Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pendulums and Politics

Alright people, listen up. This an angry Public Service Announcement from me, and you don't need to listen to me if you don't want to, but it would be really nice.

If any of you have any questions about someone's culture, religion, or lifestyle, all you have to do is ASK. If you have any questions that could potentially lead to judgement or are misinformed, ASK. Yesterday I heard my friends grandparents (who are very nice people) say "I don't know any Muslims, but...."

Let me stop you right there.

No.

No.

NO. 

IF YOU DON'T KNOW ANY MUSLIMS THEN DON'T TALK ABOUT MUSLIMS LIKE YOU KNOW THEM. And this goes for a person of ANY other religion, sexual orientation, or culture. 

I can promise you that someone will be far less offended, if they are offended at all, by someone asking a genuine question that they want to know the answer to than by someone making incorrect judgement and assumptions about them. If someone wanted to know about Wicca, I would want them to ask me instead of saying "Oh, I don't know her but I know she's wiccan and wiccans do blah blah blah..." 

I know it can be scary to ask questions. When I first met someone who was Muslim, I had tons of questions but didn't want to sound rude or be offensive. But I still asked, and the girl who is now one of my best friends appreciated that I asked. I assure you, no one will be offended if you are genuinely curious. 

So please, don't pass judgement if you can't speak personally or know someone else's story personally. If you want to know, ask.

And now, Pendulums!
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The Basics

To be honest, I haven't used a pendulum so I can't speak personally about them. I have seen them used though, and not only is it really cool but it's simple as well. The pendulum swings in one direction for yes, and another one for no and one for maybe. It uses the energy around us to swing and it is kind of super freaky in an awesome way! Even though there are only three answers it can give, there are a multitude of questions that can be asked! 

How does the pendulum choose with direction to go in for yes, no, or maybe?

If you're asking how it moves, well, gravity and momentum, right? I'm not a physics major! It utilizes the energy around us, like tarot or runes, and I also think it taps into our own personal energy. It is also a tool that the Divine is used through, and it's one of the oldest divination tools around (8,000 years!!)

Some people ask the pendulum to show them which ways it wants to go "show me yes" "show me no" "show me maybe". Others tell and show the pendulum which way they want it to go "When I ask a question and the answer is 'yes', move in a vertical motion" and then move the pendulum so it gets a feel for you. Then, be sure to test it out with simple questions "is my name Karen?" "was I born in July?". Easy questions, and if it's not giving you a clear answer, show it yes or no again. 

So how do I use one? 

After you've programmed your pendulum, sit and clear your mind. Your pendulum is tapping into the highest level of your Self, not just your subconcious mind. Second, make sure that every time you use a pendulum, make sure you ask that the pendulum be used for the highest of goods for all involved. Ask that the answers be truthful. Thirdly, ask the question. If you feel the answer is not clear, you can ask it to be stronger or to clarify. After every question, make sure you clear the pendulum by tapping the tip to your hand or to another service to signify that your question is done and you are ready to move on. If your hands shake (as mine tend to do), I would steady my elbow on a table. Shaking hands generally don't influence the pendulum readings, though, as the movements that a pendulum makes are much larger than little tremors. 

Can I carry my pendulum around with me?

Yes! Actually, that's very recommended so that they can get attuned to your natural energy and thus will be able to answer questions for you with more confidence. You can also wear it around your neck!

Where can I get a pendulum? 

You could make one, if you wanted! Some of the earliest pendulums were stone and string. A lot of pendulums use crystals because they are very, very good for channeling energy. Your pendulum can be as simple or as decorated as you want. There are plenty of online stores, and Etsy is always a wonderful place to find pieces, especially ones that are handmade. Just like with runes, I believe if you make your own pendulum more of your energy will go into it. I probably would by one though, just because I don't have the time to make one!

What would you recommend: Runes, Tarot, or a Pendulum?

Honestly, it's not up to me! It's your life and your energy that you are working with and what works for me might not work for you. Pendulums seem to be the most simple of all the divination tools, even more simple than runes! There's little to no interpretation with pendulums, unless a direction for an answer isn't clear. The answers are simple: yes, no, or maybe. It really is up to you what you want to use, but it does seem that the pendulum would be good for beginners, although it does take a lot of practice to fully clear one's mind! I know I'm still working on that, but perhaps a pendulum can help some of us practice. All three of these are tools that are meant to help us, that the Divine works through in the best way possible. I don't think one is better than the other, but some are harder and require more practice. Choose what you feel is best and what could work for you!!

Thank you so much to Ask Your Pendulum for their great information!! 

