Mid -Finals Update

Okay, folks. I have one final left and then I am home free until January. I have worked my butt off and I am exhausted like you would not believe. Tomorrow is my last final and then I shall be spending the rest of the day drinking rum on a beach. I cannot wait.  I am rather excited for this break. I am moving into my new apartment on Friday and will have it to myself for 3 weeks. A lot of witchery will be going down folks, look forward to hearing from me. I shall be blessing the new place and making friends with the spirits there.  I shall be doing some more exploration on the shamanic front and starting a garden on my porch. I am quite excited. On the more mundane side of things, I am an emergency technician at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital here and I am dog-sitting a friends pup. So I will not have much to take up my time other than the fun things.  This will be my first holiday away from home, so it is quite an adventure. It is a bit sad, but I am not alone and I am curious to see what happens for the holidays this year.DSCN2125


‘Neath a Caribbean Moon

The full moon is upon us and I have spent far too much time the past few days wondering what I should do for this turn. Finals are rushing towards me faster than ever and I should be spending more time with my nose in my anatomy books and less time wondering about full moon celebrations. I digress; I think that this moon shall be an important one. I have decided to begin a regimen of healing work on myself. I have encountered several spiritual blockages that I think are due to some issues that need worked out.

She was shy this evening

A lunar eclipse occurred yesterday. Lunar eclipses are excellent for times of meditation and releasing the old and the negative. This is an excellent time for one to cut the ties to what hold them back and do not benefit them. This is also the dark time of the year (figuratively speaking as there really have been no seasons in the Caribbean as of yet). For me, this period is a good time for introspection and self-work. So this full moon seemed perfect for me to do the healing work that I need.

I started the night before. I took a journey asking for assistance. It was an excellent start to the full moon celebration and really set things into motion. I woke up this morning feeling that there was change on the horizon and that there were profound things to come this evening.

After a day of classes and mundane responsibility I took a stroll down to the beach as the sun was setting. I made a wooden wind chime for the playful spirits at the beach. I decided it was a quick project that I could leave up and add to as I go along. Currently it is a few dead-fall branches and a feather, but it shall grow with time. I also left an offering of a locally made rosemary roll which I purchased today from The Bread Chick.  I then did a bit of meditation work as well as an exercise which involved me blowing and pushing the negative attributes to be gotten rid of into a stone and then hurling it into the ocean. I thanked the spirits of the place and Grandmothers Earth and Ocean for their help in my healing process. As it began to get dark, I watched the moon rise for a little bit then I returned to my room for some meditation and more journeying.

Finally got her out of the clouds, barely. It was a truly beautiful evening here. It was difficult to drag myself back inside to bed

As I sat before my altar meditating on my intent, I suddenly felt very dirty. More dirty that I usually feel after a full day in the Caribbean heat and humidity. So I bolted upstairs and into the shower. As the cleansing water washed over me, I started to laugh. I got completely giddy and felt a huge rush of energy. I could not stop smiling and I had no idea why. I stood there in the water for a while just enjoying the feeling before drying off. At this point I took a break from the witchery in order to get some dinner and obligatory studying in before returning to the fun stuff.

I returned to the fun stuff later in the evening. I did some further meditation and another journey and then I felt the call of my (oft forgotten) oracle cards. I handled them a while to warm them up and then did a quick reading about the healing work and they definitely still speak strongly to me. I have decided that I need to work with them more (just have not decided how). I did two readings before retiring them and both were quite exciting and spoke to the success of my healing work and the possible outcomes if I stick to my current workings. With a strong shiver down my spine, I retired the cards for the evening and meditated on the readings a while. I then went and bathed in what little moonlight I could find. It was a cloudy night here in the Caribbean and She only deemed it necessary to tease with glimpses here and there between the clouds. Then, exhausted, I put away my affects, thanked the spirits and prepared for a good night’s sleep. After all, this pagan is also a vet student and has a full day of classes the next morning!

While bathing in moonlight I got the feeling that I was being watched… Probably the fifteenth cat to cross my path that evening


Visit From an Old Friend

So I have been in the Caribbean for two and a half months now. It has been a whirlwind to be very honest. Vet School is quite the challenge and I am loving every minute of the course work. The only problem being down here is being stuck on a rock with the same 170ish people for such a long time is that you start to go crazy. Vet students are a special breed. We are almost all alpha type personalities and we are all relatively intelligent so there is a lot of butting heads and silly posturing to prove who is the smartest and who has the most and best clinical experience. I find myself getting pretty rageful with some of the classmates at times.  That being said, I think that starting my daily meditations have been crucial to my mental sanity. I have always been terrible at keeping up with daily practices and that sort of thing. I would get into the swing of something and then I would forget one day and never do it again. Now I have locked myself into daily mediation in the mornings. I started off with a prayer ceremony which was great and then that prayer seemed to get old. I did it one day and I didn’t feel anything, so I stopped. I started again with another prayer and that has run pretty well so far.  I do not know if anyone else has had this experience where your daily practice just stopped having an effect on you. To you who have had this experience, what do you think is best? Do you just force it and keep working at it until it does make you feel something again or do you do what I have done and move on to something new? Even if you have not had this experience, what do you recommend? I would like to know other people’s opinions on this.

