Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Magic and Music, part 3 - Chant Jam

The magical energy that can be raised through group work is pretty phenomenal sometimes.  My Wiccan teacher had a formula for it that unfortunately I didn’t write down, but essentially the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts when you do it right.  Music is one of the most fun ways to raise energy that I’ve experienced.  When you have a group upwards of 20, it’s just something you have to experience because it’s too hard to explain.

I was chatting with a friend in the 80s about magic and chanting, and we discovered there were chants that she knew and I didn’t, and vice versa.  Then in further conversation she brought up other local people who knew yet more chants that neither of us did, so I proposed getting us together and sharing/teaching so we’d all have access to more chants for use in ritual.

The first meeting was in my very small apartment and I think there may have been a dozen of us cramped in there, and we had no idea how to start.  Someone suggested an atonal Ohm chant to warm us up, and it turned into something different.  I had envisioned something like the Mystics from the movie "Dark Crystal", when they were singing a chord, but that wasn’t what happened.  We wound up singing the same tone as a group, then gradually raising the pitch (and volume as we warmed up) and eventually hit a crescendo and let it go.  It was like a burst of warm light washing through all of us, and kind of exhilarating.  At that point, we started going through note paper with chants written down and sharing, singing together.  It wasn’t long before we noticed the energy levels in the room building and our own energy levels escalating further.  We also agreed that we needed to write the chants down, and have copies for everyone to have access to in order to capture all the different versions of lyrics.

A couple of us took that task on, and lots of phone numbers were traded for follow-up calls.  We were joking about it being our pagan hymnal, so naturally we named it the Hermnal (to honor the Goddess) in the spirit of silliness we were enjoying with the whole project.

The next meeting was the following month and I think we had around 30 people present at someone else’s house (they had a huge living room with great acoustics), and we passed out copies of the Hermnal and started with the Ohm (which became traditional).  People brought drums and rattles, fresh fruit and veggies, and it was a party.  I forget what we were chanting, we were sort of on a roll going through different chants with the same (or compatible) melodies, and we all sort of went “Wow” because it sounded so good and was so full of energy.  I can’t remember who said it first, but once someone came up with the idea that we were “like jamming, only with chants” then Chant Jam was officially named. 

Here’s some feedback from a few people who were there:
K’s recollection:

We would meet fairly often - once a month? - and warm up with an OM chant, holding hands, moving the energy around the circle.  It would intensify and move through us faster and faster, then crescendo and release.  So simple, yet so fulfilling, so satisfying, so balancing.

We would sing the old familiar songs and chants, and as I looked around at the faces of my loving friends I would be filled with joy and smile with my whole being...and they smiled the same smile back at me and each other.

I liked the chant that included movement: air my breath and fire my spirit, earth my body, water my blood.  And don't forget the Pagan Pokey!  I also really liked the chant that integrated several different chants as a sort of round: we would be together in the same rhythm and flow, choosing different words as inspiration struck:

Goddess/God Chant
Old People/New People
Diana of the Hunt
We All Come From the Goddess (sped up a little!)
Kore Chant - chorus
We are a Circle - chorus

It sounds kind of crazy and chaotic, each person choosing what to sing/chant, changing it up as desired; but actually it worked very well every time.  It was sort of like a vocal drumming circle: everyone doing their own thing, but following the same beat made our efforts merge and blend into a unified verbal dance.  Wonderful!

The energy was clean and delicious and all around us.  I would be suffused with it and washed clean of any icky, sticky energy and filled with spirit and light and pure happiness.

I don't know why it worked so well; the company, the time of our life, the time of the world, who can say?  It was truly magical.

J’s recollection:

I was asked by Alan to write something about chant jam and what it meant to me. I did not know how to explain, the way the act of group singing has influenced my path in life. I was a student of Alan’s when chant jam started. In my opinion, it was a way of getting people together to run energy without running into the politics that can get in the way when people of various beliefs come together. It was fun, and for me, very enlightening. I began to realize that the vibrations that were created affected people in ways that could not be simply explained. I wanted to understand how singing could make me feel so good. Not just uplifted but physically better. Sleep better, more focused and general aches lessened. So this question lead me to, in my first year of my masters program in acupuncture, write a research paper on the subject. What I found was that there are many correlations between the rhythms and sound patterns that are used in chants and the functions of our brains. That vital body functions are aided and maintained by rhythm and vibration. There are some great books out on the subject if you wish to research this further.

