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The Sacred Art Of Taking A Bath

 

When I tell my students that one of the most magical things they can do is take a bath, I rarely have to say anything more, for we intuitively know that the time we take to shower and bathe is time touched by wild magic, and the space in which we do so is space imbued with the scent of the sacred.

 

Make Your Bath Sacred


Consider your own bathing rituals right here and right now. Begin with the fundamental question, “What needs to be washed away, removed, released?” And then, “What kind of bathing appeals to you the most?” A brisk shower or a slow bath? If you use products like bubbles, soap, bath salts, or body scrubs, why did you select them? Do you love to bathe in the privacy of your own home, or do you feel most connected to your remembered magic when you immerse yourself into a wildly running river, the cresting waves of a great ocean, or the green depths of a limestone spring? What elements need to be in place to change your bathing experience from one that is merely practical and about physically cleaning yourself to one that is also extraordinary and capable of washing away deeper marks and struggles?

 

Where do you feel dry?

Just as the land where we live contains water, our soul soil also holds swift rivers, vast oceans, and deep springs. These interior waters are the places understood to hold the human capacity for deep feeling and emotion, creativity, love and compassion, vitality and nourishment. And just like bodies of water in the surrounding world, our interior waters can be dammed up, walled off, covered over, and blocked in a variety of ways. These waters can also be polluted. Sometimes this is done by others or is a result of the toxic aspects of the culture at large, and sometimes we do it to ourselves without realizing it. Having set up house in multiple arid lands, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the presence or the absence water in our surrounding world presses us to ask hard questions about our internal waters. Consider where your life feels dry, uninspired, lacking creativity, fecundity, and fertility? Where are the places that have become too tough and hard and not nearly tender enough? Where has your soul soil been in drought for year upon year, so that all you can find there is dry dust and cracks in the ground? Where is the spark of life lacking or completely absent? 

 

Where do you feel in the flow?

After considering what makes you feel dried up and devitalized, consider the opposite. What calls up your life and creativity? What makes you feel like your inner landscape is well irrigated and flowing with wide rivers or caressed by ocean waves? What are the ways that you best clean up the hurt places in your life? What are the medicines that help you heal most readily and completely? Our work here calls us to an awareness of the places that feel broken, the parts of life and the stories, beliefs, and habits that devitalize us from the inside out. Working with water in an intentional manner can also highlight these places, for we become acutely aware of where precisely there is lack. It is natural to feel that there is not enough water in the whole world to slake the deepest soul thirst and soothe the most parched places of our hearts. It is true: there is not enough water in the world to quench that thirst. But there is enough water in each of us. When you live in a desert, as I have for most of my life, you come to know this as fact. There is good water, strong and flowing, usually many miles beneath the surface, and when the thunderclouds come in and the wind begins to blow just so, the sheer rocks themselves begin to usher forth rivers and streams, and the well that springs up from the deepest self carries on its waves life-bestowing and life-affirming blessings.

 

Don’t have time for a full sacred bath every day? Try these stepping stones instead!

Make moon water. Fill up a clear glass jar with water and leave the top of it open. Set it outside under a full moon. Drink it down the next morning and note the texture, taste, and feel of the water as you do. Notice too how your body feels after drinking it.

 

Create a sacred spray. Get a spray bottle, fill it with water, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils, and use this quick version of sacred water to spritz yourself and your home, as you like.

 

Give yourself a footbath. Fill a basin with warm water, and add a teaspoon of baking soda, some lemon and lime slices, and any essential oils you like. After soaking your feet, pick out an oil or lotion to anoint your feet. Cleansing and anointing the feet is an ancient practice that honors one of the most sensitive (and taken for granted) parts of our bodies.  

 

This is an excerpt from Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary by Briana Henderson Saussy.

 

Download a free Making Magic journal here.

Briana Saussy is a teacher, spiritual counselor, and founder of the Sacred Arts Academy, where she teaches tarot, ceremony, alchemy, and other sacred arts for everyday life. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. For more, visit brianasaussy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RITUAL: Making Magic in Your Kitchen

RITUAL: Making Magic in Your Kitchen Blog Header ImageTHE HUMAN WORLD AND THE NATURAL WORLD: ONE AND THE SAME

Nowhere is the apparent rift between the everyday and the extraordinary more evident than in the way we regard the relationship between the human world and the world of nature. The rift is ultimately rooted in the opinions and beliefs about these two realms. The natural world is full of surprises, and perhaps the greatest is the discovery that nature is everywhere. The common way nature and humans are regarded in belief and opinion does not match up with the reality. The two worlds are, in fact, one world, interpenetrated by diverse and powerful elements—not only physical forces but also holy helpers and native capacities like memory and sacred imagination. Sooner or later the search for magic brings us face to face with a reality beyond the apparent rift between the everyday and the extraordinary, as we explore not only the verdure of our interior life but also our actual relationship with the surrounding world.

