Monthly Archives: June 2014

Feng Shui Fundamentals

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Category: Feng Shui
Written by Mimosa
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Feng shui is a traditional Chinese form of geomancy.  The words mean “wind water,” shorthand for the saying, “Chi (energy) rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.”  Feng shui is about enhancing these movements of chi, for the purpose of aligning buildings and other manmade objects within the balance of Heaven and Earth.  Feng shui has long and complex history, and it’s no easy thing to understand all its directional, color, historic, astrological and other correspondences.  Below are just a few practical tips to get you started.

Benevolent Animals: Statues of the four auspicious animals can bring luck.  Dragon (family and health), Tiger (protection), Phoenix (success and good relationships) and Tortoise (career and money).

Buddha:  Representations of the Buddha bring various properties into the home.  The Buddha pictured above brings prosperity and happiness, whereas other Buddhas may bring peace, joy in meditation, safe travel, compassion, etc.  Offering incense to the Buddha is a sign of respect.

Candles:  For intimacy and fiery energy.  Best placed in the south, southwest or northeast.

Charcoal:  A small dish of charcoal helps to harmonize energy, especially near a fireplace or woodstove, or in the kitchen.

Coins: For prosperity. Tie three or eight coins together with a red thread, and place them at a money “crossroads,” such as your wallet, an invoice book, or cash register, etc.  In this way, according to ancient tradition, you make use of the coins as an amulet. Alternately, you can hang the coins on the west side of your house.

Crystals (cut glass):  Hanging a feng shui crystal in a window will help distribute energy throughout your space, and brighten dark rooms.  Place in a west, northwest, north, east, or southeast window.

Crystals (natural minerals): Natural stones also distribute energy.  Crystal clusters are good areas where families gather; black tourmaline placed near the door protects the home; rose quartz hearts placed in the southwest bring romance; hematite in the west part of the house will help keep children calm and focused.  There are many more ways of using natural crystals.

Dragon:  This benevolent descendent of Heaven governs the sky and keeps the law on Earth.  Dragons symbolize having power and control over situations.  The auspicious power of the dragon brings prosperity, health, love, and luck.

Fish:  Colorful, jointed enamel fish represent the Dragon Fish (arowana), symbolizing abundance, perseverance and wealth.  Yes, they’re actually carp.  But in Chinese, even this fish’s name means “profitable” and “rewarding.”  Blue is associated with peace, orange with success, green with prosperity, yellow with communication, black with protection, and purply with spirituality.

Frog (Money Toad):  According to legend, if a frog appears at your house during the full moon, you will receive good news–often in the form of increased wealth.  Place the three-legged toad near a cash register in the far left corner of the building of prosperity, or place inside the front door facing inward to direct the flow of wealth into your home.

Mirrors:  Mirrors are a tool for directing energy.  A common-sense way to understand this is that the line of sight reflected in the mirror represents the flow of energy.  Accordingly, place mirrors in such a way to direct energy constructively.  They work best in the east, north and southeast parts of the home.  Be careful using mirrors in bedrooms; here they can enhance conflict if they reflect directly towards the bed, so keep mirrors covered or place them at angles.  A convex mirror can help disperse energy at a “dead end,” such as a staircase that leads directly down to a doorway.

Plants:  Houseplants cleanse indoor air, and can promote a feeling of peace while maintaining a vibrant energy flow.  For best results, plant them in earthenware pots and place them in windows on the south, southeast and east sides of the home.

Sea salt:  Stabilizes and purifies the flow of energy.  Place a couple tablespoons in a small dish, and place in the northeast or southwest part of your home.

Water:  Water features, whether a fountain or a simple bowl of water, bring vitality into the home.  Moving water creates vibrant yang energy, whereas fresh, still water creates calming yin energy.

Wind chimes & bells:  Use in a doorway to help energy keep moving and distribute it throughout a space.  Wooden chimes  are best in the south, east, or southeast entrances; metal in southwest, north, northeast, northwest, west, or middle of the house. Alternatively, you can place a string of metal bells in a central location where they will ring as people pass.


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Two Basic Mantras

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indian om   or  Tibetan om

OM (AUM)

This is the most sacred mantra, which is regarded as the primal sound in the birth of the cosmos.

Its symbol is OM, but the actual mystic sound heard in the deep meditative state is A-U-M, which appears to correspond to the three elements that sprang up out of creation:  Spirit-mind-body. A stands for the initial surge of emanation; U for preserving or nurturing it; and M for absorption, not dissolution. It also stands for Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva, the Hindu trinity.

