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What Does It Mean to Be a Priestess?

John Beckett, one of my favorite Pagan bloggers, recently wrote a post entitled “Priesthood Over A Lifetime.” It was a great read, as his posts usually are, and it inspired me to examine where I am in the various stages of priesthood that he outlines. The essential precursor to that, though, is to answer the question “What does it meant to be a priestess?”

I thought about this question for a long, long time before I took my official oath as a priestess of Aphrodite. I knew that being a priestess in a public Pagan community was not a responsibility to take on lightly, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was committing to before I took that plunge. It is a holy office, and the mantle of priestesshood, while joyous and ecstatic, can be heavy at times and comes with a sacred duty to both your deity and your community.

For me, the actions and responsibility of priestesshood fall into two main categories: 1) Your individual relationship with Deity, and 2) Service to your community. Your relationship to Deity is a highly personal connection that is supported and maintained through both solitary and group practice. Service to your community can be many things, and it is dependent upon the particular community you serve.

Your Relationship With Deity

This is the foundation of priestesshood. Without a strong connection to the Divine, there is nothing for which to be a priestess. You may work with one deity or several. You may be a priestess for one or multiple deities. I think you can even be a priestess in a general sense in the broader Pagan community, though this requires an immensely powerful connection to the Divine. My personal experience is serving as a priestess for one particular deity, but having relationships with several.

My call and desire to become a priestess was born from my deep relationship with Aphrodite. I sought Her out, worked closely with Her, discovered that Her values align with my own, had profound ecstatic experiences with Her, felt the call to serve Her, started doing Her work in the world, and then embarked on the quest of priestesshood. A dedicated, meaningful, and reciprocal relationship with your deity is essential to priestesshood.

This Divine relationship has to be committed. You can’t just meditate and make offerings once a month. Your relationship with your deity must be an ongoing, daily relationship. This doesn’t mean that you have to do the same exact thing every single day, but ideally you are interacting with your deity multiple times a day. This can be through prayer, meditation, offerings, deep listening, or other acts of devotion. This encourages an open channel of communication between you and the Divine. The Gods are a lot more likely to speak to you if they know you are listening.

Your relationship with your deity needs to be profound. If you are going to serve as a go-between for your community and the Divine, your personal relationship must be deep and personally very meaningful for you. You can’t expect to help others connect with your deity if you don’t already have a profound connection. Part of being a priestess is being able to inspire others with your connection to the Divine. This will be difficult if your own connection does not inspire awe and wonder within yourself.

To enter priestesshood, your relationship with the Divine has to be reciprocal. You need to know how to honor and give to your deity, but you also need to know how to receive guidance and messages from them. This reciprocity is what helps to foster a profound connection. It helps others to see you as doing your deity’s work in the world. It helps you to bring your deity into your community.

Service to Your Community

A necessary part of being a priestess is sharing and interacting with others in your community. As a priestess, you are a representative of your deity’s values in the mundane and spiritual worlds. Your community will have certain expectations of you when you take on the mantle of priestesshood, and you must be able to address these expectations and provide resources to those who seek you out. You will need to be responsive to the needs of both your deity and your community.

If you take on the role of priestess for a particular deity, people in your community will begin to view you as an intermediary for your deity in the mundane world. This is a hefty responsibility. You must embody the virtues of your deity to the best of your ability, and try to walk as they would in this world. That said, you are not an avatar. You are still a fallible human, and no one can embody all virtues perfectly. Know that mistakes are going to happen, and make sure to practice self-compassion.

What does your community expect of a priestess? In some traditions, this may be codified and straightforward, but with more free-form pagan communities, the answer will not be as simple. How do you determine what will be expected of you? Ask the members of your community! I had an ongoing and very extensive dialogue with my fellow leaders and other members in my pagan community about the role of a priestess for months before I decided to take a formal oath. For my particular community, the aggregated basic expectations were:

1) To continue in formal leadership as a part of the Council of our group
2) To serve as a touchstone for Aphrodite, leading rituals for Her and meeting
     with people to help them connect with Her
3) To provide general spiritual guidance to new seekers and those looking to
      deepen their practice
4) To be knowledgeable about Aphrodite’s spheres of influence (primarily
      romantic love, sex, pleasure, and self-compassion) and be able to provide
      resources and informal/pastoral counseling to community members about
      these topics
5) To officiate rites of passage in my community.

For your community, this may look very different. Since I belong to a non-denominational Pagan group that has members from many different traditions, the expectations of my community are fairly general, and not locked into a particular path. The expectations of your community are also dependent upon your community’s needs.

How do you know what your community needs? Sometimes this will be a very intuitive thing. You will feel called to lead a particular ritual, only to find out later that it met a need you didn’t know was there (I’ve had this happen several times.) Sometimes it will be less straightforward. You will need to keep an awareness of what is going on in your community to determine what community members might need from you. At times, it will be what the whole community needs – something to unite everyone and bring them together. Other times, it will be the needs of individual congregants.

As a walker between the worlds, you must also know what your deity needs and asks of you. Oaths of priestesshood inherently involve a commitment to serve your deity and to do their work in the world. What is asked of you will sometimes be simple, and other times it will push the very limits of your capability and fortitude, or what you even thought possible. Your directives may not always make sense, though in the fullness of time, a larger purpose may be revealed. Carry out your tasks with integrity and virtue, and don’t be afraid to question. Just because a deity tells you to do something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Your relationship should always be an open dialogue, and you always have free will. Discernment is key. “I don’t feel like it” is generally not a good reason to deny a Divine instruction. Something going against your ethics most certainly is.

Where Am I?

In his post, Beckett outlines nine “stages” in the journey of priesthood: Responding, Training, Practicing, Deepening, Building, Nurturing, Preparing, Transitioning, and Overlapping. He states that these steps aren’t necessarily sequential and can be simultaneous. I didn’t exactly go in order, either. I did a fair amount of Training, Practicing, and Deepening before I made my formal Response to the call for priestesshood.

