Oh, you Charmer, you!

charm books stack

Jar spells and the various other sorts of charms are probably one of the most well-known and used areas of the cunning craft. Of these, I believe the some of the most used are for the protection of the Self, home, and protection of others whether they be child or animal. They are created to protect from physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial attacks from other people, practitioners, those of the Otherworld (lumping spirits, fae and any being that is not inherently human in this category momentarily), and even bacterial/viral attacks. These charms are practiced in possibly all forms of religious and spiritual belief. I say possibly because I haven’t studied every different spiritual or belief system… yet. However, of the ones that I am familiar, whether through my own actual practice, the practice of friends, or through study, there is always some form of a protection charm contained within the myths and mythos even if it is not called exactly that. A rose by any other name and all (thanks, Shakespeare!)

Charms can be used for “white” or “black” magic. Or green magic or purple magic or whatever unicorn rainbow glitter flavor of magic you proclaim to use. I just use magic. I am a magic practitioner. I do not assign color to my workings. I do work or I don’t; no color of magic involved. You do you. I have found over the years that it doesn’t really matter in the long run. Those who profess to only use white magic always have that line they will cross. There are those who say they only practice black magic yet they will protect another from harm. Again, a line they are willing to cross. The most honest practitioners are the ones who profess to practice grey magic – not entirely good and not entirely evil. In my mind and according to the alignment system of D&D, that sets them more at a chaotic good than anything else. Chaotic good doesn’t have a color – it just is.

Charms are also one of my very favorite types of magical workings. They are part of magic both high or low; animistic or Judeo-Christian, and anything in-between. Now, most followers of a monotheistic or Judeo-Christian religion will say that they don’t practice charms or magic. And yet, it is still found in their history and within their regular practice – even if they don’t realize it or want to accept it. This is a fact and not up for debate.

Why is this my favorite? Because it is so versatile, of course! It can be done with lots of items or hardly anything more than a writing utensil and something to write on (or carving into something). However, I will not say that it is easy. It can be fairly easily implemented depending on the charm and what you are trying to accomplish. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take knowledge, work, and a bit of yourself put into every one. You don’t get something for nothing.

Picture of nails and pins and porcupine quills
                                      Nails and pins and porcupine quills!

Collecting things for charms can be done with a specific purpose in mind or can be gathered to be used at another time. It is rare that I go anywhere without accumulating random bits of stuff in my bag, purse, or pockets. Feathers, stones, leaves, shells, dirt, seed pods, egg shells, bits of cloth, buttons, nails, pins, beads or charms can be gathered in the darnedest places. Everything in nature has magical properties and can be used to represent an abundance of things. Even things not found naturally occurring can have a magical use so don’t discount anything. You don’t have to be a packrat either. Be smart about what you pick up and what you leave behind. It can all have a purpose or a meaning. And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (thanks, Freud!)

horseshoe

A magic square or a horseshoe are two examples of a common charm. Many people are familiar with a horseshoe above a door for good luck. Depending on your set of beliefs would depend on whether the horseshoe was hung with the tines pointing up or down. Tines up means it is gathering all the luck and in other beliefs, if a horseshoe has its tines down it is pouring the luck onto whoever walks underneath. Magic squares have been found in many ancient writings and are believed to have been used by magical practitioners as a form of protection magic and also in numerology. Magic squares have been known to be used in creating talismans. Agrippa used magic squares in his Three Books Concerning Occult Philosophy by joining the seven known planets (during his time) with seven different magic squares. Each of those seven magical squares are numerical and different according to the planets they represent. Other magic squares contain letters and most magic squares are palindromic. A palindrome is a word, phrase or sequence that reads the same backward or forward. The Sator Square (pictured below) is a four times palindrome and is believed to be one of the oldest representations of a magic square when discovered unharmed but under the ruins of Pompeii. There have been other Sator Squares found in other areas of Europe, Britain, and the Middle East. It is believed to be created for protection or, more specifically, protection from fire. Some believe it must be carved into a particular type of metal during specific astrological times whereas others believe it is inherent in the Latin words themselves and any “specialness” added will only enhance the protective powers of this charm but it can be created with nothing more than a writing utensil and something to write on.magic square

