by Matthew Koren | Jan 10, 2023 | Community Conversations
We covered a bit about tradition in our last post, yet there’s more to explore here. Do you ever question your traditions? What you do and why you do it? Do you ever wonder what other people in our human family do? Or theorize around what other possible ways of celebrating our holidays could look like? Well, so do we. We’re curious about it all; the traditions, the superstitions, the rituals and the rites. There’s something enchanting about a unified action that’s stood the test of time. In this blog post, we’ll cover some of the traditions that different folks adhere to. Whether they’re cheering champagne glasses or gobbling grapes, knocking bread on the walls or throwing ceramic dishes on the ground. We’re going to explore some of these traditions to feel into the myriad ways our human family celebrates and honors the shifting calendar year.
There are many ways to celebrate the year coming to an end, and the New Year coming. Some traditions, before the get into the celebrations, focus on the cleansing and purification (wink wink, nudge nudge; if you haven’t read our last blog post, get involved!). These traditions include the Puerto Rican tradition, where you’re meant to cleanse and clean your house to start out the New Year. Cleaning everything is believed to start your year off on a pure, unsullied canvas upon you can paint a brand new, brilliant masterpiece.
Another cleansing tradition emerges from the Irish tradition, where folks are encouraged to knock a loaf of bread throughout the walls of their home. This is, as lore has it, done to ward off evil spirits and keep the home protected for the year to come.
The last ‘cleansing’ tradition we’ll cover is coming from Denmark, and doesn’t necessarily cleanse your space as much as it creates some clean up for you to do, in case your home is already sparkling clean! It’s tradition in Denmark to throw old plates, breaking them on the ground in order to welcome in good luck for you and your loved ones.
Now that we’ve covered some of the cleansing traditions, let’s explore the celebrations that incorporate the foods that bring us all together during the holidays. There are so many traditions around the world that encourage people to gather together with trust and love in their hearts. The common denominator here? Food. We have so many ways of celebrating our human family’s cultures, and the ones that involve food seem to always go over well.
First, we have Japan, where it’s customary to enjoy a bowl of soba noodles on New Year’s Day. Then there are folks in Haiti who share bowls of a pumpkin joumou soup while our friends in France slurp flutes of champagne. We’re not sure why yet, but it seems as if folks in Spain eat 12 grapes as a tradition. In Mexico, homemade tamales make the perfect New Years gift for your friends and neighbors. Down in Brazil, folks fancy a beach day on New Years day while up in Canada, you’re likely to find many people out on the ice going ice fishing. In case you’re looking for a tradition to really boost your luck in the upcoming year, be like the Greek and hang an onion on the outside of your door and take notice when it sprouts!
So there you have a few traditions from around the world, spanning from cleansing and cleaning traditions and superstitions, to different food traditions. Of course we didn’t cover everyone’s traditions, so if you have one to add to the mix, please include them in the comments below! Enjoy the New Year, however you observe it’s dawning, and blessings to you and all your loved ones, friends.
by Matthew Koren | Dec 15, 2022 | Community Conversations
It has been said, in many traditions, that the way you begin each new year will set the tone for the year ahead. Every country honors this calendrical change differently. Some folks celebrate with soul food and champagne, while others may focus on avoiding bad luck or tending their livestock.
In the US, we find ourselves living in a culture that focuses more on the celebration than the cleansing, don’t we? It’s important to know that each has their important role within the New Year experience. Of course, ringing in the New Year* with celebratory optimism and good cheer is a big win. Equally victorious, however, is the under-emphasized cleansing and clearing of our spaces.
There are some cultures that hold superstitions that cleaning on New Year’s Day will bring misfortune in the year ahead. Whether or not you’re superstitious, why not clean now, in December? It will surely feel better to celebrate with clean energy.
In this blog post, we’re going to cover some basics when it comes to ritualistic cleansing and purification for the end of the year. Our hope is that you read this and feel empowered to purify your space (and your Self, in the process), in order to enter into 2023 with optimal good fortune.
