reverence and joy


  • Why You Should Make a Vision Board

    I love to make vision boards. I’m not sure when I first encountered the concept, but it was in connection with manifesting the things that you wish to bring into your life. The idea is that collecting relevant images and words in one place helps your conscious and subconscious mind focus more clearly on your goals and desires. This will aid you in bringing those things into your experience.

    Me with my latest vision board, created in a workshop at Life Rocks in June.

    My latest vision board, created in a workshop at Life Rocks in June.

    Rather than see them as mere shopping lists of the things I want, though, I’ve evolved into using vision boards as a space to play with designing how I want my life to look, feel, and become.

    Want to have some fun and get in deeper touch with yourself? Try making one! All you need is paper, scissors, glue, and old magazines. If you don’t have old magazines to use, ask a friend for theirs, or print pictures that you find online.

    The best part of making vision boards, for me, is the actual process of sitting down and paging through the magazines, finding images and quotes that appeal to me, and then creating a layout of words and pictures. I very quickly fall into a meditative state. It’s like supercharged daydreaming. Creating a vision board can help you get in touch with a deep part of your inner self, and as you craft your board, you are also putting your intentions forth into the universe.

    I’ve made so many vision boards over the past few years that I’ve compiled them into a book. It’s so much fun to page through it, and it has become a chronicle of my spiritual journey. Mine is a scrapbook that I purchased from a craft supply store, one of those where you can insert your pages into clear plastic holders. You could also use any kind of notebook or binder, or glue your cutouts directly onto the pages of a sketch book.

    Just as the things you desire will change over time, so will your vision boards. This is fine. In my view, the purpose of vision boards isn’t just to manifest your dreams. It’s also to discover more about yourself and your place in the world. Vision boards allow you to set aside the rational, doubting side of your mind and access your creative dreamer.

    The images you choose don’t have to be realistic. You might not have the money for that pilgrimage to Tibet right now, but so what? If you’re longing to visit there someday, add the images you find to your vision board. Who knows what might result? Being open to your dreams is one of the keys to manifesting them, or perhaps something even better. At the very least, you’ll discover new things about yourself and your deepest desires. Try it!

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  • Starcat’s Favorites: The Heart of Summer

    Do you feel like summer is just zooming right by? Me too. What can we do to make summer linger a bit more? That’s simple. Make an effort to get outside and enjoy it.

    fd140716somessoundI know, you’re busy. Me too. But let’s face it, the warm weather months won’t wait for us to check off all the items on the ever-present to-do list. Take a break. Get outside for a picnic, BBQ, walk, hike, swim, some puttering in the garden, or whatever floats your boat. Enjoy it!

    Here are some thought-provoking and fun links to peruse while lounging on your beach blanket or camp chair…

    Did you pick a Word of the Year for 2014? It’s time to check in and see how your word is inspiring you now.

    This post provides a wealth of fascinating resources for exploring what Jung called our “shadow side” and how it relates to art and creativity. Follow the links to go down the rabbit hole!

    Here’s another interesting article on the contribution of various factors, including practice and talent, toward achieving mastery.

    Those of us doing creative work along with parenting or other care-giving, housekeeping, and working for others can be challenged with managing our time. How do we prioritize our creative work?

    Teenagers keeping late-night hours?! Who would have thought!? Nope, it’s nothing new.

    This is a terrific post on how to mentor your kids when they have big dreams. “Don’t set limits where limits aren’t necessary.” Love it.

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  • Feminine Energies Are Rising

    When we were preparing for my women’s group’s Summer Solstice gathering, one of the women mentioned that this is the time of year when feminine, or yin, energies are on the rise. I hadn’t really thought of it that way before. At the Winter Solstice, we always hear how the light is returning, and everyone is really glad for those lengthening days during the heart of winter. Yet at Summer Solstice, we don’t even want to think about the fact that the days already grow shorter, marching steadily toward that darkening time. That one comment, though, shifted my viewpoint on this time of year.

    We’re in the heart of summer, really, and the time when the natural world is all in bloom. Fresh vegetables and fruits abound. The Mother is giving us her gifts of abundance and joy.