There have been charms consisting of Bible quotes written on parchment, rolled and sealed within door frames. Boots or shoes within the walls or hearth of a home. Even the skeletal remains of a cat have been known to be found within the walls of older homes when undergoing restoration or reconstruction. Many of these items and the tales behind them can be seen at the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall. Things such as a horse or other large animal heart pierced with countless thorns, pins, and nails that are hung within the chimney or from a high beam in the house to protect the home, its inhabitants, and their belongings from any evil-doers or ill-wishers. However, I think the oddest practice that I have found along these lines is a piece of bacon pricked and pierced with pins and nails and then hung far up a chimney. Presumably, to act as a decoy for the house’s inhabitants and the pins to prick at the person who originally sent the curse. I see this more as a bit of a waste of a perfectly good piece of bacon!

A witch’s ladder or knotted rope is yet another form of a charm. There are a number of ways to create one and a number of reasons to do so. It all involves knotting a rope in certain ways and sometimes adding things within the knots. Different knot magic represents different things and is created slightly differently depending on the creator. Some of my crocheted items have magic knotted into them. Not everything I crochet has magic woven in, but some things have – especially those things I have created with a specific person in mind and it is usually protection magic that is woven in as many times it is also something to be worn.

Of all of these different ways to create charms, I think the most prevalent and possibly the first image that comes to mind is of a tiny bag or piece of cloth that contains any number of mystical objects. These charm bags are then to be worn or placed in a pocket as protection, to bring good fortune or good luck, to help clear certain health complaints, to enhance one’s charm or beauty, or any number of other magical “fixes” that can be done. I think that’s truly why they are my favorite type of magical workings – because of the pure versatility! With that said, I need to go work some charm magic!

Creating and Planning a Dream Journal – it’s not what you think!

hands holding the word dream

Today we are going to ponder on dreams – not the kind that occurs while you are asleep but those dreams that you wish for in your waking life. They can be adventurous dreams like wanting to be able to travel the world or owning a house or finding the perfect mate or not worrying if you’ll be able to feed your family because you bought a new table lamp. If you are poor or you have ever been poor then you know that purchasing something ‘frivolous’ like a lamp or rug is adventurous. Regardless of size or monetary value, dreams can be priceless and essential towards living a fruitful and meaningful life. And we all have them! Some of those dreams are similar and others are very very different but they are still there for us waiting for us to accomplish our dreams.

One of the best ways to be able to begin this dream accomplishing journey is to write down your dreams. Yup – start yourself a dream journal! You can use your phone, tablet, pc, notebook, 3×5 cards, an Excel spreadsheet, whatever works best for you! For me, I find it best to write things down on cards or scraps of paper that I can then rearrange and organize before committing to “nice” paper like a dedicated spiral-bound notebook. The physical act of writing creates signals between the brain and your subconscious on a molecular level that is difficult to describe without getting all scientifically neurological and we are not going to go venturing into that realm right now. We are going to focus to venture into your dreams  – and find out what they are! I’ll bet you can even think of 50 dreams you’d like to accomplish right now if time, money and any other worries were of no concern. Some of you may say “I can think of more than 50!” while others struggle with creating such a list. You are struggling because you are not freeing yourself of constraints and you are not broadening your horizons beyond the tangible. “Free your mind and the rest will follow…” (I’ll stop singing.)

At this moment you might be thinking I am crazy; that I have no clue what I am talking about; that I am just too flipping full of positivity nonsense that I cannot possibly have ever lived in the real world. Well, I have. I do. And I am right not because of purely my own belief but because of methods that have worked. So hear me out before passing any further judgment or dismissing me as a positivity-obsessed loon.

Now, I want you to write down your dreams. Remember to not limit yourself as to what you can physically or mentally or financially afford right now but your dreams Dreams are not dependent on all those things. Dreams are wishes; they are hope; they can be anything They can be tiny or they can be HUGE. What they are, ultimately, is yours.

Got that? Got them written? I’ll give you a few more minutes to scribble things off the top of your head – yeah, that’s right. Don’t think too deeply! If you’re thinking hard then you’re concentrating and putting logic into the mix. This is not logic – it’s dreaming!

