Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My guest writer Imogen!

Art created for Henry Zeo Covert's upcoming Conclaves. It's simply great to be drawing comics pages again, much less to help a friend boost his project!
Yes, two door knobs.

I need to pick up something useful: how to keep blogspot from giving me dead end links.

For example, < a href="http://integr8dfix.blogspot.com/2012/02/test.html" >Intergr8dsoul Test Page< /a >


When Imogen approached me about writing for this blog, I really felt like the concept hit a new milestone; author Betsy Thompson comped me a copy of her book Walking Through Illusion for purpose of review; I am nearly prepared to edit a book together myself; and here, someone grasps the concept enough to want to try her hand at its themes. I'm sure many of you deeply enjoy the work here, but that was a surprising and refreshing bit of feedback. Here is Imogen's debut writing for Be Chill, Cease ill; enjoy!

Signposts on the Spiritual Path

Sometimes, with any kind of spiritual living, it's hard to keep going, isn't it? There's a sense that it would be a whole lot easier if we could ignore the deep things we know, dismiss our psychic experiences, and focus on "the real world". What makes it even more difficult is that many of us are living a spiritual life in isolation, because we do not belong to an organised religion. We are outsiders, depending on our own self-motivation. Prayer, ritual, reading, learning and following the Rede (which many choose to do, although if they are not actually Wiccan) - it all takes so much energy. In this world, if something takes dedication, time and space as well as mental effort, we at least want a certificate to hang up in the lounge.

Finding a community

However, just as with anything that is challenging and worthwhile, it is okay to stumble on the pagan pathway, and it's okay to need encouragement to keep learning and developing. This is perhaps one of the problems of being a solitary practitioner (of anything, not just of an earth-based religion) - often we feel alone in our quest. With Wicca and paganism of any kind there's the added element of societal misunderstanding and disapproval, making it harder to be open about our spiritual struggles and discoveries. Online forums are essential in building some kind of alterntative spiritual community, and books too (even if they have to be hidden in the wardrobe when your in-laws come to stay). Web-based courses are also superb for learning about Sabbats and so on, in the absence of a teacher, particularly if you are a beginner in your chosen field.

Starting small

It's easy to say to myself that I don't have time for study, however good it is for my soul. Many of us can’t embark on rituals very confidently without feeling totally sure that the postman isn't going to turn up with a recorded delivery, or the children are going to troop downstairs wanting an extra bedtime story (yet another reason why sky-clad's not on the radar at the moment for a lot of us). Another temptation is to collect tools and books about Druidry but never really use them or apply my knowledge. To avoid burn-out, which is a problem in all faiths, particularly when coupled with the guilt of the major religions, perhaps a "little and often" approach will work for you. Wise advice is to start small with paganism, and keep things simple, developing and revising as experience suggests, and it's clear that trying to be an expert Druid in the first six months is neither achievable nor desirable.


If you are also looking for signposts to keep you on your chosen spiritual path, then perhaps some of the following books and CDs can be incorporated into your day, making life simple and giving you some structure (if you want it) and reminding you there is no One Right Way:

Choose a diary or calendar that reflects who you are, spiritually. Llewellyn's 2012 Witches' Datebook is a winner for those who are out of the broom-closet, but an alternative choice might be the Mind Body Spirit Book of Days 2012 or the Earth Pathways Diary, which has been extremely popular this year. The point is that it reminds you of your spiritual nature, as well as the phases of the moon, and because you use it regularly, it encourages you to rise above the mundane medical appointments and children’s swimming lessons.

An almanac such as Marie Bruce's can also be a useful tool in helping you see the spiritual in everyday life. It's a great way to keep track of the seasons and symbols of the year, and details more than simply the Sabbats, so can be a real source of inspiration. Moving through the year, month by month with the aid of an almanac, gives you a sense of progression and purpose.

You may think you know all too much about Old Moore's almanac, and it can be seen as a bit of a cliché, but it is actually written by six of Britain's most successful astrologers, and it goes into more detail than you might expect. The "Month at a glance" section and the chart depicting the rhythms of the moon and their effects are particularly interesting. The diary pages give readers an opportunity to plan ahead according to the part the planets and moon play in their life. There's also an in-depth look at the personality of each zodiac sign me, the impression we tend to give, what's going on beneath the surface, and how we can make the best of ourselves. For anyone wanting to look deeper into astrology in a way that they can apply to their everyday life, the Astral Diary for your horoscope sign is a good place to start.

One of the additional bonuses of Kate West's The Real Witches' Year is that, because it isn't date-specific, it can be used for years and years. With a page for each day, this everlasting year-guide covers a wide range of topics, from cough and cold remedies to corn-dollies, all pertinent to the time of year. It makes a thought-provoking daily read, which is usually easy to apply to everyday spiritual practice.

Meditation, although undeniably valuable, is often difficult to fit into daily life, especially if you do not live alone. It takes practice and is worth persevering with, but you may need some help. Guided meditation tracks can be found on Youtube; see what works best for you. You may want to concentrate on a particular area, such as rebalancing your chakras, or work with a specific entity, such as your guardian angel. Just make sure you are not too distracted by the internet and don’t find yourself booking your next yoga holiday, tracking down old classmates on facebook, googling Tempurpedic mattress comparison reviews or playing another round of online poker. Alternative spiritual music can also be incorporated into daily life, with CDs like Moon Chants (Marie Bruce) or by tuning in to new age radio stations on the internet.

I hope these resources will act as signposts for you, as you make your way along your chosen path.

---Imogen Reed


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