A Collective Gathering Place for Readers, Writers, and Seekers

8 Tarot Cards To Improve Your Finances

Money and mysticism go hand in hand, although sometimes in a dispirited mindset we forget that. At its core, the flow of money is the flow of energy. What better tool to tap into this current than tarot cards? Not only can you get to the root of money block, you can also manifest sacred abundance by getting acquainted with the energies at play in your financial life. By calling in certain archetypal energies, you begin to align yourself with their unique wisdom and create this resonance into your own life. Here’s a list of 8 (power number in numerology!) tarot cards that you can work with to enhance your financial situation.

Discover your creativity with the Knight of Wands

The number one block to creativity is thinking things need to be done “a certain way” or you must be a professional in order to truly make art. This is a bunch of hocus locus and calling on the energy of the Knight of Wands can bring you the reckless abandonment needed to overcome the blocks of “I’m not enough” to rediscover your passion. When you are humming with the vibrancy of creative possibilities and singing the tune of the ever expansive universe, you naturally draw to you opportunities that are spiritually abundant. The material realm follows the cues of the spiritual realm and awakening your creativity it the quickest way to release stagnant energy and put you back in creative control of the masterpiece that is your life.

Strengthen your financial discipline with the Emperor

The next step your path to money success is to strength your financial discipline, and who better to help out than the regal, rule-regulating emperor to form those boundaries? Calling on the energy of the Emperor makes you think twice about “only spending $20..” to make more frugal choices. The best way to draw on the will power of the Emperor is to keep this card some place where you’ll see it daily. Perhaps on an dress in your room, the coffee table in the living room, or even the background of your phone. His stern gaze will quickly remind you of you task of redirecting your money flow into meaningful savings and investments.

Contemplate savings and investments with the 8 of Pentacles

One you’ve reigned in your spending habits a bit, it’s time to start thinking long-term. The 8 of Pentacles invites in the patience and dedication needed to establish long-term financial security. It’s tough when you’re in the prime of life to be thinking about retirement. You might be wondering if you’re career is even on track enough in this moment to ever see a day where you can enjoy the laurels of your success. And in reality, this is up to you and the work you do now. Connecting with the 8 of Pentacles awakens your ability to see the big picture and begin creating long-term grown and security for yourself. Whether your taking an investment class, researching retirement funds, or planning stock options, keep the 8 of Pentacles nearby to help you develop your financial expertise, avoid get-rich-quick methods, and honor your process of wealth building.

Stop self-sabotaging with the 8 of Swords

Now that you’ve really started to invest in yourself, it’s time do the shadow-work of uncovering those pesky financial habits that keep stagnating your growth. There’s no better card to get an honest awakening about your self-sabotaging behaviors than the 8 of Swords. This card holds the energy of your blindspots that keep you in misery, in which only you can free yourself from by using your wisdom to cut the ropes that bind you. Light a candle, get your paper and pen, have the 8 of Swords in front of you, and do an honesty check with yourself. Remember self-care is always essential when luring in our dark places, so be easy on yourself and know we all have our financial flaws.

Liberate your money beliefs with the Ace of Swords

Once you’ve seen the sticky beliefs you have that might be keep you from standing your full financial power, it’s time to do a money belief make-over with the Ace of Swords. Calling on this sharp energy helps you to develop a fresh perspective as you begin putting your new insights into action. Drawing on the energy of this card assists you in getting your mind right and comprehending the numbers to get your figures straight. This burst of energy connects you to your Higher Self and opens doors to new possibilities. You ARE making the right decisions and your breakthroughs are proof.

Find a new source of income with the 10 of Pentacles

Diverse streams of income is the key to financial security. Whether you have your stable career or already work multiple jobs. the 10 of Pentacles calls in new income sources for you. While it might not be the mega-millions, the energy of the 10 of Pentacles is sure to lead you to a community of people where you will thrive, be seen for what you have to offer, and appreciate the contribution you make. Not being in sync with the people you work with can be a huge energy drain and calling on this card will do the opposite and lead you to an exuberance of energy because you’re mingling with people who uplift and inspire you. Never underestimate the power of networking in finding your dream job – social capital!! Working with the energy of this card also helps you to discover unique ways you can contribute to your community in order to make a bit of side money.

Learn to follow your soul’s path with the High Priestess

The Universe wants you to succeed, and often in ways that are beyond what you can even imagine. At times, you might feel stuck in a position that is crush your spirit but paying the bills. This isn’t how you’re meant to live your life and abundance may allude you until you finally surrender to the intuition of your soul. Signs the way you make money are out of alignment are feeling drained, depressed, frustrated on a daily basis. You may compensate for these feelings through addictive behaviors or over-consumption of food, material goods, and alcohol. The High Priestess card brings you attention back inward to discover the one of a kind path of your spirit. As you begin to take the time to listen to your inner voice and make baby steps towards the intuitive hunches you receive, you’ll notice a chain of synchronistic events lining up to guides you to your next phase of financial evolution. Whenever you’re feeling lost, you can always come back to the gentle guidance of the High Priestess and reconnect to your inner knowing.

Embrace gratitude for your abundant lifestyle with the Queen of Pentacles

You’ve successfully turned your financial situation around now and it’s time to express your gratitude through the Queen of Pentacles. Seeing this archetype as yourself, you are reflected with gratefulness your spirit feels for taking this journey in the material plane. Inviting the energy of the Queen of Pentacles into your life shows that you’re serious about maintaining the financial shifts you’ve made, open to receiving many material blessings, and sharing them with others too. This card is symbolic of having gotten yourself into a position of overflowing abundance that now lets you help others. To bring this cycle full circle, donate to a cause or charity that is meaningful to you. This act of goodwill demonstrates your gratitude for the fortune you’ve created and also the ever-flowing movement of money that wants to go forward and help the next person. You’ve opened your channels and are now in tune with this flow, which grants you the ability to offer security to others, gratitude for the support, and abundance to appreciate.

Reflections on Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage. The word conjures up planned journeys to faraway places. That rare activity you do once in a lifetime. Maybe.

What if we turned the concept of pilgrimage around to embrace those places that nourish our spirit with transformative effects? How can we learn to pay attention to those places that we visit intentionally, and also by happenstance, which upon reflection we come to see how they spoke to us on a deep level?

