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.

Event, Spiritwork, Workshop

Queen Under Mound, Queen Under Wave

This past Memorial Day Weekend, Scott and I joined a group of friends from the Fellowship Beyond The Star to a witchy camping retreat near Ottawa, Canada, called the Witches’ Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll.  I’m still processing my experiences, so that will come in another blog soon, but I wanted to post the journey prompts I wrote for the workshop I led at Witches’ Sabbat.

My workshop, titled “Queen under Mound, Queen under Wave” was an introduction to Fand, an Irish Fairy Queen and Sea Goddess.  The first part of my workshop focused on her appearances in myth as well as modern associations and shared gnosis about her.  The second part included two pathworkings, one to visit her as Queen of a sí mound, and the other to visit her in the depths of the ocean.  I wrote both of these for the workshop, and I’d like to share them both with my readers here!  Each takes about 10 minutes.  You can try recording yourself reading them with the indicated pauses and playing it back.*

Queen Under Mound

Breathe yourselves into stillness, children of earth.  Breathe deep.  Breathe in relaxation… and breathe out the worries and cares of the world. Breathe until you reach that space between, the space that lets us walk between the worlds.  We will all go together. Feel as mists steam up from the ground and surround us here.  Pay attention to notice the shift – we are leaving Raven’s Knoll, and coming into another place.  When you are ready, open your inner eyes and see the dirt road beneath your feet. On either side grow hedges of hawthorn, and there are a few blooms on them still, despite the lateness of the season.  Continue forward to the crossroads where I stand, and behind me, to one side of the dirt road, a table piled with offerings.  There are things to drink and eat, instruments for playing music, flowers, shells, and more.  Find the gift you are meant to give, and bring it with you as we continue forward.  Walk farther along the dirt road until you see to your right what looks like an opening in the hawthorn hedge.  Examine it more closely, and notice how the thorns seem to give way as you approach.  Press forward, and feel them part gently around you as you pass through.  When you have come all the way through, you will find yourself in a meadow with a low mound, and beyond it, a forest.  Stop for a moment to observe everything around you. [5 count beat] What do you see? [3]  Hear? [3]  Smell? [5]  Then continue towards the mound.  As you approach it you notice a strange shimmer in one area – head towards that, and do not be surprised when you pass through it as easily as through a projected image.  Inside, you find yourself in a great hall, with big oaken beams.  To your right there are a great many feasting tables, and directly in front of you is a brick circle that contains within it a great fire, the smoke rising up into the heights of the chamber, much taller than the mound somehow, and out through a hole in the roof.  To your left there is a raised platform, and on it are two great thrones.  Fand sits in one.  Is the other occupied?  Take a moment to observe the room. [5] What do you see? [3] Smell? [3]  Hear? [5]  When you are ready, approach Fand, and give her the gift you brought.  At this time you may ask her the question: “How do I balance all the roles I must play?” Listen closely for her reply. [PAUSE FOR FIVE MINUTES.]  When you have finished, thank her for your time, and leave the way you came. [10] Out the doorway… to the meadow, [3] across the meadow… to the hedge, [3] through the hedge… to the road, [3] and down the road… back to the swirling mists… and into your body. [3] Welcome Home.

 

Queen Under Wave

Breathe yourselves into stillness, children of earth. Breathe deep.  Breathe in relaxation… and breathe out the worries and cares of the world. Breathe until you reach that space between, the space that lets us walk between the worlds.  We will all go together. Feel as mists steam up from the ground and surround us again, as we move into that other place.  When you are ready, open your inner eyes and again see the dirt road beneath your feet, hedged by blooming hawthorn. Continue forward to the crossroads where I stand by the table piled with offerings.  Find the gift you are meant to give, and bring it with you as we continue forward.  Walk farther along the dirt road until you see to your left what looks like another opening in the hawthorn hedge.  Once again, press forward and feel them part gently around you as you pass through.  When you have come all the way through, you will find yourself at the top of a low sea cliff, on a track that leads down to a little beach.  Go down the track carefully, and wade into the water.  The water is chilly and yet you do not seem to feel the cold.  You instinctively know you must swim from here, and even if you don’t know how, or are not wearing the appropriate clothing, you have perfect confidence that you will succeed.  So plunge in, and begin swimming out to sea, as small waves rise and fall around you.  A short way out, a sea creature that is known to you swims up from the depths and greets you.  It is here to show you the way to the castle in the depths.  It squirts water into your face, and then dives.  You dive with it, trying to follow closely, and when you can no longer stand the pressure in your lungs and ears, you are filled with sudden knowledge – and you take a breath.  You have been given the ability to breathe underwater, and this makes your journey much easier.  You join the sea creature in diving down into the blackness, where light barely penetrates, where only by small bioluminescent animals guide your course.  You come to what appears to be the entrance to a cave, and the interior seems to be made of glowing stone, so that you can see again in the dim light.  As you pass through the doorway, the impression of being underwater fades, and you now walk along the floor of another great hall, this one all of glowing stone. This one, too, has a raised platform. Stop for a moment to observe. [5]  What do you see? [3]  Hear? [3]  Smell? [3]   Taste? [3]  Who is on the platform? [5]  Do you recognize Fand, in her aspect as Queen Under Wave? When you are ready, approach Fand, and give her the gift you brought.  At this time you may ask her the question: “What hides in my own depths?” Listen closely for her reply. [PAUSE FOR FIVE MINUTES.]  When you have finished, thank her for your time, [5] and leave the way you came.  [5] Back to the door, [3]  back swimming with your sea creature guide up to the light, [3] back swimming to the beach, [3]  back up to the cliff, [3] back through the hedge… to the road, [3] and down the road… back to the swirling mists and into your body. [3] Welcome Home.

 

* I don’t mind these being shared for personal work or even small group work as long as it’s shared directly from this page and I’m given credit, but please don’t use these to create your own workshop, and it’s definitely not okay to use this anywhere where you’re getting paid or even compensated monetarily for your time.  When in doubt, email to ask. Thanks!

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.