Now that you’ve got your bunch of things written down (you can always add more later), we are going to categorize them. Wait, what? I just told you to not think and now I’m telling you to think. Yes, I am. Here is a selection of categories that your dreams may fit into – you may also think of other categories not mentioned here. This is your journal, so compose it how you want.

Physical
Emotional
Intellectual
Spiritual
Psychological
Professional
Material
Financial
Legacy
Creative
Adventurous
Character

Do you see some categories that you had not even thought of mentioning for your dreams? Go ahead, if the list of categories suddenly spurred some dreams to be placed into other little boxes, go ahead and do that. I’ll wait.

Some of you may be having fun with this little exercise. Other may be thinking “this seems like work!” It is supposed to be fun but nothing ever came of nothing and we want to create something so… just do this little thing. Remember, you’re not doing it for me. You are doing this for yourself. You are enough.

You can organize (or not) your journal however you like. You can make it full of lists and a few simple words. You can write whole essays on a single topic if that makes you happy. You can dedicate an entire page to just one of your dreams. However, you want – this is yours to create. Why are you doing this? To help you make those dreams come true, of course! Some of these things will be long-term goals or feel like you will never be able to reach them. Those “unreachables” will be committed to the long-term line.

Yup, you guessed it – the next step to organizing these dreams are to give them a time frame. Do not just jump in whole hog and do not tell yourself this is impossible. It is totally possible. These are your dreams and you need to believe your dreams will come true. You can make this happen for yourself provided you are patient and you believe in yourself. Choose one thing – one little thing. Details the steps to accomplish that little goal. Make them baby steps and slowly ease into it. For example, you may decide one of your dreams is to lead a healthier life. One of the steps to doing so would be to eat healthier. We’ll say that you like to drink soda pop – a LOT. You know this is not a healthy habit but you really like it. You can start to step into a more healthy beverage by replacing one soda with one other more healthy alternative. Water is great but if you are not ready for that, replace one soda with one herbal tea. After a while, you then up your game a bit to drinking two glasses of water or tea or whatever the healthier beverage of your choice is at the time. Goals being accomplished in a manner that will help you towards that dream rather than jumping in with both feet only to backslide and get discouraged. This example can work for anything you want to accomplish. How do I know? I have been using this method for myself in many different categories for the last several years and seeing absolute results. You can, too. I believe in you.

You may have noticed and may ask why I have placed this in the Meditation Monday category of my blog. This will take dedication and meditation is a dedicated practice. You can use whatever dream you have chosen to be your focus as part of your daily meditation. You can even work towards the goals of more than one dream! mind blown

Example: you can work towards the physical dream of a more healthy diet while simultaneously working towards an emotional dream of being more empathetic towards your fellow humans. You will be doing the physical act of substituting soda for a more healthy beverage and meditating on empathy.

Envision the fulfillment of your goals. Truly see your Self accomplishing whatever it is you set out to do in minute details. If this is difficult for you or you begin to self-doubt, set that aside. Re-focus. Remember that you are enough. You are enough and you can do whatever you set your mind to do.

Typical Teddy Part 1

I enjoy crocheting. To be able to create something with a hook and some string is quite amazing to me. It is also relaxing and can be meditative if there’s a repetitive pattern I am following. It can be something practical or something fun or something warm or something beautiful. In my mind, there’s not a lot that cannot be done – it’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it. One of the more fun things to do is to create stuffed toys AKA amigurumi. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed yarn creatures. Much like these little octopuses pictured:

tiny octo
      Tiny Octo in the palm of my little hand!

We also call them stuffies in this house. I don’t always make tiny stuffies. Sometimes I make really big stuffies much like this really big octopus I made for my niece one Xmas. She could use it as a beanbag for her little toddler self! I promise I don’t have a “thing” for tentacles. These just happen to be really good demonstrations of things I have made.

giant octo
Giant octopus doesn’t fit under the Xmas tree!

What can be a fun challenge is to create a stuffie (or hat or anything) that doesn’t currently exist in pattern form by creating my own pattern. Most of the time, I don’t write down what I did so the item is truly a one-of-a-kind item never to be exactly duplicated. However, even if I create something from another creator’s pattern, I still find a way to make the item unique by adding my own tweaks to whatever I may be creating.