The traditional concept of pilgrimage involves meticulous planning, a time investment of many weeks or months, and often a substantial investment in walking equipment, travel, and lodging. Things that are out of the reach for most of us – especially the time investment.

In settling into a desire to reinvent the concept of pilgrimage while still being able to have the transformative experience, I’ve come to understand that one of the things those on pilgrimages do is remove themselves from their everyday life to experience something deeper. I’m sure I’m not alone in having experienced getting into a car with a destination in mind only to come to realize that I’m mindlessly driving my normal route by rote (!). The conditioning we experience by maintaining our routines blinds us to new experiences.

The travel to places that I’ve come to define as my pilgrimage places came from me stepping out of my normal routine, which is ruled by schedules and obligations. The wandering, the freedom from routine, heightens our senses to the point that we become aware of how multi-dimensional we are – mind, body, and very importantly, spirit.

I didn’t set out to intentionally to go on these pilgrimages, but upon returning to my “normal” life, I realized that some places to which I traveled had me dialoguing with my soul, with the Divine who resides in all of us. I didn’t hear voices from above or any thunderclaps. I didn’t have to endure the pain of walking many miles with a backpack. What I experienced was a subtle shift in how I viewed myself and, as a result, how I engaged with the world around me, including the natural world. The changes were subtle – like a soft wind shifting something inside of me versus the power of a gale force wind.

My places of pilgrimage have included a church in the Italian-American section of Philadelphia, the River Mersey in Liverpool, England, and Circus Maximus in Rome. I came to these places in different ways: through a vacation to visit my husband’s family in England, a ten-mile drive to the home of my paternal great-grandmother, and a dream trip to Rome. The important thing to remember is that although I planned some of the trips, namely the international ones, the intention wasn’t to have a spiritual experience. The transformative powers of these places was totally unexpected – and this is the power of pilgrimage.

These pilgrimages encouraged me to peel back the many layers of my life, some of which blocked out my true self, my spirit. The subtle changes paved the way for larger changes, opened my eyes to possibilities, encouraged me to move forward, to be open and receptive to the signs and signals I was receiving from the Divine.

What can you do to go on your own pilgrimages?

⭐ Go where you’re directed. If you feel a pull to a certain place, go – maybe not immediately, but before too long. Don’t second guess it.
⭐ Be guided by your intuition. If you’re directed to explore something – do it.
⭐ Lose the grip you have on your life to control situations and circumstances. Throw your routine to the wind, even for a short time.
⭐ Ask for guidance and then listen, notice.
⭐ Notice the lost parts of you that you find along the way as you become a pilgrim.
⭐ Have fun. Be lighthearted. Experience connections with those you encounter along the way.
⭐ See that sometimes the very thing that you are seeking to help in your transformation, is right outside your door.

Ultimately, all pilgrimages end up at home. Notice how effective these pilgrimages are in returning you to your true self.

3 Ways to Use Tarot Cards to Explore Your Psyche

Psychologists are becoming more receptive to alternative therapeutic modalities, especially tarot cards. More and more mental health professionals are discovering how tarot can be a tool for promoting self-awareness, psychological growth, and mental well-being and incorporating this into their practice, especially in the field of depth psychology. The value of depth psychology is that it honors all aspects of your well-being: mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. By delving into the unconscious realms of your mind, you can illuminate your psyche and facilitate personal growth. Here are three ways you can achieve psychic integration with Tarot techniques to guide your process.

1.Examine Thought Patterns and Behavior

The tarot is archetypal, a term coined by psychologist Carl Jung to describe universal human energy patterns in the unconscious mind, which make it accessible to everyone. The entire spiritual journey of an individual can be seen by following the successive energy of the major arcana. As unique as you are, there are patterns of energy that generate specific thought and behavior patterns in your life. Discovering the archetypal energy at play in your life helps you to become more conscious of the underlying motivation, triggers, and feelings that prompt you to behave as you do.

The imagery on the cards becomes an access point of visualization into the landscape of one’s psyche. Some decks, like the traditional Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, have very well-known imagery that has been well studied to discover the hidden symbolism and visual meaning contained within the cards. But you don’t have to use the traditional tarot imagery to gendered archetypes to tune into the energy. Working with alternative imagery decks are very effective since they can help you by-pass getting stuck on the meaning of the card “according to the book” by acknowledging the meaning your psyche gives the cared — and what this reflects about your unconscious.

Tarot Technique

As you become more aware of your energy patterns, you may notice you’re drawn to different decks based on your mood. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, as a certain deck may speak to your soul when you’re facing an obstacle compared to a deck that suits your needs when you want a boost of encouragement. Just as an experiment, try using a deck that feels out of sync with your current mood. How does this influence the reading? Next, use the deck you’d normally use and juxtapose the two readings. How can they influence one another? How do they each present a different perspective? Are you able to integrate the messages from both?

The purpose of this exercise is to rouse you out of the unconscious mode of routine. By working with a different energy in place of your usual go-to, you naturally become more aware and conscious of what you’re doing. Practicing this technique helps you awaken you to a more conscious way of interacting with the cards, while also exploring a different method of doing things. Let this technique inform your craft and seek out variety when things become stagnant to spur your awareness into action.

2. Guidance And Comfort During Dark Times

The Tarot is a bridge between your mind, body, and soul, which is often overlooked in modern psychology. In the past, spiritual council was relegated to religion. However, the modern trend of blending spirituality and psychology has immense benefits because it helps to heal the whole person. This spiritual wisdom is a wonderful supplement to one’s mental health journey because it offers guidance in navigating difficult times in a way that nourishes your soul.

The beauty of the Tarot is that it doesn’t sugarcoat things and has advice about how to overcome the challenges we face in life. From despair to betrayal, financial misfortune to loss of a loved one, the Tarot cards span the whole spectrum of human experience and emotion. The vastness of wisdom in the cards explores the depths and heights of human existence, and offers insight about how to navigate these to restore ourselves to wholeness.

