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. Background music may help.

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 or background music. (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. Alternatively, get something for your hands to fiddle with to help you direct your focus elsewhere. 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

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.
Book Review

Book Review: Fairy Witchcraft

Full Title: Fairy Witchcraft: A NeoPagan’s Guide to the Celtic Fairy Faith

Author: Morgan Daimler

Publisher: Moon Books: Pagan Portals

Length: about 100 pages

Review: 5/5

Links: Amazon, Goodreads

 

Morgan Daimler is a long-time witch and Celtic Reconstructionist Pagan who is currently a member of Ar nDraiocht Fein, a neopagan Druid fellowship, and is a practitioner of a neopagan form of the Celtic Fairy Faith.  Daimler is widely published in both fiction and non-fiction, the latter being mainly on the topics of paganism and witchcraft.  This is Daimler’s second book on the topic of fairy witchcraft (the first being A Child’s Eye View of the Fairy Faith).

As with most Pagan Portals books, Fairy Witchcraft is meant to be an introductory guide.  At just 100 pages long, it can hardly be expected to be comprehensive on the subject, but Daimler does a very good job covering all the basics and still finding room to add a few tidbits that may be helpful to the more experienced practitioner.  Daimler spends a bit of time discussing holidays, altars, tools, and ritual format for the fairy witch, and while I personally use a different calendar and set up, I think this information would be indispensable for a beginner.  I would recommend this book to any newbie looking to begin down the path of work with the fae, and I would also recommend it to any intermediate practitioner looking to reexamine and reinvigorate their practice.  Many may find that their own way of doing things differs from Daimler’s (I know I did), but the text never claims that there is only one way of doing things.  Rather, the reader is encouraged to find practices that best suit them.  The text is also peppered through with illustrative anecdotes that really give the reader insight into the depth of Daimler’s practice.

The most refreshing thing about this book is the acknowledgement of the diversity of the fae.  Not all of them are happy sweet little winged people who want to give you good luck, certainly not!  Daimler discusses various types of fae (but does not list them all, which would certainly require an encyclopedia all on its own) and warns the reader that not all of them are nice.  There is a reason there is lore about predatory fae (such as kelpies) and there are certainly reasons that protective charms against the fae have been passed down.  Still, Daimler thinks that working with the fae isn’t any more dangerous as any other kind of spiritwork or witchcraft – as long as the proper precautions are taken.  My thoughts exactly.