I think there is a lot of value to “trying out” priestesshood before making a formal commitment to your deity and your community. Figure out exactly what you will be doing, and do it. That will give you the best indication if this is the right path for you. I had a trial period of about a year where I told Aphrodite that I would “try out this whole priestess thing.” I learned a lot, and eventually decided to make my oath.

I trained by reading as much as I could about Aphrodite, Paganism, and magick. I practiced my personal rites, devotions, spellcraft, and communion with Aphrodite. I practiced serving my community through leading rituals, providing spiritual guidance and counsel for members of my community, serving as a resource for Aphrodite’s areas of expertise, and being an active member of our group leadership. Throughout this process, I was deepening my practice and cultivating my relationship with Her.

I’ve still got a long way to go. I am early in my priestesshood, and still figuring a lot of things out. As I recently had reiterated to me – You don’t have to be an expert to be able to help others. There is value in all stages of the spiritual journey.

Brightest blessings to you as you embark upon your own path!

Trials by Fire

I’ve found that spiritual growth is rarely a linear progression. There are times when it is slow and steady, and times of plateau where not much happens at all. Then, there are times when it’s a trial by fire.

Right now is one of those times for me.

I’ve had various other times of what I would consider exponential growth in my spiritual life. My first was the discovery of Paganism. I read all I could about Paganism and Wicca until my parents pulled the plug on it. It was a huge revelatory process, and it resonated so much that I stuck with it. You can read about my first foray into Paganism here.

Unfortunately, after that initial exploratory period, I hit a plateau for about ten years. I knew the core of what I believed (Namely that nature is sacred and that the Divine is feminine as well as masculine), but I just stopped there. At that time, it was enough for me. I wasn’t living in an environment conducive to spiritual growth, and what I had more or less suited my needs. So I plateaued.

My next big phase of growth was when I joined my Pagan group. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by other Pagans, to hear their different thoughts and viewpoints, to see rituals performed in a variety of ways, and to get their recommendations for books and ways to deepen my practice. I also had a greater need for my spirituality to evolve at this particular time. I had just started graduate school, and it was already shaping up to be a shitshow. I needed something bigger to connect with and rely on. I found that in my community and through exploring my faith.

I learned the ins and outs of belonging to a spiritual group over the next several months, taking on a leadership role within the first year, and becoming a member of our governing council within two. I learned all the calls and responses in Pagan ritual – what you say when calling the quarters and during cakes and ale. I learned how to lead a public ritual (even though the first ritual I was slated to co-lead got snowed out (twice) and rained out (once) and still hasn’t happened!) I led Sunday Circles, Full Moons, and Sabbats. It was a time of joyous growth.

My first hint at a trial by fire happened a little over a year and a half ago. I started directly experiencing deity in an entirely new way. It was much louder and persistent than ever before. I got closer to Aphrodite, leading up to my dedication to her in January of 2018. I also gathered up the courage to work with my first “dark” goddess, who happened to be a goddess of transformation and change. I had to gaze bravely into the darkness, and confront what I saw there. I was lucky that Cerridwyn was very gentle with me, but it was far from easy.

It turns out, when you tug on one of the Jenga blocks, they all come crashing down.

All of my insecurities bubbled up to the surface. I had to learn how to communicate with a new goddess in a completely novel way. I was lucky that I had a group of spiritual friends with which to share my experiences, but that also meant that I had to get comfortable talking about my spiritual journey with others. I had to be radically honest, in service to myself and to my friends. I discovered that what I thought was my career path and spiritual calling (to teach people how to be close to nature) was not a financially sustainable pursuit. I started feeling tugged in a completely different direction by my spiritual path, one that involved a lot more talking about sex and relationships and a lot less talking to trees. My grad student insurance expired, and I began seeing a new therapist in my new network (which is a whole process in and of itself). I finally started to get a handle on this whole “emotion regulation” thing, but there were still days I would end up in her office crying. It was a lot of change, but it was good change.

I also experienced a much quieter trial leading up to my initiation. I reached out to my friends and community members to talk with them about what they expected from the office of priestesshood. There wasn’t a lot of change in my spiritual practice, but more of a going deeper into my current practices, and forging a stronger connection with Aphrodite. Reflecting a few days before my initiation, I laughed to myself a bit, and told myself if that I didn’t know any better, I would describe myself as pious! It was a time of transition – from dedicant to priestess – and I was prepared and ready for it.

I was less prepared for what followed my initiation. As I wrote in Adventures of a Struggling New Empath, I acquired some new empathic abilities after my initiation that were difficult to cope with at times. There were also some surprising “priestess projects” that I was assigned that tested my comfort zone. But none of it compared to my current state of affairs.

I’ve been preparing to step more fully into my priestess role by doing something kind of serious and big for one of my friends. And pretty much ever since I committed to doing it, my life has been a raging Trial By Fire. It’s almost as if it’s a challenge from the universe – “Are you sure you’re ready for this role?” – while also showing me how much I have (and haven’t) grown in the past few years.

It has been very similar to a second ordeal (after the ordeal of my initiation), but over a longer period of time, and touching the more mundane aspects of my life as opposed to the spiritual. (I don’t believe the spiritual and the mundane are truly separate, but this trial did have a different quality to it). A good number of things happened over the past couple of months that were unexpected and hit on my various triggers and sore spots.

I found out that one of the casual members of my Pagan community was actually good friends with my ex in college (the ex that cheated on me and lied to me about being transgender). She told me about this right before Circle one Sunday morning, which was terrible timing for going into sacred space. My ex and I hadn’t spoken in years, and I was not at all expecting that old wound to rear its ugly head, much less in a place that I consider safe and sacred. I learned that I’m not quite as healed as I thought I was around that whole situation, and it’s impacting how I interact with this person. (We got along fine beforehand, and I considered us friendly acquaintances).

I know that my ex’s actions shouldn’t affect how I treat this person, and I’m trying really hard to not let it influence my behavior, but honestly I don’t want to talk her. I’m walking the line between wanting to completely ignore her and knowing that I can’t because I am a leader in this group (and, you know, I’m a mature and rational person and all of that). My current plan of action is to just be honest with her – Let her know that I still have a lot of pain from that past relationship, and that it is influencing my interactions with her. It’s nothing she has done – It’s more personal work that I have to do to heal. It’s been eight years since everything happened with my ex, and I thought I would be over it by now, but I guess not.