By using the Tarot, you will begin to see how universal certain situations and feelings truly are because they are embedded in archetypal wisdom of the tarot cards. Each card has its own potent medicine for the soul, and there’s ample resources to draw on as you work through the lessons of the card best depicting your current situation. Each card opens a channel for you to feel, sense, and experience psychology empowered by spirituality.

Caring for your mental health requires making space and time to delve into your soul. Small hurts, great griefs, fears, and insecurities often bury themselves in this core and don’t come out easily, choosing to fester blockages instead. These are known as complexes and are often specific to the archetypal energy you are enacting in your life. Bringing these wounds to light requires a gentle and soft approach, which coaxes them with ease to reveal themselves to heal.

Tarot Technique

Go through your tarot deck and pick out the High Priestess and Strength card. Set these two cards aside. Shuffle your deck and set the intention in your heart to find what can lead you to your courage and inner knowing. Then put the High Priestess and Strength card back it the deck and shuffle again.

Once you feel the deck is shuffled enough, search the deck until you find the High Priestess. The card behind the High Priestess is the best way for you to access your deep intuitions right now and a representation of what you need for healing. Next, find the Strength card. The card behind the Strength card is what you need for empowerment.

Take all four cards (High Priestess, Strength, and each card that was behind them) and set them in a line. Spend time journaling about the relationship between these cards. Make a plan to give your mind, body, and soul the time to rest and then act on the wisdom you’ve discovered in this reading.

3. Using Imagery and Symbol for Healing

The Tarot offers a visual method of exploring one’s inner terrain. It isn’t always easy to put into words how you’re feeling or what you’re experiencing in life that is making you feel troubled, especially when you are not in a good state of mental health. The use of imagery in Tarot is a powerful tool for accessing a deeper part of your mind: the unconscious.

Your unconscious is the part of your mind that affects your behavior, moods, and emotions without you consciously realizing because it’s deeper than your regular awareness. Words often engage your conscious mind and can quickly get you stuck in a loop. How often do you find yourself repeating the same mantras to yourself with no change? This is because true transformation happens by shifting your unconscious.

Imagery, art, and metaphor are the pathway for speaking with you unconscious. Tarot cards can be useful in facilitating good mental health because it speaks directly to your unconscious, giving you a method to communicate with this more veiled aspect of your psyche. Imagery on the Tarot is crafted to stimulate your mind through artwork, offering a new way to translate what it is you’re going through through symbolism instead of logic. The visuals aid you in delving into your psychic depths, without the blocks from your ego stopping this flow.

Tarot Technique

Pick out a deck that has imagery that “speaks” to you. Go through the cards one by one and spend time looking at the imagery. As you look at each image, put the card into one of three piles: dislike, neutral, or like.

Once you have the piles sorted, review each one and see what the cards have in common. You can also reflect on what it is about the imagery that triggers your reaction. This practice will give you deeper insight into your unconscious perceptions and possibly even reveal something unknown about how your mind works to yourself.

Relaxation For Your Sun Sign

Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress — you certainly know the habits that come out when it’s running high! Rather than defaulting to your usual patterns of coping, you can find new, constructive ways to navigate stress based on your sun sign. Read on to learn how your sign can relax and get back to a state of flow next time you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Aries

Get physical, take action, and move. Doing something active gets your entire body engaged, releasing the stress churning within you. The worst thing you can do is sit still and let the energy build up – this will only lead to a blow out down the line. Go for a run, put on your favorite music and dance, or hit a class at the gym. Cleaning up the house is another way to distract your mind, while engaging your body. Don’t feel obligated to invite others to tag alone. Some solo time and independence will help you to recharge. Blow off that steam!

Taurus

Spend time in nature. Engaging your senses brings you back to the present moment. By submerging yourself in the beauty of the outdoors, you will feel revived by the fresh air, sunlight, and organic tranquility of the plants and animals around you. Treat yourself to a massage, comforting meal, or small home decor purchase. By refreshing your environment, you are replenishing your well-being and releasing stress. Sticking to your routine also helps you to relieve stress, as the consistency in your daily life brings you stability.

Gemini

Do some research. Letting your mind be idle will only enhance your stress. You will best alleviate this stress by exploring how others have handled your situation, looking up tips and tricks for dealing with what you’re experiencing, gathering resources that makes you more informed about your current situation, and exploring what others have to say. By stimulating your mind, you become proactive in a solution. Having options about how to proceed brings the bit of fresh air you need to clear your head.

Cancer

Ask for support from your soul tribe and family. You are an integral part of many people’s lives, always offering support and reassurance, but often you forget they too want to nourish you. By being vulnerable and sharing your stresses, you create space to be nurtured. You can also tend to yourself emotionally by cooking your favorite meal, taking a bath, and journaling your feelings. The comfort of your home is your sweet spot for rest and relaxation.

Leo

Channel your stress into creative pursuits. When stress flares, it becomes hard for you to not get dragged along on a rollercoaster of emotions. Pour this excess energy into your favorite hobbies and projects. The simple act of creating, will make you feel more in control of how things are manifesting right now. Feel the empowerment when you do what you love most. Your talents will bring you joy that naturally uplifts you out of stress mode. You will also benefit from laughter; putting on your favorite comedy reminds you it’s not that bad.

Virgo

Perform an act of service for someone. Under stress, you often become a bit obsessive-compulsive, trying to keep everything in line, orderly, clean, and up to high standards. The quickest way to get your mind out of overdrive is to offer to lend a hand or do a favor for someone. Being helpful shifts your focus outward to others and distracts you from the stress you are feeling, clearing your head. You enjoy feeling productive and this act will make you feel more calm and settled as you put your energy towards something practical that makes a positive difference in the world.

Libra

Talk it through and get feedback. Vocalizing and sharing your stressors with another helps you to get a better handle on what’s going on. You’re a very communicative person and having someone to bounce ideas back and forth with gives you affirmation and reassurance. You appreciate hearing perspectives about what you’re going through and in return offer heartfelt advice that motivates and soothes your conversation partner – benefiting both of you! Sharing your thoughts with someone whose opinion you value diffuses the situation and brings levity back into your life.