I don’t think when I was singing and laughing and having a great time all those years ago I understood where it would lead me. I am almost sure Alan still does not cognize the impact those gatherings had on everyone. Thank you friend.

Thank you both for your contributions!  Chant Jam was really magical for my community, both for social networking (pre-Internet) and sharing energy.  It was a place and time for people from various pagan traditions to meet, relax, and have fun singing.  People who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket were happy clapping, stomping, drumming, and shaking rattles and we loved that contribution because it just added to the joyous energy we were all sharing.  Like K said, you walked away from Chant Jam cleansed and uplifted.  And I agree with J’s assessment that after Chant Jam I was sleeping better and my body was happier.  At one point, we had people bringing their kids, or driving 2 hours from the San Francisco area up to Sacramento to join us.

I would love to bring it back to life because it was so positive and uplifting for everyone.  It’s a great place to share new stuff we write, too.  When you have a big group of people singing with open hearts together, it becomes “safe space” to try new things.  I knew folks who were too shy to sing in small groups who were completely comfortable singing loudly at Chant Jam.  So, I’ve included a link to the PDF of our Hermnal for your use as an example to either use as a template for creating your own, or use for your own Chant Jam sessions.  A couple of words of advice if you want to start your own:
  1. Make sure you’ve got folks bringing fluids because you’re going to get parched quickly.  Stay away from sugary drinks, they’ll promote mucus production and make singing harder.  Something as simple as a big pitcher of ice water with lemon/orange/lime slices in it, or fresh sprigs of mint work very well.
  2. Fresh fruits and veggies are great to have on hand, but stay away from dairy-based dips because they promote mucus production and make singing more challenging for lots of folks.
  3. Start small – get a group of 10 or so together to start the thing off, and figure out where you’ll be having it as it grows (because it probably will).  Neighbors and noise are issues to take into account.  Most people don’t feel comfortable in a public setting like a park, it sort of kills the mood and doesn’t generally work well acoustically.
  4. Keep the politics out!  Seriously, if everyone agrees to Chant Jam as being ego-free space, it will work better and last longer.  Ours died because someone tried to “own” it, and you can’t do that with things that are truly a Community event.  Establishing some rules for it is good, but too many rules will be restrictive and turn folks off.  If you have more than 3 rules for Chant Jam then you’ve probably got too many.
  5. Scheduling – bring calendars and don’t overdo.  If it’s going well, there will be people who want to do it all the time.  That creates burnout and interferes with regular things going on for other people.  Don’t schedule it on full/dark moons because you’ll automatically be excluding folks, come up with a regular schedule (first Friday after dark moon, for example) and stick to it as much as humanly possible.  And definitely make sure you have an announced start AND end time for the event. Enthusiasm is great but the folks hosting will want to eventually have their space emptied and go to sleep.  :)
  6. Phone/email tree – it’s important for the core group hosting/organizing your Chant Jam to communicate with folks who want to attend.  These days with so many people online a single Facebook group makes that easy, if everyone is on Facebook.  But phone trees still work best in case something comes up at the last minute and the person hosting it has an emergency.
  7. Hermnal – where authors were known, they were written in.  A lot of this was typed from lyrics that came with cassettes and CDs and many of the tunes can be found on YouTube if you don’t know them.  For all of the ones where the author includes “Alan Heartsong” – that’s me.  I’ll work on a follow-up post to this one that has links to sound files of me singing the ones I’m responsible for.  If you don’t know a tune and can’t find it online, then send me an email and I’ll do what I can to help you with it.

Chant Jam is not ritual, it is not one person’s way, it is a gift and blessing from and to your Community.  If you have a magical community that works well together, and can agree on goals, then you may find the opportunity to use the energy you raise as a group for a purpose.  You just have to have consensus first.  Imagine what changes you can create with 20-50+ people singing, chanting, drumming, dancing, etc. to raise energy towards a common goal!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Magic and Music, part 2

Our last blog post on this subject was pretty general, and covered the overall topic rather well so this time we’re going into a specific example.

In a group I used to work with not long ago, in the beginning stage of our forming a group mind I awoke with the following lyrics pulsing in my brain:

I open myself to you, in Perfect Trust and Love
I open myself to you, so that We are One.