As Outside, so Inside…
When it comes to the clearing and cleansing, there’s a dance of reciprocity to acknowledge. We first decide, internally, that we’d like to cleanse ourselves and start the year with energy anew. Next, we go through a process of cleansing our outer world.
This could look like removing any clutter from our home and office and sweeping the floors (always moving towards, & eventually out your door, energetically). After clearing the space of physical objects that aren’t necessary or are holding denser energies that aren’t aiding in your development and evolution, we can then move into the subtle realms.
Smudging your home and office is an essential aspect of purification. White sage is a wonderful plant ally for this work; burning the sage and focusing your intention on clearing your space of any negative energy, you can move around your space, allowing the smoke to purify every corner, nook and cranny.
Burning and Bathing
Now that the physical space has been cleared, the non-physical can be cleansed as well. Clearing the skies of our hearts and minds is an integral component of our spiritual evolution.
Perhaps you experienced some hardship this last year. Perhaps there’s some lingering feelings that are weighing you down. This is the perfect time for a cleansing in all realms! So write it down; any phrases that include words like ‘ought’, ‘should’, ‘have to’ or ‘must’…draft them and prepare your fire. Wherever you can create a safe place to have a fire, create it with intention. Offer any burnable items that you found in your cleansing process, and allow for the transmutation to take shape.
After holding space for a transformational fire, one can then move into relationship with water. If you have access to a natural body of water, like a lake, river or the ocean, that is wonderful. If not, a shower or bath can work wonders, as well. The key aspect here is setting the intention to be cleansed, asking for support for this cleansing for the Highest Good, and entering with a willfulness to be changed.
There you have it, a simple guide to working with the elements to cleanse in preparation for the New Year. May this serve you, and those around you!
*Where does this phrase even come from, you may ask? In 1850, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote “Ring Out, Wild Bells”; a poem that emphasized the importance of honoring beginning and endings with the sounding of bells. Share with your friends and loved ones this holiday season; who doesn’t love a poetry reading!?
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
by Alexander Musgrave | Aug 29, 2022 | Community Conversations
Regardless of what spiritual tradition(s) you’re privy to, there are some simple ways to enhance your magickal abilities. Magic has been referred to as technology of the spirit, and the happenings that exist at the intersection of will and the phenomenological world. As empowered individuals, we can come into stronger standing within ourselves when we are in the knowing and trusting of our abilities. Magic is our birthright. That’s right, if you have a belly button, you can practice magic. Practically speaking, we are going to keep this very simple. This way, you can fully digest this information and hopefully incorporate it into your life!
Create a Container
As we all know, set and setting are important factors in nearly all experiences. What is it like for you if you’re brushing your teeth while driving a car? How about if you’re trying to study for an exam while cooking dinner? Trying to build a snowman at the beach in the high summer heat? The what, when, where and how we do things, are all very important indicators for success. Therefore, creating containers that establish the set and setting for any given experience, is a crucial step of practical magic.
Just like you wouldn’t practice your yodeling act while at the dentist, you wouldn’t want to practice any practical magic outside of a well defined and safe container. Creating this container can be super simple! You can also learn a lineage method for creating a safe energetic container by activating the sacred geometry around in our Sacred Geometry 1 workshop.
Activate the Elements
Ayurveda is the natural system of medicine that comes from India; the word directly translates to “knowledge of life”. Through the lens of Ayurveda, we are all composed of varying combinations and proportions of the Elements. We are built of the very Earth, Air, Water, and Fire that sustain life on this planet. To revere these elements in a heartfelt and authentic way, is to tap into the most primordial and elemental magic available to us. How can one honor the elements? Well, knowing that they are inside us, let’s move through our sensory experience to understand internally how these elements resonate with us.
Step one; our visual reality.
After establishing your container, let’s move into the first step, where we will alter the optical experience. Change up your lighting, either dim the lights or turn them off all together. Light a candle while connecting to the element of fire. Breathe the warmth of the flame in through your eyes, acknowledging all the creative life force that burns within you.
Step two; our audible reality.