Oh, and thanks to my boyfriend for the idea for the title - I took it from one of his songs; I don't think he'll mind though ;)

Peace and love, 
Karen

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Divination, Part 2: Runes

Hello all! Today I'm going to continue part two of my divination series with a closer look at runes! I would also like to say wow - over 500 pageviews! I don't know where you all are coming from, but remember to add me on Google  Plus, any of the social media sites I have listed on here, comment, etc :) I really appreciate it! It's also nice to think that my words are getting somewhere. Also, forgive me in advance if I mess up or something doesn't make sense - I am actually super tired right now, despite it only being 6.30pm. 

So, let's begin - RUNES! 

The Basics

Firstly, runes are used much in the same way as Tarot. They are tools from the Divine that can be used to help answer questions and seek guidance. There are traditionally 24 runes, but in the 80's a blank rune was added to help the seeker know if their question should be answered currently or not. There are different futharks, or sets, of runes. The most common from what I've seen is the elder futhark. The runes originate from the ancient Germanic alphabet and each symbol has a phonetic meaning and a spiritual one that has been applied to it. 

The runes also have reversed meanings, most of which aren't very good. However, like Tarot, it's important for the person reading to realize that they might not mean something completely negative. 

How do I use them?

There are many different readings, just like with Tarot! The one I've been using is a three rune draw. The rune on the left is the past, the middle is the present (what you should do now to help with the question) and the right is the future (what may happen if you choose to follow the advice in the present). Personally, I've made my runes very seeker oriented and I read for other people a lot. I dump the runes out of the bag, and turn them clockwise with both hands to mix them around while the other person thinks of their question or puts the intention into my runes via whatever visualization they'd like. Then, I flip them over and ask the other person to choose their runes and the order in which they'd like to go in. 

There are daily readings a person can do, such as asking the question "what should I focus on today?" and pulling the rune that feels right out of the bag, or a weekly reading which I haven't done but I believe is generally done with one rune. I'm sure other runes could be added, though.

What can I use to make runes? 

If you choose to make them, the world is your oyster. As soon as I wanted to get started on runes I went out into my backyard and picked 25 flat-ish rocks that were roughly the same size and weight. I then marked the runes on them with Sharpie. Pretty basic, but it works for me!  Many people get stones and paint the runes on, some get clay and etch them and then bake them to make them hard, and others use wood pieces and paint/burn/draw the runes into them. You can use whatever you want. I am thinking of getting a more "standardized" rune set, just so the pieces are more consistent and easier to mix. I do like my little rocks though. There is also the option to buy the runes on Etsy or in metaphysical stores, although I feel that when we hand craft things there is a little more love put into it and the act of making the runes can attune them to our selves. 

Do I need to consecrate my runes? 

If you get your materials outside from nature, then probably not. Since the Earth is the God and Goddess, naturally made runes already have a charge in them that is good. If you buy your runes from someone else, then the act of consecration may be more likely since you're not sure what intention the other person may have accidentally or on purpose put in them from handling them. If you get them from a material that is not naturally made, like from a company manufacturer, then yes do consecrate them to reset their natural energies! 

I didn't consecrate my runes, but it is important to get their consent as with anything you put on your altar or use for spellwork, herbalism, or whatever else. If you do choose to consecrate them, I personally would pass them through incense and above the flame of a white candle. Depending on whatever rock you use, BE CAREFUL if you put them in water! Some rocks and minerals will be TOXIC to the environment if mixed with water then poured down the drain!! 

Pros

Runes are fairly easy to read and there are much less of them than Tarot decks. Because many are made from natural materials, they are already fairly blessed and ready to go. They take much less work to consecrate than Tarot and require less upkeep. The meanings, while complex, aren't as complex as tarot and there is no card or element symbolism to factor in when reading. They are easier to use, in my opinion, and they take less preparation to consecrate - with Tarot cards many people sleep with them under their pillow, carry them around etc for a few days before the actual consecration. They are less time-consuming and give shorter readings. They "warm up" to the reader faster than Tarot and are very direct.

Cons

There are less of them! Some people believe that the reader might have to search a little bit deeper for the meaning within the runes, although I disagree. I find that runes are straightforward and uncomplicated, although some people might consider that a con. The meanings can also vary from futhark to futhark so the person finding the definition for the runes may be faced with varying explanations for the same rune. Reading can also be difficult and require much intuition because it can be hard to tell which way the runes should be facing because sometimes they land with the opposite meaning even if it doesn't apply to the reading. 

