Tarot by Candlelight (In the Cards)

Today I lit several candles and drew cards from the Dreams of Gaia deck. The themes of the cards I selected were to plant seeds of spirituality. I consider my spirituality to be inclusive of mindfulness and nature, with an openness to considering inner wisdom, collective interweaving and the Unknown. A web search revealed that there are apparently others who consider themselves to be agnostic Pagans, so that may be another label that would fit for me.

It is far too easy for me to lose myself in a sense of isolation and to forget the minuteness of my life on a cosmic scale. Something about seeking what the cards reveal in a darkened room helped me to reconnect with the sense of mystery that the analytic nature of my mind can dismiss. I would like to more fully integrate my practice of spirituality into my everyday life in a way that transforms the labor I have to perform from merely putting in time into an outflow of the deeper sense of meaning I, at times, know exists.

The seeds I would like to plant would be to widen my perspective. I would like to be with myself in difficult moments and, in this being-with, to know that whatever my experience may be, there is compassion for it outside of the boundaries of who I am. Perhaps that is another label that the cards draw me to in considering my spirituality, one who seeks compassion. What physical practices, such as lighting a candle, set the scene for you when you delve into your spirituality? What are ways in which you integrate spiritual practices into your daily life?

Birdsong in Winter (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

My day began by realizing I’d slept in until it was quite sunny outside. This made me happy as I felt I’d finally gotten a good night’s rest. As my dog and I walked outside in the rising sun, I heard birdsong cascading up and down the tree branches. There were at least two songbirds in chorus with one another. I felt my heart soaring and my inner well of strength filling; as I wrote recently, there is more beauty than pain in the world. For every dark moment, a candle burns, casting light beyond its wick into its surroundings.

My experiences in life have left me a vocal witness to suffering whenever I encounter it. I cannot look away and pretend all is well. But, in the same moment, I can find the flower peaking through the snow. I don’t need hope that things will get better. Rather, I need acknowledgement that, in the midst of despair, there is a space of honoring and being-with and a space of joy. When life completely devastates me, the trauma-voice in my head has one mantra “make it stop.” I don’t have the ability to end every negative encounter, but I do have the capacity to stand up for myself as I validate my own perceptions and to find the places where light streams through and the birds burst into song.

Creating an Essential Oil Blend (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

Certain scents are categorized as being feminine or masculine to many of our brains. I want to reject this social programming. As a trans-masculine non-binary person, I enjoy a wide range of aromas and do not want to be coded as feminine simply because what I’m wearing or what my house smells like reads as floral or bright. I’ve been experimenting with colognes but find, even if I use only one spritz, many of them are overpowering.

Essential oils allow a connection to scents that can be custom-blended in intensity and content. Rather than make a wearable form (as I have done in the past), I kept it simple today and made a soy candle. Well, I started to make one but realized I didn’t have any good way of melting the soy flakes for an individual “serving” of one candle. Therefore, I added the wick to the partially-melted flakes, dumped on some oils and dried flowers, and lit it up. My flower addition proved to be too generous and too loosely compacted, so they promptly caught on fire too. This worked to my advantage as the combination release an toasted incense aroma as well the deeper, lingering smell of a candle.

The specific oils I used included ones which were scented as vanilla, lavender and copaiba. Copaiba is one of several oils that came in a kit I ordered a while back; in researching it further, it appears to originate in the Amazon rainforest. I really enjoyed the way it smelled so I will definitely have to find a sustainable source for it once my current supply runs out. To round out the scent profile, I included dried rose petals and chamomile flowers. The blend I created felt soft, calming and healing to me and it allowed me to sit for a moment in a more vulnerable place than I sometimes go to in order to re-connect with my body and spirit. What is your favorite blend of essential oils? How do you use them?

Today’s Simple Pleasure: Lighting a Candle

Today I drew the “Light a candle” card from my “Simple Pleasures” card deck I created with the intention of bringing a moment of joy into each day. I chose to light a candle I had made several months back out of soy flakes, rose essential oils and rose petals. I sat at my altar in a dark room and watched the candle flicker. As my breathing slowed, I felt closed-in and bathed in warmth. This led me to draw a few cards from various decks which portrayed a message of going inward. This time of year is where I tend to feel my energy shifting inward. A strong need to release anything unnecessary in order to fit into the small space the coming bitterness of winter requires for safety and comfort rises in me.

I drew my attention back to the candle and noticed that not only was the candle flickering, but the shadows its light cast were also shaking and sparking in and out with the movement of the candlelight. This pull to dive down into our depths is not only to find new bursts of energy but is also a call to spend time with our shadow-selves, the parts of self with which we’d rather part ways. The darkness in the room in which I sat, lit only by a single candle, mirrors for me the fullness needed to find our inner caverns and make our home amongst the wilds of our heart. What is calling you inward today?