Grimoire of a Blue House

Absolute Beginner Meditation Exercises

I’ve already blogged about Grounding/Centering and Shielding, and while those are prerequisites to journeywork, they are not required for the following short meditation exercises. These are also a prerequisite for more complicated forms of meditation, but they are designed to be done basically anywhere with anything, though I’ll be using two specific examples.

Open Attention: A Cup of Tea

I call this a tea meditation because I like tea, but you can do it with any flavored beverage (or soup, or water if you can tell what water tastes like, but it works better with flavor).

First, prepare your beverage to your taste, and an appropriate drinking temperature, and find a mostly quiet and calm place to sit. It doesn’t need to be perfectly silent and it’s probably better for your later progress if it isn’t, but a too-distracting environment isn’t great, either.

Once you’re ready, what you’re going to do is hold your beverage, and begin to notice EVERYTHING. Drop your attention out of your head and really notice everything in your body, first. What can you feel? Do you have aches and pains, discomfort? Allow yourself to move slowly if a change of posture might relieve those, and really feel the sensations of movement, each muscle tensing and relaxing. Can you feel your clothing? Your hair? Any jewelry or other adornments? Can you feel the ground, or what you’re sitting on? What about sunlight, or air currents? What do you see? Without moving your head around too much, what is nearby? You’ve probably already noticed large objects, but what about the tiny details? Imperfections in paint or tile if you’re inside? Slightly wilted leaves outside? Really try to take in all the details, as though you’re trying to memorize the scene. But don’t feel pressured, there’s no quiz. The goal is simple awareness. Can you take in visual detail and still remain aware of the tactile sensations we went over earlier? On top of that, can you add smells? Humans have a pretty good sense of smell, on average, we just don’t pay as much attention to it as our canine friends do. But now that you are paying attention, what can you smell? Your beverage, probably. But what else? Can you smell yourself? Are there other ambient odors? Once you think you’ve become aware of the smells near you, take a moment to really focus on your beverage. Notice how the smell changes, gets stronger, as you lift it up to your face. Take a drink, and see how much you can taste. What ingredients are in your beverage? What sort of notes can you detect? Can you catalog them while not losing awareness of your other senses? Swallow and then return to trying to integrate all sensory input, and just letting it flow in and through you. Catalog it, but don’t judge what you notice, and don’t judge yourself for noticing or for losing focus. If you lose focus, just take another sip and calmly return to cataloging, until you’ve hit your time goal.

Then slowly return to normal awareness. I recommend finishing the beverage if you have not, and then perhaps having a little snack or doing a little physical movement – shaking yourself out, or a couple of stretches, maybe – to bring yourself back into mundane consciousness.

Focused Attention: A Single Candle

First, find a candle and a flat and safe place to set it down to burn. A jar candles on a wood table would be perfect. Taper candles and candle holders might work if there’s nothing that may knock it over and if there’s nothing flammable it can fall on. It will work best if the area you’re using has a calm and mostly quiet. It doesn’t need to be perfectly silent and it’s probably better for your later progress if it isn’t, but a too-distracting environment isn’t great, either. If there’s too much intermittent noise, try headphones and some kind of white noise. (Check out these generators.)

Once you’re set up, light the candle, and focus on the flame. As you do so, begin to count your breaths. Count slowly as you inhale, and then as you hold briefly, and then as you exhale, and briefly hold again. It may take you a little bit of trial and error to figure out what counts work best for you, but many people suggest square breathing, where each portion is a count of four. 1, 2, 3, 4, in; 1, 2, 3, 4, hold in; 1, 2, 3, 4, out; 1, 2, 3, 4, hold out. I personally find that a count of 7 in, 3 hold, 7 out, 3 hold works better for me to shift my state of consciousness, so feel free to experiment. Just keep focusing on the candle as you breathe.

If your mind starts to wander or you lose count in your breaths, just gently come back into the pattern. If you find that the candle flame is not enough to occupy your mind, consider adding a short phrase that you repeat either quietly in your head, or with every exhale. Try to maintain this focus, but do not be hard on yourself for losing focus. Just keep practicing.

If it becomes too difficult to continue focusing, or if you have reached the end of your target meditation length, thank the candle for its help and put it out. Slowly return to normal breathing and normal awareness. You may need to get up and stretch and have a snack to accomplish that.

Practice makes Perfect!

These are short, and doing them just once isn’t really going to help you. Instead, it’s best to build a practice around both. Doing both of them (at different times of day, not back-to-back) every day for three weeks would be ideal, and you’d notice a lot of progress in that time. However, that’s not something I’d probably manage without dropping some of the other balls I’m juggling, and I know that’s not realistic for some of you, either. So instead, I suggest doing either of them 5 times a week for four weeks, instead. Some days you can do two to make up for a missed day, but don’t do more than two in a day, and don’t go more than three days in a row without doing one exercise, if you can help it. If you can’t avoid that, you may want to continue for an extra week at the end of your month.