I also received the news that I wasn’t going to be able to take the next steps in my career that I was planning on (see my Lessons in Faith post for more details). Everyone around me was absolutely shocked at the news, which made me feel a little better, but didn’t actually do anything to change the course of events. I’m still regrouping from that and figuring out my next steps.

Work has been rougher than usual. One of my coworkers doesn’t like me very much, and that has created some tension at work. I confronted her about not pulling her weight sometime back in February (we work on a team, so I or my other team member have to pick up the slack if she doesn’t), and she did not take it well. I ended up talking to our supervisor about it, and thankfully he is understanding and more or less knew what was going on.

Unfortunately, the work situation still isn’t much better, and there were three consecutive weeks where my coworker barely spoke to me, which is difficult to deal with when you work four feet away from each other all day. Confound that with the fact that I’m a struggling new empath who is starting to pick up on others’ feelings, and it is not a fun place to be. I had to shield just about every hour on the hour and it was so mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychically draining.

The past couple of weeks at work have also been difficult because my office could currently be the site of an epidemiological study. My supervisor came in with a cold for a few days, and then the rest of us started dropping like flies, so we’ve also been perpetually short-staffed. AND we had a big health scare from a potentially infected client (not a cold, but something more serious) and they had to bleach everything she had touched while she was at our facility.

It all turned out okay, but it has NOT been a great time for my OCD and germaphobia. I absolutely HATE being sick, so having to take two days off of work to suffer and sniffle was awful. On the plus side, when I’m already sick, my OCD usually goes down because I’m like “Fuck it, I’m already sick, do your worst doorknob.”

Lots of other little things happened, too. My selenite palmstone broke, somehow jumping out of my purse (which has never happened) and cracking in two on the tile floor. I also had some interpersonal drama, both with a friend and with my boyfriend. I was perpetually not getting enough sleep, no matter what I tried. I had to get some maintenance done on my apartment on two different days, and my OCD is very much NOT OKAY with strangers being in my home.

Yet, despite all of these things, there was never anything I couldn’t handle. Nothing that completely overwhelmed me (though there were certainly times I felt overwhelmed). I could deal with all of it, more or less successfully. While it was not fun to experience, at the end, it is nice to reflect back and know that I can handle pretty much any shit that comes my way. And that is a very empowering thing.

I made it through this trial by fire, with only a few minor burns, and those will heal with time. It did highlight some areas in which I still have personal work to do, and I am grateful for that. It also encouraged me, that despite my personal insecurities, I really am cut out for this whole priestess thing. I can dealt with all of that personal stuff (because our own personal growth is never done), and still help other people in a meaningful way.

So, while I did not enjoy it, I am thankful for my most recent trial by fire.

Chakra Clearing Meditation

I shared this particular meditation with a friend the other day, and I thought it might be nice to post it here as well! This is the visualization that I typically use for clearing my chakras. It can be great if you’re feeling off-balance, or if you just want to recenter and recharge. It is also helpful before doing any spellwork to open up the channel of energy flow, and can add another layer of energetic depth if done before sex.

I often do this meditation lying down, as I frequently practice it before going to sleep and when I wake up in the morning. I’ve read several reasons not to do this, from the energy alignment not being proper unless you are sitting or standing, to “you’ll just fall asleep.” Lying down works for me, but you do what works best for you! If that’s sitting on the floor or in a chair, great! If that’s standing, also great! Do what feels best and what will also allow you to make it a more regular practice.

Some notes before you get started: I view the chakras as spinning wheels of light. The first (root) and the seventh (crown) are parallel to the ground if you are sitting or standing, kind of like two endcaps on your energy channel. I see all the chakras as spinning clockwise, as viewed from behind and above. I know other energy methodologies have differences in these details. Explore a few, and do what works best for you. I also generally view the crown chakra as white instead of violet. Again, choose what feels powerful for you!

I also have a specific breathing pattern that I use when I do this meditation, borrowed from some tantric breathing I’ve learned. I breathe in from the earth through my root chakra and up my spine (or into the particular chakra I am working on), and then breathe out starting from the crown of my head, going down the front of my body and into the earth, in a circular breathing pattern. I envision releasing anything that was blocking my chakra to the earth on that out breath.

Once I reach the crown chakra and have cleared it using the method above, I will breathe in from the Divine to the crown chakra, down the front of my body, and exhale up my spine back to the crown. This is more of an infusion process, bringing the Divine in, as opposed to the releasing to the earth from before.

Draw your awareness into your body. Feel the ground beneath your feet/seat/back. Become aware of your consciousness’ connection to your body and the earth. Begin to reach downward into the earth, as if you were a tree extending its roots to grow. Feel your roots go down, down, down, until you reach a brilliant white source of energy at the earth’s center. This is the energy you will use – the radiant, pure energy of the earth – to cleanse your chakras.

Bring the energy of the earth up through your roots, into your body, starting with your feet, then your ankles, your legs, and finally into your root chakra. Your root chakra is a horizontal (parallel to the floor if sitting or standing) spinning wheel of ruby red light. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from above). As the white light of the earth enters your root chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your root chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant ruby light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Do this for several breaths. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your root chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

On your next inhale, breathe the white light of the earth up through your brilliant red root chakra and into your sacral chakra. The second, sacral chakra is a vertical spinning wheel of tangerine orange light in the center of your pelvic bowl. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from behind). As the white light of the earth enters your sacral chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your sacral chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant tangerine light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your sacral chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

Inhale again, and breathe the white light of the earth up your spine, through your first, second, and now into your third chakra. The third, solar plexus chakra is a vertical spinning wheel of golden yellow light right beneath your sternum. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from behind). As the white light of the earth enters your solar plexus chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your third chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant golden yellow light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your solar plexus chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

On your next inhale, breathe the white light of the earth up your spine, through your first, second, third, and now into your fourth chakra, visualizing the rainbow of colors as you breathe up the spine. The fourth, heart chakra is a vertical spinning wheel of radiant emerald green light in the center of your chest. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from behind). As the white light of the earth enters your heart chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your fourth chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant emerald light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your heart chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