There was more, but it was specific to the group so I’m leaving that part out because it wouldn’t be appropriate to share.  However, as you can see from the words the context is Wiccan (because I am) and the intent is to open our energy up to the people we are sharing circle with to better facilitate the meshing that the ritual group mind requires.  The first time we met after the melody and words came to me, we stood in a circle holding hands, and I started off singing those two lines while looking into the eyes of the person on my left.  At the end of my round, I kept singing while she joined in and we both looked to the person on their left, and so on around the circle.  When the person on my right was singing it to me, and the whole group was singing it together, I have to say the energy was just amazing.  One of the gals in the circle said that she was almost sure she felt her hair blow back when it got to her as the focus.  I can say that it was a LOT of energy raised before we’d even started to get ready to begin the ritual, and the subsequent full moon was pretty intense for all of us.

It sounds rather dry, putting it in writing like this, unfortunately.  Later as I was thinking about how one would use the same idea and melody in solo work, I came up with this variation:

I open myself to Earth, to Fire, Wind and Rain.
I open my heart and mind, to join with you again.
I open myself to you, in Perfect Trust and Love.
I open myself to you, so that We are One.

And I’ve recorded it here, although the melody is pretty much the same.   
It works for me, pretty well as both a grounding/centering and an uplifting quick charge.  Please keep in mind, this is me singing it a cappella, and trying not to wake up the roommate.  Sorry if it’s a bit quiet, this is my first foray into singing into the computer microphone.

This is one small example of what I mean when I talk about making music magic have a purpose.  It’s why I’m taking my personal spiritual practice in this direction, it doesn’t just speak to my heart, it sings to it.  I’m envisioning songs of grounding, songs of healing, teaching songs, etc…. something longer than the simple chants we use, but that are simple enough for the non-singers to work with as well.

I’d love to hear your experiences with music and magic, and look forward to your responses and ideas.

I wish you harmony and blessings as always,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Magic and Music

We Pagans are a creative bunch in so many ways, and that extends to music as well as other forms of art.  We create music to celebrate life, to celebrate our faith, and sometimes to help us through difficult times.  We can do so much more with it that we don't generally explore because Life itself is distracting.  

Centuries of human beings (and probably longer) have used rhythm and sound as part of our celebration and part of our magic and I think it would be a fun subject to explore.  Whether you play an instrument, compose, sing, or can't carry a tune in a bucket you are still a note in the grand Song of Life.

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” – William Congreve

Music certainly does have charms, doesn’t it?  We fall in love, express our emotions, and vent our frustrations as well as soothe our hearts with music.

My earliest memory of music was driving home from the library with my Mom and my sister, singing along as the radio played “On Top of the World” by the Carpenters.  I still listen to the Carpenters when my heart needs healing, because it takes me back to that purely innocent time in my life.  http://youtu.be/0rZmHC0A04A

My mother’s side of the family had a tradition dating back before 1900 of gathering on Christmas Eve as many of the family as possible for a potluck, and to sing Christmas carols together after dinner.  It was years before I understood just how unusual my family was.  We never got drunk, had fights, or had feuds in our family.  Christmas Eve caroling was more magical for me than Santa Claus, because when we were all together singing, there was a light that connected all of us together.  My family was creating music magic, weaving us together with love, I think.

In later years, comic books caught my attention and sound became a potential weapon in the character Banshee from the X-men (whom you may have seen reinvented in the movie X-men First Class).  Prior to that, it was just my sister’s tin ear that made me realize how punishing sound could be.

Later in my life I learned that sound was being used in medicine to shatter kidney stones, and ultrasonic waves were giving some people relief from various other ailments that caused them pain, or to diagnose conditions.  We even have sonic toothbrushes to help us keep our teeth clean now.

So we know about our emotional connection to music, and the actual physical power of sound has progressed from fiction to reality.  The monks who released a CD of Gregorian chants did a powerful thing for the magical community, they helped us remember that music can be both beautiful and sacred.  It’s no different for us pagans.

Not everyone can sing.  I can carry a tune most of the time, but I’m no Elton John, that’s for sure.  My first experience with pagan music was a copy of a copy of some chants from the Reclaiming community, and it wasn’t long before I began writing chants of my own to share with my friends in the local pagan community under the name “Alpha Starsinger”.  Half the joy of chanting with other pagan folks is the unity, not the melodic quality though.  We don’t have to be rockstar quality to create beautiful moments together.