If you find as you go along that you can sit for longer than the 5 minutes, by all means do so! Ideally as you get more comfortable with these and the mental state begins to come naturally, you will be able to sit in it for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. That may take another few weeks, though after you feel more solid in your practice you can back off to doing it just a couple times a week without losing progress. More practice still means faster progress, however!

I also suggest journaling the experience, even if it’s just a couple of brief words in a note on your phone: “7/11/19. Candle meditation. Went well.” Or “7/12/19. Coffee meditation. Couldn’t keep focus.” It will be clearer to you that you’re making progress, and you won’t have try to count how many times you managed already this week.

Grimoire of a Blue House

Shielding

There are nearly as many approaches to shielding as there are paths in paganism and witchcraft. Some of the more popular include:

  • Carrying objects or materials known to be protective (such as certain types of plants, certain crystals, hag stones, or iron)
  • Using sigils or bind runes, inscribed either on yourself (in lotion, as a tattoo, etc), on a belonging (like clothing, shoes, jewelry), or on something small enough to carry with you (like a notecard, business card, or guitar pick put in your pocket, bag, or wallet)
  • Spoken spells, used daily or whispered when extra help is needed
  • Enchanting jewelry, clothing, or something you carry with you, like a keychain or charm bag
  • Spirit protection, provided by a familiar, a guardian spirit (often an animal, mythical being**, or ancestor), or a constructed thoughtform or servitor
  • And finally, by energy work, using energy to construct shields that aren’t anchored to anything but the practitioner themselves

As the last one is the way I create my own shields, that’s the way I’ll be focusing on in this blog.

The simplest way most people learn to make shields with energy is to imagine* an egg of bright light surrounding them. Most people will have heard this before, and you might have heard that it should be white or gold, but I’m here to tell you that it can be any color, or a combination of colors, or no color, and it can be bright or dark, provided that whatever color or not-color and brightness or darkness you choose is something you associate with the thing you want the shield to do. That is: to protect you.

But what kind of protection are you looking for? I think it’s important to be clear on that before we go any further. Do you want to keep every single type of energy that is not yours out? Probably not – that will keep out blessings and interpersonal connections and all sorts of things you probably want. Do you want an impassable barrier between you and spirits? Strange ones maybe, but gods are spirits, too, and if you’re a devotee I doubt you want to completely shield out the object of your devotions. Do you want it to keep out negative energy? But what counts as negative? Do you want to be completely unaffected to the point of apathy about the suffering of others? Do you want to be unable to tell when other people are anxious or angry? Again, probably not always. There are probably some things you always want to keep out, like intentional malevolence and non-consensual energy feeding, but other things you probably only want to keep out sometimes, or only keep specific types out. For example: it might be good idea to shield out angry or anxious energy coming off of strangers, especially in tight spaces like a commuter train, but you might want to be able to feel some of the same energies off your romantic partner sometimes, to help you empathize with them. Once you identify what you what you want the shield to do, at least in broad strokes, I have another tip for you.

It doesn’t have to be light.

You can make a shield with any type of energy. Light, darkness, void, elemental energy (using whatever element system you like), plant energy, crystal energy, WHATEVER YOU WANT. Promise. It just needs to be: 1) a type of energy with which you’re familiar enough to imagine clearly and work with accurately, and 2) something you think will be useful for protection.

So, pick something, imagine it, and then try to feel it. Build it the same way every day until it gets easy. I recommend trying to build it in the morning as you start your day. Maybe right after your alarm goes off, or in the shower, or right before you start your morning commute. Do it the same time every day and it will become routine, and as it becomes routine it will get easier and easier. Don’t worry if you forget one day – just do it when you remember, and try to be as consistent as possible. Once it gets easy (and I recommend waiting until you’ve been doing it for at least three weeks), you can try something more advanced.

Once you’ve mastered doing a single layer shield with one type of energy, you can try creating a sort of composite energy material from other types, or build up multiple layers, each with different types of energy. Let’s say someone, and we’ll call them A, decided to stick with white light for their three weeks of practice, but now A is thinking it would be nice to have something that would slow down the energy of their partner’s outbursts, without completely keeping it out, and something else to mask their presence from spirits, because A noticed that the white light seems to make them more visible. So, A thinks about it for a while, and decides that they’ll keep the white light, but make it the inner-most layer, and then outside that they’ll put a layer of charcoal for filtering, and then outside that, a layer of salt water. Now, they’ll spend three weeks focusing on building all three layers, until that gets easy, too.

As you experiment with other materials, you may also think about using reactive materials. In our mundane lives, we’re familiar with things like glasses that get dark when you walk into sunlight, or liquids that react in the presence of magnets. You can work with or create those types of energies, too. One I like to use is sort of a liquid one-way mirrored glass, that can get darker/lighter and more/less mirrored as I tell it to, or according to its programming. Programming is another thing you might consider: you can create shields with certain pre-sets, like “increase filtering of other people’s energy when I am in a crowd”, or “filter out spirit activity while I’m at work”. You can also think about programming in shortcuts so you can adjust the layers without having to rebuild the whole thing.