Inhale again, and breathe the white light of the earth up your spine, through your first, second, third, fourth, and now into your fifth chakra. The fifth, throat chakra is a vertical spinning wheel of sky blue light in the center of your throat. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from behind). As the white light of the earth enters your throat chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your fifth chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant sky blue light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your throat chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

On your next inhale, breathe the white light of the earth up your spine, through your first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and now into your sixth chakra. The sixth, third eye chakra is a vertical spinning wheel of indigo light slightly above the midpoint between your two eyes. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from behind). As the white light of the earth enters your third eye chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your sixth chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant indigo light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your third eye chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

Inhale again, and breathe the white light of the earth up your spine, through your first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and now into your seventh chakra, seeing and feeling the rainbow of colors radiate up your body. The seventh, crown chakra is a horizontal spinning wheel of violet or white light at the top of your head. See it spinning clockwise (as viewed from above). As the white light of the earth enters your crown chakra, it begins to spin faster, throwing off any blockages, any fears or insecurities, and any harmful energy that has taken up residence there. See your seventh chakra begin to glow brighter, radiating this brilliant violet or white light, nourished from the energy of the earth. Once you feel you have cleared all that needs clearing from your crown chakra, do one final exhale down the front of your body into the earth, grounding all that you have released.

Breathe up your spine, sensing each of the glowing rainbow of chakras as your breath passes through them, culminating at your crown chakra. Breathe out, and send your energy up into the cosmos, spreading like branches in the etheric pool of Divine Energy. Inhale this Divine energy down the front of your body, allowing it to nourish every cell. Breathe out, moving the energy in a circular pattern back up your spine, and breathe down the Divine energy once more. Do this for several breaths. Once you feel completely nourished and at peace with this Divine energy, slowly bring your branches back into your body. Ground any unneeded energy back into the earth, and bring your roots back into your body. Take a few more deep breaths, feeling empowered and rejuvenated, cleansed and cleared.

Lessons in Faith (-OR- How I Learned to Like Spicy Food)

I’ll be honest: Faith for me is really, really hard.

I’ve never been good at having faith. Even as a child, I was too much of an independent thinker to “have faith” and accept what others say at face value with no questions asked. While I view this as a generally good thing, it did not allow me to take comfort easily from others. (“How do YOU know it’s all going to be okay?” demanded petulant, eight-year-old me.) From the spiritual side of things, I grew up in a vaguely Protestant culture with some warm fuzzies along with the fire-and-brimstone. To me, the idea of “giving your problems to God” seemed very disempowering on a personal level, and a really terrible excuse to not deal with your own shit on an interpersonal/societal level. Until the past year, I wouldn’t even call my religion “my faith.” The word never resonated with me for a number of reasons.

One of the reasons I am bad at having faith is the perpetual struggle with my OCD. My OCD is convinced that nothing is ever okay, EVER and worry is the appropriate response to pretty much anything. Everything ranging from “That plate that clearly just came out of the dishwasher must have gotten dirty on the way to the kitchen counter. WASH IT AGAIN!” to “It’s my second day at my new job and I’m doing everything wrong and they are going to find out I’m a fraud and I have no idea how to deal with children and I’M GOING TO GET FIRED!” has been running through my head since I was twelve years old. When it comes down to it, OCD is basically a lack of trust that things will be okay, and all of the obsessive thoughts about it not being okay and compulsive behaviors to make life feel a little more okay. (OCD sucks, by the way, though that’s a post for another time.)

Another part of my difficulty with faith stems from betrayal from people in my past whom I thought I could trust. My ex from high school and the first part of college cheated on me and lied to me about being transgender. (I walked away from that relationship with two checked suitcases and a carry-on full of emotional baggage.) My parents have also broken my trust over the years. When I was younger, they wouldn’t take me seriously when I tried to talk to them about Paganism. When I was older, I discovered that they lied to me about several family health issues, as well as some foundational beliefs about our family. (Surprise! I was born out of wedlock and didn’t find out until I was 22 years old. AND I only found out because my parents had a knock-down-drag-out fight with my grandmother that ended with us not speaking to my dad’s side of the family. Hooray!) It wasn’t even so much the content of the lies, but the act of lying itself that really hurt me. I’ve had several people whom I considered close friends abandon our friendship for no discernable reason, including my roommate/best friend in college.

Graduate school was a complete and utter disaster that led me to doubt my intelligence and self-worth as a person. It destroyed most of my trust in the world of higher education. Job hunting after graduating was demoralizing and shattered the illusion of “if you work hard and are talented at what you do, you’ll get a good-paying job you enjoy.” (HA!)

Never was my faith tested so much as when my boyfriend moved out. I was depressed. I was suicidal (no plan, just wanted to quit existing so the pain would end). I felt like I had no future because grad school was simultaneously going down the tube. I had one more semester of grad school, and that was it. All my life plans went up in a poof of smoke in the space of a year. And I was a complete wreck.

Finding the right kind of therapy helped a lot, as did finally taking the right psychiatric medications for my OCD and anxiety. It made the day-to-day bearable, and I went from crying myself to sleep every night to only occasionally sobbing into my pillow. But the therapy and the medication didn’t take away the great existential dread of “What am I doing with my life?” It didn’t give me a purpose. It didn’t give me something bigger to believe in. The Divine, specifically Aphrodite, did that.

As I mentioned in my first post on My Journey to Aphrodite, I sought her out in crisis. In grad school, I had everything I trusted pulled out from under me, and I was drowning in the sheer helplessness of it all. Before my boyfriend moved out, I had already discovered that I wasn’t going to get my PhD. I still had one semester to go before earning my Master’s, but grad school was already a closed book. When my boyfriend left, I couldn’t take any more loss. I knew we were worth fighting for, and I would not give up on our relationship. I would move earth and sea and sky for us to heal. I would prove to him and myself that I would not be ruled by fucked-up circumstances or my mental disorder. It just took my world ending for me to gather the muster to actually do it.