As I grew older and had more time to incorporate some of these lovely chants into my spiritual practice, I began to notice that while some chants were great at raising energy in a group setting, the energy wasn’t directed.  The imagery of the words in the chant didn’t *do* anything with it, so it was like this big energy pancake spinning overhead waiting to flop down on top of us.  Other chants directed energy beautifully and left us feeling completely refreshed.  For example, the chant “Where There’s Fear There’s Power” (http://youtu.be/_k05RB9iAyk) has a definite magical use – to help us banish fear’s control over us, and transform it into useful energy, and help us remember that we can use the emotional power of our own fear to transform our lives if we channel it properly. “Hecate, Cerridwen” (http://youtu.be/Ffh_jFnUKlM) is perfect for a dark moon ritual to help the chanters prepare themselves to meet the darker aspects of the goddess and prepare themselves for rebirth prior to a guided meditation, for example.

Those are some pretty good examples of the psychological benefits of music as part of our spirituality, but what about the actual magic?  Think on this for a minute – if sound waves can destroy stones in our body, see through us to look at a fetus in the womb, or help relieve pain, then what happens to every cell in our body when we sing and produce the sound ourselves?  Sound creates vibration in air, water, and matter.  When you stand in front of a speaker at a concert, you feel the sound in your bones and in every cell of your body.  Why can’t we harness that knowledge and put it to good use? 

The words we chant create images in our mind for us to focus on.  That’s how we shape the energy when we’re chanting.  The regular breathing, and weaving our voices together as one raises the energy to work with, granting us more spiritual power available for our magics than the sum of our number.  In the book “Chanting” by Robert Gass (excellent read!) he describes chanting as one way of numbing our conscious mind into submission through repetition to help us achieve a trance state (not a direct quote), and I agree with him.  Chanting is one of the paths to achieving a trance state, and for me personally it works better when the words are in a language I understand so I know the symbology and meaning behind what I’m saying before slipping into trance.

I think if we’re ever to progress farther than our “Paganism 101” levels that all of our published books are stuck at (because apparently that’s most of what sells), we need to explore how we can make our paths more rich and fulfilling, and I think music will be one way we get there.  I’ve read a tiny little bit into Solfeggio frequency theory, but it’s “channeled” information which I have a hard time taking seriously and unfortunately total pseudoscience from everything I can find on the subject.  One of my favorite books “The Subtle Body: An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy” by Cyndi Dale covers the subject of sounds and chakra healing, attributing a note on the scale to each chakra (pages 401-406), and while interesting in theory I haven’t had the chance to work with it much yet.

But for practical applications, I propose that we start thinking about music, our use of it in ritual and how it affects us.  We can begin the dialogue on magic and sound theory, share the work we put into it together, and explore new horizons.  There are much better musicians out there, I’m barely up at amateur level to be honest.  If enough people are interested, perhaps it’s time we find an online space to share and discuss our ideas.

For now, I wish you harmony and may joy fill your days until we meet again.


PS, this post and the next few on the same subject are part of 
my contribution  to Kallan Kennedy's  blog-The Secret Life of the American Witch! Please check it out and all of the other contributors as well. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Measuring Up

We spend a lot of time worrying about whether we measure up to someone else’s standard.  It starts as children, who are supposed to measure up to length/weight expectations when they’re born, and developmental progress as they grow.  Even after we achieve adulthood, even the status of our “adult-ness” gets measured by our parents, peers, and in our professional lives.

The reality is, that isn’t going to change.  But when we take our metaphoric measuring tapes into our spiritual lives, it starts getting both strange and destructive, I think.

In some traditions, there’s an expectation that someone needs to be a “proper person” prior to initiation, and in my case I have standards before even accepting someone as a student.  Frankly, it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to make sure it’s the “right fit” for us all.  But when the tape measure turns into a weapon, there’s a problem with someone’s ego getting in the way of their spirituality.

For example, my friend Betsy (not her real name) asked a local woman Sondra (not her real name) about the discrepancy in elemental associations for the athame and the wand between air and fire.  It’s not a bad question, because if you read enough books it’s clear that there’s a big difference of opinion on the matter.  Now, Sondra is not Betsy’s teacher.  Betsy is studying on her own, and Sondra is someone in an online discussion group who she respected enough to ask.  Sondra’s response was, in a word, horrible.  The gist of the response, with the expletives deleted, was “Why can’t you newbies learn to read and think for yourself instead of being so damned fluffy?”   Betsy was terribly upset and justifiably insulted.