    Yin energies – feminine, passive, hidden and shadowy like a moonlight night – and yang energies – masculine, active, open and bright like the sunny side of a mountain – are complementary forces. We all have them inside of us, as essential parts of our nature. Thinking about the Wheel of the Year in this way can help us be sure we’re honoring each of these forces, merging them together, living as the holistic being that we are.

    When the new year began, we were active and excited about our goals for the year. Spring brought with it more activity, as we went out and did what we wanted to do, making things happen in our lives. Now, as we’ve turned the corner past the longest day, it’s time to slow down and contemplate our journey. It’s time for reaping the harvest, for receiving the consequences of the actions we’ve taken.

    Summer is often busy, and it can be tempting to just keep going, to fill these long golden days with activity of all kinds. Can you commit to taking breaks where you don’t have to do anything, and can just be with yourself? Taking some time to relax and daydream about the big picture will ultimately help you create the life you wish to lead.

    Here are some questions to start with. You’ll come up with your own as you let yourself unwind.

    What are your priorities in life? How do your daily actions reflect those priorities? What energies are you currently receiving from the universe? What ideas, concepts, or intuitions are hidden in your psyche? When you are still and quiet, often messages will arise from your inner self, like soft ripples on a still lake. Sit in stillness and see what the yin currents of this season might carry your way.

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  • O Beloved Summer!

    Hello lovely readers! I hope you’re enjoying the summer thus far. I certainly am. I had the delight of a week-long vacation with Quester, enjoying our favorite Maine places, Ellsworth and Mt. Desert Island. It was a much-needed respite from the busy time that came before it.

    babytigersBack in late June, Elven Tiger, BlackLion and I got to visit a wildlife refuge and meet lots of amazing big felines. This included seeing the new tiger triplets being fed! They knead their paws in the air so adorably. They are not with their mother because she was feeling distressed having the papa tiger nearby, and the babies are also soon on their way to another wildlife park. It’s sad that these tigers’ natural environment is diminishing, but hopeful that they are able to have babies and find loving humans to give them a safer place to live. They cats at this wildlife park seemed content and well cared for. We loved connecting with big felines of all types! We’ll have more pictures for you soon on the Feline Dreamers website.

    Here are some pictures of my trip up north with Quester earlier this month. I had such a great time! I adore Acadia National Park.

    fd140716rockybeachAcadia

     

     

     

    This is the sunset at Quester’s family camp on the ocean, where we stayed.fd140716faesunset3

     

    We did a lot of hiking…fd140716hiking

    quester

     

     

    As well as some swimming and kayaking…fd140716lake

     

    And, of course, I did yoga!

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    We spent time with family, celebrating Quester’s Mom’s 80th birthday and admiring his sister’s flower gardens.flowers

    And hung out with our friends in the area. I finally learned to play cribbage, thanks to Quester and a good friend of ours who is working in the area this summer.

    friends

    It was the perfect vacation. The weather was great, we had delicious food, listened to good music, and took plenty of time to relax and enjoy each other’s company. BlackLion and the kids did a great job holding the fort back at the homestead.

    There have been sorrows mixed in with the joys, such as the loss of Jean, a dear woman from my women’s group, to cancer. Sometimes reminders of how precious this life is can help us to cherish it more, and I’ve found that to be the case. Hiking along a trail in Acadia National Park, I was thinking about both Jean and my sweet friend Jenn who died last year, and how they would most likely want me to be right where I was at that moment, enjoying the view.

    fd140716smugglerscove

    Once we got home, ElvenTiger and I had a mom-and-daughter trip to the beach, as well as many jaunts to the pond. We sure do love to swim!

    elventigerbeach

    beach

    Be sure to take some time for enjoyment this summer, or make everything you do fun. Blessings!

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  • Lucky 600

    djv2i35So, WordPress tells me that this is my 600th post on this blog! Wow. I started it in 2006, so that means I’ve posted 75 times each year (on average), and 1.5 times per week (again, as an average). That’s pretty neat.

    I very much enjoy blogging. I started out doing it as a way to get myself to write more often, and to share those writings with a wider audience. So far, so good. I write much more than I did back then – ditching the full-time day job helped – and I’ve now had 2 books published! With many more in the works.

