How to Become an Expert at Walking Meditation

The melody of spring softly soars above as I begin my walking meditation.  The steady drum beat of the woodpecker mingles with the chipper notes from the morning doves and wrens.  A glorious prelude to the birth of spring in the city.  Along the lakeshore cardinals dance through the trees, their red feathers beating like hearts as they flit in and out of view.  Squirrels erratically run from tree to tree trying to remember when they've hidden acorns and a solitary chipmunk peaks it’s head up from underground.  

I walk steadily along the pavement as I focus on my breathing.  I inhale the scent of petrichor and pine and exhale my internal tension and anxieties.  Approaching the edge of the lake I reach a deep state of relaxation and feel more at peace with myself and my place within the world.  As I walk along the edge of the lake I let the sound of the waves soothe my senses.  The lake glimmers in the morning light and radiates a golden glow.  I spend several moments gazing out at the horizon feeling gratitude for this beautiful moment.  After a whisper of thanks to the spirits I begin my journey home with a renewed positive outlook and an extra spring in my step.  

Tips for Walking Meditation

Location: Decide where you plan to walk before you begin.  You should be focusing on your breathing while walking, not which direction to turn.  Finding a relatively secluded spot is best so you will be less distracted by others.

Timing: Plan for at least 15 minutes for your walking meditation.  I personally find walking meditation easier to do for extend periods of time as opposed to seated meditation.

Walking: Spend the first few minutes finding a steady rhythm for your walk.  Be sure to stand up straight with your shoulders and neck relaxed.  You should walk slower than your normal pace and focus on staying present within the moment.  Notice the sensations of your body as you move.  Feel the confidence and strength in your bones and muscles as they propel you forward.

Breathing: Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth.  Try to line up your breathing with the the rhythm of your walk.  Focus on breathing in the clean air from the atmosphere and breathing out any tension.  Should your mind begin to wonder, simply return your attention back to your breath.

If you have any additional tips for walking meditation, please comment below.  Blessed be!

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune

The rocket of time pulls the wheel as it makes another round. The heavy wood crackles and pops as it continues to cycle, heavy with the weight of our fortunes.  We rest on its edge, as our hopes, fears, and dreams dance precariously around its perimeter.  With a sudden jerk of movement, we are pulled upwards.  Stretching, reaching, growing till we reach the top in a riotous conclusion of ecstatic joy and fortuitous fortune.  We stay but a moment.  The scent of time carries on the wind and the inevitable decline casts a shadow of impermanence on our face. 

And yes, our fears are answered with a large crack as the wheel starts and the movement continues. Down the wheel we go to crash in a crucible of tribulation.  The weight of the wheel carves a trench deep into the earth and our hopes, once so true and tangible, get ground beneath the wheel into a dust.  A ghost of our former joy escapes to carry in the wind.

All is not lost, however, for down in the darkness, our hope remains as a flicker of light.  The flame slowly grows until, with sigh of relief, we hear that great crack again and begin to be pulled upwards.  The despair is momentarily forgotten as we remember what we have ahead, what we have to look forward to.  So again we reach high, forever upwards.

And so it goes, a Sisyphean cycle of triumphant success and morose depths.  Yet we carry on knowing that even in those dark times, the wheel will turn and hope will eventually come within reach.

This is the first in a poetry series I'm working on about the Major Arcana.  I would love to hear what you think, so feel free to leave a comment below.

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Why I Run Into the Woods

I feel that void too.  A vacuous emptiness caused by the lack of connection within our current society.  Dating has been reduced from a serendipitous adventure to a swipe of a finger on a tablet.  True connection has been superseded by a selfish need to prove one’s worth through vacation photos on Facebook and carefully manipulated profiles on LinkedIn.  The pressures of our culture have warped our relationships and clouded our desires.

I believe such unfulfilled longing to be symptomatic of a disconnect with our own ‘humanity’ and our place within nature.  In our world of big data it seems that every aspect of our life has been reduced to a statistic used to further our own unhappiness.  What could be more sterile and inhuman than a number?  In the undercurrent of my daily activities lies a treasure trove of data to be used by others.  What I purchase, what sites I visit, all recorded to help companies decipher my ‘desires’ in order to sell me more.  How Orwellian does our society need to become before we realize this does not make us happy?

