Yule, Imbolc, and Renewal

Well guys, happy New Year! For those of you that took a look at yourself last year and went, “Next year, something’s going to change.”, I encourage you to try my method of goals. I begin on Samhain, usually, but you can begin any time.

Pick several different categories of goals for yourself. For me, the categories are physical, mental, and spiritual. Physical usually relates to my health and well being, my strength, and the things I do. Mental usually relates to contemplation of problems that require logic, or some other form of reasoning. And spiritual relates to those things which I can do on a daily, weekly, or some other routine basis, to bring me closer to the divine.

I really like the system that I’ve worked out – the checkpoints are evenly spaced, far enough away to get work done, but close enough together not to forget. The Wheel of the Year falls this year:

Samhain (Oct 31 07), Yule (Dec 20 07), Imbolc (Feb 2 08), Ostara (Mar 20 08), Beltane (May 1 08), Litha (Jun 20 08), Lammas (Aug 1 08), Mabon (Sep 22 08) and Samhain(again) (Oct 31 08).

So. I pick 2 or 3 goals for each category, and I lay out tables. What is my ultimate goal? This does not have to be a quantified goal, it can simply be an idea. But then, I ask the next question: How can I measure this goal’s success?

I then divide the year up as above and for each goal, I take some time to figure out the appropriate checkpoints. One of my goals this year is to run competetively or bike competitively. I decided the best way to prepare myself for this is to start running a mile a day, or 7 miles a week. So, I began attempting to run one mile a week until Yule. Now, I’m trying to run two miles a week. At Imbolc, I will up it even more. In addition, I’m training my legs for bicycling also, adding weight training, squats, spinning, etc.

At each checkpoint, I check my progress. If the goals are measured weekly, then I try to take time each week to write it down.

Remember, New Years Resolutions only fail because they are vague. Or out of our grasps. Resolutions in themselves, are working magic. You say something’s going to happen, and then it does. And just like magic, if you chant your ready-made off of the internet words to get more money, and then never look for a job opportunity or take one when it comes up…it won’t work.

Keep in mind, especially, you New Years Resolution-ers. Imbolc is that first sparkle of sun, that time when the light finally overcomes the darkness. Any contemplation you need to do, DO it, *now*. Because from Imbolc to Mabon, that’s the time for action.

Make your family, your friends, your gods proud.

Blessed Be!

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The Gifts of Hawks

When I spoke to the gods on Samhain night, I was asked to research my totem animals. Among these totem animals, I have already established that the animals that I need to research throughout the year are the Hawk, the Cougar, the Bear, and the Turkey. I should back up momentarily: my patron God and Goddess make an interesting pair: Hanuman, the monkey god of the Hindus, and Athena, the warrior goddess of the Greeks. Needless to say, it is the equivalent of an older sister bickering with her younger, trickster brother.

The next morning, as I was walking to class, I nearly stepped on the remains of a small, unidentified bird which had been torn to bits. Lovely animals, hawks. The day before Samhain, I had taken a walk into the woods and found a Turkey feather, which I mistook for a hawk feather. Personally, I think it was Hanuman’s way of apologizing for not making my totem clearer to me. Turkeys are important, yes, in the grand scheme of things, but it seems someone wanted me to recognize that hawks are there too, and play an important part in my life. It was like a twisted apology.

I don’t normally laugh at death, but I’m pretty sure, with the state of the remnants of the bird I found, that it died quick and relatively mercifully, and I couldn’t help but to smile, knowing that my brother, Hawk, was still flying above, watching me – even if I couldn’t always see him. I also don’t ask for signs of outright proving of my faith often – but I believe I did, in the case of the hawk. I imagine that the gods get tired of proving they exist – so instead, I ask for smaller signs, occasionally, that I am going in the right direction. Unfortunately, the beauty and bane of magick and our spirituality lies in the manifestation of those wishes in a not-always-pleasant manner.

I’ll be writing a multitude of posts in advance of the weekends, and hopefully posting them every other day until December starts, when I can resume my normal posting amount. At least then, I’ll be regular.

What omens have you received from the gods during this sacred time? Were they as obvious as mine? Or more hidden? What will come of this year for you? Mine is the year of discovery – I plan to make great advances in my life and amount of knowledge. After all, I’m halfway through college – and I’m loving every minute of it!

Blessed be.

Structured Living

Hey guys –

Last week was really the end of my mid-term time and therefore, I should have a little more time to post, although I have to remember that I’m also writing a novel this month – I can’t let that go too far without maintaining it.  That besides the point, two days from now is my favorite holiday of the year!

I’d like to see some comments: How do you celebrate Samhain?

Unfortunately, because I am in a college setting, I will probably do no more than give thanks and celebrate a little bit – take a walk, etc.  Its hard to celebrate on “Halloween” because there are noisy kids and troublesome teenagers everywhere causing trouble.