I have been keeping up with the morning meditation though and that is something that has helped me immensely. Daily meditation is a great help to me and I think it has benefitted me by keeping me from homicide and by keeping my spirituality in my life daily. I have also found a new beach that is more secluded and has some great places for meditation. I spent both the full moon and Samhain out on the very beach.  I have definitely found my favorite place on this island. I go down there many times a week and do extra meditation there. On the full moon, I took my friend with me because I had never been there at night and I didn’t want to be there alone since I still do not know the island well. She is not pagan, but she respects what I do and agreed to keep an eye on me while I did my thing. I just introduced myself to the spirits there and left some offering then meditated for a while. I got good vibes the whole time and greatly enjoyed that night. The friend told me that she enjoyed watching the bat swoop around me the entire time I sat on the ground meditating. She did not grasp the significance, but I rather enjoyed it. That was my message that I was welcome here and that my offering was accepted. I went the next night for Samhain and that may be a different post, but when I went, I did find a hermit crab the size of a softball picking at my offering. Further validation says I.

My daily meditation has also been very spiritually fulfilling.  The meditation has become much easier to fall into a meditative state and I love that. I do that before exams when my fellow students are freaking out and I am getting stressed just standing near them. I will sit down and get away until it is time to go into the testing center.  I have had very little time for the journeying that I got so into doing while I was at Findlay, but I do get a time now and again.  I took some time last night before I went to bed I donned my bone choker and slipped away. I returned to my old growth forest where Stag was waiting for me. I apologized for being away so long. He surprised me by saying it’s okay. He said that I am following my dream and that is very important spiritually for me.  I smiled and then we went for a run like we did so many times before. Stag always has lessons for me when I meet him and this was no exception. I told him that I would try my best to come to him more often before returning to my skin and getting to bed for some much earned rest.   I have not communicated with Stag in a while and I much missed his guidance in my life.

I know that this semester is easy compared to what is to come and that I will not have as much time next semester on. I will probably be blogging less and less as I go on, but I will try to get fairly regular check ins out to let everyone know how I am doing.  I hope that people understand my blog will not be very exciting for the next year or so.


My Beach

A stone pile that I found on the deck when I arrived. It really added to the magic of the place that I intended to use

A little stone pile that I built atop a volcanic boulder. To be washed away when the tide comes in along with my stress and fears

My new necklace after being blessed by the sea upon a second cairn that I built next to the ones that were already on the deck

The altar I built in my room. A circle of 5 stones from the beach which were gifts to me. My tourmaline. A jasper skull and some sea shells for the spirits here. A place for me to do my work as well as a way to bring the sea into my living space.

Having just taken two anatomy exams in one week, I find myself a little fried and words are not being my friend. So I decided that 5 photos would be work more than I could say in words. I have been a busy vet student without a lot of time for spirituality, but I do find some moments now and again. I am quite excited for Halloween despite having a test that day and currently having caught the Caribbean plague cough that is going around campus. I have great plans involving my beach and some witchery and general awesomeness made more awesome by the corresponding full moon. Very excited. If I do not hear from any of you before Samhain night, may you have a magical night. Have fun and stay safe.

Iolair

 

 


Life in the Caribbean

Well, I have been here for over a month now. I have had three tests of vet school and rocked them all out like a champ (I know, I know you are not here to hear about a vet student, but I have to brag where I can while I can). I have been here for two full moons, and how magical they were. Tonight, I would like to talk about what I have been up to for the past month aside from studying my ass off. I thought it was going to be extremely hard to keep up with my craft while in vet school, but as of yet I have managed to keep a few small aspects in my daily life and I have had the time for full moon celebrations too.

Shipwreck Beach.