Scorpio

Embrace solitude. Being in a crowd will only make you feel you need to mask all the turmoil you’re experiencing, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors as you try to conceal what’s going on beneath the surface. Go within yourself and examine the root of the stress in your life. You, unlike most signs, are not scared to face your fears and acknowledge the tension causing you stress. Take the space you need to do this deep dig and make the internal changes that will facilitate your personal transformation.

Sagittarius

Explore someplace new. Fresh scenery and the adventure of going someplace you haven’t gone before helps to alleviate your stress. You may want to take a drive to a nearby town, check out a new restaurant, or find a different hiking trail. Stimulating your need for variety is key. Your mood will change as soon as you’re on the road towards your next journey, and it improves the further you travel from your comfort zone. Looking up travel destinations or reading about another culture are a good way to armchair travel too to broaden your horizons and release stress.

Capricorn

Make a plan. When you feel out of control, your stress becomes more overwhelming. By focusing on the long-term goal, you are better able to navigate immediate stressors. Keeping your eye on the prize helps you to remain cool, calm, and collected in the present moment. Make sure you avoid overworking and take time for yourself, otherwise you will burn out. Lessen the load you’re carrying by delegating some responsibilities to others and try to scale down on your commitments to make space for resting. Always remember, slow and steady wins the race.

Aquarius

Spend time with your friends. When you get stressed, you tend to dwell in your own thoughts and isolate yourself from others. By reaching out to your friends, you shake off the stress ruminating within you. Hearing what’s going on with others is enough to stimulate your mind and broaden your perspective again so that you’re not hyper focused on what’s bothering you. Fresh ideas and communication liberate you by providing some detachment from your stress. Text, call, or Skype your buds: keep them in the loop about what’s going on with you and listen to how they’ve been. Before you know it, you’ll be laughing and at ease.

Pisces

Take a healthy escape to diminish your stress. Exploring unknown, imaginary realms is part of your journey in life. Choose to immerse yourself in the relaxing aesthetic of a museum, the fantasy setting of your favorite movie, or spiritual dimension of meditation. Sink into a deep relaxation and just let your mind wander. Allowing your stress and worries to dissolve in the background for a bit helps you to rejuvenate and find your equilibrium. As an intuitive, sensitive soul you will be replenished by a mellow atmosphere.

Living a Hygge Lifestyle This Winter

Hygge. You might have seen the word. You might even be familiar with some of its concepts. You probably have a hard time pronouncing it! (It’s pronounced “hoo-guh” by the way.)

The concept of hygge is that of creating a feeling of coziness in the winter months. But really, it’s more than the accoutrements of coziness such as blankets and candles, although they are important parts. Hygge is a way of life in which one not only copes with living in the winter months but thrives.

Hygge is most associated with Denmark, where the Danes experience dark, cold winter months. Despite the weather, Denmark consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world, if not the happiest. The country even has a Happiness Research Institute, a think tank that focuses on wellbeing.

It’s known that embracing the concept of hygge increases feelings of wellness and contentment. This is because hygge encourages you to embrace the winter season instead of curse it. It’s a shifting of mindset from thinking that winter is an isolating, depressing time to one in which you gain the opportunity to engage in self-care, warmth, quiet, and introspection. Seeing the benefits of each wheel of the year is the supreme act of living seasonally.

How can you embrace hygge and incorporate it into your winter lifestyle?

Comfort is key

Embrace comfort. Pile up the blankets. Wear comfy clothing and thick warm socks. Layer extra throw pillows on the bed or sofa. Create an environment where you feel warm and safe. Instead of wide open spaces, aim for creating a cocoon in a part of a room. Maybe it’s a chair in a corner that transforms into a reading nook.

Flame your fires

Cozy up to a fireplace. If you have one, light it. If you don’t have a fireplace you can improvise. Buy a space heater that simulates a fireplace, flame and all. Or, upload an image of a fireplace on your computer or television and sit for a spell.

Seasonal eating

Cook and eat comfort foods. Stews, soups, bread, warm drinks. Fill your belly with warmth. These winter foods tend to take longer to prepare, so slow down and enjoy the time chopping, kneading, baking, and simmering.

Decrease the electricity

Fill your space with candlelight. As daylight tends to be shorter, bring light in with candles. Allow the soft glow of real candles or even flameless candles to create ambience. Remember, don’t curse the darkness, light a candle! Turn off electronic devices and decrease the use of artificial lighting.

Fill up on fresh air

Get outdoors even if it’s in short spurts! Look at the different perspectives available to you in the winter months, when the bones of nature are exposed. Breathe in fresh air. Embrace a star-filled winter night sky.

Dress the part

Dress appropriately for the weather. Bundle up. Wearing the proper clothing will make it an enjoyable experience. Meik Wiking, Chief Executive of the Happiness Institute, is a proponent of what she calls the benefit of “outdoorphins.” The Danes have a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

Gather with loved ones

This year, with the world experience of pandemic, one of the most important components of hygge can’t be easily or safely experienced: communing with friends and family. Normally, sitting around a table sharing food, conversation, and laughter with friends and family is a big part of the hygge lifestyle. Just because socializing needs to look different this year doesn’t mean you should forgot about it as part of your hygge winter plans. If possible, have a bonfire party with social distancing. Ask everyone to bring a basket of food and drinks for themselves, and sit around the fire socializing, eating, and covered in blankets. However, if outdoor socializing isn’t possible (or permitted), embrace the moment and let 2020 be the year that you focus on communing with yourself.

Living a hygge lifestyle turns the concept of “coping” with winter into embracing it. Look at it as an opportunity to engage in self-care. Winter is all about turning inward. Use this time to rest and relax. The concept of hygge is meant to be lived and experienced as it provides real physical and emotional benefits. Remember to focus on the present, live in the moment, wrap yourself in warmth.

Celebrating the Yuletide with Downhome Mystic

🌲 The season of Yule is upon us! 🌲

Quick History Lesson

This yearly celebration has roots in the Germanic Paganism culture and is usually celebrated for 12 days beginning on the winter solstice. This year Yule begins on Monday, December 21st and ends on Friday, January 1st, 2021. The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, but it simultaneously marks the return of daylight. Often associated with honoring a variety of God and Goddesses, this was a time to be joyful, dance, sing, and connect with nature.