Paganism is my antidote.  Paganism is raw, unstructured, and unorganized.  Even among other Pagans we rarely find consensus and agreement deciphering our path.  There is no book of rules other than the ones we write ourselves.  The pagan practice is unabashedly human.  It is oftentimes illogical, holding conflicting ideas in equal reverence.  It is the opposite of data, it is the opposite of sterile, and it is gloriously sublime.  

Dig your hands into the dirt in glorious rebellion.  Dance naked under the stars in riotous defiance.  Be illogical.  Be impractical.  Wash off the prescriptive conventions of happiness and venture back in the woods to reconnect with our own divinity.  Scream at the sky if you need to.  Once you let it all out you're ready to connect with what you’ve been missing all along.  Lay upon the ground and let the leaves tangle in your hair as you ground yourself and relax your mind.  Whatever your individual practice might be, we are united in the sense of sublime we feel when we connect with this energy.   

I feel this sublime energy throughout my rituals.  I feel it when I call upon the elements and discover the rush of wind, the swell of water, the burst of flames, and the strength of earth.  I feel the tingling of frisson catapult through my body when I cast a circle.  I feel an almost inhuman exhilaration as I dance around the bonfire beneath the stars.  At these moments I experience the height of human emotion and connectedness to the divine.  It makes me glad to be alive and reminds me that our essential humanity is something that cannot simply be measured and contained.

Such transcendent acts are in wondrous opposition to our daily lives and yet I feel they are needed more now than ever.  A reminder that we are not numbers, we are not statistics.  We are part of this Earth and that means something, regardless of what wider society might preach.

Rose Ritual Bath

The Rose.  A regal flower used for centuries to attract love, enhance femininity, and assist in seduction.  Such exquisite beauty is made even more profound due to its impermanence.  A few days of heightened refinement surround your space when the flower is at its peak.  However, like all life, such delicate beauty is temporary and will eventually fade.  With roses, the artistry of decay haunts the passing of this beauty.  I keep my roses in their vase as I watch the petals shrivel and the color dim.  A most exquisite momento mori expressing our connection to the cycle of life.

Still, us humans desire to hold on to our beauty.  We grasp at it, reluctant to give up its power.  As such it's only natural that we have a long history of preserving rose petals and incorporating them in our lives.  These delicate, yet beautiful dried rose petals permeate our homes, championing our control over decay.  

I use rose petals in a variety of ways in my Pagan practice. I lay them atop my altar during Ostara to welcome spring.  I might covertly carry a pouch filled with red petals in my purse during a date to enhance my desirability.  Additionally, ground-up rose petals feature as a common ingredient in many of my spells.

I regularly create a ritual bath mixture using crushed dried rose petals.  Bathing in this aroma infuses the power of attraction deep into my skin and enhances my confidence.  In this way, ritual baths can be used as a powerful form of glamour magic.

I pampered myself with a rose ritual bath as part of my beauty routine before attending Carmen at the Chicago Opera House.  I strode into the theater with a confident smile across my lips and a secret gleam of magic shining through my eyes.  A refined grace enchanted my walk as I made my way through the corridors greeting fellow music lovers.  

 Enjoy this wonderful magic yourself by creating your own rose ritual bath using the recipe below.

Rose Ritual Bath

To make a rose ritual bath combine the following ingredients and mix to combine.

1-1/2 cups epsom salts

1/2 cup sea salt

1/4 cup baking soda

1/2 cup dried rose petals (I dry my rose petals by laying them in a single layer atop a paper towel and microwaving for a minute.)

Place a cupful of this mixture in your bath water and reserve the rest for future use.  

While bathing, visualize the essence of beauty seeping from the rose petals and swirling atop the water.  Focus on your skin soaking in this essence and feel the light radiating through your body.  At the end of your bath, you will feel confident in your beauty and grace and ready to take on the world.

How do you incorporate the enchanting power of the rose in your practice?  Share below in the comments.