This, too, you’ll have to practice daily for a while: including all the programming. Once you’ve really set up the shield the way you want it and the building is both solid and easy, you can set it up to function permanently on a low or medium setting, and then just walk through the building once a week, and eventually once a month, as it learns to stay for longer periods of time. Because it is taking hits for you in its protective role, it will eventually degrade and need patching and cleaning, so I do recommend you release and rebuild it once a month, perhaps on the waxing crescent moon. If you find yourself forgetting, you should at least try to make an effort to clean and patch quickly every time you use your shield intentionally at a high level, as part of the wind-down process afterwards when you’re in a safe space and can lower your shields a bit. That might be best to check and do before bed. Left alone – unpatched and uncleaned – for too long, even the best shield will disintegrate and you’ll be left unprotected. But if you rebuild and patch and clean regularly, the whole process will become fairly automatic, and it will take less focus and less energy than it did when you first created your shields.Helpful tips for blindspots: build an egg not a wall. Fill it up with something. Different layers can fill each other’s loopholes.

Some final tips on shielding:

  • Make sure you’re building something that goes all the way around you, not a wall. Things can go over or come under walls. It doesn’t have to be egg-shaped, but it will work better if it goes around your energy bodies, too, instead of being skin-tight (though someone else entering your space should cause it to retract to the space between you, even if that space is microscopic).
  • Related: make sure your shield is consistent. That is: make sure you’ve got it just as thick at the small of your back and under the soles of your feet as you do in front of your chest. Try not to have seams or weak areas. Pay equal attention to all areas when patching and cleaning.
  • If you really want to use a type of energy but it seems to have a loophole or blindspot, pair it with something else that fills that lack.
  • You can definitely include weaponized elements in your shield (for instance, spiky protrusions or acid), but make sure that your shield isn’t all weaponry – you need purely defensive measures, too.

That’s all for now. Hopefully it helps! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below!

* By “imagine”, I mean you should attempt to visualize or feel [tactilize?] or hear [auditorize?] the energy, or even smell or taste it. Use whichever sense is strongest and most accurate for you when you’re sensing energy.
** That is to say, a being from myth, like a gryphon or a dragon. I don’t mean “mythical” in the sense of “fictional”/”doesn’t exist”, but if you’re a witch, pagan, or spiritworker working in a pop-culture paradigm, fiction is your myth, so go ahead!

Grimoire of a Blue House

Two Powers Meditation

I’ve begun working on a Grimoire, mostly for myself, but I thought the entry I wrote that outlines my version of the well known and often used Two Powers meditation might be of interest here, too. If you try this yourself, first find a comfortable place to sit, without too many distractions. Some people may find that they can read it over and then close their eyes and follow the instructions. Others may want to record themselves reading it so they can listen to it play back. See what works best for you.

We start, as all such things must start, with finding one’s center, and one’s place in the Worlds.
Breathe deep, child. You inhabit a body, but you are not body alone. Breathe deep, and feel not just air but energy that fills you up. Breathe until you are full to bursting, child, until you feel every piece of yourself swirling around your core, the spark of your being. Then breathe out, and reach down.
Reach down, and feel the earth below you. It is green and growing, brown and decaying, reach down into it like the roots of a tree. Deeper than soil is quiet grey stone. Continue down. Through the stone move cold waters, underground rivers and pools. Stop there and breathe those energies in. Deep cool energies, a mix of earth and water.
Those who feel comfortable doing so should only pause here briefly before going deeper. Deeper and deeper, until the cold becomes warm, until the warm becomes hot, until the stone becomes lava. It warms you, but does not hurt, though things you carry but do not need may be burned away. Let the lava cleanse you, a mixture of fire and earth. Stay here until you feel emptied of things you do not need.
Then rise, rise and bring the energies with you. Breathe them in as you rise into yourself. Pull the energies into your feet, the cauldron of your belly, the cauldron of your heart, and the cauldron of your head. Let them spill out the top of your head and run down your body, back into the earth.
Then reach up, child, up into the air, and into the sky. Up and up and up like the branches of a tree, up and feel the warmth of the sun. Bask in it, air mixed with fire, and breathe those energies in.
Those who feel comfortable doing so should only pause here briefly before going higher. Higher, higher, into the atmosphere and past it, out into space, towards the light of the stars. Breathe in that cool, cleansing light, mixture of air and water, and draw it down into yourself.
Pull it down into the cauldron of your head, and as it touches the earth energies, it sparks and begins to glow. Pull that energy down from the stars again to the cauldron of your heart – watch it spark, and as it mingles, begin to glow. Pull it down with another breath, into the cauldron of your belly, to spark and mingle and glow. One more pull with one more breath brings the energy down your legs and out your feet, only to return, running over your skin, to the sky.
You now hold both energies within you, child. Let them mingle and glow. Hold the balance. In this moment, you are the world tree, spanning the cosmos. You are of the earth and the sky and you are here at the center of all things. Take one last deep breath in, and then breathe it out and let it go. Some of the energies will stay with you, for you are always connected to everything else, but for now, return to yourself, your center. Be whole.