This Pagan celebration was natural for our ancestors, as they were so deeply connected to the Great Mother. They felt sense of connection to the natural world; the direct reciprocity people felt with the Earth was ingrained in daily life. Unfortunately, many of us have become disconnected from nature, from the Great Mother, and finding our way back has been an integral part of our spiritual path. Creating celebration and honoring nature’s cycles helps connect us to our past, deepen our connection to the Earth, and ultimately connect back to ourselves. 

How Do I Celebrate Yule?

This is the fun part! Now is the time to get creative, consider what is meaningful to you (and your family), and create a celebration that best fits your needs and wants. A Yuletide celebration can range from an elaborate gathering to a bath time ritual to a simple altar created at the foot of a pine tree. Here are some of my suggestions:

Connect or Reconnect with Nature

When was the last time you stood barefoot on the earth? If you live in an area that is not too cold or snow-covered, find an area to stand soul (of your foot) to soul on the earth. Feel the soil on your feet, feel the connection of the earth move up your body. If you are unable to be barefoot in your area, take a walk out in nature. Look for signs of winter and reflect on the changes in your life that have taken place over the course of the year.

Build an Altar

This can be done either outside during your nature walk or in your home. If you choose to build an altar at home, gather a few items from outside and bring them home with you, placing each item on your altar while giving thanks and honoring each beautiful item. You could gather evergreen branches, berries, sticks, pinecones, a vile of snow or natural water (ocean, stream, river, rain), brown leaves, feathers, any items that call to you. You might be surprised by what you find! If you choose to create an altar outside, find a special location such as the foot of a tree, in a meadow, or alongside a stream. Lovingly place a few natural items with intent onto the altar while speaking what you are thankful for. 

Dance in the Sunlight or Moonlight

Dancing is a lovely way to reconnect to our bodies and spirit, and it can be especially satisfying if you are outdoors and with others. When we dance, we seem to come alive! We feel the blood move through our bodies, we feel our hearts pump, and our breath deepens; we become embodied. Try dancing with a scarf, moving it through the air and across the ground, further connecting you to the earth.

Build a Fire

You may have heard the term Yule-log. The tradition of a Yule-log varies among different regions and religions, but the basics are burning a log to entice the sun to return to longer days. Often a portion of the log is kept and used to start the fire for the next year’s Yule-log. The ashes were also believed to be good luck and could be used in the garden or kept in an area of the house for protection.  As the Yule-log burns, you can watch the flames, dance, and feel the warmth on your face. This is also a good time to tell stories or hold hands with a loved one basking in the fire’s glow.

Sing Songs

Many of our favorite holiday songs are versions of Yule songs, such as Deck the Halls and the Holly and the Ivy. Singing opens our throat chakra and clears away energetic debris. Singing with others can be an uplifting experience, as a single voice becomes a choir. 

Get Witchy in the Kitchen

Whip up a batch of holiday cookies, bake some rosemary bread, or craft a warm seasonal soup. Try adding an herb that you have never worked with or check out the seasonal farmers market for some wholesome root vegetables. Depending on what you make, you can always place an offering on your altar or out in nature, thanking the Great Mother or God or Goddess of your choice. 

There are many beautiful ways to celebrate the season of Yule; these are a few of my favorites. I would love to hear which one you like best or if you have anything to add. Comment below if you decide to try any of these suggestions.

7 Ways to Prepare for a Mediumship Reading

I had the most incredible reading with psychic medium Nikki Steward last week. Well, it wasn’t exactly my mediumship reading – I had gotten it for my grandmother as a birthday present and she asked me to be on the call with her. Since my grandmother is well-past 80 years old, many of the people she has loved in her life are on the other side now. I was hoping to give her the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones who have passed on. Most especially, I was hoping she’d hear from my grandfather who passed away 5 years ago, just shy of their 60th wedding anniversary. So, we set the time and date for my grandmother’s birthday.

Believe it or not, the reading happened with me in California doing a three-way call with Nikki and my grandmother, who were both in their own homes in New Jersey. Still, my grandmother’s loved ones were able to come through, eager to chat. The interconnection between our world and the spiritual realm amazes me, and I’m fascinated at how technology was used to facilitate a wonderful reading.

My grandfather didn’t end up coming through, but rather hilariously, my grandmother’s mother dominated the entire hour and hardly let anyone else speak! I guess it makes sense since it was my grandmother’s birthday and she had been the one to bring her into the world. It was a really heartfelt experience because even in the afterlife, my great-grandmother wanted to remind my grandmother how loved and protected she was by our family, both here and in the spirit realm.

The days following this mediumship reading with Nikki (who truly is phenomenal if you want a genuine mediumship experience) got me thinking about what one should do to prepare for a session. I’ve had many over the years and know there are a lot of questions that come up about what goes on during the reading, especially before someone’s first time. As I am often encouraging others to embrace the spiritual side of life, I felt maybe I could write a bit of guidance to help others prepare for their reading.

Every medium has their own style, so their processes will vary, but always remember there’s way you can enhance your time with spirit. Here’s a list of things you can do before your mediumship reading to prepare yourself and make the most of the session.

Begin speaking with your passed-on loved ones a few days before

Mediums have the ability to communicate with the spirit realm, which is a true gift and blessing. Loved ones who have passed are often with us in our daily lives, and they do their best to leave us messages. Some of the most common are pennies on the sidewalk, feathers, and angel numbers. You can speak with your loved ones on the other side any time and they will certainly hear you! This is especially good to do a few days before your reading.

Share your prayers with them, talk to them about your day, invite them into your space. You can let your departed loved ones know soon you’ll be opening a space to commune with them. As you facilitate this connection, you are also awakening your own spirit to be more open and receptive for the time of your reading. 

Make peace with knowing a certain loved one may not come through

Many people seek out a medium hoping to connect with a particular deceased loved one, but mediums cannot guarantee a spirit can come through. There are some mediums who will push for that connection to happen, but most mediums don’t tend to impose their will like that and let clients know ahead of time. In fact, most mediums have a disclaimer that they can’t guarantee they will even be able to make a connection on your behalf.