I wasn’t courageous about it. Hardly. I cried ALL THE TIME, and went kicking and screaming into my new way of life. Every time I made progress in therapy, there would be a set back. Every time I thought my boyfriend and I were getting to a better place, he would suggest breaking up again. Every time I went to school, I was on the verge of tears. Every time I tried to look for a job, I’d have a panic attack. Every time I tried to think about the future, I thought I had none. But I kept on – Because Aphrodite gave me hope.

I felt Her with me those dark nights sobbing into my pillow. My rituals and prayers to Her became a comfort – an extreme feeling of right-ness in my world that had gone so wrong. I began to see other possibilities, new ways of being that I hadn’t thought of. A way out of the dark tunnel. And above all, a reason to want to get to the other side.

My life began to have new meaning. I was invested in my friendships and heavily involved in my Pagan community. I found a job sharing the joy and sacredness of nature with others. (It ended up being a dud because of a terrible supervisor, but I still felt like I was making a difference.) I learned to live on my own and to tolerate emotional discomfort in a way I never had before.

Part of being able to change was proving to myself that I could, and having faith that it would be okay. I started doing all sorts of things to test myself. I started leading public rituals. I got more sexually adventurous with my boyfriend. I took some courageous steps at work. I set firm boundaries with my parents. I touched doorknobs and didn’t wash my hands. And I tried to like spicy food.

I had never understood spicy food. Why would anyone want to be in pain while they eat? And who would think that was enjoyable?? At the crux, my dislike of spicy food was very much parallel to my OCD. I didn’t trust that things were going to be okay. I didn’t have faith – in myself, in the world, or in the Divine. I would touch this shopping cart handle, get sick, and die. I would eat this spicy thing, the pain would go on forever, and I would never be able to taste anything again. My boyfriend would break up with me, I would be heartbroken, and the emotional pain would never, ever stop. There was never a scenario in which I got through the terrible thing, and was stronger on the other side of it.

Learning to regulate my emotions in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) helped a lot. A phrase that one of my therapists used will stick with me for the rest of my life: “If you have a jacket, and it’s cold, wouldn’t you put the jacket on so you wouldn’t be cold anymore? If you’re sad, and you could do something to make yourself not as sad, why wouldn’t you do that thing?” I didn’t have to stay in the sadness. I didn’t have to live in the fear. I could do something about it. The sadness didn’t have to last forever. And it wasn’t disingenuous to not want to be sad – just like it’s not disingenuous to not want to be cold.

My world cracked open.

So, in addition to doing a lot of other brave things to make my life better, I started to eat spicy food. At first, it was awful. My roommate in college loved wasabi peas, so I bought a container at the grocery store. I tried a few and immediately regretted it. My nose was on fire, my eyes were watering, and my tongue was numb. My whole face was consumed in an inferno of torture, and I was SURE my tastebuds would never taste delicious ice cream ever again. And then… it was over. I wasn’t dead. I could feel my tongue. My sinuses felt clearer. And I was OKAY. So I ate a few more. The same terrible, torturous fate awaited. My nose, eyes, and tongue burned – but I knew that I was going to be okay, and I actually enjoyed it.

I trusted more – in myself, in the world, and in the Divine. I took more leaps of faith. When something bad happened, I assumed it would turn out okay instead of imagining the worst possible scenario (not all the time, but at least some of the time). I did more magick because I wasn’t as afraid of screwing things up. And it was all okay.

I took a big leap of faith when I quit my job to get away from my terrible supervisor. I didn’t have anything else lined up, and had been casually applying for jobs for months already with no luck. I couldn’t take it anymore and I knew I had to get out of that situation. I didn’t have a back up plan, but I trusted that everything would work out. It did. I found another job a few months later, right before all my bank accounts hit zero. It certainly wasn’t a luxe life, and it was definitely stressful, but it was all okay.

The whole inspiration for writing this post is that I recently had a crisis of faith. What I thought would be my next big step in the realm of my career and the fusion of my mundane and spiritual work isn’t going to happen. At least not right now. I was devastated when I found out. I cried and I felt like a worthless piece of shit. And I was angry. Angry at the external circumstances, and yes, angry with the Divine. In a fit of emotionally charged frustration, I shouted at the sky, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?” Because I thought I knew. I thought this was it. And it was not.

To be honest, I’m still coming down from that place. I know I need to take some time to talk with Aphrodite seriously when I can actually listen and not be caught up in my own head. I haven’t come up with a Plan B for the future yet (though to be honest, as far as Big Life Plans go, I’m on Plan D now). I hate feeling directionless, so I’m sure that will happen sooner rather than later, but I definitely need some time to process everything I’m feeling and really tune in. However, despite all of this, after the first couple of days, I’m not actually angry anymore. I’m disappointed, but I’m not sad. I have this indescribable feeling that things are going to go in a very interesting and better direction, though I have no idea what that is at the moment.

But I have faith. And I believe that things will be okay. Because they will.

Heart Healing Meditation Stones

A lot of the New-Age world is abuzz with talk of the power of crystals and their vibrations. Until a few years ago, I was extremely skeptical. My formal science training screamed “There aren’t any research studies!” but somewhere, deep down, it made sense that rocks, crystals, or anything made of the Earth could have its own energies. I’ve never doubted the sacredness or spiritual energy of trees. Why would stones be any different? But they weren’t alive like trees were, and I’d read so many uses for some types of stones that it all started to sound like hippie nonsense. That was, until I found a stone that worked.

I had accumulated a few stones over the years (I am a Pagan, how could I not?), but none of them really “spoke” to me. I was convinced I needed to expand my repertoire, so I attended a crystal workshop at my local Pagan Pride Day Festival a couple of years ago. Again, I didn’t really connect with any of the stones, but I was inspired by the workshop to pick up a selenite wand to use to cleanse my altar items. I sort of felt something from it, but the effect was not big enough to make me into a crystal convert. I was still skeptical.