Learning how to speak to these holy helpers means learning the language of nature. This is the language of the wild and natural world, the language of the wind through trees and birdsong at dawn. But it is also and equally the language of that wondrous creature called Homo sapiens sapiens, for in knowing nature, we also come to know ourselves.

All magic originates in the natural world. From the ingredients used in ritual and ceremony, to the clothing worn, the talismans treasured, the foods eaten, and the medicines taken—all of them begin among plant and fungi, animal and mineral, as do we. The role that nature plays in magic cannot be overstated, but it can be misunderstood. Magic is like a wild animal, but in the common understanding, what wild actually means tends to be a pale and shadowy reflection of what it really is.

FIELD NOTES FROM THE EVERYDAY

The experience of nature does not begin in a wild forest or rushing river valley. It begins right here. If we cannot discover the materials we need for magic already present in the everyday, then we will not find them at all, no matter how far we journey, no matter how breathtaking the scenery along the way. Noticing is a lifetime of work. For most of us, noticing will not happen in a pure and unpolluted wild place, for these places are few and far between and often hold secrets that are not meant for us. It will instead happen in our kitchens and front yards, where nature is just as present.

What is entirely familiar and known, hidden in plain sight? Where might nature be found? One answer is the kitchen and the cupboard. These are the spaces where nature has made herself most at home within the home itself. In folk traditions, magic was made in the kitchen—through cooking and making use of the ingredients found within the kitchen—from the spice cabinet to the pantry, and since the advent of the icebox and refrigeration, the fridge. For it is here in the kitchen, even within the simplest and most stripped-down kitchen, that we routinely come into contact with some of the most tangible elements of the natural world—animals, plants, minerals, earth and air, fire and water.

Go into your kitchen and pick one area: the spice drawer, the cupboard, your refrigerator. Pull everything out and set it on the counter. What comes from animals? What comes from plants? From fungi and bacteria? From minerals? Don’t limit this inquiry. Glass is formed from silica and fire. Plastic is a petroleum by-product, and what is petroleum but a product mined from the earth? Paper wrappings started off as trees. Metal appliances were once veins of ore buried within the dark ground. Dare to find one item that did not begin its life firmly rooted in nature; it is not possible. You needn’t go into a nature preserve to come into contact with the whiskers and muddy paw prints of magic. There it is, padding across the stovetop and through the pantry.

As you go through the above process in your kitchen, certain ingredients will stand out above all the others. They seem to have vibrancy, an attraction. They feel potent. As a root doctor or cunning woman might say, they have mojo.

When it comes to working, wandering, and wondering through the wilds of the kitchen, it is important to heed your own personal responses and impressions, and not be overly concerned with conforming your taste to dictionaries and lists of correspondences compiled by various sources. Meanings and interpretations are best grown from the soil of your direct experience; these are the meanings and interpretations that are just right.

A sacred artist who knows ten different ways to work with a single ingredient will make more effective magic than one who has the wherewithal to buy ten different exotic ingredients. Why? Because in the former case, there is a real relationship. In the latter, there is merely acquisition, and they are not the same. So start where you are and with what you have.

RITUAL—KITCHEN MAGIC

In response to the increasing tempo of modern life, many wonderful grocery stores offer prepared foods as a convenience. When cooking is outsourced regularly, however, we become detached from the necessities of food preparation, from the ingredients of the food, from the nature of the food, as well as from the space or nexus that holds the cooking and food in the home. We lose a sense of the alchemy inherent in all of these things. So, given this newfound knowledge based on our own experience and a desire to explore kitchen magic a little further, it is time to cook something up!

This ritual is not about releasing the inner Julia Child (although if you feel called to do so, then by all means do). It is about taking time to connect with nature hidden in plain sight, in your own dwelling space, and coming to know one aspect of it as well as possible.

TIME

  • 1 hour

MATERIALS

  •  a simple recipe
  • your Making Magic journal, or your favorite personal journal
  • a door (optional)
  • a special talisman (optional)
  • a candle (optional)
  • incense (optional)

PROCESS

Cultivate calmness both within and without. See, sense, touch, know, hear, and feel your relationship to the otherworld and your holy helpers that reside there.

Incorporate any other pieces of ritual you would like: open your “door;” touch your talisman, sharing with it your desire for this ritual; or light the candle or incense, as you like.

Begin to prepare the recipe. Take time for and give attention to each step. Pause and feel into the ingredients you are working with—where they came from, how they arrived in your home. Even boiling spaghetti in water can become a springboard. The spaghetti was once wheat in a field—where? What did its life cycle look like? What animals and plants depended on it?

Record your impressions in your Making Magic journal.