So, Sondra immediately judged Betsy as not worthy of an answer, and by whatever internal standards she was using Betsy fell into the category of “fluffy”, and proceeded to verbally whip her with that metaphorical tape measure.  For folks who supposedly believe and practice “Harm none”, being abusive to another person is actively choosing to violate their own belief system.  And yes, I’m completely aware that I’m using my own measuring tape right now.

But we don’t just hurt each other with our measuring sticks, we hurt ourselves too.  We set these weird limits on ourselves such as:  “I’m too fat for that guy to be interested in me”, “I’m not smart enough for that job”, “I don’t know enough about magic to talk to other people about it”, “I can’t do love spells for myself”, “I can’t do a prosperity spell for myself to get that job”, etc.  We do these things to ourselves with our negative self-talk and sabotage every aspect of our own lives. 

As magical practitioners, we can’t work magic to effect change without remembering that it’s thought that drives it, and we MUST remember that if our thoughts can change reality then we must be more responsible for the changes we make in our own lives through self-talk.  Being kind to ourselves AND others means we all need to focus on our standards, our own limits, and respect our wants/needs without beating ourselves up and without beating other people over the head with them.

So here’s my final point… make sure the standards you expect yourself and others to live up to aren’t unreasonable.  Don’t demand that others live up to a standard you don’t.  Don’t be a jerk, it’s really not that hard to be nice.  If you’re so frustrated that you’re likely to blow up, then you need to work on your own personal stress management.  Go meditate or something.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Chocolate Ritual

This was making the rounds via email back in the 90s, and I know a lot of people might not have seen it.  I have no idea who the author is/was, but we all got a good laugh at it so here it is - spelling and grammatical errors you find are not my own, but the unknown authors:


Materials required: On the altar are brown candles, a Tootsie Roll (the great big one‑ as the athame), a large glass with milk in it (the chalice), a small dish of Nestle's Quick and a spoon, a small dish of chocolate sprinkles, a plate of cupcakes, and some Yoo‑Hoo along with a goblet.


(take the small bowl of chocolate sprinkles)

Chocolate sprinkles where thou art cast
No calories in thy presence last.
Let no fat adhere to me
And as I will so mote it be!

Nestle's Quick where thou art cast
Turn this milk to chocolate, fast.
Let all good things come to me,
and make my milk all chocolaty!

CAST THE CIRCLE (using a tootsie roll)


Mousse of the East, Fluffy one!
Great prince of the palace of dessert!
Be present we pray thee, and guard this circle from all moochers approaching from the East.

Fondue of the South, Molten one!
Great prince of the palace decadence!
Be present we pray thee, and guard this circle from all diets
approaching from the South.
Cocoa of the West, Satisfying one!
Great prince of the palace of thirst!
Be present we pray thee, and guard this circle from all carob
  approaching from the West.
Rocky Road of the North, Cold one!
Great prince of the palace of crunchy!
Be present we pray thee, and guard this circle from all cheap
  imitations approaching from the North.
HANDMAIDEN (Henceforth known as the Swiss Miss):

Listen to the words of the Mother of Chocolate; who was of old called: Godiva, Ethel M., Sara Lee, Nestle, Mrs. See, and by many other names:
HPS: Whenever you have one of those cravings, once in a while and better it be when your
checkbook is full, then shall you assemble in a great public place and bring offerings of money to the spirit of Me, who is Queen of all Goodies.  In the mall shall you assemble, you who have eaten all your chocolate and are hungry for more.  To you I shall bring Good Things for your tongue. And you shall be free from depression.
And as a sign that you are truly free, you shall have chocolate smears on your cheeks, and you  shall munch, nosh, snack, feast, and make yummy noises all in my presence.  For mine is the  ecstasy of phenylalanine, and mine is also the joy on earth, yea, even into high orbit for my law is "melts in your mouth, not in your hand".

Keep clean your fingers, carry Wet Ones always, let none stop you aside. For mine is the secret that opens your mouth, and mine is the taste that puts a smile on your lips and comfy padding pounds on your hips.  I am the gracious Goddess who gives the gift of joy onto the tummies of  men and women.  Upon earth, I give knowledge of all things delicious, and beyond death well, I  can't do much there.  Sorry about that.  I demand only your money in sacrifice, for behold,  chocolate is a business, and you have to pay for those truffles before you eat them.