One of my favorite Pagan bloggers, Tess Whitehurst, mentioned something in one of her articles about holding a black tourmaline in one hand to help get rid of anxiety for better sleep. At the time of reading the article, I was in the throes of full-on dealing with my obsessive compulsive disorder and general anxiety, and at that point, I was open to anything that could help. So, dubious though I was, I went and bought a black tourmaline from my local New Age shop. I properly cleansed it (which meant the OCD “actually wash it with dish soap” as well as energetically cleansing it), and that night, I tried it. I held it in my right hand, fully expecting nothing to happen and for me to now be the owner of a just another shiny black rock. While I was in the middle of thinking these doubting thoughts, the ever-present knot in my chest loosened. I felt my anxiety drain away. I shook my head, incredulous, but I felt much better. My worries were quieter (and when you have OCD, you have a lot of worries) and physically, I felt renewed. I was in awe.

I tried it again the next night, and the same thing happened, and it’s happened every time since then. My journey with Aphrodite started soon after, so rose quartz was a natural second stone to add. I could feel the energy of these, especially from the bigger stones. I added rose quartz with the black tourmaline to my meditation stone collection. But I needed something else.

I have experienced a lot of pain, betrayal, and heartbreak over the years (not just with my boyfriend moving out, but in relationships before that as well), and my heart chakra felt very closed off and sluggish. I did some research and decided to acquire some malachite, a bright green stone associated with healing and the heart chakra. With that, I discovered my perfect trio.

I use all three of these stones to meditate. I typically meditate lying down (I know some people don’t consider it a best practice, but it works for me better than sitting, so I go for it). I will place the black tourmaline in my right hand (my dominant, projecting hand), so that it can absorb all of the anxiety or negative energy that I may be generating. I place the malachite in my left (receptive) hand, so that I can take in all of its healing energies. Finally, I place a large rose quartz palmstone right on my sternum/heart chakra, so its gentle, soothing energies can radiate through my whole body. It feels wonderful for any meditation, as well as for trying to drift off to sleep.

Give it a try! I hope it works for you. If not, I’m sure there is an arrangement of crystals out there that will make you feel fantastic. Do a little research, and don’t give up if you don’t find it on your first try. It may also take a while for you to get used to the energies of the crystals. At first, selenite didn’t have a big effect on me, but now I consider it essential and carry one around with me everywhere. On my last Pagan Shopping Trip, I was drawn to a fluorite crystal. It’s got some great energy, and though I don’t know exactly what I’m going to use it for yet, I’m excited to find out.

Connecting with Aphrodite – First Steps

There are so many joyful and wonderful ways to connect with the Radiant Goddess of Love! I’m going to share a few that helped me to connect with Her in the beginnings of my journey. Many of these are material in nature – physical things that helped me to get into the right headspace to work with Her. Others are more reading and research based. These are not in a particular order – try out different ones and see which works best for you!

1. Knowing Her Stories (Mythology, History, and the Lore)

When I first knew I wanted to work with Aphrodite, I read up on Her stories. There weren’t many modern stories about working with her at all (which is part of my inspiration to create this blog). I read some of the old mythology. Some of it resonated – and some of it didn’t.

As I started to develop a deeper connection with Aphrodite, I discovered more and more dissonance with some of the older tales I read, particularly with her portrayal as being jealous or petty. One thing I love about being Pagan is that we have no official “scripture,” no one holy text. Most of my concerns about people who take the Christian Bible too literally are based in the fact that it was written by people. Imperfect, fallible humans. I had to keep that in mind as I was reading the myths, which had been thousands of years in misinterpretation and mistranslation. Maybe even the original accounts weren’t accurate!

It was at this point in my journey that I realized I had to let go of my scientific research background, and trust in my personal experiences. I couldn’t research my way closer to the Goddess (though being familiar with Her lore is essential and occasionally helpful). I started to trust in my Unverified Personal Gnosis (or UPG), which is a bit of a buzzword in pagan spheres these days. It’s just a fancy term for personal experience that isn’t recorded in the lore, or present in modern texts. Some of my UPG was confirmed by some of the people who sought me out for help connecting with Aphrodite, but it’s still a long way away from being Verified Personal Gnosis.

In short, knowing the Lore helped me to have informed conversations with others, and gave me a reference point for my personal experiences.

2. Rosewater

Ah, rosewater! This is now one of my favorite all-purpose tools. Roses are said to have the highest vibrational frequency of any living thing (or at least that’s what I hear in the paganosphere), which means that they vibrate at the frequency of love! Thus, roses are useful for a wide variety of magickal applications. Roses are also sacred to Aphrodite.

I started using rosewater as a space and energy cleanser. I didn’t really like the smell of burning sage, and using palo santo made my cat sneeze. So I started spraying rosewater in my apartment. It smelled lovely, and the feeling it gave the space was wonderful. I would say a prayer to the plants or to Aphrodite as I misted my home. I would sometimes use it to cast a circle. I would mist the bedroom before my boyfriend came to visit. The smell became synonymous with good vibes and love, and before long, with Aphrodite.

Rosewater is one of the first things I recommend to anyone wishing to develop a deeper relationship with the Goddess of Love. Scent is a powerful sense, and is a great tool to use to get into a higher state of consciousness.

3. Rose Essential Oil

All of the things about the properties of roses and the magick of scent is true for rose essential oil as well. Rose essential oil is rarely sold in pure form, and is generally mixed with a carrier oil (I like jojoba oil, personally). This means that you don’t have to worry about diluting it if you want to use it on your skin. Watch out for fragrance oils! These are not essential oils, and often don’t contain any of the plant they supposedly smell like.

There are two main types of rose essential oil: Rose Absolute and Rose Otto. I prefer Rose Otto (though it is the more expensive of the two), because the distillation process is gentler and uses fewer chemicals than the distillation of Rose Absolute. I like for anything I put in or on my body to be as natural as possible, which made Rose Otto the natural choice.

Every night before I go to bed, I anoint my heart chakra with rose essential oil and I say a prayer to Aphrodite. The scent wafts up from my chest and puts me in a loving state of mind before I drift off to sleep. I use it in my daily dedications. You can also anoint candles with rose essential oil.