Sum-up

I like both of these divinatory methods, but I started out with runes and they hold a special place in my heart. Tarot takes much more time to learn but it is worth it once the reader starts and it can also help develop intuition as sometimes we need to go with our thoughts as to how they may apply to a reading. Runes are standardized and it definitely makes it easier to pick a design! The runes seem to warm up to people a little more easily than tarot, and I have never had a problem with the runes reading for other people. Tarot is a little more fickle and takes a while to warm up to others. Both are easy enough, although I would suggest starting with runes for a beginner. 

So there you have it! Comment if I forgot to add anything, as I said I am very tired! What else would you like to see me review??

Next up: Pendulums!
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Life update: Volunteering with animals and small workout victories!

Last night I had a dream: I was in a play with a guy who wasn't a very nice person, and he made a comment about his car sitting across from the play venue. My dream "changed scene" and I was walking down my street and saw animal control around the car. I went to see what was going on and he had puppies and kittens in the car, neglected. I got to help rescue them and play with the beautiful red and white puppies. 

When I woke up this morning, I had an urge to watch the show Animal Cops from Animal Planet. Seeing all of the abused, hurt, or neglected animals broke my heart. I did a search for shelters in my area and lo and behold, there was one in my town that was holding an adoption meet tonight! I called the shelter and left a message, and I convinced my mom to go with me. I met one of the owners (I think she was an owner, anyway) and another volunteer. Now, I am terribly allergic to cats, but they also have dogs and I just love both cats and dogs so much. I filled out an application and when my mom and I went to eat, I turned on my phone and found that I had a message from one of the women. I'm going to call tomorrow and hopefully schedule to volunteer for next week!

 James Bond from Kitty Connection

I haven't updated on my working out recently, but I've been going through period were I can't do it for 5 or so days at a time because it's either too hot in my boyfriend's house, or I'm at someone else's house and don't want to be jumping around. I also do all of my working out inside because running...eh. Not my thing. I started a 30 day challenge with Keaira LaShea, a musician/dancer and being on day 2, it's going well so far. I thought it would be super overwhelming but it's really not! I mean, I guess I'll have to see, huh? I've been proud of myself for working out so consistently. I guess consistent is a relative word, but it's more than I ever have in the past. I'm not losing weight super fast, probably because of my diet, but I keep reminding myself that little by little is much better than all at once. 


Come workout with me! Let's get healthier together :)

Peace,
Karen
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tarot deck review and advice for the new reader! Choosing a divination method, part 1

Well hello all, I hope all of you are having wonderful summers so far! The heat wave that had encompassed the North East is finally broken! Although to be honest, 80 degrees is still too warm for me - I'm definitely a mid 60's-low 70's type of person. Fall weather, definitely. But I digress. 

I wanted to talk about the differences between runes, tarot, and other divination methods in this post as well as clear up some stereotypes about them and give some advice for the new learner, as I am one myself and I think support and first-hand experiences are always the best. 


            Basic review: First Impressions and the book
For my birthday, my mom got me a beautiful Faery Wicca Tarot deck. Now, I am not into the Fae and the religion thereof, but my mom got it for me because of the Irish influence (and also probably because it said "Wicca" on it if we're being honest), and I have to admit that I am growing to like this deck more and more. When I first opened the wrapping, my whole hand got warm from holding the package and I thought to myself that this was going to be a great deck. After opening the package I looked through the book and I was very intimidated, especially because some of the cards weren't labelled in the "traditional" way and that threw me a bit. I wasn't sure if this was a deck for beginners. That night, I read through the book in full and it was actually a lot easier than expected and I guess it goes to show that we literally can't judge a book by its cover. The book gives the classic tarot meaning as well as the Faery meaning and I sort of ignore the Faery meaning because that's not my practice. It also gives a lot of background information in each section of the deck, such as the element cards (the suite cards of wands, swords, cups, and pentacles), the helper cards, and the major arcana which I found to be extremely helpful. The background info is meant to help with the readings so the person who is reading the cards can give some more information to the person receiving.




The colors and illustrations on the deck are also amazing. The drawings are clear and the colors are vibrant. The book also gives the meanings of the symbols on each card, which I find to be a handy asset. There is not too much in-depth symbolism on the drawings, and there is a good mix of feel-good cards and ones that leave the reader thinking. One such cards is the "Judgement" card, which completely appalled me when I first saw it, but I am growing to like it more and more: 

Consecrating and cleansing a Tarot Deck

This was the step that most intimidated me. Care of a Tarot deck is quite important because they can be very potent tools and I wanted to make sure that I did it right. I used this site to help me figure out what to do. Firstly, I put them on my windowsill for 24 hours so they could get an even mix of sunlight and moonlight. I slept with them the night after the 24 hours so they could "get to know me" better, and the next day I made a cleansing mix, out of water, sea salt, and a herb mix that my friend gave me, lit a candle and some incense, and cast a circle around me. I sprinkled each card individually with the mix (I actually drew pentacles on a lot of them but then the cards started to get sticky) and put each card over the flame of the candle, not too close, and then through the smoke of the incense. This took a very long time, but it is the most important step, in my opinion. Your cards are a tool for the Divine, and I believe they need to be treated as such. Consecrating is also the step that makes the cards go from simply paper to an actual tool that can be worked with. This step can also be repeated every so often to get all of the emotional gunk off of your cards.