In my last post I talked about adjusting to a new place. I have adjusted quite well, but some things here take their time. Back home, I met quite a few of the nature spirits who were more than willing for a chat and some offering, but here, it would seem that everything runs on “island time.” I have yet to meet any local spirits despite my attempts. I am not frustrated however. I know that I have to be patient and I am more than willing to be.  I do terribly miss the rattle that I had to leave behind. But I left that in the care of someone special who I know will take good care of her.  I do miss late nights sitting in the moon and starlight rattling away to watch the spirits dance.
I seem to have lost a connection with the Horned God. I have not heard anything from him since being stateside. Again, I am not frustrated. This is the Caribbean, the spirits are very different. I leave offerings to him anyway when I perform my rites, and it stays at that. I did not have room in my luggage for the plaque that I made to him, which is very sad, but what is two years to a deity such as him.
In losing Cernunnos, I seem to have gained another major connection. Grandmother Ocean has captivated me since I flew south into hurricane Isaac.  My friend and I were stuck in Miami airport until the storm cleared up, and we spent a night in the Keys until we got another flight. When the rain broke for a bit I went out and sat on a dock and looked out over the ocean. The wind was fierce and created awesome currents in the water. I sat and dangled my feet above the water and just listened. It was a very cleansing experience.  Once I got to the island, I only grew more in love.  I can see the Caribbean Sea from my window and there is a beautiful rocky beach within a 5 minute walk. One day I was doing a little water meditation to cleanse away negativity while I was swimming and the name Yemaya came to my lips. Since then, I have referred to Grandmother Ocean as Yemaya. I know very little about the Orisha named Yemaya, but I am continuing research in what little free time I possess. It just seems to fit, so now I honor Yemaya daily and I connected well with her on this past full moon. Whenever I am stressed and plan to skip something pagan, I see Grandmother Ocean and she reminds me of the magic in my life and how important it is to me and my wellbeing.  She is a constant reminder to stay strong and carry on.  My love affair with the sea shall continue for the rest of my life, I suspect.


This past full moon, I waited until she was full overhead and then I packed a little bag and walked down to the campus beach.  The night was as magical as they get. The moon was so bright I did not need a light or candle. The sky was clear above me, but out over the ocean a thunderstorm raged, throwing lightning down into the sea.  It sent shivers down my spine. The beach is perfect for witchery, given that It is completely secluded and there is a slightly treacherous hike down to it, and you can always tell if someone is coming.  I hiked down in pitch black as the forest blocked out all moonlight. When I got there I was again completely captivated by the ocean. I hopped down onto the rocks and perched myself on a large volcanic boulder right near the water.  I breathed in the salty scent of the ocean and I was at peace. I mediated a bit, feeling the spray and wishing that I had a drum or a rattle to play for Yemaya.  I tried to light a candle, but it blew out three times in a row and I decided it was not necessary. I gave an offering to correspond with my daily prayer (I shall discuss this in another post), and then left an offering to Yemaya herself.  I spent a good hour just sitting on the beach, feeling the waves, watching the lightning and moonlight dance on the water. This was possibly the most magical full moon I have spent to date. I can’t wait for the next full moon (about Halloween time), when I can hike down to that beach and revel in the beauty.
So that is what this pagan is up to in the Caribbean. I want to learn a lot more about local craft, but I have no idea where to start. I know that obeah is the Afro-Caribbean voodoo of sorts, but all I know is what I have read on the internets, and we all know how trustworthy that is. I would love to meet a local who could at least teach me about the native plants and even local folk magic, but I do not know how to go about doing that. If anyone out there is knowledgeable about Caribbean lore or magic and doesn’t mind sharing some things I would love to learn all that I can.
Thanks for listening to my ramble.
~ Ben


Adjusting

Oh, how I have missed blogging. It is great to be back, my friends!

As many of you know, I have recently started out on my greatest adventure to date. I have started Vet School. Let me tell you, getting here was quite the fiasco, but it worked out and now I am here and have started classes and things are pretty great. I decided that this would be a good time to write a post about adjusting to a new place. I came from Ohio and was dropped on a tiny island in the Caribbean.  It is quite the culture shock. The climate is different, the customs are different, the people are different, the way of life is completely different, and do not even get me started on island time.  In Ohio, I am pretty knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna. I pride myself on the knowledge that I have of the plants in my area and it has taken me quite some time to become aware of all of that. Now, I am in a strange new place. A lot of the plants here are either poisonous or extremely thorny. I don’t know their names or their uses.  The spirits here are strange and not all friendly. The first time I tried meditating on a swatch of grass near campus, I was swarmed by a local species of ant which causes itching and burning and small areas of infection when they bite. It was not a good time and the bites are just now healing.  After being here for nearly 2 weeks and having some experience, I have made several ways to help myself adjust to this novel place. I have decided to share these, both magical and mundane with my readers.

Meditation –  Find a quiet place out of the rush to meditate and have a little peace.  Spending some time for introspection or just for peace can be very centering.  Find different places. Even if you just start in your room, it will still be beneficial. It will also help with the next section of this list.