4. Rose Quartz

There is so much rose quartz around my apartment! It’s good for all sorts of things, including romance, self-love, emotional healing, and heart chakra work. It has a lovely energy to it, and is beautiful and calming to look at. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and colors range from a deep pink to almost clear.

My “gateway” into the world of rose quartz was a common Feng Shui practice of putting two rose quartz hearts together in the Romance bagua of my apartment (which is said to aid in healthy romantic relationships). I later learned that each room has its own Romance bagua, and I began collecting pairs of rose quartz hearts. You can also use them in spells and other magickal workings.

From there, I branched out to tumbled polished stones. I have a couple of somewhat flat palmstones that I really like. I’ll put one on my heart chakra if I’m laying down for a meditation, or hold it in my hand. Now I’m collecting all varieties of rose quartz, including a candleholder and some larger pieces.

5. Jasmine Incense

Roses had already thoroughly permeated my life when I reached the stage of wanting a particular incense for Aphrodite. Adding rose incense on top of the rosewater and rose essential oil seemed a bit much, so I sought out another fragrance. I intended to use the incense as an offering for Aphrodite, which meant it needed to be something I could easily procure (and of course, it needed to be all natural!) I found a jasmine incense at my local Whole Foods, and instantly fell in love. It didn’t quite smell like the flowers (is there anything that really can?), but the scent was lovely nonetheless.

I used it for several months, and then another fragrance by the same brand (Triloka) popped up – Aphrodisia! How perfect! It was jasmine with a hint of vanilla, and it smelled delicious! This quickly became my go-to for incense for the Radiant Goddess. Orange blossom and, yes, rose incenses also work well.

6. Researching all about Romance

My research into all things romance-related began more as a consequence of wanting to fix my relationship with my boyfriend after he moved out than from a devotion to Aphrodite (see my earlier post about My Journey to Aphrodite – Part One), but it ended up being a labor of love and devotion anyway. My research into relationships not only helped me to repair my own relationship, but it also enabled me to help others. Before long, my friends were coming to me for advice about romance and sex, and because of my research, I had lots of resources to draw on and books to reference. This reputation soon widened beyond my close friend circle into our larger spiritual community.

Please see the Resources section of my website for some good starting points for your Romance research journey. Coming from a science background, I prefer research and evidence-based practices, like the work of John Gottman and Sue Johnson. Sue Johnson’s “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love” was the first relationship book I ever read, several years before my journey with Aphrodite began. “Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman was the first book I read after my boyfriend moved out.

7. Learning Her Language

Unlike my romance research, my academic pursuit of learning Greek directly flowed from a desire to more deeply connect with Aphrodite. I’m still definitely a beginner, though the letters look more like letters and less like symbols now, which is an improvement from several months ago. I can’t afford to take a dedicated in-person class, so I have mostly been using free apps and the occasional book. As a consequence, I’m not picking it up as quickly as I did Italian (Surprise! I’m fluent in Italian!), but I’m making progress. I’m studying modern Greek, because ultimately I think it will be more useful in my travels and studies, but eventually I would love to learn ancient Greek as well.

For apps, my favorite so far has been Mango Languages. It isn’t free, but my local library pays for a subscription, so I can access it for free using my library card info. I’ve also used Duolingo, but Duolingo’s grammar instruction (or any instruction, period) leaves a lot to be desired. I also occasionally use Memrise. At this time, the Memrise Greek course is unofficial (I think someone other than the main developers made the lessons), but it is still pretty good.

8. Tantra

Sacred sexuality has fascinated me since I learned what sex was (which wasn’t until I was eleven years old, by the way – It appears that I was the last of my friends to figure it out.) Growing up in the Bible belt American South, sex wasn’t talked about very much, if at all. Even from a young age, I intuitively knew the type of power sex could have (why else would everyone be so secretive about it?), and luckily I was not indoctrinated with the seemingly requisite shame about sex that most of my peers had (Thanks, mom!). Even so, I knew that sex was not something to be taken lightly, and I waited until college to have my first sexual experiences.

My interest in sacred sexuality didn’t really take off until grad school, and it was very slowly at first. After grad school, I was on a mission to learn all I could about sex, and that led me to Tantra. The first Tantra book I ever read was “Urban Tantra” by Barbara Carrellas, and it is still the #1 book I recommend to anyone wanting to start a practice of sacred sexuality. It is just the right balance of serious and lighthearted, which is an excellent starting place for beginners. I learned later (through reading “Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition” by Christopher D. Wallis) that originally Tantra was not all about sexuality, and that this idea largely arose from the Western import of this Eastern tradition.

Tantra taught me more about moving and manipulating energy than countless other witchy or Pagan books. I could actually feel it in my body and direct my sexual energy. This had an amazing effect on my Pagan practice outside of sex. And the sexual experiences were pretty phenomenal, too! It became a natural way to connect with Aphrodite, both through partnered sex and masturbation. Tantra really helps me to tune into all of the pleasure my body is experiencing, and that brings me closer to Aphrodite.

Brightest blessings to you as you embark on your relationship with the Resplendent Aphrodite!

Adventures of a Struggling New Empath

When I underwent my initiation for Aphrodite, I knew that some things in my life would change (perhaps quite drastically), while others would remain more-or-less the same. The first week after my initiation was fairly uneventful. There was the excitement (and nervousness) of sharing the story with my other pagan friends (and muggle friends, too), since I hadn’t told anyone about it beforehand. Aphrodite was still there, though she had been pretty constantly with me for a while. The silence space in my everyday life seemed fuller, which I know doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but that’s the only way I can think of to describe it. The real weirdness started happening about two or three weeks after my initiation, and I was not anticipating it at all.

First, some background: When it comes to energy, I’ve always been more of a projector rather than a receiver. I’m pretty loud and expressive, and I feel emotions in a very big way. As I discovered when I started doing emotion journaling for DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), I either feel things as a 10 or not at all. If I’m happy, I’m elated. If I’m sad, I’m in anguish. If I’m angry, I am livid. Using some of the emotion regulation skills in DBT, I was able to modulate this to a certain extent, so that every time I felt sad I wasn’t immediately a crying puddle, and that if I was annoyed, I didn’t yell at my boyfriend. This proved very useful in the mundane world and made my life a whole lot easier. (Yay DBT!)