Don’t worry – this hardly happens! Most of the time, the medium will have spirits lining up to talk with you. Be open to who comes through and you will be pleasantly surprised. For instance, in this past reading, my grandmother’s neighbor had just passed a few weeks before and stopped by to simply say hello and she was doing well, while my grandfather never came through at all. Trust that who comes through during your reading is who you’re meant to talk to that day, so make the most of it.

Do a brush-up on your family history

During your session, the medium is translating images, sensations, and phrases imparted to them by the deceased. The medium will share what they’re receiving but you need to piece it together to help figure it out. Many mediums will describe the way your loved ones passed, things they cherished, or prominent physical features in order to inform you about who is speaking. Remember these spirits are all strangers to the medium describing them to you. You need to be ready to play this game of guess-who.

Speak with your family and friends about your deceased loved ones and recall all their life stories. Yes, your uncle Johnny twice-removed on your father’s side may want to swing by and speak with you. You’ll feel empowered when you can remember he loved the Yankees and died of a heart attack, hence the medium’s pain in her chest as she’s seeing a baseball, to identify him as who you’re communing with. Do your research and you’ll find your reading has a lot less head scratching and “I don’t know.”

Cleanse your home for the spirits to join you

Your medium will be trained in keeping negativity at bay, so this is not something you need to worry about. But you can still create a relaxing, inviting atmosphere for your deceased loved ones in your home. It’s good to take a cleansing bath or shower before your reading, and then follow-up with burning incense, sage, or palo santo to clear any lingering energy. Light candles and respect the sacred connection you’re about to make with your loved ones.

Try to be in a state of openness and receptivity when you begin. You may even want to bake a family favorite as an offering or create a small altar with photographs and relics of the loved ones who have passed on. These objects can help to anchor the spirit in the physical world and enhance the connection for the medium.

Make sure you have a pen and paper handy — and some tissues

You will be feeling all sorts of emotions once the medium begins the reading. Memories of loved ones come rushing back, and you may become very sentimental. It’s common to cry during your reading, as well as laugh at the good times you’ve had. Amidst all the emotions, it’s easy to forget all that was said. Having a pen and paper nearby to jot down things you want to remember is something you’ll be grateful for when you’re reflecting on the reading. Make yourself comfy, have a refreshing drink nearby, and tissues for when the tears start to flow.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that time isn’t the same in the spiritual realm, and sometimes the messages can come through a bit jumbled. It’s worth detailing everything the medium shares, even the bits that don’t make sense at the time, because something may jog your memory in the days that follow, or speaking with another family member can help you connect what was said. For instance, the medium told my grandmother one man was saying, “Get him some rye on the rocks.” My grandmother had never heard that phrase before, but when she spoke with her sister, she recalled their dad saying the words vividly as a child, which helped my grandmother realize it was her dad speaking then.

Have a list of questions you’d like to ask

Most mediums will ask if you have questions you’d like to ask the spirits toward the end of your reading. Often those who don’t realize they’ll have the ability to ask questions, and not just receive information, don’t make use of this wonderful opportunity. Your departed loved ones can be a source of great wisdom, as they are part of the spiritual world, and can be of huge assistance in guiding you on your path.

Making a list of questions beforehand helps you to not feel put on the spot, which is when your mind often blanks. It’s better to avoid questions related to time such as, “When am I going to get married?” because time moves differently there than in the material realm, though I’m sure you’d get an answer! Some good questions to ask are: how you can strengthen your connection to them, what are signs they are around, and whether they have any spiritual guidance for you. They are more than happy to offer their love and assistance to you.

Create space in your schedule the rest of the day for reflection and integration

After your session, you may still be feeling a bit psychically open and emotional. It’s best to create space in your schedule to be able to reflect on the special time you shared with your deceased loved ones to integrate the experience. If you can make it so you don’t need to immediately tend to practical matters, you’ll be able to rest in the liminal a bit longer and relish the connection you shared with spirit.

You may feel called to offer your gratitude, or go digging for the box of photographs one of your loved ones reminded you of in the attic. Make time to cherish your bond with family and friends who have passed, honoring all the special moments you’ve shared with them while alive and still get to relish together in their afterlife. You will always be connected to the ones you love.

Temporal Experience of Flow

Introduction – Different Experiences of Time

We are all familiar with phrases like “Time flies when you’re having fun,” or the feeling that some activity (e.g. a boring class or meeting) seems like it’s taking forever to finish. These are examples of our subjective perspective of time and how it seems to speed up or slow down under different circumstances. Although these experiences sound odd when compared to the “everyday” perception of time as a uniform succession of events, the feeling that time is sped up or slowed down is undoubtedly common and relatable.

While I do not intend to set down a complete explanation of this phenomenon, I propose that we might be able to understand such experiences by applying a metaphor. Specifically, we could consider our experience of time – especially, the perceived rate at which it “flows” – to be like the effects of time dilation. Perhaps this description is not merely metaphorical, but I leave that judgement up to the reader.

Time Dilation – Just the Basics

I am no expert in physics, and don’t purport to have mastery over the concepts involved, which is why I choose to present this as a metaphorical explanation rather than a straight-forward application of scientific principles. For those who are less familiar with time dilation, the basic idea is there is a difference in the time measured by two observers as a result of a difference in velocity (or gravitational potential) relative to one another. So, if person A is moving at a higher speed compared to person B, it will seem to person A that more time elapsed for person B than the time that elapsed for person A themselves.

Put another way, person A’s watch will record that less time has passed than the time recorded by person B’s watch. However, this effect is miniscule in the context of relative velocities that we are familiar with in everyday life. For this effect to be noticeable in the hard scientific sense, person A would need to be moving at incredible speeds – near or equal to the speed of light.1

The Symbolic Nature of Time

For our purposes here, we’ll not be concerned with what two clocks tell us about the passage of time. Clocks measure time only in the sense that human society has established a certain metric (a system of measurement) and we compare what our personal clocks say (our phone, watch, grandfather clock) to that “objective” metric. That is to say, clocks only measure other clocks. Naturally, through scientific discoveries, we’ve come up with more and more precise ways to calibrate our clocks to one another (e.g. using the rate of decay of atoms).