When articulated or chanted, it is cleansing or purifying, and activates certain latent forces in the human body, and helps transcend worldly problems. Hence, as the holiest of all mantras, OM must precede all other mantras, otherwise the latter would not have the presence of divine power or force. To make any work successful, the OM mantra must be invoked before the work is started.

It is regarded to exist before and after creation. It is imperishable and therefore the symbol of the Infinite. It resides and is present in silence, and represents the entire manifested and unmanifested world.

om mani padme hum

OM MANI PADME HUM

Om Mani Padme Hum is the most common mantra in Tibet. It is recited by Buddhists, painted on rocks, and carved on prayer wheels. The essence of all the teachings of the Buddha are said to be contained in this mantra. Literally meaning “Aum to the Jewel in the Lotus,” this Tibetan mantra is said to invoke compassion. Tibetan people and almost all Buddhists believe that chanting this mantra of Chenrezig (Bodhisatva of Compassion) helps to rescue them from the sea of suffering and to achieve Buddhahood. Repeating it is believed to purify the mind and body. The mantra is also used for protection.

OM helps you to achieve perfection in the practice of generosity. Repetition of Om helps us maintain mental and emotional calmness, and to overcome obstacles.

MANI (jewel) helps you to perfect the practice of pure ethics, tolerance and patience.

PADME (lotus) helps you to achieve perfection in the practice of perseverance and concentration.

HUM (inseparability, purity) helps you to achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.


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Pagan Spiritual Practice

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Category: Paganism
Written by Mimosa
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by Ljot Lokadis

I know a lot of Pagans who have very strong feelings about spiritual practice – and usually these feelings are negative. For instance, I’ve known a lot of people who argue that to pray is to debase oneself, that no kind God would ever request offerings … and so forth.

A lot of these conceptions of what religion is and should be come from our religious upbringing. Paganism, Polytheism, and the New Age movement each consist largely of converts (very few of us were brought up in our belief system). Because of this, we all spend some time defining ourselves in relationship to the faith we no longer belong to. If the religion of our upbringing held that prayer is important, we shy away from prayer. If the religion used the word “worship,” we recoil from the word and the idea. If there was an emphasis on service, or on full-time clergy, we avoid these, too. It’s understandable that we flinch at these this way, especially since so many of us identify the religion of our upbringing as abusive, or its power structure as stifling. But prayer and regular religious rituals are things that sustain us and remind us of the place of the Gods, spirits, and ancestors in our lives. To throw them out entirely just because they’ve been misused is to deprive ourselves of valuable tools for creating spiritual connection in our lives.

A spiritual practice within the faith of our choice isn’t and shouldn’t be stifling. It should be a thing that reflects your experiences, and shapes itself to fit your needs. It isn’t a matter, as it was sometimes in our original faiths, of what prayers are best to say, or what posture is best to assume while praying, or unquestioningly accepting the edicts of a religious hierarchy, or anything like that. You can create the structures that will best sustain you, using your own comfort and your intuition, and historical and modern sources. The point is to be engaged – it doesn’t matter what that engagement looks like. The belief that everyone’s spiritual practice should look the same doesn’t have a place, here.

Prayer is nothing more than talking to the Gods, the spirits, and the ancestors. It can mean debasing yourself – just like how “talking to a human being” can mean debasing yourself — but prayer can just as easily mean expressing your thoughts, sharing your feelings, asking a favor, apologizing, or telling a spirit that you love Them. Praying reminds us that the Gods, the spirits, and the ancestors are in our lives, and still care for us.

And offerings? Pagan reluctance around offering practices seems to come from a different place, in my experience. Some mainstream religions make offerings still, but not many. We view it as an archaic thing, something that we don’t need to do as modern Pagans and Polytheists. It’s been written off in so much of modern Western culture as a superstitious way of appeasing a God or a spirit’s wrath, when actually most offerings are love-gifts. When you give a gift to a spouse or a friend, or you do them a favor or you invite them to dinner, are you appeasing their wrath or giving in to their demands? (If you are, I recommend consulting with a relationship counselor …)

Gods, spirits, and ancestors are people like you and me (even though They’re much bigger!). They will speak, if you speak to Them and listen. They will come into your life and your home, if you invite Them in. In a world that’s so hostile to Pagan, Polytheist, and other esoteric religious practices, it’s easy to run away from the kind of dedicated contact over time that can breed a close relationship to the spirits that you hold dear. But cultivating a practice of prayer, of meditation, and of ritual is a wonderful way to deepen one’s religious experience, and I encourage everyone to give it a try.


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