    Blogging really affords the opportunity to be myself and write about all the varying interests I enjoy. That’s probably not a biz-savvy way to present yourself, but I don’t care. I’m writing about what I love and what occurs to me, and I know the people who share those interests will be drawn to it (that’s you!).

    So, darling reader, if you’re reading this, and do so on a regular basis, you probably enjoy my writings. Either that or you’re being masochistic, and let’s not go with that. Perhaps you’d like to dive in deeper. So, what exactly do I have in the works? Here’s the current list. I’m a Virgo, so I love lists. Bear with me.

    • The Door Is the Key: A Modern Faerie Tale is the novel that BlackLion and I drafted back in November. We’re working on the revisions, and I’m thinking it will be available in the fall.
    • Simple Stir-Fry and Stovetop Suppers. This is a vegetarian cookbook that BlackLion and I are working on. We have lots of yummy recipes that are being readied for publication. There will be gluten free options and we’ll suggest lots of healthy pantry items and ways to use local foods. Yum!
    • The next NaNo novel. I’m going out on my own this November and drafting my first solo full-length fiction. I think it’s gonna be a paranormal thriller. Let’s just say it will involve some dark magic, a variety troupe, big cats, and casino gambling. That’s all I can share for now.
    • The Heart of the Goddess. This book is inspired by the spirit of my friend Jenn, who passed away last fall. Right now it looks like it will involve stories of people in modern culture who have had direct experiences with the Divine Feminine. Intrigued? I am! This one is emerging as it sees fit, and will likely evolve as the concept is unveiled to me.
    • Establishing and Maintaining a Daily Spiritual Practice. That’s a rather boring working title, but the text is already partially written and is coming along great, if I do say so myself.

    I guess that’s enough for now. I’m lucky and blessed with lots of ideas and creative inspiration, so this is very subject to change as the mood strikes and the muse moves me.

    I’m also open to sharing about topics that readers are curious about. Have questions or requests? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Multidimensional Joy

    Here’s a quote about joy and its many facets, from one of my favorite metaphysical authors.

    “Let us take a particular feeling and follow it through as it might be expressed at various levels of consciousness. Begin with a feeling of joy. In normal consciousness, the immediate environment will be perceived in a far different manner than it would be, say, if an individual were in a state of depression. The feeling of joy changes the objects themselves, in that the perceiver sees them in a far brighter light. He creates the objects far more vividly and with greater clarity. In feedback fashion, the environment then seems to reinforce his joy.”

    “What he sees, however, is still physical, the objects of the material world. Pretend now that he begins to daydream and falls into a reverie. Into his inner mind comes pictures or symbols of material objects, people or events, from perhaps the past as well as present and future imaginings, the joy now being expressed with greater freedom mentally, but with symbols.”

    “The joy stretches out, so to speak, into the future, sheds also its light into the past, and may cover greater areas of expansion than could be shown in physical terms at that moment. Now imagine that our individual from his reverie falls either into a trance state or into a deep sleep. He may see images that are highly symbolic to him of joy or exuberance. Logically there may be little connection between them, but intuitively the connections are clear. He now enters into his mental experiences far more deeply than in the reverie state, and may have a series of dream episodes in which he is able to express his joy and share it with others.”

    - Seth, from Seth Speaks – The Eternal Validity Of The Soul

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  • Dancing with the Feminine Divine

    thearcher

    ElvenTiger – devotee of Brigid, and perhaps Artemis?

    After writing the post on feeling mostly gender-neutral, I got thinking about why I’m so drawn to connecting with the Divine as female, as Goddess.

    Part of it is because I’m a feminist, and as such I’m not fond of the patriarchy and its stern, imposing monotheistic God. By feminist, I mean that I’m in favor of justice and equal rights for all, no matter their gender or sexual preference. I see human beings as souls on a learning path, and part of our lesson is to embrace love and compassion.

    Christianity is the dominant faith in my culture, but I wasn’t personally raised in any church. And frankly, I never really resonated with it when I looked into it. I’m not dissing anyone else’s religion, not at all. I know men and women who find great meaning in Christianity. It’s just not for me.

    What makes sense to me, in the really big picture, is that the Divine encompasses all genders, and goes far beyond mere human form. It is All That Is, and everything in the cosmos is made up of Divine energy.