Just recently, I was given the challenge to create a teddy similar to one from this customer’s childhood. Not only to create one but TWO so they could gift one to each of their children. Now I truly had to write down what I was doing as I experimented getting yarn and hook to cooperate and recreate something previously made from faux fur. Somehow, I was able to make something the customer loves. This also means I have an original written pattern! This also means something for you, dear reader. It means that not only have I created something worthy but I am also going to share this pattern with you. Lucky for you if you crochet. If you don’t, and you want a teddy made using the materials listed (colors can be changed) I will make you one for $35 plus USPS shipping. If you want one made from different materials (maybe you want a different yarn altogether) then we would discuss those options. For instance, if you wanted a teddy made from chunky alpaca yarn instead of Bernat Blanket, the cost would differ due to the difference in cost of the materials used.

It will be released in parts as I recreate the prototype teddy using the colors requested by my customer. This also means I will be testing the written pattern as I go and taking those all-important photos of the different parts. However, it also means you won’t get an image of the completed teddy until it is *cough* complete. Below, you’re going to get the list of items needed, stitches used (US terminology), and the directions to create the tail, ears, and arms. Why do I specify US terminology? Well, for those who do not crochet or are fairly new to this hobby, there are two main sets of terminology used within crochet: US and UK terminology. The names of the stitches are the same or very similar as to be easily confused when reading a pattern. However, the actual stitches themselves differ and that can cause great confusion if you typically follow one set of rules only to find your pattern isn’t working out right because you were assuming it was written under a different terminology. Here is where you can find a handy-dandy little crochet conversion chart.

This pattern (like most amigurumi)utilizes the magic ring/circle and is worked in the round except for the ears that are worked in rows. If you do not know how to crochet a magic ring/circle, here is a great video to help teach you. Any of the pictures below can be enlarged by clicking on them if you need to view anything up close. Please, do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

Items
The pile of things I am using to make the teddy (fiberfill not pictured).

Items needed:
Bernat blanket yarn – 2 colors: Mink (Main Color/MC) and Almond (Coordinating Color/CC)
Scrap yarn for embroidering nose and mouth (I used Caron Simply Soft in Chocolate.)
2 safety eyes (14mm – or whatever size you want)
Size I-9 hook (5.5mm)
Stuffing fiber
Helpful to have: Stitch markers, Yarn needle, Scissors, Row Counter

Stitches – US terminology:
St – stitch
Slst – slip stitch
Yo – yarn over
FO – finish off
Ch – chain
Sc – single crochet
Hdc – half double crochet
Dc – double crochet
BLO – back loop only
Inc – increase: 2sc in one stitch
Dec – decrease stitch/invisible decrease: insert hook into front loops only of next 2 stitches, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook, yo, pull through final 2 loops on hook. Counts as 1 sc.
Sc3tog – single crochet 3 together/triple invisible decrease: Insert the hook under the front loop only of the next three stitches. This gives you four loops on the hook. Yo and draw it through the first three loops on your hook. Yo again and pull through the remaining two loops on the hook. Counts as 1 sc.

ears
Pictured: 2 ears. The ‘extra’ center tail is from the magic ring. I use it to help attach the ear to the head more securely.

Instructions:
Ears – Make 2 (using MC):
1. Magic ring with 6 sc; pull tight until it looks like a half circle.
2. Ch1; turn; *2 sc; inc* repeat once. (8sc)
3. FO leaving long tail for sewing onto the head.

 

Tail (using MC):

tails
Pictured: 2 tails front & back

1. Magic ring with 8 sc; pull tight.
2. Inc in each st. (16 sc)
3. scBLO in each st. (16 sc)
4. *sc; dec* 5x; sc. (11 sc)
5. FO leaving long tail for sewing onto the body.