SWISS MISS: Hear now the words of the Goodie Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the  cheap imitations, whose body graces candy racks and finer stores everywhere:  I, who am the  beauty of chocolate chips, and the satisfying softness of big bars, the mystery of how they get the filling inside truffles, and fill the hearts of all but Philistines with desire, call unto thy soul to arise and come unto me.  For I am the soul of candy, from me do all confections spring, and unto me all of you shall return, again.... and again... and again.... and again.  Before my smeared face, beloved of women and men, thine innermost divine self chocolate covered cherries all within you.  And  you who think to seek me, know that your seeking and yearning shall avail you not unless you know the Mystery:
  "We shall sell no chocolate until you pay for it" For behold: I have been with you since you were just a baby, and I am that which is attained at nearly any shop in the land.  Messed be.
SWISS MISS: Hear now the words of the Chocolate God, who was called Ghirardelli, Milton Snavely Hershey, Bosco, Fudgesicle, and by many other names:

  HP: I am the strength of the candy rack, and the piece that fell on the floor but looks like it may not have gotten too dirty, and the deepest bitterness of dark chocolate.  No matter how you try to resist the call of chocolate, I will hunt you out, and I will become your sacred prey.  I am warmth of hot cocoa in the dead of winter, and the call of the road that leads you to that really expensive Godiva store downtown.  I give you my creatures, the fire of love of chocolate, the power of jaw  strength to bite off a piece of that frozen Milky Way bar and the shelter of Haagen Dazs when that big date didn't work out.  You are dear to me, and I instill in you my power of a piece of chocolate that you had forgotten you had hidden, and the power of vision and magickal sight with which you can spot a candy counter a mile away.  By the powers of the half melted bar in the glorious sun, I charge you, by the darkest depths of the bottom of the cocoa pot and lingering smell of bittersweet chocolate, I charge you, and by the beauty of a perfectly swirled vanilla butter cream, I charge you. Follow your heart and your instinct, wherever they lead you.  The wealth in your pocket can buy you treats that a Mayan king would envy.  Take joy in that first bite of lecithin emulsified cocoa, and in the last satisfying slurp of Yoo‑Hoo.  Yet you must be wary of deceit.  Eat not of that which  is called "baking chocolate", for it is vile and bitter.  Lastly, always remember to leave some chocolate behind you.  Be not greedy, but let yourself be known as a connoisseur.  Leave a little for someone else.  I am with you always, just over your shoulder, or around the next corner.  I am the Lord of Chocolate, and when you have reached the end of you hoard, I will never be further away from you than that 7‑Eleven on the corner.  I am the spirit of the wild child, the inner child who can never get quite enough.  If you are a true chocolate lover, then your soul and mine are intertwined.

(Blessing of the Yoo‑Hoo)
HP: Be it known that milk chocolate is not better than dark chocolate
HPS: Nor is dark chocolate better than milk chocolate
HP: For both are better than the falsely named "white chocolate"
HPS: And neither one is carob
HP: As the frosting is to the cupcake
HPS: So the creamy nougat is to the Milky Way bar
BOTH: And when they are eaten, they are yummy in truth, for there is no greater snack in all the world than one made of chocolate.

  (blessing of the cupcakes)
HP: Frosting is keen
HPS: And frosting is neat
BOTH: Great Goddess! Let's eat!
  (Feasting and Drinking)
  Dismiss quarters
HPS: Oh, ye mighty goodies of the __________, we thank you for attending our rites and guarding our circle, and ere you depart for your sweet and sticky realms, we say unto you,  "N‑E‑S‑T‑L‑E‑S, Nestles makes the very best"
ALL: "Choooooooc‑laaaaate"
  (After all quarters have been dismissed, give a final satisfying belch at the east)
  Close circle
  Go now in perfect love, perfect trust, and perfect chocolate

Friday, July 27, 2012

Psychic Self-Care

One of the things I try to emphasize with students is the absolute essentials of psychic self-care.  Whether we walk around shielded or open, because we interact with people we see and hear things that affect our energy selves, and that needs to be cared for just as much as our physical bodies do.  Starhawk's book "Spiral Dance" has some excellent exercises for learning to visualize, ground, center, and a plethora of other useful exercises.  What I'm providing here works for me, without copying anything from anyone else. 