I also found out the hard way not to put your cards too close to the candle. I was pretty careful with mine and still some of the bonding over the top of the cards started to get wrinkly. So please, be very careful and if you think your cards are too delicate for water or heat, you can rub salt on them, give them a moonbath, or pass them through incense to consecrate them as well. It's the intention that counts!

Reading the Cards

No no, I'm not going to go into each individual meaning - that's what the book that comes along with the cards is for! Rather, who should you do readings for: yourself, others, or both? And when should these readings happen?

I made the mistake of reading for my boyfriend first instead of reading for me. The cards, after a person consecrates them, really want to get to know you. His reading was all messed up but mine was spot on. Even if you intend for the cards to help other people, definitely try to read for yourself at least a couple times to help the cards get a feel for you and vice versa. This will also help you with your skills in interpreting the deck as well. Personally, I was very uncomfortable with reading for myself at first because I figured that there are things about my life that I shouldn't know. However, I realized that I can read however I want - I can ask a specific question, do a reading for the week, or just do a general one. If you're not sure of your question, it's okay. The cards know your intention and this is also why getting to know your deck is so important. The more you put into it, the more you get out. 

Stereotypes

When I read, I do not get the urge to put on a sparkly headscarf and call myself "Madam Olga" or something of the sort. In fact, there are many people who read who are not the people you see along the side of the road with the neon signs in their windows. If a person has a skill for something, they can use it however they want and some choose to make a profit out of reading Tarot. This is their choice, but it can be hard to know who is real and who's faking it. Anybody can read Tarot, but be warned - it might reveal things about you that you didn't want to know. I make it sound really bad, but it's not at all. Tarot decks can be amazingly insightful and can help a person reach deep down inside of them and flush out all the emotional gunk that holds someone back. 

So what's with the Death card? 

What many people fail to realize about Tarot is that there is much symbolism. Death is not a literal death - you or someone in your life is most likely not going to die. However, a situation might die to make room for something new and better. An unhealthy friendship might die. You catch my drift? It's a death of something so that something more fantastic can come along. 

Is Tarot for me? 

I'm a beginner and I read Tarot. Anyone can do it, although it does take a certain amount of time and practice, as with anything. It is important to listen to yourself when reading, as this is the best way to strengthen your intuition which will better your reading skills. If you are looking for a divination method that is fairly in-depth and involves some commitment, then yes definitely do Tarot! Tarot is also for people of any religion. Read: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE WICCAN OR PAGAN TO READ TAROT. There are so many different decks and styles, anyone can find something. Remember, it's just a tool from the Divine to help you on your path and help you to understand yourself. Having a deck and learning to read takes patience and trust of yourself and of your deck. If you feel you can commit to these things then yes, definitely try out Tarot.



Up next, Part 2: Runes

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie review



Hey everybody! Happy...what day is it again? Just kidding, sort of. All of the days have been blending together because I haven't been working. Great news though, tomorrow's my birthday and the Verizon FiOs guy is coming today so we can finally finally finally have up to speed internet! 

I wrote a post the other day about what I've been reading and such, and I knew I needed to do a separate review for The Perks of Being a Wallflower because it was such a good movie and covered so many topics that are important. Before you read, know that if you haven't seen the movie, below this point there will be SPOILERS!