Yet, achieving higher degrees of precision does not avoid the fundamental point that time – as something that can be measured – is not a feature of the Universe. It is, instead, a symbolic, representational system imposed by humans to effectively coordinate our activities. We can, of course, choose natural phenomena to serve as the basis of that metric (e.g. the decay of atoms, the speed of light, the rotation of the earth, etc.), but the chosen metric is only a reference point for clocks. In no case have we established anything about the flow of time as something we experience.

The Flow State

Let’s return to the opening idea that our experience of the passage of time varies in different contexts. One of the most demonstrative examples of this idea is the “flow experience,” a particular state of consciousness described by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.2 Again, I will not dig deeply into this intriguing phenomena, but only provide a brief overview of the idea (though I encourage readers to pursue the topic on their own!). In its simplest form, the flow state is characterized by being completely engrossed in your current activity – to the extent that you lose conscious awareness of pretty much everything else: other people, bodily needs, and time.

The person in flow (unintentionally) merges their awareness with their actions to such an extent that self-reflective consciousness is no longer present. Put another way, your attention becomes so focused on the activity that none of your attention is available to put toward other activities, thoughts, or concerns. The do-er and the activity being done become one and the same, with the action-reaction interplay becoming nearly simultaneous and indistinguishable. What’s more, the experience of flow is also described as being intrinsically rewarding – the subjective value of engaging in the activity is potentially limitless.

This analysis of the flow state comes from a psychological lens: what’s going on in the individual’s conscious experience. However, what does this psychological state tell us about the relationship between the person in flow and the world around them? Csíkszentmihályi describes the state of flow as an “optimal” experience. True or not, I’m interested to see what this psychological state indicates about one’s state of being. As an aside, we should not overlook that the experience of flow can’t be reported while it is occurring, as reporting on the state of consciousness would be a self-reflective activity (and thus, the person would no longer be in the flow state). The experience of flow can only be described after the fact, which always comes with complications: memory can be a fickle thing.

Vibration

Returning to the main thread, what is the link between time dilation and flow, or any other instance in which our sense of time doesn’t conform to the “typical” experience of time? My suggestion is that it all has to do with vibration. There are several senses to this word, whether we want to talk about physical phenomena – the vibration of particles and energy – or the more “New-Agey” way we might talk about a person, event, or experience having a higher/lower vibration. I intend to use ‘vibration’ in both senses – after all, words don’t always have to be used with a single, explicit meaning (something we tend to forget as modern English speakers)3. What’s more, the latter sense of the word is at least partially derived from the scientific usage, so the two meanings already have a linguistic connection.

However, the non-scientific meaning of ‘vibration’ also comes from ideas in Indian philosophy and spirituality; Om from Hindu/Vedic and Buddhist traditions is the symbol of cosmic vibration, signifying the fundamental essence of reality. That the entire Universe (and therefore persons, events, etc.) is a confluence of vibrations is a notion that was around long before any scientific ideas about particles and energy. All that to say, let’s not get ourselves stuck by clinging to one, explicit meaning of ‘vibration.’ The core idea that I want to draw on is that our individual experience is in some way constituted by vibrations: our physical bodies could be described as vibrating “wavicles” of energy that are embedded in the larger field of wavicles that is the Cosmos.

Conscious Experience as a Frame of Reference

So, let’s start putting all the pieces together. To reiterate: time dilation occurs when the measurement of time from one frame of reference (or, perspective) does not correspond to the measurement of time in a second frame of reference – this is due to the difference in velocity between the two frames of reference. The difference in velocity usually has to be quite large for this effect to be noticeable when we are measuring time with clocks. But perhaps this does not have to be the case if we consider our frames of reference to be a person’s experience of time: i.e. their individual perspective as a locus of experience.

Thus, if my immediate/direct experience establishes a particular frame of reference, then time dilation could occur when comparing my experience to that of another person.  Either experience could include awareness of time as it is being measured by a clock. Whether this description is strictly metaphorical, or we wish to expand our concept of time dilation to include differing experiences of time, this idea seems to have some fascinating implications. 

Flow: Psychological and Metaphysical

In particular, let’s consider what this could indicate about the state of flow. Earlier I noted that the flow state describes a particular mode of conscious experience. But I suggest that we can expand on that idea. This state of consciousness could be a reflection of the individual’s overall state of being – a metaphysical state – a general idea which is not uncommon to many spiritual, mystical, or philosophical traditions, especially those originating in Asia. The Vedic and Buddhist traditions originating from India, Taoism from China, and many of their offshoots such as Zen all make use of the idea that, in some sense, reality is a manifestation of consciousness.

This metaphysical state is where vibration comes in. When in flow, the person experiences a unity between their actions and the responses from their environment. Put in terms of vibration, the individual as a pattern of vibration has completely merged with the vibration of the Cosmos. The “two” patterns of vibration have merged so seamlessly that the distinction between “the person” and “the environment/Universe” disappears. This description probably sounds familiar to those who’ve studied Taoism, Zen, and other mystic traditions. This is no accident, as the flow state seems to be a (western) psychological perspective of the kind of pure awareness often ascribed to mystical states of consciousness: satori, nirvana, and the like. As such, I cannot claim to be saying anything new or revelatory with regard to flow as a state of consciousness. But I do hope to offer an insight on the shift in temporal experience which seems to occur in such states.

Conclusion – In the Flow State, We See Time Dilate

The final move I wish to make is the suggestion that we can combine the idea of a perspectival frame of reference and this metaphysical state of flow. If we accept the suggestion that a person’s experiential perspective can serve as a frame of reference, we can then ask: what happens when that frame of reference merges with the frame of reference of the (local) Universe?

If the individual’s vibration is in complete harmony with the surrounding vibration of the Cosmos, I suggest that there would be little (or no) experience of time as we would normally describe it: a linear sequence of changes, or something to that effect. In a typical state of consciousness, we are aware of the changes that occur around us – changes considered separate from the consciousness that is aware of them. But when one’s vibration is in tune with the vibration of the Cosmos, consciousness is no longer tracking changes as something happening apart from, or Other than, itself. With this harmony of vibration, there is no resistance to change: no restriction to the flow of the Universe.

Meanwhile, for someone outside the state of flow, consciousness keeps itself involved with tracking the changes in case something “goes wrong” and must be altered, fixed, or corrected. This sort of thinking creates resistance, and so, from that frame of reference, an experience of sequential/linear time.