The simplest forms of psychic self-care to me are:

1.  Ground
2.  Center
3.  Meditate

Centering is essentially pulling your head out of the past or future and focusing your thoughts on the present moment.  You know that state of mind when you're driving alone, not listening to the radio or thinking of anything but driving where you are right then?  That's an example of a centered state of mind.  Or sitting on the toilet, concentrating on nothing but the business at hand - again, centered.  Crude, but it does effectively communicate the point.  Over the years I have trained myself to respond to a trigger word to center myself, picturing a ghost image of myself on the left (for the past) and the right (for worrying about the future) with the solid image of myself in the center with eyes closed.  When I focus on it and say the word "integrate" in my head, I am literally pulling myself into the present moment by having the two ghost images merge into my solid physical presence and open my eyes.  Takes me about a second or three these days, I think when I was figuring out how to do it it took about 10-30 seconds of concentration.

Because meditation is covered so well in so many places, I'm not going to cover it here.  But think of the following Grounding exercise as being just as essential and daily a practice as brushing your teeth.

Grounding basically entails connecting yourself to the center of the Earth and letting go of any negativity down the connecting cord, and allowing the Earth's energy to well up through you to cleanse and refill the hole the negativity may have left behind.  So here's a very simple way to do that:

Stand or sit somewhere comfortable, this really doesn't take very long at all and it's definitely easy.

Take a few deep breaths and let your mind relax, and let your muscles relax a bit (not enough to fall down if you chose to stand, let's be practical).

Now imagine a warm golden light at the base of your spine, say about the color of honey with the sun shining through it.  See the golden ball of light relax into a cord flowing down into the Earth beneath your feet, through the floor, the dirt, the bedrock, just as easy as breathing with complete comfort.  That cord of golden light reaches the molten center of the planet, connecting you to it with total comfort and safety.  Allow yourself to remember any stress or negativity that you're aware of, and just as easy as exhaling let it flow down the cord into the molten Earth where the energy can be purified and transmuted into something useful.  Feel the relief as you let each bit of tension, frustration, or even physical pain just fall away from you down into the Earth.  As you inhale, start to feel the warmth and comfort of the Earth beneath your feet rising up through the cord into you, to fill you up.  Feel it in your feet, your legs, your lungs, your spine, your hands and arms, your back, chest, neck and your head out to the tips of your hair.

When you feel free of negativity and refreshed, imagine your grounding cord drawing back up through the earth into you as comfortable and easy as inhaling and deeply filling your lungs.

Optionally, you can focus on the chakras and clearing your energy channels as well if you're an extremely detail-oriented person and if grounding just doesn't feel sufficient.

For folks who like having something to say during this exercise, I wrote this years ago and you may find it useful.  This should be done standing in a relaxed position in a quiet space if possible.
Picture energy centers irising open like a camera lens and breathing freely through them, letting negativity disperse like incense smoke on the wind.  Your mental imagery for the size of the light circles representing your chakras is important in that you should keep them about the same size.  If you see tennis balls, then they should all be tennis balls.  If you see golf balls, ditto.  If you see dinner plates or beach balls you may want to dial it down a little bit.

While most systems only cover the 7 major chakras, I include feet, and hands, eyes and ears as well, since those are the primary way we get input from the world around us and potentially get “polluted” input stuck in our auras.

Rooted through my feet
To the Earth’s central heat
The chaff flows down
The strength flows in
The cleansing
Now begins

Ruby red the root fire
Vitality and passion’s heat
Healthy, strong and balanced,
Connected to my feet.

Orange is the navel,
Emotion’s power seat
Flowing strong like water,
Safe, secure, complete.

Flaming yellow solar,
The will and egos power
Strong and balanced pulsing,
Yet open like a flower.

Glowing green the heartlight,
The source of love and health.
Breathing free and easy,
With Love the spirit’s wealth.

Down from heart to hands,
With which we touch the world.
Expressions of our power,
Like leaves that are unfurled.

Singing blue the throat,
Communication’s eased.
Expressions of our heart and soul
It flows with Ether’s breeze.

Indigo the brow,
That psychic midnight blue
It sees through all illusion
To the form that’s true.

Violet white the crown,
Connection to the all.
Open to the cosmos
And every spirit’s call.

Eyes and ears are open,
Healthy, strong and clean.
Free from any negative
Things they’ve heard and seen.

Integrated, healthy
The parts become the whole.
With no breaks in all the aura,
Balanced is my soul.

Safe from all intrusion
Yet open, flowing, free
My system’s clean and healthy
As I will so shall it be.