Natural Emotions (Today’s Daily Presence)

I am in a bad mood today. Thoughts of “I hate my life” and “I can’t stand (fill in person’s name)” are going through my head. I decided to move towards rather than away from my feelings by considering how they might be represented by each element.

Air

It is windy outside today and that feels fitting for my interior life right now. I want a cold wind to blow through my life and disrupt all the complacency and stagnation to which I bear witness. Wind scatters but it also gathers dried leaves in hollows; I want only want that which is worth having to remain in its place.

Water

I am having difficulty connecting how I feel with a water-based representation. It is easier for me to relate to it in terms of what might soothe my nerves. I imagine myself floating in a pool of warm water in the summer sunshine, and I feel a loosening of my inner turmoil.

Fire

I feel ablaze and unable to contain my fire. I want to remake the contours of the emotional landscape in which I find myself, but I know to set it alight means to burn more than I intend. I wish I knew how to quell my inner rage and where to direct the sense of indignant injustice that never goes out but only turns at times to simmer in me.

Earth

My mind immediately leapt to visualizing an earthquake when I wrote the word “earth.” I am not sure why all my imaginings are so intense and violent today. I see the green grass of a field shaking, slowly at first and then building until a fissure appears, extending into the bedrock.

I found this exercise to be immensely helpful in giving voice to what I am feeling in a way that takes me out of my language-centric abstract thinking realm into an arena of imagining and visualization. What I learned is that I am desperate to experience real change, to see dynamics shift and people get their comeuppance or their restitution.

There is an energy fueling me now that was previously inaccessible. It feels very difficult to contain or control. I believe I need to meet the beast and befriend it, rather than to assume something is wrong in me when others’ actions upset me. What are you feeling today? How would you describe it in terms of the four elements I’ve listed? What message does it have for you?

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?

A lake in winter with the sun gleaming off of it and leafless trees lining it in the distance.

Visiting a Body of Water (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

Today’s Simple Pleasure was very cold! The weather has taken a sharp turn into winter where I live, so my photo shoot was brief and I was left with numb fingers after only a few minutes. It was worth it, though, to visit a local lake that never fails to astonish me with its beauty.

I know people who love to sit in front of a fireplace or bonfire and feel that their cares melt away in the flames. Observing a body of water, especially a river or lake, has the same effect on me. I especially appreciate that, although the surface itself is so alive and ever-changing, even more is happening below, out of sight. The combination of unknowable depths, fluidity and quiet power that water holds makes it the element to which I most strongly connect. What is your element of choice? What effect, if any, does being near water have on you? What does it represent to you?

An altar containing candles, oracle and tarot cards, a small purple goddess statue, and a painting with a mirror in the center.

Rejuvenating an Altar (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

This simple pleasure brought me joy! When I first began creating altars, I updated them four times a year with the passing of each season. Although the results were appealing, I soon felt cluttered and overwhelmed with the random materials I was accumulating, so I stopped doing much with them. The small altar I worked on today had not been touched in many months, and it was good to light the candles and pull new cards for it.

The card in the back of the display in my photograph is a Lisa Frank (TM) tarot card, which my inner child loves! The particular card I drew is the Lovers. The card to the right is from the Good Tarot. I drew Four of Air, which focuses on rest and self-care. This was an affirmation I needed today as I have been feeling a bit physically run down, which has slowed my pace. As soon as I am not going full-speed, I start to worry that I am lazy and pathetic. Having the guide tell me to take a break allowed me to grant myself more grace.

My overall impression is that my altars are there waiting for me to return as I am able. The Wisdom they represent is patient and kind. Do you have any altars, and, if so, what ideas do you have for updating or rearranging one of them?

Cast a Spell (Today’s Simple Pleasure)

I practice earth-centered paganism and, to an extent, Goddess spirituality. For today’s Simple Pleasure, I cast a spell both welcoming and releasing to nature anything my Inner Being desires. I lit both a green and a brown candle to symbolize the transition between summer and winter that’s happening where I live–more brown of dying every day and less green of blooming.

As a part of my spell-casting, I pulled two cards, one read patience and one which read ancestors. I see this as symbolic of the unresolved trauma of both my predecessors and myself and the need to endure through whatever needs to be welcomed and released as I metabolize and synthesize these experiences. I visualized a swirling motion of colors during my spell, the old and dying alongside the new and fresh, blending into the present experience of nature. What type of spell do you want to cast today?

Today’s Simple Pleasure: Listening to Music

I’m decidedly not a music lover, a stance which is mostly likely the result of my auditory processing difficulties. Indoor live concerts are sensory hellscapes of personal endurance after which my ears feel like they are bleeding. Necessarily, my enjoyment of music is found in small doses in specific settings.

My favorite type of song is one that plays well on the open road or in an outdoor setting surrounded by woods and parks. Exploring country roads while blasting alternative rock was a mainstay of my coping methods as a teenager. It fascinates me to revisit songs such as Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle, which felt so full of encouragement to me when I was young but appear now so limited in worldview when I listen as an adult. To me, another of my younger-self’s favorites, Black Lab’s music, seems to have held up better and still makes for a great driving soundtrack.

In regards to music which evokes pagan and deep nature themes, Faun is both haunting and merry, depending on the specific song selection. In my experience, nothing replaces live music with this type of energy. The best band I saw in person (many years ago) was Baka Beyond. I dance poorly and without coordination; listening to them was the first time in my life I felt comfortable moving my body in rhythm in the presence of other people as all of us were celebrating together.

I feel jealous at times when I observe others “getting” music on a level or in a way I can tell I don’t have access. I’m joyful, though, for the experiences I have had where I feel connected to others through the sounds and movements music engenders. What is your relationship with music? What songs or bands are speaking to you lately?