Make the serving and eating of the food a ritual as well, allowing yourself to fully savor the entire experience. When you are attentive and open to what the ingredients actually feel and taste like—and not just the idea you have of them—you discover their essence or inherent properties, qualities that can’t be taken away. Be open and curious about the differences that make garlic garlic or an apple apple.

This is an excerpt from Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary by Briana Henderson Saussy.

 

Download a free Making Magic journal here.

 

Briana Saussy HeadshotMaking Magic BookBriana Saussy is a teacher, spiritual counselor, and founder of the Sacred Arts Academy, where she teaches tarot, ceremony, alchemy, and other sacred arts for everyday life. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. For more, visit brianasaussy.com.

Buy your copy of Making Magic at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Magic in the Kitchen Blog Pinterest

RITUAL: Tracking Memory

Ritual: Tracking Memory Header Image

Consider your own experience of the acts and beings involved in memory and imagination—before science enters the picture. Consider what memory and imagination are like from your inner experience—not from the perspective or the studies of cognitive neuroscience or psychology. Science seeks truth and finds it, but the search here is for what supports that truth from within.

Say, for example, that a person weighs 170 pounds, measurable by a standard scale. She may find it difficult or even impossible to pick up 170 pounds of deadweight, if she is not a weightlifter. But how does it actually feel to be 170 pounds? It doesn’t feel at all like lifting deadweight. From the inside of her own experience of that 170 pounds, moving about in full health, she feels relatively light—maybe even light as a feather. This is the inner perspective of memory and imagination that we’re looking for. Our inner perspective does not cancel out the scientific perspective; they are complementary.

Memory is fascinating. I encourage you to get interested in the ways of your own memory. It has a unity, like our physical bodies or a landscape have a unity, and this unity can be touched or awakened at almost every part of point.

RITUAL—TRACKING MEMORY

This small, simple, but very potent daily mental cultivation ritual has its roots in the practices of ancient Greek philosophers and mystics, as well as in the mindfulness practices of Buddhist lineages. Variations of it are used in therapeutic contexts to support survivors of abuse, war, and trauma of all kinds.

This ritual serves two purposes. First, it heightens your awareness of your relationship to memory and to your experience of the present moments that are distinguishable from and underlie memory. Second, it attunes you to your everyday experiences.

TIME: About 15 minutes

MATERIALS:

PROCESS:

Breathe in a blessing on your physical body. Exhale in gratitude.

Set your timer for fifteen minutes and record the events of the previous day, without comment or judgment. Start anywhere—with what happened in the morning, afternoon, or evening. There is no need to try to pick an interesting experience or “problem area” to focus on. Making breakfast, walking down the street, working in the office—all the little, seemingly unremarkable things that happened during the previous day are what you’re recording here.

Simply describe what happened or what you were doing in as much detail as possible, including the sights, sounds, and any other details that seem relevant. Don’t get into the mental or emotional details of these happenings, such as whether you were worried while you were walking down the street, or whether you were thinking or feeling something profound. Resist the temptation to comment on what happened.

Take your time. When the timer rings, put your writing implement down, even if you are not finished.

Breathe in a blessing on your physical body once more and on your willingness to show up for this work.

Exhale in gratitude.

Move forward with your day.

This is an excerpt from Making Magic: Weaving Together the Everyday and the Extraordinary by Briana Henderson Saussy.

Download a free Making Magic Journal here.

Briana Saussy HeadshotMaking Magic BookBriana Saussy is a teacher, spiritual counselor, and founder of the Sacred Arts Academy, where she teaches tarot, ceremony, alchemy, and other sacred arts for everyday life. She lives in San Antonio, Texas. For more, visit brianasaussy.com.

Buy your copy of Making Magic at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ritual: Tracking Memory Pinterest

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flower essence illustration

How to Select a Flower Essence

Flower essences can be purchased from a quality producer, or you can make your own. Here, I will discuss how to select and apply ready-made flower essence remedies. You can learn how to wildcraft your own flower essences with me in this video.

When you’re starting out with flower essences, it can be overwhelming—so many producers and so many essences! I like to encourage people to remember that it’s your relationship with the plant that is the most important thing in selection. Your relationship with the remedy is the co-creation with that plant. The more you work with flowers, the more you will be able to feel and trust this part of the process.

 

The following are some ways to begin exploring flower essences:

  • Depending on what issue(s) you’d like to address, begin by taking one to three essences that resonate with you. Many producers offer sets of remedies that have a particular focus. You may want to purchase a set to experiment with, such as the FES’s Range of Light, Delta Gardens’ Protection Set, Alaskan Essences, or the Bach Essences.
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flower essence

 

Here are five basic ways to select a flower essence:

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This is an excerpt from The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance by Heidi Smith.