Thus, the person in the flow state experiences no resistance – their “actions” are indistinguishable from the ever-flowing changes of the Universe. Their experience of time (if it can be called an experience of time at all!) is of the ever-manifesting present, the NOW, the Tao. 4

4 Ways to Usher in the New Year with Gemstones

My ritual of cleaning the house at the start of the new year to bring in fresh energy consists of more than dusting, washing mirrors, changing seasonal accents, and making resolutions. It also includes gemstone! I both bring in new gemstones and cleanse the ones that already reside in my house. 

I can’t remember when I was first attracted to stones, especially gemstones, but I can say without a doubt that they are an integral part of my life. As we turn the calendar page what I want to share are my recommendations for gemstones to use to bless the new year, stones to assist with space protection, stones to help with manifestation, and stones to bring focus on showing gratitude. Use these stones to assist you in bringing into the new year what your heart desires.

Recommendations for Purchasing Stones

As you read through my recommendations, focus on the stones that resonate with you. Wander into a local gem store and see what stones call to you. Pick them up, hold them in your hand. Choose the ones that want to come into your life and your living space. Try not to let reason be the determiner of your choice, such as the cost of the stone, but do keep your budget in mind. I prefer unpolished stones to polished ones, but go with what you’re attracted to. Of course, if you don’t live near a gem store, you can purchase stones on the Internet. 

If you want to be more adventurous and have the gemstones bring you into their life, leave this list behind and wander the gem store and purchase what stones call to you. When you get home read up on the properties of the stone. You’ll be amazed that the stone that chose you is just what you needed! Picking gemstones intuitively can be a method of divination about what the new year holds for you.

Blessing the New Year

Gemstones I like to use in blessing the new year are quartz, amethyst, labradorite, fluorite, jade and jasper.

Of course you want to enter the new year free from the bondage of last year’s hurts and failure; quartz is the ideal stone to assist with releasing. Then, to get things aligned for the new year, bring in Amethyst, which helps with removing blockages that impede your progress. The last gemstone for this trio is Labradorite to help reveal to you your true calling.

Next, I make a use a mixture of gemstones to honor the inward winter months; I love the quiet that January brings. For calming down, meditating on your desires, and taking a bird’s eye view of your life, fluorite is the perfect stone. To call in affluence and abundance of all positive things you want to attract in the new year, consider bringing jade into your home. Then, to lift your spirits early days of the new year, invite the energy of jasper to your life.

Space Protection

It’s a good idea to protect your living space as you set intentions for a new year. I love placing black tourmaline outside my front door. I have a small stone that is pretty much undetectable placed at the base of a statue of Ganesh. I have a few pieces of Apache tears, a form of obsidian, throughout the house as they assist with psychic protection. It’s important to clean these stones frequently, as they absorb a lot of negative energy. I also have this stone in my office space, as it helps to absorb workspace negativity. Finally, I keep pieces of amethyst, a great protector stone, on my windowsills. They create a beautiful touch when the sun hits them.

I also use two variations of my absolute favorite stone, selenite, to assist with protection. Selenite is thought to be self-cleansing so there’s no need to actively cleanse it. I also never place selenite in water but feel free to charge it with sunlight. White selenite assists with psychic protection, cleansing your aura, and also calling in the angels. For calming, I place white selenite wands on at least one windowsill in each room. 

I place rose selenite on a table at the entrance of my home and also on the windowsill. Rose selenite also helps with manifestation of dreams so it’s a good stone to keep at your bedside. Rose selenite is associated with protection based on a Native American belief that the rose shape of this form of selenite was carved by warriors who were returning home from the spirit world and then placed around the area for protection of their homeland. 

Manifestation

I’m not a proponent of making resolutions at the start of a new year. I see too many people spring into action in January to keep pace with their resolutions, like joining a gym or beginning a diet. For me, the winter is a time for introspection, conjuring, dreaming, planning. Actions, like planting come later in the year.

I recommend using these winter months to journal, dream, imagine what you want to manifest. Remember, though, that it’s important that you feel worthy of receiving what you want to manifest. Use citrine to welcome in abundance in all forms. Clear quartz is another great stone for manifestation. Black obsidian helps with releasing limiting beliefs that will impede growth. And of course, rose quartz can be used to bring love into your life.

Keep these stones nearby as you journal or create a vision board. Keep them by your bedside and hold them before you close your eyes, asking that your dreams help guide you toward making manifest what you desire.

Gratitude

As you begin anew, cleanse and protect your space, and think about what you want to manifest in the new year, remember to include a gratitude ritual in your daily life. Gratitude is the key to receiving. As lean as things may seem at times, always find time to give thanks for what you do have. Want a bigger living space? Give thanks for the space that you have. Want a better job? Express gratitude for something about your current job.

Citrine, a stone of appreciation, will help you see the joy in your everyday life and help you to not take your blessings for granted. Green adventurine is a great “soother” stone and helps you feel grateful for what you have as you attract more abundance in your life. The stones will support your spiritual growth, but as always, your thoughts are the driver. 

Cleansing and Charging Your Stones

I think it’s important to cleanse your stones when you first bring them home. My preferred method of cleansing is using salt water, though you may also want to use moon water or rain water. It’s important though to check to see if your stone is sensitive to water. If so, do not submerge it into water. To cleanse with salt water, fill a bowl with water, add sea salt, and place your stone or stones in the water. I then place my bowl of salt water and stones outside in the sun for about a day.  When the stones are cleansed I dispose of the water by emptying the bowl in the street or on a pavement, not directly back into the earth. 

After the stone is cleansed the next step is to charge it with the intention that you want to set. Hold the stone in your hand and ask it to help with your intention, be it love, protection, abundance. If you want to bring an assertive energy into the stone, set your intention and then place it outside in the sunlight. If you want to bring a more receptive energy into the stone, set your intention and then place the stone outside in the moonlight, using the moon’s phases to assist with the process (for example, place it outside during the new moon to assist with growth). 

Have fun choosing your stones. Invite them into your space and ask for their assistance. They will soon become your quiet friends and guardians.