Go ahead and put on some music that feels sacred to you. There is no one-record-fits-all here. This is for you and you alone to decide. Perhaps it’s some ancient Indian raga, or maybe it’s a Gregorian chant. Maybe you’re feeling sanctity in the simple today and would like to play Solfeggio Frequencies. Whatever you decide to hear, press play and put everything else on pause. Enjoy the moment of listening deeply with your body, receiving the sound into each cell.
Step three; our olfactory reality.
Begin to notice the smells around you. Empowering yourself to alter your reality, invoke our Higher Self into the space as you light some incense or burn some resin. White sage, copal and palo santo are great options here. Breathe in the wafting scents of the fragrant smoke, and connect with any memories that emerge. Invite yourself to be cleansed by the smoke, wash yourself by bringing the smoke to your head and then down and around your body. Do this a few times. Scent is the sense most tied to memory, so let the smell uncover any ancient memories ready to be remembered. This is a great time to acknowledge the element of water, as a vessel for planetary memory. Perhaps you have a glass or bowl of water that you can honor at this time, maybe by whispering “thank you” into the water, or anointing your third eye and/or heart space with the water. In this moment, we can invite the memories of the water within us to emerge and awaken.
Step four; our felt sense.
Find your feet on the ground. Acknowledge the part of you that’s connected to the Earth beneath you. This could be your sit bones, your thighs and calves, your feet, or your back if you’re laying down. Whatever position you find yourself in, simply connect with the felt sensation of making contact with this planet, whether that’s directly, or through some layers beneath you. With your eyes closed, perhaps expressing a bit of gratitude for this incredible life-bearing planet we get to call home. Be here, in this gratitude, for a moment.
Repeat this practice as much as you’d like! Create space within each of the steps for deep breaths and relaxation. Most importantly, stay light and enjoy your magnificence!
by user_dd | Apr 26, 2022 | Community Conversations
Shamanism is all about relationships. In this post, we’re going to explore what a shaman is, what role shamanism has played in different cultures around the world, and lastly, how a shamanic perspective can be integrated into your life.
So, what is a shaman?
Tracked back to the late 17th century through Russian etymology, the term shaman most likely originated in North Asia, where the Manchu-Tungus language described a personified version of the verb ‘to know’ (sa); the shaman is ‘one who knows’. Now, you may be thinking…the one who knows what? Perhaps we can think of it as the one who knows what we may not know.
What sorts of folks are there in your life that you look to for something you do not ‘know’? Perhaps a mechanic, or a doctor…you could think of anyone that you go to with trust. You trust that they know something that you do not. Now, when thinking of someone like this, there are aspects of training and experiential wisdom that are essential to trust building. This experiential wisdom, across pretty much every culture, looks like deep service in healing work for their communities.
Shamans are found in many different traditions, spanning across each continent, often sitting at the intersection of healing, arts, medicine and ritual. Within many traditions, we see correlations between shamanism and community health; bridging art into medicine and healing into ritual can make a big impact on a culture.
So, back to relationships. Bridging these oftentimes segmented and compartmentalized portions of society is the work the shaman does. Why? Because it’s important to understand (and tend) the relationships between and amongst all things.
The Here & Now
Alright, so maybe now you can feel more of a sense of what a shaman may be, and what role they’ve served their communities. Other than being vital contributors to the health of their community ecosystems, shamans are super connectors. They bridge realms, through and amongst dimensions, between and across species, and within many timelines. This is a way of being in relationship.
Is there an animal spirit that you feel a strong connection to? How could you strengthen this relationship? Perhaps it’s drawing the animal, or doing a dance to embody the feeling that this animal evokes in you.
At the end of the day, we are at a point in human history where it’s important for us to trust ourselves. We can begin to start sourcing internally what we’ve traditionally outsourced because we hadn’t invited our innate gifts to come fully online.
