Saturday, November 26, 2011

Kitchen Witch

Every Fall I turn into a Kitchen Witch.  There's something about the change of seasons that brings me to the hearth.

This is also the time I bring the last blooms of the season to my kitchen altar.  Very little about my altar screams witch, but it is my place of celebrating & honoring the bounty in my life.

My kitchen altar sits on a shelf hovering over my medicine-making table.  During medicine-making times I remove the mortar & pestle & place a Moon Goddess as the center piece, add incense & a lit candle.  In the plate she holds, I can place a bit of medicinal herb as a representation of what is to be blessed. 
In her place of honor, she transforms a simple shelf into a full-blown witch's celebration!

Goddess presides over & blesses the medicine for my family, my friends & Mountain Gypsy Herbs stock.  When not in her place of glory at the center of the altar, she sits in the medicine cabinet watching over a variety of herbs & remedies. 

As a hidden witch, I need to get pretty creative in how I honor deity, I really haven't had many statues up until now.  But...she called my name, so I brought her home. 

Recently, I stumbled upon Confession of a Kitchen Witch's Kitchen Altar e-course.  If you're new to creating a kitchen altar, it is a lovely start.

Wild & Bright Blessings,


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Iroquois Thanksgiving Address

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Listen

Listening is a special kind of magic.  It is a blessing we bestow.  A communication of respect.

Everyone wants to be heard.  We are social beings who long for connection with each other.  In today’s hurried world, filled with distractions, being a good listener can be a rare & important skill.  By listening well, we offer others the gift of being truly heard.

Are you a good listener?

Assess your listening skills by thinking about how often each statement below is true for you:

I make regular eye contact with the speaker

I ask questions for clarification

I show concern by acknowledging feelings

I seek first to understand, then to be understood

I respond non-verbally, with a smile, nod, frown, or touch if appropriate

I don’t change the subject without warning

I interrupt often

I jump to conclusions

I finish other people’s sentences

I find my mind wandering or am easily distracted during conversation

I respond to the beeps & buzzes of my cellular phone while listening

I am parental & answer with advice

I make up my mind before the other person is finished speaking

I don’t give any response

I lose my temper        

I think about my reply while the other person is speaking

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of how to improve your listening skills if they are lacking.
Listening is a skill, like any other that can be mastered through practice.  If you are not a good listener today, you can be a better listener in moments by following four simple guidelines:

The Four Basic Rules of Active Listening
1. Seek to understand before you seek to be understood
2. Suspend judgment
3. Focus your full attention on the speaker
4. Allow for silence

If you continue to struggle with effective listening, try this:
  • Catch yourself in the act – recognizing your unwanted behavior is the first step towards correction
  • Stop yourself! – As soon as you recognize a poor listening habit has appeared, stop yourself, acknowledge the error & apologize “I just interrupted you, I’m sorry” or “I drifted off there for a moment, sorry, could you please say that again?”
  • Replace an old habit with a new habit – Focus on one method of improving your listening & work to include that skill into every conversation
  • Cut yourself some slack – No one is perfect, self-improvement is a life-long project.  As you find yourself sliding back into an old habit, just start over without condemning yourself

The Chinese symbol “To Listen” has deep meaning.  This lovely symbol explains the difference between simply hearing and truly listening. By integrating representations of not only our ears but of our eyes, our heart, and the selfless act of undivided attention, the Chinese have truly captured the essence of listening. By doing this we show respect and value for the other and leave ourselves open to understanding a larger truth. 
Wild & Bright Blessings,