But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t set out goals for the new year like every other year – and the classic ‘New Year’ that non pagans – and pagans! –  celebrate.  The great thing about setting out your goals at our New Year instead of theirs is that you have two whole months to start them, and you’re not dragged down by the social stigma of new year’s resolutions.

I usually divide my goals into three types, relating to the three realms of the self: Physical, Mental, and Spiritual goals.  Physical goals are those things which don’t take a lot of thought, and may relate to health or appearance.  Mental goals are those things which aren’t necessarily involving the use of magick or ritual, but do involve the use of the mind, thought, and reason.  And spiritual goals are actions which involve magick or ritual.

I will give you a few examples of the goals I have set out this year for myself – those which I will let others know about.  Some goals you should never share.

Physical:

  • Increase my running to a total of 9 miles per week
  • Participate in at least one group-athletic event (ex: 3k, 5k, century ride)

Mental:

  • Construct a computer program to read tarot cards
  • Begin research on uses of talismans and amulets

Spiritual:

  • Establish a standard, ritualized, daily non-moving meditation routine (night)
  • Establish a standard, ritualized, daily moving meditation routine(morning)

After I establish goals (there are a total of five per category this year), I then take each category and establish timelines for them.  This year, I added one mile per week for the running goal, and although I haven’t reached a schedule for either the mental or the spiritual goals, I’m going to simply lay out the steps that need to happen.  This devotion of intent to my goals helps greatly with their overall effectiveness in my life.

I always change so much during a Witch’s New Year.  I am amazed, looking back at the positions I was in, the people I was around, and the knowledge I gained through the previous year.  I remember standing alone in front of a patch of trees last Samhain, and receiving the knowledge that this year would be difficult.  And, in response, I remember establishing a rule:

I may cry when I am sad or in pain, but I will not cry when I am overcome by fear.

But, I digress.  If I don’t get the chance to post in the next few days: Happy Samhain to all!

Accepting Change and Self Evaluation

As I mentioned two articles ago, magick is all about creating opportunities. I’ve found however, that before you start to work for anything, you have to convince yourself that its what you want. If you are not of a pagan mindset, and are just tuning, no worries. You can refer here to my previous article, or you can just accept that ‘magick’ in this context means goal setting, decisive action, and prayer to achieve an outcome.

Looking back at my previous Books of Shadows and their entries, I find that almost every time, nearing a holiday, I write down something to the effect of:

I will stop biting my fingernails

Well…obviously, since I’m writing this, it never works out. This leads me to a new revelation about me:

I enjoy biting my fingernails

Now then…how are the gods supposed to help me stop me from doing something that I derive pleasure from? Seems like I’m stacking the cards pretty high against me. To continue with this train of thought, we come to another crossroads:

Why do I enjoy biting my fingernails?

  • It alleviates boredom
  • It makes me feel better
  • Nail bits and cuticles provide excellent chewing material

Alright, maybe you didn’t really want to know that. But trust me, its important. In my quest for magickal intervention, if I don’t get immediate results – I know what questions to ask.

  1. What events or influences could be stopping me from achieving my goal?
  2. What is the cause of these influences and events?
  3. How can I alleviate these obstacles?
    1. Should I alleviate these obstacles?
    2. What price will I pay if I do?

So, we’re on question number three. The ways to alleviate these obstacles are as follows:

  • I chew my nails when I get bored. I should alleviate my boredom through discovering techniques – games to play silently, etc.
  • I chew my nails when I am nervous or in an emotionally uncomfortable situation. I should discover techniques to alleviate my stress in those situations
  • I enjoy chewing my nails – Keeping my nails trimmed could inhibit my ability to chew my nails

What price will I pay?

  • Momentary boredom until I learn new techniques
  • Momentary stress in uncomfortable situations
  • Sadness over not being able to chew my nails\

Am I willing to pay that price? Right now, with 18 credit hours of school to look forward to; no. I often sit in my classes and let my mind wander while I play with my own hands. But, if I were, I would try again – and if I still couldn’t get to the goal I wanted to, I would reevaluate myself again.

This method of accepting change and self evaluation will aid in almost anything you do. Although emotional input is important, using logic to achieve goals is a method used by billions of people throughout the pages of history. Why should we abandon that? Let’s build on it.

In conclusion – that spell for meeting the right guy just not working? What are you doing to stop yourself? The prayer to get over your cold? What benefits do you receive from being sick that you would lose if you weren’t?

And as always, the final question to any goal setting is as follows:

What can I learn from this experience that will help me and the generations to come?

Stay tuned for something more interesting tomorrow – I think I’ll trade off between philosophical and practical articles – it may be more interesting.