 

Arms – Make 2 (using MC):
1. Magic ring with 6sc; pull tight.
2. Inc in each st. (12 sc)

Making thumb
Making thumb

3. Sc in each st. (12 sc)
4. *sc; inc* 6x. (18 sc)
5. 4 dc in first st; 17 sc. (21 st) You will begin forming the thumb – don’t miss the hidden st just after the dcs!
6. Sc; sc3tog; ch1; 17 sc. (20 st)
7. Sc; dec; 17 sc. (19 st)
8. Dec; 17 sc. (18 st)
9. Sc around. (18 sc)
10. Dec; 16 sc. (17 st)
11. Dec; 15 sc. (16 sc)
12. – 16. Sc around. (16 sc for 5 rounds)
17. Dec; 14 sc. (15 sc)
18. – 19. Sc across (15 sc)
Fill hand with stuffing firmly and a bit loosely through remaining half or so of the arm but not to the top. You do not want the entire arm stuffed tightly or the bear’s arms will not hang at his sides.
20. Press both sides of the top arm opening together so they lie flat making sure thumb is pointing forward. Sew or sc both sides together then FO with a long tail for sewing to body.

arms
Two completed arms!

That should get you started while I get to work perfecting the head, face, feet, and body. Until next time – enjoy this little Friday Freebie and have a fantastic weekend!

You are Enough

meditation quote
Meditation is the tongue of the soul and the language of our spirit.

Meditation is a practice that I feel should be incorporated into every person’s lifestyle regardless of what sort of spiritual, religious, or atheist belief system you may observe. If you are one of those people who say “I just don’t have the time” or who say “I just can’t meditate” I am here to refute those beliefs because everyone can and, more importantly, should, find the time to do so. And you definitely have the ability to do so.

You don’t need any special cushions, music or silence, incense burning, special clothing, a candle flame, lots of time or any of that other rubbish “they” say you need. Some of those things are nice – especially if you have the time to meditate for long periods. Incense smells nice and accompanied by music or silence can really set the mood. Special floor cushions and loose-fitting comfortable clothing help add to your comfort if you are able to sit and meditate for an extended period of time. These things are all very nice but not required. All that is required is you and a few moments of time.

First, let’s start with breathing. Hey – you’re pretty good at doing that! You do it every day! Now let’s take that breathing to another level. Most gurus will tell you to breathe in through the nose and exhale through the mouth. You may have a medical condition that makes this difficult or impossible to do. You do what you are physically capable of doing. Let’s try it.

Breathe in a deep breathe. Now slowly breathe out. Good start! I think you’ve got the hang of this! Now let’s up your game and do this breathing with your eyes closed.  Do this for three breaths. How do you feel? Was your mind racing? Did you feel silly? Did you wonder why anyone would think this is beneficial?

Here’s the trick for that racing mind – give it something to focus on! It can be your breathing. You can count. You can focus on a mantra or positive affirmation. You can think of an image. What you don’t have to do is clear your mind. Focusing on something is called concentration meditation.

Another meditation method involves allowing thoughts to wander in your mind, give them a moment of acknowledgment (don’t dwell on it), and allow it to pass by for another to come along. Don’t judge the thoughts – just be aware of them and whatever thoughts or feelings they may represent. This is a form of mindful meditation. It is a bit more difficult because most humans tend to perseverate on one thing when it pops into their head if there are strong feelings associated with it making it difficult to move on. This also can be a more time-consuming form of meditation but it does have benefits of helping you to develop inner balance.

There are plenty of other meditation types, but these are the two basic ones that seem to be not only the most popular but also the most frequently thought of after the stereotypical sitting cross-legged, chanting “Aum”, and emptying your mind (which is actually a form of concentration meditation!)

Now, I promised you that you can meditate and that you can do so every day. I find it very helpful to do so in the morning. It helps to start my day on an even keel. You may find a moment to do this as well but at any time of the day and even several times a day can be helpful. You will need a few moments where you will not likely be interrupted. This can be just before you start your drive to work while sitting behind the wheel of your car (but not while driving), just after the kids have left for school for the day, before you get out of bed in the morning, just as you are taking that first sip of coffee, while you are sitting on the toilet, while you are in the shower, or at any time you have a moment to yourself. I challenge you to start this every day.

Now, find that moment. In that moment do this: close your eyes, breathe, and repeat this “I am enough.” You can repeat it aloud, whispered, silently in your head, whatever. It is your mantra for this week. Repeat it three times with your three breaths. You are enough. Believe it.