Grounding –  This is possibly the single most useful tool that I possessed to  settle myself in. Grounding helps to align you with the energies of an area. It is a great first step to getting to know the land around you.  You will make connections faster and intuitively learn more about the things around you.  I was here for about three days before I was well aligned with the tides and the waves of the Caribbean sea which is not even an eighth of a mile from my door. Now, if I focus a little bit, I can feel the ebb and flow of the waves. That is one amazing part of living so close to the ocean.

Offering – This one is not necessarily for everyone and I recommend it with some measure of caution.  At home, I gave regular offering to various spirits. I did not see why things should be any different here. I began by presenting myself formally to the spirits in the area and then asking them to accept my offering. I started with a little bit of whiskey, but I do not recommend using alcohol.  Some people will tell you that alcohol is always a good offering, and I disagree. I think that different spirits in different areas like different offerings; and some do not like alcohol. Not to mention, alcohol can be damaging to any plants or small animals that come into contact with your offering. I am not saying that you should not use it, I just think  that you should get to know an area before you do. Research the history a bit and do some meditations to learn the nature of those who would receive your offering. I find that bread is often a good offering, no matter where you are. A hunk of some nice locally made bread is a great way to open communications. Milk and honey are also great ways to start a relationship with local spirits, but my fall back is always some kind of bread. I had a nice loaf of handmade bread from the local grocers and I offered some of that as well as the whiskey and it was well received. Once you have channels open, you will start to learn what kind of offerings are preferred, but it is good to reach out with something simple to start.

Culture -Get to know some of the local lore and culture.  Eat local food. Get to know local customs.  I really enjoyed the orientation week here because we got to experience some local cuisine and spend a whole week just exploring the island.  We met Kittitians and learned about their way of life. I devoted a few hours to looking up local lore and legend (something that was very interesting and will probably be a later blog post, once I have learned more).  I think that learning about the local culture helps you to align yourself and live among it. Too many people here are just fighting it and complaining about it, when it is just easier to go with the flow and allow it to be part of the learning process.  What is the point of studying abroad, if not to learn another way of life?

Fun – Have fun. Do not spend all of your time just working or studying or whatever. Go to a local area for fun. We went to several local bars and restaurants and had a blast. We also visited some of the popular beaches here.  We also got to go snorkeling off of a catamaran.  Getting out and enjoying yourself is a great way to loosen up and may make some of the other steps such as meditation and grounding much easier. Endorphins are very important, my friends. So go out. Have a good time. Get a little drunk on local beer or rum (beer and rum are cheaper per ounce than water here) (do not drive under the influence).

So this is how I have adjusted to living in a completely new place. I feel that I have done well. I have burnt myself out a bit with studying, but that is just Vet School. I hope that this is helpful to anyone who is wanting to travel to new places or moving somewhere new. I decided that I was going to be living here for over two years, so I might as well get settled in as best as I can and this truly helped.

Best of luck.


Update on Me

Well, as per usual, life gets in the way of the best laid plans. This summer has turned out to be anything but the witchfest that I had planned while I was still in Findlay.  I ended up with a full time job and a part time job and I work at least 55 hours per week, usually over 60. So by the time that I get home from work most nights, I am so exhausted that witchery is not the highest of priorities after working 13 hours in a day.  Some call me a workaholic, and I really cannot argue that point. It isn’t that I enjoy working this much. Most days it sucks, and I am neglecting a lot of things that I should not be neglecting. I do this because it is necessary to pay for the education required to follow my chosen path.  This hard work will be worth it one day, or at least that is what I keep telling myself to get through the weeks.

I have not done a pagan blog post in a month. I have an L in the works and an idea for an M, so I can at least get one post per letter.

I have not be doing a lot of journey work either. I had wanted to spend a lot of summer time doing just that, but I find it is extremely difficult to find time when I wont be disturbed. I have started dozens of them only to be interrupted by a parent or my brother.

I haven’t even had the time for much artwork. My sketchbook is sitting sadly on the shelf. I took it into my job one day to show my work to the kids and that is the first time it has been touched in a month. I have many designs in my head to get out when I have the time and energy.

The last and possibly saddest thing is that I do not have an altar here. I don’t have anywhere to set it up. Cernunnos is not happy just sitting on my headboard, but I make constant apologies because I just do not have anywhere else to keep him. I just make extra offerings every week to try and keep everybody as happy as possible without an altar.

So that is where I am. It is a rough summer and my last summer break ever, but I will make it through. And, in less than 2 months, I will be on a plane on my way to the Caribbean for Vet School. That is my goal, my shining star that keeps me going no matter how much the day may suck.