    On a practical level, here on the Earth plane, I’ve found resonance in the idea of Goddess and God, and the seasonal dance between the dualities – as well as all the other mystical energies that spill over the edges of that paradigm. As I walk my spiritual path, I find meaning in archetypes and myths, and I relate to the energies that they embody in the world. I don’t mean myth as in, “that’s just a myth.” I believe that the deities of Earth do exist, and that we can enter into relationship with them. I also believe your experience will be unique to you, and reflect your own beliefs and desires as well as those of your chosen deities.

    I connect with these sacred forces in many different ways: as the elements, Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit; as Mother Earth or Gaia, who is our beloved planet (and the closest thing to a deity that I was raised with); and sometimes as individual Goddesses, like Brigid, Kwan Yin, Athena, and Artemis. Yes, there are Gods I resonate with, too, especially Cernunnos, the Green Man.

    Yet often when I wish to connect more purposefully with the Divine, it is the Mother to whom I turn. And She never lets me down.

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  • Summer Solstice and PortCon

    What have I been up to lately? Quite the whirlwind of a weekend! Summer is here and we were busy welcoming it and celebrating, creating, and performing.

    The main event of the weekend was, of course, the Summer Solstice! We celebrated in several ways. The actual time of the Solstice here in Maine was early Saturday morning. BlackLion and I drummed for an early ritual in the delightful garden of the First Parish UU Church in Portland. ElvenTiger joined us and took part in the ceremony. It was lovely. In the evening, we helped a friend celebrate 70 years young – he is a child of the Summer Solstice! Family and friends gathered for great company, a delicious cookout, and the birthday boy’s favorite – pineapple upside down cake.

    My Mom, ElvenTiger and I were also part of a Summer Solstice ritual on Sunday, with our Pagan women’s group at the First Parish UU Church in Kennebunk. It is a bittersweet time for the group, as one of our circle sisters is in hospice care with terminal cancer. We offered blessings for her as part of the ritual, and our shared feast was a comfort food potluck. ElvenTiger got to meet the Solstice Goddess, known as Mona.

    ElvenTiger meets Mona, the Solstice Goddess

    ElvenTiger meets Mona, the Solstice Goddess

    Also significant was the presence of Dark Follies, the Vaudeville troupe I’m part of, at PortCon. You may have heard of things like ComicCon, where geeks (and I mean that term fondly, as I consider myself one) gather to celebrate comics, anime, gaming, and other fun and creative pastimes. PortCon is Portland’s version of it, and I had no idea it was such a huge event! On Friday, BlackLion and I were at the Dark Follies booth, and met all kinds of cool costumed folk such as these.

    Fun furry beasts were among many costumed folk we met

    Fun furry beasts were among many costumed folk we met.

    That evening, once our shift was done, we met up with friends and enjoyed an evening at the conference. We checked out the vendors and events, had dinner together, and played a rousing game of  Star Munchkin in the open gaming room.

    The next day Dark Follies offered two workshops. BlackLion and I helped out with “30 Minutes to Vaudeville” by leading a group of participants in creating an improv comedy skit with random props. For the very well-attended “Intro to Bellydance” workshop, we played drums. For a solid hour. Tired paws!

    The next day was our big Dark Follies show, and it went super well! We had over 100 folks in the audience, most of whom had never seen us prior to PortCon, and they loved the show. Everything went smoothly, and we received lots of applause, cheers, and laughter.

    Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

    Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!

    So, although this tired introvert is still recovering from such a busy weekend, it was a lot of fun! I love the visual stimuli of events like PortCon; they inspire me with loads of creative ideas to play with. Happy Summer Solstice to you and yours!

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  • Starcat’s Favorites: Healthy Living

    Mexicansalad.jpg…or my current best attempt at it, anyway, as I’m still learning. I’m doing yoga five times a week or more. I had a massage this week (thanks, Mom and Dad, for the gift card!).  I’ve cut out refined sugar (including alcohol), and have been avoiding fried foods (not that I eat a lot of them, but you know, like corn chips and crackers) and bread. I’m eating some dairy, but keeping it to a minimum. I’ve been indulging my body’s craving for fresh greens, which is easy since our first CSA box was chock-full of organic greens. So good! Here’s a Mexican salad which has been a lunchtime favorite lately. It contains a variety of greens, homemade pinto beans, tomatoes, cukes, homemade salsa, black olives, a bit of Cabot sour cream, and sunflower seeds. Yum!