Even after DBT, as a general rule, I put out a lot more energy than I take in. If you spend any amount of time in the new age or Pagan blogosphere, you will probably come across articles about how to effectively cope with being an empath. Throughout my years of being Pagan, I could relate to these somewhat. I’ve always been very perceptive, and I’ve generally been able to read a room and know what my friends are feeling, though that has come more from body language and tone of voice than any feelings of energy. (Or at least that’s what I thought, anyway.) Once I found a Pagan community, and started hearing my friends’ stories about how they perceive energy, I concluded that I was perhaps more empathic than the average muggle, but not very empathic compared to a lot of the Pagans I knew. And I was okay with that, for the most part. I did miss being able to contribute to the conversation about what energies everyone was feeling, so about a year ago, I asked one of my super empathic friends for some pointers on sensing energy. She gave me some, and I tried them out, but nothing seemed quite right for me at the time.

I started being able to sense my own energy much more clearly after I started practicing Tantra (which was about a year and a half ago). I could identify in my own body some of what my friends were talking about and what I had read about, but I still couldn’t sense the same in other people. I had mostly given up on trying to feel those things from others about six months prior to my initiation. I knew had magickal strengths elsewhere, and that was fine by me.

Fast forward to the last couple weeks of January 2019: I was at work when the first instance of the weirdness happened. A client came up to talk to me and I immediately was inundated with an overwhelming feeling of “get him the fuck away from me as fast as possible,” accompanied by an energetic barrage of ick that can best be described as “getting slimed.” I couldn’t avoid talking to him, so I did everything I could to disengage him as quickly as possible and put some physical distance between us. I didn’t know what was happening, and in the moment, I forgot completely about grounding and shielding, Witchcraft 101 stuff. All I knew was that I needed him to be as far away as possible, and that I suddenly felt very, very psychically dirty. It felt like I had energetic slime dripping off of me – not of a particular emotion, but just a general horrible, awful feeling.

My coworkers and I dealt with the situation, and I finally had the wherewithal to remember that I’m a witch, and I keep selenite in my purse. I got it out and put it in my pocket, did some discreet deep breathing, and was able to ground and center mostly back to normal, though I really, really wanted to take a shower. (And I did, when I got home that day.)

The second instance of weirdness happened the following week, when a client came in visibly upset. I could feel the waves of sadness, anguish, and fear rolling off of her, even though I did not directly interact with her. The feelings immediately brought me back to some moments in my past where I felt the same. A little more experienced now, I got out the selenite immediately, held it in my hand for a few moments, and then stuck it in my pocket. I got back to equilibrium a bit faster this time, though the experience still rattled me.

I started keeping selenite in my pocket daily, and after a couple of weeks it was genuinely “used up.” I had charged crystals before with particular intentions, but had never felt from the crystal that it needed cleansing before. I usually cleanse my crystals as a matter of course, typically by running them under water, but selenite is a salt and will dissolve in contact with water. The next go-to for cleansing would be bright sunlight, but we had several weeks of overcast days back-to-back. I had to navigate without the selenite for about a week before the sun finally came back out, and I could definitely feel the difference.

After the second instance of weirdness, I consulted my empathic friends to get their tips and pointers. I asked “Do you guys deal with this all the time?” and they laughed at me (good-naturedly). I wondered if this would become my new normal, and honestly I wasn’t terribly excited about it. It was exhausting, and even though I knew the skills to cope, it wasn’t fun. I could see how empath skills could help me in my work with Aphrodite, so I was still accepting of it, and vowed to adapt as best I could.

Since then, I’ve gotten better at shielding. I used to just shield once a day, but now I need to multiple times a day. I also have to shield differently depending on the situation. My usual shield was a bubble of golden white light, and while that still works for a bedtime shield and around my friends, out in the rest of the world, I need something stronger. Fire works well, and I call upon Aphrodite for help with that. At first I tried a fire shield sourced from my own power, but that was too personally draining, and as a result, ineffective after just a few hours. A friend also gave me a Protection blend of essential oils that works quite well. I can surreptitiously anoint myself throughout the workday, though even just having the vial in my pocket is pretty effective.

For crystal help, I learned the importance of cleansing my selenite and keeping it close to my person, not just in my purse nearby. I discovered that black tourmaline, which I had been using to absorb negative feelings and anxiety, only works well for my feelings, not for those of others. I still love black tourmaline, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the right stone for this job. My friend suggested hematite, and I picked up a hematite ring to keep on my key fob for work and that has done wonders.

Other types of cleansing help, too, though they aren’t as immediately helpful for the work environment. Palo santo, sage, and other incense can purify anything left over in my energy field once I get home. Taking a shower also helps immensely, and I typically diffuse some essential oil to go with it (recently eucalyptus because my nose has been stuffed up, but lavender is also nice, as is cedar).

Whether my empath powers are toning down, or I am just dealing with it better, I haven’t had any more occasions of being “slimed” recently. I have been able to pick up on more subtle energies with my friends (whom I typically don’t strongly shield around), but so far not much else from other people, which has been a relief.

I know a lot of new empaths have a very hard time adjusting, and while my experience was difficult, there were a lot of things that made it easier for me. First and foremost, I knew what was happening. I had read countless articles and talked with friends about this subject, so I was aware of the nature of empaths and knew more or less how to respond, even if it wasn’t as reflexively as I would have liked. I also had friends I could talk to about my experiences and get their insight and help.

The other very helpful thing I’ve had on my empath journey is that I know very clearly what feelings are or are not mine. A boatload of therapy and personal introspection has helped with that, along with knowing exactly how my feelings feel to me. I can clearly separate my feelings from others’ feelings, which I know can be very confusing for many new empaths.

As for where my own empath journey is headed… We’ll see! Things seem to have toned down, so I don’t think it will be an intense “all the time” thing, but it will be something helpful to draw on in certain situations. It has certainly helped to hone my witch reflexes and recognize the importance of some magickal practices that I had done somewhat consistently, but now must do daily and with a purpose.

In the meantime, I am still learning, and I know I have a ways to go!