The time has arrived to empower our inner knowing, so that we can walk through life in the right relationship with the part of us that ‘knows’. In essence, there is an aspect of us that is shamanic, and that has shamanic abilities. It’s time to invite ourselves into trusting what comes through, feeling empowered by our inner knowing, staying surrendered to the fact that oftentimes the more we know, the more we know that we don’t know…
Humility is key, let’s keep expanding, friends!
by user_dd | Mar 22, 2019 | Transitory Thoughts
I got home late on the Spring Equinox from a seminar I didn’t really want to go to that evening. I knew it before I even left, and I’m kicking myself for the wasted time in traffic getting there. But listening and responding to my body/energy level needs is still an aspect of myself that I’m mastering.
Anyway, I finally got home. As I jumped out of my Lyft and skipped up to the door, excited to be back at my peaceful repose, I glanced at my front door. Earlier I had planned to sacrifice the now, very dead wreath hanging on my otherwise cheerful red door.
I took it down remembering my intention to do a Spring Equinox ritual that evening, and realized it was going to take a little longer than expected. Each branch of my wreath was meticulously wire-wrapped to a metal frame. I had no intention of burning the metal, so I found my wire cutters and set out to separating the prickly bits from the smooth wire frame holding it all together, while sitting on my front porch listening to music and enjoying the night air.
I realized that deconstructing my wreath was a little like constructing a magickal tool. Doing the work to create your own tools for ritual connects you to the energy better, even if it means separating wires from each other so you can burn your wreath without leftover waste.
Once separated into its constituent parts, I found a box to sweep the mess I had made on my front porch into, and set out for my backyard with this makeshift cauldron full of dead wreath. The symbology was emerging.
I don’t have a fire pit, and everything back there looked very flammable. So I set down my box and returned to my kitchen to find a bucket and fill it with water. Every ritual that contains more than a candle’s flame of fire could benefit from a little ‘water insurance.’ I took the bucket back outside and set it near my proposed fire pit.
This was a proposed ‘fire pit’ however because all I had was empty space where it would have been very convenient to have a firepit. I couldn’t just burn my wreath and cardboard box on the pavement behind my house. I needed something to burn on. So, I looked around and found some old cinder blocks to put together that I could set my box, I mean, cauldron onto.
Now I was all set! I had a central altar in the form of a fire offering with enough room to walk around when I called in the directions.
Right…calling in the directions. It’s about now that I started to think about the exact intention of my ritual. What is it that I’m performing this ritual for anyway? I decided to align my space setting with the Hindu pantheon, for which I have a special relationship, so I went back inside to my magickal library to find the book with the random table I needed: deities from all the different traditions mapped to different elemental and solar symbols. Once my symbols are mapped to the elements, I can map each to one of the four directions.
Ok, I had my fire sacrifice. I had the deities I was invoking. My intention was emerging if not quite solidified. Having done space setting basically daily for the last 6 years, I had my preparatory rituals memorized. I was set!
I performed the magickal operations for clearing and setting space that I have learned in my magickal tradition—the Lineage of King Salomon. Since I was outside, under the full moon light, nature provided a lot of the sacredness of the space too!
Then I lit my fire and started calling in the directions. Afterward, I went around my circle again calling on the Hindu deities that I chose to work with in this ritual. I invoked them as poetically as possible, trying to draw a link between their unique personality or power, and the intention on my ritual.
Once the invocation was complete, I just stared at the fire. Learning to pause, and allow the energy to sink in, is wisdom that has come with experience. Try not to rush through your invocations, allow the energies time to get into the space and get comfortable with what you’ve created, especially if it doesn’t look all that grand (aka a cardboard box on cinder blocks). It is the intention that counts for everything!
I stared into the fire, it was now time to say my prayer. I had created this sacred space on a beautiful, full moon evening, with a blazing fire for a reason. What was it? I searched my heart and my prayer emerged:
Great Spirit! With this fire, burn away all that does not serve my fullest expression. Allow the light of this fire to illuminate inside me all that yearns to be revealed and celebrating. Allow the warmth of this fire to tease open my heart to allow others in. Let my worries and concerns be carried away by the smoke, and let the coals that sprinkle the Earth become seeds for the new, flourishing me in service to my community.
So this is my prayer for you. I hope you enjoyed your Spring Equinox and felt some of this intention fill your life as well!