 

Heidi Smith, MA, RH (AHG), is a psychosomatic therapist, registered herbalist, and flower essence practitioner. Within her private practice, Moon & Bloom, Heidi works collaboratively with her clients to empower greater balance, actualization, and soul-level healing within themselves. She is passionate about engaging both the spiritual and scientific dimensions of the plant kingdom, and sees plant medicine and ritual as radical ways to promote individual, collective, and planetary healing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her partner and two cats. For more, visit moonandbloom.com.

 

 

 

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Building the Bridge Between the Heart and the Mind

How can we drop what we are holding on to, if we do not first look for the hand that is grasping so tightly?

Have you ever noticed that you have two distinctly different personae and tend to vacillate between them?

One is very rigid and concerned with the outcome of everything. It worries and frets, its gaze mostly downcast. It doesn’t rest easily, even keeps you up at night sometimes. It acts almost like a dog chasing its tail. It circles obsessively over every detail and unknowable outcome, chasing the same things in a constant repeated pattern. It is cunning, convincing, and tyrannical in nature. It is feverish and ungrounded. Changing, morphing, and flopping from one story or idea to the next. This is your unharnessed mind. The persona you take on when your mind is not connected to the compass of the heart.

For most of us, that’s the dominant persona. But the other aspect of you, as if by some divine intervention, will from time to time slip past the censor of the mind and cheerfully take over your being with its boundless and uninhibited spirit. This personality doesn’t worry. Its face is often lifted, looking in wonder at the shifting sky and swollen moon. Lips curled into a slight smile. It is fluid and flowing, as if it’s on a river of unending joy. It acts like water and reflects light. You feel buoyant. This is your heart-centered self, your true self.

Because most of us moved into our mind long, long ago as a way of protecting our hearts, we now live most of our time in that rigid, concerned first persona. Without even realizing it, we allow our minds to stand between us and our true nature. We have no (conscious) idea how much our minds are acting as a defensive block against our soft and tender core, constantly at work trying to find ways to keep us from feeling, from hurt, from heartache. The price we are paying, however, is that we are also kept from accessing source.

In order to be heart minded, we need to bring the heart and mind into harmony and partnership with one another. For this to happen, we have to train the mind not to fear and close off from the heart, and instead, serve our heart and implement its wishes. In order to do this, we have to undo our mind’s association of feelings of the heart with hurt and harm. In situations that would ordinarily have us retreat or retaliate, we need to remain conscious of what’s happening and choose to soften and lean into our heart’s center. Each time we practice this softening, we send a new message to the mind that signals that we are safe, willing, and wanting to live in this more open, more sensitive way.

Over time, if we are resolute in our intention to step into our heart, our mind will become less rigid in its defenses against feelings and tenderness, and gradually we will become more heart centered.

Remember, we are not trying to pit the heart and mind against one another; we are trying to marry their aptitudes.

Let’s say a wave of anxiety washes through you. You notice your mind begin to race and attach to fearful thoughts. The anxiety then morphs into panic, which courses through you and makes you feel like jumping out of your skin. You begin reaching for an escape, resorting to some form of substance or distraction that can act as a numbing balm.

What just happened? Because you avoided your distress, you are only slightly comforted. A part of you remains braced under the distraction, in fear of the next time this could happen. Your mind’s instinct to protect and defend has been confirmed.

Your heart is neglected and still aching.

But let’s say a wave of anxiety washes through you and instead of looking for an escape route, you go to a quiet room to confront the feeling. You let go of the notion that something is wrong and respond as if something very right is taking place. You know some part of you is calling out for your love and attention.

Let’s say you close your eyes and open your heart to the bigness of the feeling. You create space around it simply by looking without resistance at its contours. You know the only antidote is self-love and hospitality. The mind stops racing away from the distress, which makes room for the heart to begin healing and soothing the body. Your mind learns a new route. You are gifted with courage and resilience.

The only difference between these scenarios was one simple choice: to remain a bystander as the mind continues to ignore the call of the body and heart or to act in ways that support leading from the heart, so the mind can follow.

The two can be wonderful allies if we let them.

As we become heart minded, we begin transforming our human experience from something out of our hands to something very much in them. We begin to cultivate joy instead of haphazardly stumbling upon it when we are willing.

Each moment, our bodies are counseling us to make choices that bring us closer to love. The wisdom of the heart and body is there for us, always, if we listen and let it lead.

For a guided practice in learning to stay in our hearts during difficult times, follow along with Sarah in this video.

 

This is an adapted excerpt from Heart Minded: How to Hold Yourself and Others in Love by Sarah Blondin.

 

Sarah Blondin

Sarah Blondin is an internationally beloved spiritual teacher. Her guided meditations on the app InsightTimer have received nearly 10 million plays. She hosts the popular podcast Live Awake, as well as the online course Coming Home to Yourself. Her work has been translated into many languages and is in use in prison, recovery, and wellness programs. For more, visit sarahblondin.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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