    Things have been busy here as the days seem to just zip by. I do have a few links for you, to help brighten up your weekend.

    This sounds like it’s a perfect way to relax and create. A combination of poetry, collaging, and making vision boards. I’m in!

    A big YES! to this blog post. “I stopped struggling and accepted the fact that magic is real…”

    Learning new things is not only fun, but keeps your brain healthy. And – dancing is important.

    A friend and longtime reader of this blog sent me this lovely and thoughtful article on grieving. The book is on my wish list now. Wow. Thank you.

    When we were at the Life Rocks! conference, we got to see Dr. Peter Gray, the keynote speaker, who was releasing results from a study of grown unschoolers. Here’s his blog post on what he discovered. It’s an overview, to be followed by more detailed posts soon. Very interesting stuff.

    I wish you good health, much joy, and a life that overflows with love.

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  • How Female or Male Are You, Anyway?

    One of the exercises in a book I’m working through has to do with gender identity, and how “female” or “male” you feel at any given time. I think that often we associate certain traits with one gender or another, when in fact these traits (such as aggressive or passive, logical or emotional) are simply aspects of being human. To me, gender as I’ve experienced it is a continuum. I’m physically a heterosexual female, yet most of the time I feel rather gender-neutral.

    Recently, the times I’ve most noticed my femaleness, aside from the hormones associated with my monthly cycle and sexual preferences, have been tied in with being a mother. Even though my kids are teens, I still get that protective feeling in certain situations. Recently ElvenTiger was in the city with friends and neither she nor I could reach BlackLion, who had planned to pick her up. It was only temporary, but I had a surge of aggressive, protective energy, like the proverbial mama bear. The situation was quickly resolved and the feelings faded, and I found myself wondering what the big deal was. She was with friends and not in danger. Then again, Quester feels that way sometimes about the kids, too, so perhaps this is a more universal parent thing.

    It’s unfortunate that I feel most female when my hormones are raging, as those out-of-control, weepy feelings have a negative connotation. However, when I was pregnant and breast-feeding, I felt female in a positive and uplifting, rather empowering way. Perhaps the “female feelings,” for me at least, are tied to times when I’m my body is actively using biologically female functions.

    During a conversation about gender identity with a trans-gendered friend, she asked BlackLion and I about how attached we are to the genders we currently inhabit. Neither of us felt particularly attached. We both felt like we could be either male or female with ease. Maybe that’s why we were drawn to one another.

    I think it’s kind of cool that I generally feel neutral, neither one gender or another. I’m a spiritual being having a human experience, and in this lifetime I’m a woman. No biggie. When I’m immersed in my creativity or moving through my daily tasks, I feel like, well, like me. Like Starcat.

    The thing that I notice that’s missing sometimes is that most other people don’t seem as interested in their inner worlds as I am in mine. I guess that applies to both genders, though in the online communities I’m part of, women seem somewhat more inclined to discuss and share about spirituality and philosophy. Maybe that’s because it’s more acceptable for women to be openly vulnerable and questioning, or because women in this culture tend to be less sure of themselves. Women who are actively seeking a stronger connection with an inner source may just be more comfortable sharing their quest with their communities. I’m not sure.

    What about you? How does your gender identity show up in your daily life? Does it shift and change? How is your gender a part of who you are? I’m interested in hearing your experience.

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  • My Books

    Cultivating Self-Love: Your Path to Wholeness

    Get your copy today at Amazon and Smashwords (in multiple formats).

    Want to live a more joyful, fulfilling life? One of the best things you can do is to learn to love yourself. Most of us have been taught to treat ourselves with disdain and criticism. Yet within you is a wellspring of love that, when you discover how to tap into it, will increase your compassion, creativity, and joy. This book will lead you on a gentle journey to greater self-love and confidence.


    Starcat's Corner: Essays on Pagan Living

    Click here for more information or buy now!

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