tea and a vegetarian "chicken" noodle soup.  When our guests arrived, everyone whole heartedly agreed that life had been a shambles lately and we dove into the healing ritual.

Sugar cookies with healing runes iced on them. 
 Our altar was huge.  We literally used the dining room table.  We filled it with goddess imagery and delicate glass and crystal.  Lots of water and pure white cloth and candles.  We burned a huge chunk of white sage, cleansed ourselves with melted snow water, and allowed ourselves to bathe in the tones of a singing bowl and took turns venting and crying.  It was a beautiful ritual and wonderful bonding experience for our community.  It couldn't have turned out more perfect.
 
Healing Waters Imbolc altar, 2014

We smudged the skittles out of each other.

A friend donated a bottle of homemade Dandelion Wine for our libation.



Baby E participated fully in the ritual, bouncing between her mommy and daddy's embrace.

Papa J and Baby E on Imbolc, 2014

After feasting on banana bread, pasta salad, vegetarian soup, sugar cookies and deviled eggs, the women sat around the table and made a protection powder.

Ingredients for protection powder.

We ground dried egg shells with the mortar and pestles and then blended it with ground green clay powder and ground cinnamon. 


It truly was a gorgeous rite and pleasant day.

I will post a copy of the ritual tomorrow.  It is one I'd love to share.