I am enough
I am enough.

This is your mission for the week. Go forth and meditate, grasshopper!

Let Kindness be like glitter

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all.

These are two rules that were repeatedly drilled into me when I was growing up. Especially that second one – and it is that second one that I am valiantly trying to incorporate into my daily life (even if it doesn’t always work). I’m sure they are rules or principles that many of you recall as well. Do we still carry these into our daily lives as adults? Can you imagine what the world would be like if we did? Can you envision how pleasant and peaceful and considerate it could be?  Nice, huh? Even someone with a tiny black heart such as myself can appreciate such a feeling of calm.

 

kindness
“Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.”

Why don’t we continue following these rules of kindness? Is it because as we age we become so bitter that we feel any hint of humanity towards another person can be seen as something vile or with alternative notions? Is it because “So-and-so is a twatwaffle so why should I treat them with any amount of respect or decency?” therein immediately breaking that Golden of all Rules “do unto others…” Why?

I propose to start a kindness movement. You don’t have to make any grand gestures or really go out of your way to participate. What this entails is a conscientious step on your part to not be rude or hateful or spiteful. This doesn’t even have to be a constant thing. It can be one little thing once a day. It can be as little a thing as not having a kneejerk reaction to something said. Just once don’t compare how something of yours is bigger or better or faster or more expensive or greater than another’s something. This can be something said in person, an overheard conversation, on television, on social media and yes, even Twitter to name just a few places. If that once a day becomes habit up the anty to being kind twice a day. Yes, I said it. Up your game! Make this a habit and you won’t even realize you’re doing it. It will just be a natural addition to the attributes that make up the entirety of You.

Are there some spiteful or angry words that you feel just need to come out? Then type that shit up. Read it. Correct your spelling and grammar. Add some other words in there and really get those feelings out. Then do this: delete it. Don’t say it. Don’t send that email. Don’t post that hateful rhetoric. Just delete it and keep it as your own little secret. By not responding you are the better person. By not sticking yourself into situations where you don’t belong, you are the better person.

Except in the case where a social injustice is happening. This is when you can and should speak up BUT do it in a way that your words are heard. Many people may hear but they don’t listen. Listening requires one to be engaged rather than being set at reactionary behavior. Counter reactionary behavior by inhibiting it in yourself. Use statements such as “I feel like…” rather than “you do this…” Yes, it sounds like perhaps I am spouting some new age-y psycho-babble but it works. I know this from experience.

It also is great when you know when to let go.

Letting go can be difficult but it can also be enlightening and absolutely freeing.

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Let go of hatred. Breathe.

If you like, call it “mindfulness”. Mindfulness as defined by dictionary.com:

noun
1. the state or quality of being mindful or aware of something.
2. Psychology.
a. technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them:
         The practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and physical pain.
b. the mental state maintained by the use of this technique.

I know this is one of those new movements that seem to go hand-in-hand with yoga, meditation, and vegetarianism. Well, guess what? meditation is part of it. Yoga is a way to meditate. And vegetarianism is a choice of how you want to eat. I will continue to be an omnivore and you do you. Judgement free zone here! I like real food. And bacon. Bacon is delicious and it caused me to de-rail – back on the tracks with this runaway train!

This whole golden rule, if you can’t say something nice, kindness glitter, and mindfulness is all part of a bigger picture. I bigger and more beautiful picture showing the best of humanity. Some people are focussed on securing their future. Others can’t get over events that happened in their past. There is one thing that secures all of those things to one cohesive unit and that is how you are now, in the present. You can’t move forward if you’re always looking back. You can’t grow forward in a positive direction if you’re not planting those seeds of positivity now.

In the image below – which are you? The mind full of clutter and noise? Or the one who is mindful?

How can you move from one to the other to get to that mindful state? I’ll tell you that it starts with kindness. Don’t believe me? Kindness is as infectious as glitter and if you know anything about glitter it’s that shit gets EVERYWHERE! I dislike glitter but as a kindness concept, I am game. Let’s make our kindness be like glitter. Make the whole world sparkle – or at least your little part of it.