First off, I like how the movie talks about mental disorders and mental health. The movie starts off with the protagonist coming back from a stay in a rehab/mental health facility, but we get the impression that he's not totally well or totally comfortable with himself and the way his brain is working. He is a loner, and he is also worried about starting high school and that he's going to start "blanking out" again. We do not know why he had to stay in the hospital, but he doesn't seem to be comfortable with himself at all. Perks manages to portray his mental health issues in a positive light but makes them realistic enough so that if somebody who had mental health problems was watching, they would be able to relate to him. The viewer is also given a good explanation of how someone with a mental illness copes day to day and the struggles and small triumphs that they might go through. Every day can be a struggle, and the movie portrays that beautifully. It does not shame Charlie, but rather portrays honestly what he goes through and how he deals with it. In the end of the movie, when he is in a very bad place mentally because he remembers that his favorite aunt had molested him as a child, he willingly goes for help and the viewer sees him coming out for the better. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower also showcased the struggles of being a teenager without painting them as silly, vapid, or insignificant. All of the struggles Sam, Charlie, and Patrick, and Charlie's sister Candace go through are very real and anyone who has been a teenager in their life knows this. The movie gives a voice to young people in a very important way. So often are young people overlooked, their comments deemed as silly, they are told that they are too young to have an opinion, and then they start to believe it. Perks does the total opposite and shows the real struggles that teens go through every day and that there is no shame in it. It gives a voice to the students who were marginalized in high school and shows them coming into their own at the end of the movie with a glimmer of hope that yes, there is life after high school and what they went through is valid.

It also deals with many important issues such as self-love, homophobia, and abuse. Sam, Charlie's crush, has been taken advantage of by guys since she was 11 years old. She struggles with seeing herself in a positive light and wonders why her relationships aren't where she wants them to be. Charlie's teacher tells him "We accept the love we think we deserve", and Charlie tells Sam this. This is an important point for her because we see that although she knows it, she hadn't wanted to believe it until that point. Then we see that she starts to realize that she deserves better. Patrick, Sam's step-brother, is gay and he has accepted that in himself. The boy he is secretly dating, however, hasn't. His "boyfriend" is a jock on the high-school football team and doesn't want to admit to himself that he is gay. His father, when he catches them together, almost beats his son to death. The son turns on Patrick and calls him a "faggot" in front of everyone in the school cafeteria and Charlie steps up to defend his friend. Patrick is comfortable with himself, but he just doesn't have the opportunity to express it as freely as he'd like in small-town, PA. Charlie sees his sister Candace fighting with her boyfriend one night and her boyfriend hits her, but Candace tells Charlie not to tell mom and dad. Charlie doesn't, but the best part is that Candace does break up with her boyfriend towards the end of the movie. I love how Candace took things into her own hands and got out of what could have been an abusive relationship.

Honestly, there were so many good things about this movie and this is just a few. Definitely watch it and determine for yourself. The cinematography is a bit strange and although it's apparently set in the late 90's the clothing and sets are fairly ambiguous as to when it was set (I had to look it up to find out). The music is great and the dialogue is amazing. Do yourself a favor and watch it - it might not bring back the best memories of high school but it will definitely help you interact with teenagers if you are a parent or older adult. If you just graduated high school, know that you are not alone and that you're going to have a fantastic time in college. 
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ramadan Kareem, life updates, and new books!!

Hello everybody! First and foremost, I want to wish Ramadan Kareem/Ramadan Mubarak to all of my Muslim friends and the Muslim community here on blogger and at large. I hope that this month is full of joy, introspection, and spirituality.

For anyone who doesn't know what Ramadan is, it is the 9th month in the Islamic lunar calendar, and it is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. Muslims fast from sunup to sundown, and break their fast with Iftar, the evening meal. Anyone who is physically able fasts, and that excludes the sick, anyone with a nutritional deficiency, pregnant women, a woman on her period (as we lose iron that we need from food during the week), the very young, or the very old. 

The fasting is meant to not only help teach about hunger and poverty, but Ramadan is also a time to cut out many physical needs in order to become closer to God. From sunup to sundown, Muslims not only abstain from food or drink, but they also don't have sex, smoke or drink, and many limit their TV/internet/other social media time. Instead, many try to utilize this month to do extra works of charity, become closer to God, and some people read the entire Qur'an. Non-Muslims are also welcome to fast, and there have been people who choose to fast not because they're Muslim, but because they want to also move away from the materialism of this world, such as this woman, a Buddhist joining thousands of Muslims around the world for the fast.

In other news, I've been going to the library and I received my copy of Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. I'm not very far into it, but it seems like an easy read! I like his writing style because it's simple and not condescending at all. I also love that he focused on solitary practitioners such as myself, as much of the focus was on covens and groups before he wrote that book. 



I also got The Life of Pi, which I started to read last summer in a moment of boredom at my job but never finished, and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. They're for the high school summer reading, but we all know that high schoolers don't start their reading until a couple weeks before school anyway, right?



I also rented out the TV Series Pretty Little Liars, which I might do a first season review on when I finish it. I'm a little late to the party, but better late than never. Finally, Tony and I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Logan Lehrman and Emma Watson and I have to say, that was FANTASTIC. I will DEFINITELY be doing a review for that in the next couple days because it just impacted me so much. 

That's it for now, friends!! Love you all <3

K
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